Rough Rider’s Hunter's Buddy Upswept Skinner(RR1245)
Why I bought it:
I bought the Hunter Buddy on the spur of the moment as a means to get the free shipping special on a Knives Live TV order. At $9.99 I figured I couldn’t go wrong. Considering the knife saved me $7.99 in shipping, I technically got it for $2.00. All in all I’m pleased with the knife but it does have a few flaws.
Upon arrival, I discovered this is one of the few Rough Rider knives made in the SMKW Pakistan factory and not their usual factory located in China. The blade is not marked 440 Stainless but is pad stamped Pakistan, so the steel used in the blade is suspect. I was also upset to find the blade was not nearly as sharp as all the other Rough Rider fixed blades that were made in the China factory. In order to use this knife you will need to sharpen it first. The only way to tell if the steel is 440 will probably be by comparing its edge retention and hardness to other knives. As the knife is not from the same factory, it is hard to know if the Rockwell rating for the blade is the same as the Chinese produced Rough Riders.
The Stag: The stag is actually quite mice for a knife in this price range. I’m not sure if a right handed person would be as happy with the shape of the stag but it seems to be a perfect fit for my left hand. As you can see, it doesn’t look like the stag seen in all the stock photos. No two pieces of stag are going to be exactly alike.
The Blade: The blade has a very nice profile and the gimping for the thumb is well done. It also comes well polished and the tang is firmly attached to the handle. All in all the build is very solid.
Guard & Pommel. The brass guard and pommel with the red spacers set off the stag handle quite well. I’m more partial to the guard than the pommel. I’ve never really cared for the hook on the end of the pommel however it does help to keep the hand firmly positioned on the grip. I can see the utility of the design.
Sheath: The sheath well made from a thick piece of leather. While it is stitched with thread it remains quite solid. Being natural un-dyed leather it should darken nicely with age and oiling. It has no defining marks and so could easily be used with numerous other small bladed skinning or hunting knives. All in all an excellent sheath, especially considering the price of the knife.
The Hunter's Buddy with sheath and packaging. The card stock box is exceptionally nice looking.
A view of the Hunter's Buddy in the sheath. I really like the guard strap used to hold the knife securely in the sheath. The sheath is similar to those used on SMKW's American Hunter Series, including some of the American made knives.
Summing things up:
The Hunter’s Buddy appears to be very similar to SMKW small skinner in their American Hunter Series. The sheath is almost a dead ringer in every respect. While it is a well made knife, it would be nice to know what steel is used in the blade and it would be much nicer if it came sharper. Still at $10 it is hard to argue with the fit, finish and over quality of the build. As we have often heard salesmen say,” the sheath is worth that much”. In the case of the sheath that comes with the knife, they are probably correct. I’ve bought $40 and $50 knives that came with leather sheaths that were of poorer quality than the one that came with the Hunter’s Buddy.
If you’re looking for a sharp, top of the line Upswept skinner that will last you a life time, this isn’t the knife. If you’re looking for a nice little knife that looks good, that you plan on beating to hell and tossing at the end of the season, this one might be just the ticket. It might even last longer than you think. Of course you’re going to need to sharpen it.
The great thing is: if you lose the Hunter’s Buddy or if you beat it to death camping and hunting; you’ll want to hang on to the sheath for that next small hunter you pick up. The sheath for this one may prove to be better.
The Hunter’s Buddy could also be the perfect knife to give as a young hunter’s first knife. It would be perfect knife to learn the proper way to sharpen as well as all the other aspects of proper knife care.
The Hunter's Buddy compared to the Colt's Wide Belly Skinner (CT 405) Both are made in Pakistan and sport genuine rolled stag handles. The stag on my Rough Rider seems more natural and in my opinion actually nicer looking. Both TM's are owned by SMKW and both knives were made in Pakistan.
Shown for comparison, from top to bottom: