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Archive | Hunting

Rocky Mountain Bullseye C.A.T. from TOPS Knives

Just over a week ago, TOPS Knives introduced their C.A.T. knives with a new grip pattern called Cryptic Cyber. Now they have released a second grip pattern option with a very cool back story.

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The new Rockey Mountain Bullseye texture came about serendipitously! The folks at TOPS were machining handles when a machining error created a divot pattern in the surface of the grip slab. It looked good and it felt good so the only thing left to do was program the machine to make the mistake divots on purpose. I wish my mistakes turned out so well.

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The new texture is available on the C.A.T. knives in both drop point and tanto. The C.A.T. series is a mainstay of the TOPS Knives lineup thanks to their handy size and versatile shapes.

TOPS Knives launched the new scales today and they are available at an introductory price in both the Tanto version and Hunter’s Point (drop point).

  • Blade length: 3 1/4″
  • Overall length: 7 1/4″
  • Thickness: 5/32″
  • Scales: Black G-10
  • Steel: 1095
  • Sheath: Kydex with multi-position steel clip
  • Weight: 7.5 oz

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TOPS Knives Overlander 2

The Overlander 2 is the first of TOPS Knives’ SHOT Show debuts to be released. This general utility knife looks ready to work.

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The Overlander 2 has a 4″ blade that is ground from 3/16″ 1095 steel. The drop point blade features a half height flat grind which leaves plenty of steel through the spine and tip for strength. The scales are oiled tan canvas micarta and have subtle palm swells. It comes with an individually fit Kydex sheath with steel belt clip.

Check out the new Overlander 2 at TOPS Knives.

Ontario Knives RAT Mod Limited Edition

Ontario Knife Company is teasing us with an interesting new limited edition version of the RAT-3. The knife has features that several RAT-3 users have been clamoring for since the knife hit the market.

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The knife has had the choil and guard area of the of the original design ground away to form a smooth transition from handle to blade. The blade is slightly offset from the handle to form a sort of self guard. The handles are wood and thicker than the original handles. They also feature divets near the blade to make pinch grip cuts possible. The blade is uncoated and the sheath is leather.

Stay tuned for additional details.

Review: TOPS Knives Baja 3.0

The TOPS Knives Baja 3.0 has a size complex. It is small enough to be pocketable but it boasts a blade larger than you would expect.

TOPS Knives Baja 30

Overview

The Baja 3.0 is a TOPS Knives creation through and through. They often follow a simple formula and get great results. That formula is quality 1095 steel + micarta slab handles + solid heat treat + usable sheath = great knife. This one doesn’t stray far and that is a good thing.

  • Steel: 1095 carbon steel
  • Thickness: 1/8″
  • Blade length: 3″
  • Overall length: 6 1/4″
  • Blade shape: Drop point
  • Primary grind: Full height flat grind
  • Scales: Green canvas micarta
  • Coating: Tan traction coating
  • Sheath: Leather pouch style sheath (can be worn vertically or horizontally)

TOPS Knives Baja 30 Handle

Observations from Use

The Baja 3.0 is comfortable to hold and use. The handle is lightly contoured and the scales are flat but grooved for texture. The butt of the knife is turned down a bit and this curve rests nicely on the ring finger. Some users will be able to get all four fingers on the grip.

TOPS Knives added jimping on the spine and the self guard area. The spine jimping is well placed and provides grip during cuts that require you to back the blade with your thumb. I could do without the jimping on the self guard but it isn’t so aggressive that it is uncomfortable.

The first thing that jumped out at me when I unwrapped the Baja 3.0 is just how much cutting edge is packed into a relatively small knife. It is just 6 1/4″ long and 3″ of that is blade. When measured from tip to handle scale (instead of the plunge line), it is actually more like 3 1/4″ of blade with 3″ of handle. That is a lot of blade for a knife in this size range.

TOPS Knives Baja 30 Spacers

There are times when I am glad it has that much blade but I often find myself wishing it was 1/4″ – 1/2″ shorter. That would leave plenty of edge for an EDC fixed blade and make this knife just a bit more compact overall. Maybe a Baja 2.5 is in the works!

Back in the day, you could expect a thick edge from TOPS Knives. Their edges were bomb proof but they didn’t always cut so well. This little Baja 3.0 is just the opposite. It has a very tall flat grind and distal taper that results in very aggressive cutter with a fine point. TOPS Knives turns the point down just a bit to keep it strong. This knife came to me shaving sharp (literally, I always check on my arm hair) and it graduated to laser status without much work on a strop. The combination of flat grind, carbon steel, and good edge geometry almost always creates a solid cutter that is easy to maintain. That is definitely the case here with the Baja 3.0.

