A versatile knife is one of the most useful tools to have in your survival kit, tool bag, or travel backpack. You don’t have to be Gene Kranz (Apollo 13) to figure that out!
Portable knives are usually small in size and are easy to conceal, but that doesn’t mean it cannot be used for all purposes. Even though small, an everyday knife is used for various tasks, from tearing packaging to opening boxes to cooking things like fish and meat.
If you are in a profession such as military service, fishing, hunting, or emergency service, you will regularly need a knife.
Besides being a utility tool, a knife also acts as a weapon for self-defense when a gun isn’t allowed or accessible. Knives come in different shapes and sizes. Some are bigger, called fixed blade knives, and they can be used for more heavy duty tasks. Since they cannot be folded, they are hard to conceal.
Small, foldable knives can be hidden inside a pocket or in a pair of boots or concealed in a belt buckle, without anyone noticing. Both fixed blade and folding knives can be used for wounding and killing if need be. Therefore in the wrong hands, it is a dangerous weapon (kind of like giving a knife to Steven Seagal or Chuck Norris!).
The knife is the earliest tool ever made by man and played a crucial role in civilization. The knife may mostly be seen as a weapon, but it is a tool that can prove to be useful in several situations. Whether you’re going for camping or putting together an emergency kit, a couple of knives in different sizes is absolutely essential.
For outdoor adventurers and survivalists, knives hold an important place. In fact, knives have been popular for years, with many companies exclusively making knives since the turn of the turn. It only goes to show how important knives are to a large section of people.
It goes without saying that branded knives are always better than no-name generic knives. That’s because branded knives have a reputation of quality and trust. They are made from the finest materials and last a long time, sometimes even being passed down from one generation to another.
One such reputed knife brand is Ontario Knife Company. Let’s find out more about them.
About Ontario Knives
Ontario Knife Company has been around for 125 years. This award-winning knife, cutlery, and tool company is based in New York is known for producing a wide range of cutlery, kitchenware, hunting and fishing knives, machetes, survival and rescue equipment, science and medical tools, and tactical knives.
Ontario has a long history of making knives and tools for the US military.
Ontario manufactured equipment has been in continuous service since WWII. Besides being a major supplier to the Armed Forces, Ontario Knife Company also has a network of distributors, dealers, and major commercial retailers that sell the products nationally and internationally in over 35 countries.
The beginning of the company is not clear, although it is known that William B. Ensworth, Charles Albert Brace, and William Maudsley started the company in Naples, New York, in 1889. The company was named after Ontario County. The earliest Knives manufactured by the company were produced using a waterpower-run grindstone and sold on a pushcart around the countryside.
In the year 1902, the business was moved from Cadiz to Franklinville when more space was required. That same year, the company was incorporated as the Ontario Knife Company.
In 1904, another local knife manufacturer, Empire State Cutlery Company, purchased the interests of the original Ontario Knife Company stockholders and the two businesses were merged in 1905 as the Ontario Knife Company.
In 1923, James A. Chrestensen became president and started the “Old Hickory” line. In 1952, his son Robert F. Chrestensen took over as president, and the company expanded its role in the cutlery industry with a membership in the American Cutlery Manufacturers’ Association.
Ontario Knife Company specializes in both fixed blade and folding knives. These include Sporting and Outdoor Knives, kitchen knives, industrial knives, and military knives.
Tradition, history, quality, and craftsmanship make Ontario Knife Company one of the best-known knife manufacturers. All their products are made in the USA, so those who prefer products made in the country should check out Ontario Knife Company.
Top 6 Ontario Knives
1. Ontario 8848 RAT
The RAT 1 is one of the most popular knives from Ontario Knife Company. It has a solid, sturdy construction with a big blade, and is available for under $30. The overall length of the knife is 8.6 inches, with a 3.5-inch blade, and weighs around 5 ounces. Good enough for Jack Bauer!
The knife is on the heavier side, and it is an appreciable trait that gives the RAT 1 a pleasant heft. The RAT 1 is best used as a tactical knife or a larger everyday carry. It can also serve as a heavy utility knife, with a strong solid build and an affordable price.
The blade has a drop point design and is made of AUS-8 stainless steel, with a flat grind. The satin finished blade is matched with a nylon handle that has an ergonomic design for better grip. The blade is tough and easy to sharpen but loses its edge faster than higher-end steel.
But for the price, the RAT 1 has quality materials and a sturdy build. The handle is quite long at five inches, which is great even for bigger hands. The thickness of the handle is comfortable to hold and use, although at the expense of portability.
