Buck’s calls the 192BK Vanguard the company’s classic field knife for big game hunters. If the biggest thing you hunt is a deer, the Vanguard works just fine for that, too. Buck combines a 4-1/8-inch-long hunter/skinner hollow ground blade with both traditional and modern materials and comes up with a knife that looks great even with a textured black rubber handle.
The high carbon stainless steel 420 HC hunting knife holds a good edge, and the thin hollow grind allows easy sharpening and quick honing to razor quality. Rat tail tang construction and a solid brass finger guard and bolster give the Vanguard an almost handmade appearance. The rubber grip adds to the look instead of making the knife look cheaper than it is. The color and textured surface remind me of snakeskin, and the black nylon belt sheath obviously is well designed in both practical and artistic terms.
When getting down to the dirty work with the Buck Vanguard, you’ll appreciate the black rubber grip for other reasons, since it’s a nonslip material even during the wet jobs. Although Buck rates this a fixed blade knife for big game, the small size (only 8-1/2 inches overall) fits the skinner category better. The hollow grind isn’t the strongest possible edge style and might fold if you try to hammer the blade through bone with a tree branch mallet — something a full-sized hunting knife should hold up to with no damage.
That’s not a real criticism of the Vanguard, which is a good knife but advertised a little too optimistically. If you hunt game larger than deer, you’ll want a standard hunting knife for backup.