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Buck Navigator 4907

Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,213
Buck Navigator
« on: July 28, 2007, 09:56:23 PM »
Like many folks, the first time I saw it was five years ago in the 2002 Cabelas Outdoors catalog. I always flip to the cutlery section first, then slow down, scanning through the knives as I begin to home in on the multitool section. In those days before I was internet addicted, the Cabelas catalog was the best indication of new gear for the upcoming season. What would be the hot item this year?

There, down at the bottom of the page, beneath the Leathermans and the Gerbers, was a most unusual looking device. A multitool? With a carabiner?

Sure enough, it was the Buck Navigator, and it looked like no other multitool has before or since.



At first glance, the Navigator catches your attention with its unusual lines and bright colors. Half a decade ago, the Leatherman Juice series was still only a year old, so multitools with color anodized aluminum scales were still fresh and exciting. The ones pictured in Cabelas fired my imagination and whet my desire. Despite the steep $55.00 list price, I was immediately on the phone, credit card in hand.

“Our apologies, this item is not yet in stock,” came the sales clerk’s voice, “Please try again in 4 to 6 weeks.” Bummer.  :(

As near as I can determine, Cabelas never received a single tool from Buck. Nor did any of the literally dozens of internet sites that featured the Navigator for sale. Pictures were shown, features were listed, and color options were offered, but nobody ever stated that the new tool was actually “in stock.” Two years after the initial SHOT SHOW introduction, retail sites in North America and Europe continued to advertise the Navigator as “Coming Soon!” It never happened. Cabelas listed it in a second edition catalog, then gave up. Eventually, so did everyone else. 

So what the heck happened? Despite numerous inquiries, company reps from Buck Knives never would tell. But after obtaining a few pre-production samples, I think I’ve got a pretty good idea:

My theory is that the whole Navigator fiasco was somewhat of an embarrassment for Buck. I don't know the whole story of course, but it seems that Buck was not going to manufacture the tool themselves, at their American facility. Instead they sent the project overseas. When pre-production prototypes were not up to Buck’s hard-earned reputation for quality, they were unwilling or unable to improve. Unknown how long they struggled at it before finally dumping the whole project.

What seems so mind-boggling to me is how far along things progressed before they pulled the plug! I mean, the Navigator was listed for sale on dozens of web sites and was advertised in several big-name sporting catalogs. Wholesale orders would have been placed, photo spreads taken, and spec sheets distributed. I don’t imagine it would be cheap (or good for Buck’s reputation with their distributors) to cancel a product so late in the game. But they did. Amazing.



So about this Navigator anyhow:
Right from the start it was to be produced in three different colors, black, blue, and purple. The handle scales are anodized plates of aluminum, attached to the frame by a number of rivets. The frame itself, as well as the plier jaws, are of a laminated construction. Individual plates are stamped out on a press, then the whole sandwich is stacked up and riveted together. (The same process was used to produce the plier jaws on the Schrade Tough Tool a few years ago.)  Individual plates can be seen in the edge-view pictured below.



One handle is completely occupied by a carabiner with a single piece spring-steel gate. (Personally, I’m not convinced that a carabiner feature is worth giving up four other blades and drivers for, but maybe that’s just me.) The 10mm gate opening is adequate, the spring action is strong and operates flawlessly.



The opposite handle is equipped with a combination plain edge/serrated edge knife blade, a file, a medium screwdriver, and a cap lifter/can opener. All four of these blades are conveniently outside-opening. (Accessible without opening up the handles and pliers.)

The knife is about 2-1/2 inches (63mm) long, and can be flipped open by right handers via a thumb stud. Once open, it stays that way until released using a standard liner lock spring in the handle.

Operation of the knife blades on all three of my Navigators are excessively crude and sloppy, no doubt because these are early prototype examples.



Next to the knife are a couple of short stubby devices, somewhat resembling a screwdriver and a can opener. Neither look to be up to their intended tasks. Again, one can only assume that if production of the Navigator had moved forward, these blades would have been improved and refined.

The other “long” tool is a two-sided file, with course teeth on one side and fine on the other.

