When it comes to Case knives, a very few are quite as controversial as the Sod Buster. I've found that folks either love this knife, or flat out hate the way it looks. It largely depends on the buyer's intended purpose for the knife. It is a work knife, plain and simple. While some folks do collect this pattern, it is generally viewed as more of a "buy-to-use" kind of knife, purchased more for work than beauty.
Knife Pictured: #00092 Black Synthetic Sod Buster
The Sod Buster comes in 2 forms: The Sod Buster and the Sod Buster Jr; with the former being obviously larger. While the Sod Buster is built on a #38 pattern, the Jr is built upon a #37 pattern.
Prior to the production of Sod Busters, the pattern #38 was actually used for producing a 4 blade Congress. These were produced prior to 1915.
With today's production, patterns #37 & #38 are identical with the exception that #38 is notably larger. Pattern #38 measures 4 5/8" closed, while pattern #37 measures only 3 5/8" closed.
The Sod Buster was introduced to the Case family sometime in the mid to late 1960s and the Sod Buster Jr a short time later by 1970. Both forms of the Sod Buster are still produced today, though not in every handle material released. Most often they're made using synthetic composite handles, however bone handles are becoming more common; especially in the Sod Buster Jr. The blade is generally a Skinner blade, though it's not uncommon to see knives that have been custom ordered with a different blade such as a Clip or Spear.
So where does the name "Sod Buster" come from?
From everything I can find, that seems to be largely up for debate. However, one thing is for certain: it stems back to the fact that this is a knife made for rural workers. With origins in France, Spain, Germany and Italy, they all have one thing in common: this knife was used by farmers and blue collar folk. Just as it still it today. Many folks consider the term "Sod Buster" to have been a derogatory term to describe poor farmers through early 20th century America.
Be sure to check back next weekend for the next in our series: Know Your Patterns!