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Pat’s Product Review: Buck Knives CSAR-T Folder

I know a little something about being a first responder to an accident scene. In another life, I was a paramedic, and later in life, I was a police officer. So, I’ve been to more than my share of accidents, and one thing that was usually needed in many traffic accidents, was a good sharp knife, that could cut a person out of their seat belt, or cut some of their clothes off for urgent medical care. So, I appreciate a good sharp knife, more so than most folks do.
 
Buck Knives (www.buckknives.com) has been around since 1902. No matter how you look at it, that’s a long, long time for any company to stay in business. I can’t remember exactly when I saw my first Buck knife, but I remember it was one of their fixed blade hunting knives in the 1960s, and later on the famous Buck 110 folding knife, which is widely copied by many. It says a lot when other companies copy your products – it also cuts into the profits of the company that originated with a knife design, too. Imitated, but never duplicated!
 
Some months ago, I received the Buck Knives Responder CSAR-T
folder. This is a collaboration between Buck Knives and TOPS Knives – two very well-known knife companies, to be sure. I was immediately impressed with how stout the CSAR-T folder was. It struck me as being US Marine-proof. A lot of folks say, if you want to see how well a product is made, give it to a US Marine – if there is a way to destroy it – they’ll figure it out. If a US Marine can destroy the CSAR-T folder, in the course of their duties, I’d be surprised!
 
This rugged folder has a heavy duty blade that is 0.120" thick – it’s a modified tanto shaped blade, too – one of my favorite designs for a number of reasons. The stainless steel blade is made out of Buck’s time-tested 420HC, with a soft satin finish, that Buck calls a Zirblast finish. The knife is 5-1/4" closed and weighs in at 7.0 oz (9.3 oz carry weight in the  included heavy-duty Nylon MOLLE-compatible sheath). There is also a pocket/clothing clip on the handle for carrying in a pants pocket, too. There is also a reversible tip-up carry option for carrying in the right or left front pocket of your pants. The handle scales are textured black G10 – some of the toughest stuff around for a handle material – it’s nearly indestructible! The lock on the folder is a liner-type lock, pretty strong, too!
 
In Buck’s press release, it says the CSAR-T is "tough enough to use for prying…" Okay, almost every knife company that I’m aware of, says to not use a folding knife (or even a fixed blade knife) for prying purposes. On a folder, the blade can easily separate for the handle – and it could cause serious injury to the user – on fixed blade knives, the blade can break. So, I’ve always been of the opinion that knives should be used for cutting purposes, and not as pry bars. Stupid me! Well, I here to tell you, I did some prying with the CSAR-T sample, and it worked, too. No, I didn’t attempt to lift my SUV with it, but I did do some pretty heavy prying and twisting into wood and while doing other chores, and the CSAR-T wasn’t damaged. I showed the sample around to a lot of folks, including a police officer, and they all commented on how stout the knife was, and that it would probably never break – I concur!
 
Of course, like all Buck Knives, my sample was very sharp right out of the box – I would have been surprised if it wasn’t. So, the knife is capable of cutting just about anything you run across. Now, that’s a good thing – however, I’d hesitate to use a knife this sharp for cutting away clothing on an injured person or cutting a seat belt – I wouldn’t want to lose control of the blade and cause more injury to the person. Well, Buck and TOPS thought about this. At the butt end of the handle there is an integrated glass breaker for tempered glass, and a very efficient seat belt/clothing cutter – that you don’t have to worry about losing control of the knife and cutting yourself or the person you’re trying to aid. You can’t get your finger into the seat belt cutter, either – its practically fool-proof. What’s nice about the glass breaker tip on the butt of the knife, and the seat belt cutter is that, you don’t have to deploy the main blade to use either of their extra tools – kool!
 
Buck and TOPS wasn’t content with all of the above, and wanted to add a little something more to the CSAR-T, so they added a bit-compatible handle cut-out, and you can use various hex tools – Buck offers this tool set as an option to match it all. So, you can do something other than just cut or break tempered glass with this folder.
 
I wasn’t about to attempt to break the tempered glass on any of my vehicles, and I couldn’t get anyone to volunteer their rig’s glass either. So, I found an old broken window in my carport – don’t know why I still had it there, but it was there. I took the CSAR-T sample by the handle and only lightly tapped on the glass, and it shattered into several pieces. So, I have zero doubts the glass breaker feature will break a tempered windshield on a vehicle. As to the seat belt cutter – I wasn’t about to cut any seat belts, either. But I did have some Nylon material laying around, that is almost identical to seat belt material. I’m here to tell you, this seat belt cutter simply zoomed right through this material like a hot knife through butter. So, this would be a great tool to have at an accident scene, where a person is trapped by their seat belt – and I’ve seen this happen numerous times, too. For some reason, the seat belt release won’t release – and you have no choice but to cut it to free the person.
 
I know, a folding knife isn’t meant or designed to be a throwing knife, but I just had to try my hand at it. The CSAR-T failed as a throwing knife…well, I just had to do "something" to prove this folder couldn’t do it all.  The knife is handle-heavy, and no matter how many times I threw the knife, I couldn’t make it stick – the handle always hit first. Ok, ok, it wasn’t a fair test as the knife wasn’t designed for this chore – but I still had fun and there was no damage to the knife either – that’s a good thing.
 
As a self-defense tool, the CSAR-T would really shine, too. There is enough blade length there to do some serious damage in slashing or stabbing techniques and the blade is super sharp. And, should you choose to not use the blade against someone, you can still use the knife as an impact weapon – striking first with the front of the handle – and if that doesn’t discourage an attacker, then strike with the butt end of the handle, where the glass breaker is – that will make a person wish they had chosen another person to attack.
 
Like many Buck Knives, the CSAR-T folder is a bit hard to find. Buck sells them as fast as they make them. And, to top it all off, there are a couple other CSAR models you can choose from, too. They even have some fixed blade models. Full-retail on the CSAR-T (Model 091) is $147 and you get a lot of knife for that money, and it has the Buck/TOPS name on it, too. Check one out, you’ll like it! – SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio


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SurvivalBlog.com on 23 April 2012

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