The Buck 279BK Folding Alpha Hunter offers the best features of the Alpha Hunter fixed blade in a drop point folder style. If you’ve dressed out enough game in your life that you don’t need a gut hook, skip the Buck 278 and get this one — the same knife without the fragile tip.
You’ll be impressed by the strength of this five-inch folding version, said to be a design update of the venerable Buck 110 Folding Hunter. If by update you mean starting over with fresh ideas, I suppose that’s true. I see little resemblance between the two, but both offer excellent features. The Folding Alpha Hunter rivals the full tang version in strength with a liner lockback system that works fine so long as you keep the knife clean. In the Alpha Hunter folder, you get the same ribbed exposed spine for increased thumb traction and control. The black rubber handle slabs provide a comfortable and nonslip grip (even when wet) and warm up quickly in cold weather. The Folding Alpha won’t suck the strength out of your fingers on a frosty day.
The 3-1/2-inch plain edged 420HC stainless steel blade swings open one-handed with the conical thumb stud. There’s just enough stainless steel stud for a good leverage point, so it won’t get in the way of the real work. At eight ounces, the Folding Alpha is no lightweight, but you’ll like the extra heft. Another point in its favor is the belt sheath of black nylon — there’s no pocket clip. If you want a knife for the urban world a clip makes sense, but for sustained use it just raises blisters. In heavy brush, you’ll want something more secure anyway. The sheath always works.