(Note no Phillips screwdriver, no scissors, and no saw. This is the price to be paid for having a full sized carabiner occupying one entire handle.)



The ergonomics on the Navigator are…….bad. Really bad. When using the pliers, holding the tool in your hand one way results in the asymmetrical handle digging into your palm. Flip the tool over, and the asymmetric part pushes against your pinky finger, forcing the rest of your hand to ride up on the plier jaws. Not impressive.

An even worse experience is trying to fold the tool away when you are through using it. The fiddle frustration factor is enormous, and I’ve never managed to accomplish the fold-up cleanly on the first try. Or the second.



Given all the issues Buck was facing with the Navigator, I suppose they looked at their cards and decided to fold. Personally, I think the problems were all solvable. Perhaps the communication gap between Asia and North America was just too great to overcome five years ago. I dunno. As it is, the Navigator is a rare and exclusive item, probably only valuable to collectors. I wouldn’t trade mine for anything, but I know of one member who would…… ;)

Bob

In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
No Life Club Posts: 3,592 Supreme Planetary Overlord trainee
Re: Buck Navigator
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2007, 10:17:37 PM »
Great write-up about one of the biggest might have beens yet in multi-tools.May be Buck will find a company that will work with them to work out all the kinks,and the Navigator see the light of day as a production item.I don't see any reason why a company couldn't market two different concepts  in multi-tools.

I
Hero Member Posts: 692
Re: Buck Navigator
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2007, 11:59:05 PM »
Nice story J-sews! 

The Buck Navigator sort of reminds me of the Leatherman Freestyle/Skeletool.  The Leatherman tools will lack the file but I expect the quality of the construction to be better and it'll have a Phillips.
Formerly known as 665ae No Life Club Posts: 3,370 blah blah blah
Re: Buck Navigator
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2007, 12:40:51 AM »
(Image removed from quote.)

Hahahahaha... nice choice of map for that picture.  That's just about where I live!  My house would be about a half inch off the right side of the pic and about 1 inch up from the bottom :)

If you took all the intestines out of your body and stretched them end to end... you would die.
Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,213
Re: Buck Navigator
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2007, 12:53:42 AM »
Hehe, I wondered if you would catch that!  ;D

In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,213
Re: Buck Navigator
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2008, 03:35:53 PM »
Hey! I just stumbled across the original patent for this thing:  http://www.google.com/patents?id=rWoJAAAAEBAJ&printsec=abstract&zoom=4&dq=6470522#PPP1,M1

(Been wondering about it for awhile now) :)

In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
Sr. Member Posts: 289
Re: Buck Navigator
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2008, 04:04:18 PM »
How many pins do you need to stick in a tool? Why are there 4 of them in the plierhead? It makes it look horrible.
Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,213
Re: Buck Navigator
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2008, 05:10:31 PM »
Agreed.  :-\

That's the price to be paid for laminated-plate constructon, instead of casting the entire jaw as one piece.

In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
No Life Club Posts: 4,120 "Survival must be earned"-Klingon Proverb
Re: Buck Navigator
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2008, 12:28:36 AM »
Looks modern,,,,,,but does it work? :think:

"Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall;
 Some run from breaks of ice, and answer none:
 And some condemned for a fault alone." -William Shakespeare, King Lear (1608), Act IV, scene 6, line 169
Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,213
Re: Buck Navigator
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2008, 12:50:50 AM »
Looks modern,,,,,,but does it work? :think:

Nope. The prototypes are a total piece o' crud.  :(   

Course, they surely would have improved by the time production started. Never got that far though. Buck pulled the plug on the whole operation. :-\

In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
Head Turd Polisher Administrator Just Bananas Posts: 61,400 Optimum instrumentum est inter aures
Re: Buck Navigator
« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2008, 01:12:09 PM »
Good to see you back Doug! :D

Def

Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.
No Life Club Posts: 2,332
Re: Buck Navigator
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2008, 02:35:31 PM »
bosdef, those buck navigators look like transformer autobots to me. :D
Head Turd Polisher Administrator Just Bananas Posts: 61,400 Optimum instrumentum est inter aures
Re: Buck Navigator
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2008, 02:41:21 PM »
I thought the same thing! :D



Def

Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.
Hero Member Posts: 561
Re: Buck Navigator
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2008, 03:36:15 PM »
Hi Doug,

The marking on the Navigator prototypes is in line with the other Whittaker Bucks.  The Summit and the X-Tract 730 and 731 all have "Buck Whittaker" without the product name.  I understand from Bob and Def that the X-Tract Fin will only say Buck on the handle.

