When I was looking for a cheap, but decent work knife about two years ago, my first thought was to the Buck Bantam line. I had seen them before and had actually purchased a Bantam BLW as a gift (which the recipient liked quite well), but had never used one myself. However, having gotten to handle the gift knife, I knew that the Bantam line consisted of decent knives at a very cheap price. As a result when looking for a knife that would get fairly hard use, get dirty, and generally show wear, my thoughts went toward the Bantam BLW, which is the mid-size knife of the Bantam line. I don’t like small knives, so the Bantam BBW and Nano Bantam (the smallest models) were out and I couldn’t get the larger model (Bantam BHW) locally.
The Bantam BLW is a mid-size tactical-style folder with a blade length of just over 3”. Blade shape is somewhere between a clip and drop point, but closer to a clip. I do like the blade shape quite well. It was handy for the tasks I needed it to do. A thumb stud is provided for one-handed opening. The thumb stud itself worked fine, but I still could not easily open the BLW one-handed because of the handle, as I mention later. The pocket clip is fine – not the strongest, but it did the job. The steel is Buck’s well heat-treated 420 HC. I can’t say that edge holding was perfect, but it was a little better than the Kershaw Nerve that I am using right now.
The locking mechanism is a lock back. The lock back worked great, but I just do not care for lockback knives. I much prefer liner locks (or Benchmade’s axis lock). That is nothing against Buck’s lockback, though, it just isn’t to my preference. The only real downside of the whole knife to me was the handles, a very light thermoplastic. The thermoplastic was comfortable and I liked the feel, but they were altogether too light. It was almost impossible to open the knife one-handed, because the handle did not provide a sturdy thumb rest. Also, when I needed to lightly pry or cut at an odd angle, the handles did not have enough weight and stability.
Basically, I did like the knife as a whole, especially for the cost. The price is unbeatable if you can get it from the right stores (somewhere around $15) and, at that price, the Bantam BLW is a decent deal. If you need a sturdier knife or a knife that will always open one-handed, you would be best to look at something else, like one of Kershaw’s value line like the Nerve or Tremor or some of Buck’s other options, like the Vantage Select. It is not a bad knife for its price, but with other choices from Buck, Kershaw, and even a couple Gerber models, you can probably get a much better knife for only a little more money.