The choil on the handle prevents your finger from sliding onto the blade, while the thumb ramp comes with some decent jimping to provide traction and control.
The deployment on the RAT 1 is great. The phosphor bronze washers perform wells to lend smooth deployments to the knife, while the ambidextrous thumb studs provide decent leverage. The liner lock is also solid.
Conclusion on the Ontario RAT 1: For an inexpensive heavy duty folding knife, the RAT 1 is hard to beat. There is a lot of knife for the money, and even though there are some minor flaws, the nicer aspects make this a versatile knife for all purposes.
Bear Grylls would certainly be interested in this tool.
|(+) Sturdy build||(-) Medium grade steel|
|(+) Smooth deployment and lockup||(-) Made in Taiwan|
|(+) Smooth deployment and lockup||(-) On the heavier side|
|(+) Comfortable handle|
2. Ontario SP2 Air Force Survival Knife
What exactly is the Air Force Survival Knife meant to do? It is designed to be packed and stored away in Air Force Survival Kits for emergency purposes, much like the equipment in a bug out bag. In the usual case, most Air Force Survival Knives would be packed away for the longest time and not be used.
However, once unpacked, it needs to be able to perform well. From helping Air Force personnel escape a fire or a crashing jet to self-defense, the Air Force survival knife should be able to meet the user’s basic needs.
With a good idea about what an Air Force Survival Knife is meant to do, it is easy to see that these knives should be robust and sturdy and also maintenance free because they will be unused for a long time.
Ontario SP2 Air Force Survival Knife had its beginning as a typical USAF Survival Knife. Even though it is also used by regular people today, it is mostly for the use of Air Force personnel. It comes with a 1095 carbon steel blade with a Rockwell Hardness of 50-55.
The blade has a zinc phosphate finish to prevent rust. The stacked leather ring handle is comfortable and easy to grip. All these combine to make the knife relatively maintenance free. You can consider packing and storing this away in your bug out bag without having to worry about maintenance or rust.
Carbon steel is softer than stainless steel, and it is for a reason. This is a multi-utility knife that is designed for a variety of purposes, and the softer steel ensures that the knife doesn’t break easily. The partial tang design also adds strength to the knife.
Conclusion on the Ontario SP2 Air Force Survival Knife: The Air Force Survival Knife isn’t the sole domain of the Armed Forces. If you want a heavy-duty knife that will last you years and require little maintenance, then this knife by Ontario is the ideal bet at a budget price. Even with tax cuts and lots of jobs available the price still matters.
|(+) Versatile blade||(-) Softer steel|
|(+) Comfortable secure handle||(-) Not suitable for fine cutting|
|(+) Anti-rust and corrosion|
|(+) Ideal size|
3. Ontario Rat II
- secure: the ambidextrous handle features textured black nylon 6 scales with an open-built steel linerlock frame
- comfortable: the rat-2 knife is a handheld size designed for comfort and performance making it ideal for everyday carry
- dependable: quick and easy access with dual thumb studs and a 4-way reversible pocket clip
The RAT 2 is the younger brother of the RAT 1. The older sibling was designed to be a heavyweight, solid, sturdy knife that can take a beating. But a common complaint with the RAT 1 is the size and weight of the knife.
That is why Ontario Knife Company offers a lightweight, slim, pocket knife to those users. The RAT 2 is a smaller version of the RAT 1. It has the design, the ergonomics, materials, and performance of the original, only in a smaller package.
The RAT 2 is simple, but effective and versatile, with a 3-inch blade and 7-inch overall length, weighing under 3 ounces. This is a knife that Alejandro from Sicario would be impressed with.
This utilitarian knife has a classic gentle drop point blade, with a full flat grind that contributes to the slicing ability of the knife and makes sharpening easy. Made of AUS-8 stainless steel, the blade takes and holds a razor edge with minimal effort.
The handle is nylon with great ergonomics. Although essentially plastic, the scales on the RAT 2 handle feel superior because of the micro-checkered pattern that does a good job of creating enough texture and providing good grip.
Both the RAT 1 and RAT 2 come with two sets of washers, one set being made of bronze, and another of nylon. The double washers make the deployment super quick and smooth.
You don’t need to oil the washers because they always work like they are dipped in grease. The liner lock also works excellently, thanks to the stainless steel liners. At under $30, an EDC doesn’t get any better.