Cheers - Joe

Head Turd Polisher Administrator Just Bananas Posts: 61,400 Optimum instrumentum est inter aures
Re: Buck Navigator
« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2008, 03:39:44 PM »
Yeah, we asked specifically abotu that when talking to Buck's representative, so unless something has changed since then, there will be no Whittaker name or logo on them.

Def

Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.
Hero Member Posts: 561
Re: Buck Navigator
« Reply #15 on: April 04, 2008, 09:08:31 PM »
Hi Doug,

Indeed I did and am tickled pink about these.

Were there prototypes made with and without partially-serrated blades?

Cheers - Joe
Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,213
Re: Buck Navigator
« Reply #16 on: April 05, 2008, 01:38:03 AM »
Mine are all partially serrated....

In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
No Life Club Posts: 4,541 Apparently it is possible to have too many tools;)
Re: Buck Navigator
« Reply #17 on: February 06, 2019, 04:40:24 PM »
Mine are all partially serrated....

All of mine are also partially serrated.

babola: "Enjoy your tools and don't be afraid to air your opinion and feelings here, but do it in courteous and respectable way toward others, of course."
No Life Club Posts: 2,422 Douglas's papa
Re: Buck Navigator
« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2019, 06:28:38 PM »
This sort of thing is not at all uncommon in the firearms industry, lots of advertising with little or no production at all. :dunno:

Shoot low sheriff, they're riddin' shetlands
SAKMC unit number BR549
137% Redneck
I would like to apologise to anyone I have not offended. Please be patient, I will get to you shortly.
Just a small personal observation.  ...........I would not be at all surprised that when God created the Earth & the heavens, that the SwissChamp was the tool he used. .............. :hatsoff:
No Life Club Posts: 2,422 Douglas's papa
Re: Buck Navigator
« Reply #19 on: February 06, 2019, 09:13:40 PM »
 :ahhh

Shoot low sheriff, they're riddin' shetlands
SAKMC unit number BR549
137% Redneck
I would like to apologise to anyone I have not offended. Please be patient, I will get to you shortly.
Just a small personal observation.  ...........I would not be at all surprised that when God created the Earth & the heavens, that the SwissChamp was the tool he used. .............. :hatsoff:
Full Member Posts: 127
Re: Buck Navigator
« Reply #20 on: February 08, 2020, 03:04:40 PM »
> ALL

This post is not mine originally, but J-sew’s post.
Due to some issues around photobucket.com, you can hardly see many important photos posted by J-sew.
So I will back up his photos and restore some of his posts.



Original posted by J-sews;
Buck Navigator


Like many folks, the first time I saw it was five years ago in the 2002 Cabelas Outdoors catalog. I always flip to the cutlery section first, then slow down, scanning through the knives as I begin to home in on the multitool section. In those days before I was internet addicted, the Cabelas catalog was the best indication of new gear for the upcoming season. What would be the hot item this year?

There, down at the bottom of the page, beneath the Leathermans and the Gerbers, was a most unusual looking device. A multitool? With a carabiner?

Sure enough, it was the Buck Navigator, and it looked like no other multitool has before or since.



At first glance, the Navigator catches your attention with its unusual lines and bright colors. Half a decade ago, the Leatherman Juice series was still only a year old, so multitools with color anodized aluminum scales were still fresh and exciting. The ones pictured in Cabelas fired my imagination and whet my desire. Despite the steep $55.00 list price, I was immediately on the phone, credit card in hand.

“Our apologies, this item is not yet in stock,” came the sales clerk’s voice, “Please try again in 4 to 6 weeks.” Bummer.  :(

As near as I can determine, Cabelas never received a single tool from Buck. Nor did any of the literally dozens of internet sites that featured the Navigator for sale. Pictures were shown, features were listed, and color options were offered, but nobody ever stated that the new tool was actually “in stock.” Two years after the initial SHOT SHOW introduction, retail sites in North America and Europe continued to advertise the Navigator as “Coming Soon!” It never happened. Cabelas listed it in a second edition catalog, then gave up. Eventually, so did everyone else. 