The sheath is of good quality. The leather is fairly thick and it has double stitched construction. It is ambidextrous in design and holds the knife securely. There is some kind of insert in the bottom of the sheath to protect from pushing the knife through. In addition to belt carry, the rounded shape lends itself well to back pocket carry. While the sheath is well made, I do find myself wishing that the Baja 3.0 came with one of TOPS Knives Kydex sheaths with metal clip. They are a little smaller on the belt and I like how easy their metal clips are to place on the belt. This is purely a preference and I suspect that many users will prefer the leather.

TOPS Knives Baja 30 in Sheath

Normally, I don’t really care what a knife looks like as long as it works. The Baja 3.0 certainly works but I think it could be a lot more attractive without the brass crosshead screw that is used in the handle construction. It is a tiny nit to pick but it just looks out of place.

The size of this knife allows it to work well for a variety of tasks. This is a true general purpose knife. It may not be the right tool for every cutting job, but it is rarely the wrong tool. It is great as an EDC fixed blade due to its compact size and more than enough blade for opening boxes, cutting strings, and other typical tasks that an EDC knife must perform. It would also make a good hunting knife. I prefer a more compact knife for dressing game up to whitetail deer size and the Baja 3.0 is ideal for that. Surprisingly, it is pretty handy in the kitchen as well. The blade is offset from the handle quite a bit allowing the user to get close to the cutting board.

TOPS Knives Baja 30 in Hand

Wrap Up

The Baja 3.0 is a solid offering that stacks up well with other similar EDCable fixed blades. I find myself wishing the blade was a bit shorter at times and the crosshead screw is a bit off putting but these are small nits to pick. It cuts like a laser thanks to a tall flat grind paired with 1/8″ stock. The handle is comfortable and offers plenty of purchase. The sheath is usable and well made. It is just a very solid, ready-to-use package.

More often than not, you’ll find mine tucked into my back pocket.

Diclosure: This product was sent to me by the manufacturer, free of charge, for review.

Ramos Knives Work Line

I own several knives that get pretty creative when in terms of design but the ones I actually reach for when there is work to do have 2 things in common: useful blade shapes and simple handles. These are the knives that are meant to do real work. These are knives like the Work Line from Ramos Knives.

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Earl Pittman from Impact Weapons Components turned me on to Ramos Knives and Earl knows good gear when he sees it.

The Work Line features ATS-34 steel out of which, by all accounts, Ramos Knives squeezes a lot of performance. The blade shapes are classic, simple, and exceedingly useful drop points with tapered hollow grinds that provide very useful tips and edges while leaving plenty of meat at the spine. The handle sports laminate wood slabs and has a generous palm swell. The Work Line is available in a variety of sizes.

Check out the Ramos Knives website and keep an eye on their Facebook page for frequent auctions.

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Bushmonkey Knives Ulu

I think the ulu, a traditional Inuit design, is an under appreciated knife. They excel at skinning and fleshing tasks while also making short work of many kitchen chores. In spite of their usefulness, the design remains largely unknown except by those who bring them home as souvenirs from Alaska vacations and very few makers in the Continental United States make them. That is why I was so excited to see the Ulu that Bushmonkey Knives has created.

bushmonkey ulu

The Bushmonkey Knives Ulu is fairly traditional in shape but very modern in execution. It is ground from 3/32″ O1 tool steel (or D2 for an additional fee) with a choice of a saber chisel bevel or a convex chisel bevel. The handle is available in a variety of G-10 and micarta options. It is 4″ tall and 4.5″ wide.

This looks like a great rendition of a classic design. Check out Bushmonkey Knives.

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Lerman Custom Knives – Nessmuk

Knife makers have been emulating George W. Sears’ , AKA Nessmuk, favored knife design ever since he wrote Woodcraft. The design is traditionally characterized by a distinctive overall “S” curve shape with a bull nose blade. However, many makers like to put their own spin on it.

Lerman Nessmuk

One of the most distinctive versions I have seen lately comes from Lerman Custom Knives. It is obvious at a glance that it is a Nessmuk and yet it has been stretched and modernized in a very attractive way. It is both traditional and modern at the same time and the combination is striking.

Check out Lerman Custom Knives.

ProTech Rockeye Fixed

Les George of George knives had a very successful SHOT Show 2014. In addition to the introduction of his dagger collaboration with Spartan Blades, a new fixed blade version of the ProTech Rockeye was introduced. ProTech, though mostly known for autos, makes some great fixed blade knives.

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The Rockeye Fixed is one of those designs that looks like it can do everything pretty well. The drop point blade has a fairly tall, flat primary grind with a false edge. The handle has knurled G-10 slabs, a deep first finger groove paired with a guard, and a heavily jimped thumb ramp.

This knife is 8.5″ overall with a 4″ blade. It is ground from .17″ thick 52100 steel. That’s right, I said 52100 steel. 52100 is a great steel that I rarely see makers working with any more. The Rockeye Fixed is available in a number of different Cerakote options that range from pretty mild to pretty wild. It comes with a nylon sheath with hard insert.

Check out the Rockeye Fixed at BladeHQ.

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