Conclusion on the Ontario RAT II: Not many companies do what Ontario has done with the RAT 2. That is why this is a must-have knife for all those who are looking for exceptional quality along with a budget price and brand name.
|(+) Small and lightweight||(-) None|
|(+) Strong blade|
|(+) Excellent deployment and lockup|
4. Ontario 8630 RAT-3
Hunting and bushcraft knives are popular among those who love the outdoors, but bushcraft knives are usually big and hefty. If you are on the lookout for a shorter and lightweight hunting knife, then the Ontario RAT-3 should be on top of the list.
It has a blade length of only a 3 3/4 inch, but it can easily handle all the outdoor tasks from carving to starting a fire. With a total length of 7 7/8 inches and weight of 5.3 ounces, this is a small and compact knife that could be perfect for all outdoor tasks.
The 1095 high carbon steel drop point blade has a sharp tip, with a small finger coil. The coil is all right for average sized hands, but may not be too comfortable for large hands. The jimping on the spine is nice and helps the user get a firm grip on the knife while performing a heavier task.
The full tang design means you don’t have to worry about breaking it. The black coated blade also has a nice 90-degree spine, so you should have no problem making sparks on your ferro rod.
Although the high carbon steel is not as strong as stainless steel, it is great for starting a fire as well as for easy sharpening. High carbon steel is also known for excellent edge retention.
The canvas texture Micarta handle come in different textures and colors. The texture makes it easy and comfortable to get a solid grip on the knife. There is also a lanyard hole towards the back of the scales for you to fasten some paracord if you like.
Conclusion on the Ontario 8630 RAT-3: Every outdoor adventurer will require a bushcraft knife at some point. Although this one isn’t as capable as a heavy duty bushcraft or hunting knife, it can serve as a backup for most purposes, from starting a fire to skinning small game. KFC chicken anyone!?
|(+) Strong drop point blade||(-) Blade may be susceptible to rust|
|(+) Easy to sharpen with good edge retention||(-) Finger coil too small|
|(+) Compact and lightweight|
|(+) Textured handle with good grip|
5. Ontario Knife RAT-5
Ontario RAT 5 is a fixed blade knife with a 5-inch long blade. It has a flat grind flat-grind and a deep belly, making it more suited for a survival knife than a combat knife. The pointed tip and the ergonomic handle provide a tight grip, so you could use it for hand to hand combat if need be.
The blade of the RAT 5 is made of 1095 carbon steel. It isn’t as tough as stainless steel but is the toughest carbon steel today. To prevent rust and corrosion, the blade has been given a phosphate coating.
The blade is easy to sharpen and retains its edge. The thinner blade is ideal for slicing and dicing purposes and is also lighter. The canvas micarta handle has an ergonomic design, and the texture provides a solid grip.
Conclusion on the Ontario RAT 5: This is a very popular tough and affordable survival knife. It is ideal for outdoor activities like camping or hiking, or any activity that takes you out into the wilderness.
Though if you are on the Alien: Covenant planet you will need much more than just this knife – about ten Chappies will do!
|(+) Affordable||(-) Not foldable|
|(+) Tough and sharp steel blade||(-) Thin blade|
|(+) Textured handle|
|(+) Easy to sharpen|
6. Ontario 490 M9 Bayonet
The M9 is a military grade knife, currently supplies to the US Armed Forces by Ontario Knife Company. Unlike many of the above, this one is manufactured in the US. Ontario is one of the few companies that manufacture the M-9.
Since this is a bayonet, the blade isn’t razor sharp. Rather, it is thick and hefty. A fixed blade knife, this can be used as a bayonet with a gun, as well as a survival knife. Since this is a fixed blade knife, the blade length is long at seven inches.
The overall length of the knife is 12.125 inches, with the blade being 0.235 inches thick. The blade has black oxide non-reflective finish, while the handle is black textured thermoplastic nylon. The knife fits the M16, M4 and AR-15.
Conclusion on the Ontario M9 Bayonet: This is one of the toughest combat knives you could ever own. At just a little over a $100, this is a gem of a bayonet.
This is a spectacular knife. This a knife Dutch from Predator would carry. This is not a knife you need to cut your butter with at the dinner table. That would be a little ridiculous!
|(+) Hefty and solid||(-) Thick blade|
|(+) Great as bayonet and survival knife||(-) Heavyweight|
|(+) Comes with a sheath/scabbard|
|(+) Ergonomic handle|
The Ontario Knife Company is a legend when it comes to knives and cutlery. The prices are budget-friendly, yet the quality is world class. Although some of their knives are made in Taiwan, that doesn’t affect the quality. Whether you’re looking for a folding or a fixed blade knife, Ontario is one of the best out there.