So what the heck happened? Despite numerous inquiries, company reps from Buck Knives never would tell. But after obtaining a few pre-production samples, I think I’ve got a pretty good idea:

My theory is that the whole Navigator fiasco was somewhat of an embarrassment for Buck. I don't know the whole story of course, but it seems that Buck was not going to manufacture the tool themselves, at their American facility. Instead they sent the project overseas. When pre-production prototypes were not up to Buck’s hard-earned reputation for quality, they were unwilling or unable to improve. Unknown how long they struggled at it before finally dumping the whole project.

What seems so mind-boggling to me is how far along things progressed before they pulled the plug! I mean, the Navigator was listed for sale on dozens of web sites and was advertised in several big-name sporting catalogs. Wholesale orders would have been placed, photo spreads taken, and spec sheets distributed. I don’t imagine it would be cheap (or good for Buck’s reputation with their distributors) to cancel a product so late in the game. But they did. Amazing.



So about this Navigator anyhow:
Right from the start it was to be produced in three different colors, black, blue, and purple. The handle scales are anodized plates of aluminum, attached to the frame by a number of rivets. The frame itself, as well as the plier jaws, are of a laminated construction. Individual plates are stamped out on a press, then the whole sandwich is stacked up and riveted together. (The same process was used to produce the plier jaws on the Schrade Tough Tool a few years ago.)  Individual plates can be seen in the edge-view pictured below.



One handle is completely occupied by a carabiner with a single piece spring-steel gate. (Personally, I’m not convinced that a carabiner feature is worth giving up four other blades and drivers for, but maybe that’s just me.) The 10mm gate opening is adequate, the spring action is strong and operates flawlessly.



The opposite handle is equipped with a combination plain edge/serrated edge knife blade, a file, a medium screwdriver, and a cap lifter/can opener. All four of these blades are conveniently outside-opening. (Accessible without opening up the handles and pliers.)

The knife is about 2-1/2 inches (63mm) long, and can be flipped open by right handers via a thumb stud. Once open, it stays that way until released using a standard liner lock spring in the handle.

Operation of the knife blades on all three of my Navigators are excessively crude and sloppy, no doubt because these are early prototype examples.



Next to the knife are a couple of short stubby devices, somewhat resembling a screwdriver and a can opener. Neither look to be up to their intended tasks. Again, one can only assume that if production of the Navigator had moved forward, these blades would have been improved and refined.

The other “long” tool is a two-sided file, with course teeth on one side and fine on the other.

(Note no Phillips screwdriver, no scissors, and no saw. This is the price to be paid for having a full sized carabiner occupying one entire handle.)



The ergonomics on the Navigator are…….bad. Really bad. When using the pliers, holding the tool in your hand one way results in the asymmetrical handle digging into your palm. Flip the tool over, and the asymmetric part pushes against your pinky finger, forcing the rest of your hand to ride up on the plier jaws. Not impressive.

An even worse experience is trying to fold the tool away when you are through using it. The fiddle frustration factor is enormous, and I’ve never managed to accomplish the fold-up cleanly on the first try. Or the second.



Given all the issues Buck was facing with the Navigator, I suppose they looked at their cards and decided to fold. Personally, I think the problems were all solvable. Perhaps the communication gap between Asia and North America was just too great to overcome five years ago. I dunno. As it is, the Navigator is a rare and exclusive item, probably only valuable to collectors. I wouldn’t trade mine for anything, but I know of one member who would…… ;)

Bob
Global Moderator Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here... Posts: 47,346
Re: Buck Navigator
« Reply #21 on: February 08, 2020, 03:25:36 PM »
 :like: :tu:
Global Moderator Just Bananas Posts: 60,417
Re: Buck Navigator
« Reply #22 on: February 08, 2020, 04:16:52 PM »
Awesome that you have restored the pics,  hiraboo :salute: :tu: :like:

 

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