As a young Soldier in 1974 I purchased a Buck Model 124 Frontiersman from the PX in Baumholder, Germany for what I recall was about $35. That represented 20% of my monthly take home pay at the time so this was a significant financial investment for me.
For 38 years I’ve used this knife to clear brush from fields of fire, construct fighting positions, open C-ration cans, cut commo wire, rope, leather straps and canvass webbing.
This is an incredible general purpose camp knife with a hollow ground, 4.5 mm thick, 6.25″ 420HC stainless steel blade and a total weight with sheath of just over 13 oz.
420HC knife steel: 420HC steel is a higher carbon version of 420 steel. 420HC steel has .4 to .5% carbon and about 13% chromium. This is a lesser quality steel but when it is properly heat treated – which Buck Knives does – it produces a good general purpose knife steel with good corrosion resistance and edge holding ability. (Source: NorthAmericanKnives.com)
In my extensive personal experience with this steel I can report that it holds a great edge, doesn’t (easily) chip and has never, ever developed a speck of rust, despite extensive use in world-wide Infantry operations in South American jungles, monsoons in South Korea and the swamps of southern Georgia… all the while carried in a leather sheath.
Incidentally the sheath finally gave out and I replaced it with a custom-made leather sheath from legendary knife maker Randall Made Knives.
The knife is lightweight while still retaining enough blade weight to easily lop off 1-2″ branches, for example. This I attribute to its hollow ground blade.
I have batoned with this blade and in that role it performs well enough, although not as well as a longer saber ground or full flat ground blade would.
The Frontiersman went out of production in the early 90s, but I recently found it online at KnifeCenter.com for an incredible $122 new! Until now the few surviving examples of this knife have sold for as much as $450 for years at places like eBay.com.
The bottom line is that this camp knife is the appropriate length to be useful without being too long, heavy enough for real work without being too heavy, thick enough to be reliable without being ridiculous, and made of excellent steel that will provide decades of hard service.
If you decide to pick one up I can promise you that you won’t be disappointed.