What a blend of mixed opinions this new version of Buck’s classic 112 Ranger has seen. Some have called it the modern update Buck desperately needed, and others have labelled it an overpriced cash grab.

As someone who has owned both the classic 112 and 110, I was very interested to see what the Slim TRX had to offer. In my experience, despite the brass and wood grain handle being beautiful, the classic design had these drawbacks that stopped me from using them more often:

  • Both the 112 and 110 were too heavy and too bulky for EDC pocket carry, especially be today’s standards with light materials.
  • Buck gives you a leather belt holster, but leaving the knife inside it for even a few days tarnishes the brass bolsters. This can be pesky to clean and restore.
  • With all the easy-open knives these days, a two handed opening knife is sometimes inconvenient.

In short, the Slim TRX is a modernized reimagining of this knife that aims to solve all of those things.

Instead of a heavy steel frame with wooden scales and brass bolsters, the TRX version features G10 scales as the handle. This makes the knife basically half the thickness, and less than half the weight. The blade, which is now upgraded to S30V steel, also features a thumb stud for one-handed opening.

Opening Action

I have to admit that at first I was disappointed with the opening action. Not that it’s different from the classic 112, but that was kind of the point. These aren’t smooth opening knives out of the box, even when cleaned and lubed.

That’s because they don’t have a washer or bearings system; it’s just straight knife blade against handle material.

From a pure “how smooth does this knife open” standpoint, I feel like a buttery smooth open gives the knife a premium feel that you’d probably expect for a $100 knife.

The saving grace here — the thing that ultimately allowed me to move past this for the knife and appreciate it for what it is — is that this is an outdoor/hunting knife.

The reason many hard-use knives don’t use bearings systems is that while they are very smooth, they also get gunked up easily. Any dirt or dust that gets in there can get gritty and significantly diminish the smoothness, and can be difficult to clean well. Many knife manufacturers opt for washers, which resist dirt better.

I guess Buck decided to do neither, which theoretically allows the knife to be used in any conditions. As a hunting knife, that may include gutting and dressing animals.

The advantage of Buck’s design here is that the knife can be washed with soap and water with no concern that the knife being exposed to dirt, mud, blood, etc. will get into the internal materials beforehand.

While I’m not much of a hunter myself, I can appreciate the thought behind that.

That and I can confirm that the knife does get smoother with use. After using the knife for a few weeks it became noticeably easier to open, especially when I compared it against a classic 112 that I’d barely used. They started out with very similar opening action, but the Slim TRX that I’d been daily carrying for weeks definitely opened more easily.

It’s still not as smooth as other knives in my collection like the Civivi Elementum, but then again the Elementum is not a hard use knife.

(I had similar thoughts with the Spyderco Shaman, that its washer system was less smooth than I would’ve expected for a $200 knife. But then again, that’s also a knife meant for heavy duty.)

Is The Buck 112 Slim TRX Worth The Money?

This knife is a weird one where I could both say that I like the knife a lot, but I do think it’s a little overpriced.

S30V is a nice blade steel and the BOS heat treat holds an edge well for heavy outdoors use. I’ve done a fair bit of bushcraft tasks with the knife (no batoning) and it performs well.

But for a little over $100 one might expect a smoother opening action and at least washer bearings. One might have expected a steel liner beneath it as well rather than an entirely G10 handle (even though G10 is very strong). Especially since the lockback design these Buck knives have classically used have always had thick, steel liners.

Perhaps part of the modern vibe this new Slim TRX embodies is to ditch a liner so that more of the knife can be made of modern materials.

But regarding price, I’ve still seen S30V knives cheaper than this, and knives with much smoother action.

However, it is worth saying to the knife’s credit that the fit and finish otherwise is excellent, and the knife feels extremely rugged despite also being svelte.

If you love Buck knives and you’re willing to spend the money to have a reimagined classic knife in great materials, you’ll probably be quite happy with this.

If you generally buy other knife brands, especially if to you spending $100+ would be reserved for a very special knife with really smooth action, you may find this knife overpriced for what you receive.

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