Although the Ontario Knife Company or OKC is known for its premium America-Made knives, OKC has carved a niche for itself in making tactical knives.
Though OKC is not the only knife maker with a long history, what sets this company apart is its ability to adapt to changing market requirements. And this is the reason Ontario Knife Company has been able to sustain itself for this long.
The Chief Designer at The Ontario Knife Company is Jeff Randall. Fixed blade knives from OKC are fast sellers, however, there are a couple of folding knives that the company is known for.
Randall has designed a selection of knives for the Ontario Knife Company under the name Randall’s Adventure Training (RAT). Most of the knives in this collection are designed to be strong and sturdy and able to survive tough circumstances.
Unfortunately, that makes most of the knives in this collection heavy for everyday use. If you’re looking for a slimmer version from this series, your pick should be the RAT II.
The previous version of this knife was the RAT I, designed to be an extremely hardy and capable knife for those looking for a solid, heavy tactical tool. But not everyone prefers a heavy knife (not everyone is Crocodile Dundee from those goofy eponymous movies), and that’s the reason why the company made the RAT II.
It’s a lighter version of the RAT I designed for those who want performance from a smaller, lightweight knife. The RAT II has all the features of the original, only in a smaller package. Let’s discuss this classic knife in more detail.
It’s hard to find an affordable knife that’s not only lightweight but also packs all the features that you will need in a survival or tactical knife. From fantastic blade and handle design to great ergonomics to a tempting price range, the RAT II is one of the best budget EDC knives that anyone can get.
|Small and lightweight.||Frequent sharpening needed.|
|Affordable.||Made in Taiwan.|
|Strong and sharp blade Comfortable and ergonomic handle.|
|Fantastic deployment and lockup.|
|Easy to sharpen.|
Features of an EDC knife
Everyday carry knives have been around for several decades. America was responsible to a great extent for popularizing the EDC knife.
However, several American EDC knife manufacturers have gone out of business because they were not able to adapt to the changing needs of customers.
This is where newer EDC knife manufacturers have won by upgrading their features to the changing needs and demands of the market.
From blade and handle designs to locking and deployment systems, there are a lot of changes that have taken place in the EDC knife industry over the years.
Therefore, when you go out to buy an EDC knife today your requirements will be very different from buying an EDC knife 20 years ago.
The very first thing that comes to mind when you think of buying an EDC knife is the purpose. If you’re going to chop wood, you need a stronger knife than you would need for slicing vegetables or opening packages.
Even before you go out to buy an EDC knife, you must be aware of the purpose you need it for.
The Ontario Knife Company makes the cut by incorporating every desirable feature of an EDC knife into the RAT II.
First, comes the size. While it’s true that large and heavy knives are useful for various purposes, there are certain times when you need a lightweight knife that is equivalent to a tactical knife. RAT II fits this bill perfectly. It’s lightweight and slim but at the same time, durable and sturdy.
Things to Consider:
Blade design – Blade is the most important part of the knife. The stronger the blade, the more capable the knife. Blade design cannot be ignored when buying an EDC knife. It must also be kept in mind that a knife is not only supposed to be functional but is also meant to serve as a self-defense weapon.
The blade should either have a clip point or drop point, and the belly should be long enough for slicing. The size of the blade should also be in proportion to the size of the handle.
In many knives, the blade is not only longer but also heavier than the handle, making the knife uncomfortable to work with. This is another area where the RAT II scores with its perfect balance of the blade and the handle.
Blade material – The blade of most modern EDC knives is made of steel. It may be stainless steel or high carbon steel.
Most people prefer stainless steel because it requires low maintenance and it’s easier to keep away from rust and corrosion.
Stainless steel is also tough and is easier to sharpen compared to high carbon steel. Again, the material with which the blade is made of depends on the purpose of the knife.
If the knife is not be used for water activities and can be kept away from humidity and moisture, then high carbon steel can be chosen. However, if you plan to take the knife fishing or diving with you there is no better option than stainless steel.
Handle design – The handle of an EDC knife should not only be long enough for comfortable use but should also have an ergonomic design for maximum grip.
Most EDC knife handles have nice curves and contours to ensure maximum comfort and prevent hot spots from prolonged use. Small knives usually have a short handle but the handle should ideally be a little longer than the blade size for easy use by everybody.
Handle material – The handle of an EDC knife can be made of a wide variety of materials ranging from wood and steel to Micarta and polycarbonate.
Although wood is classic and one of the first materials ever used to manufacture knife handles, it is not as durable or long-lasting as steel or fiber. That’s the reason why most modern EDC knives do not have wooden handles.
The RAT II ticks all the right boxes. But is it what you’re looking for? Let’s find out from the in-depth discussion of each feature.
Specifications of the Ontario RAT II Knife
- Knife Type: Folding
- Overall Length: 7″
- Blade Length: 3″
- Blade Thickness: 0.09″
- Blade Steel: AUS-8 stainless steel
- Blade finish: Satin or black
- Handle Material: Nylon
- Knife Weight: 2.75 oz
The RAT II comes with a drop point blade, fit for a multipurpose EDC knife. Since the knife is made for extensive indoor and outdoor use, the drop point blade is versatile enough to serve every purpose, from cutting cord to the skinning game.
The RAT II also has a full flat grind that makes the blade simple and useful but aesthetic at the same time.
The full plate grind is great for slicing and makes sharpening a breeze. What also helps with the sharpening is the AUS-8 steel. It is easy to sharpen to a razor edge and also retains the edge for a long time.
Many would argue that the Japanese AUS-8 steel isn’t as strong as other premium steel, the steel that Ontario uses for its knives is undoubtedly the best AUS-8. It’s easy to sharpen, holds an edge for the longest time, and is impressive at resisting corrosion.
Handle and Pocket Clip
Most knife manufacturers have shifted to using plastic for knife handles. It makes the knife lighter, more durable, and definitely saves cost.
Unlike wood or leather, plastic or nylon will hardly be affected by water, humidity, or other elements. Jack Bauer from the iconic show 24 would be impressed with this purchase – no doubt about that.
It’s low maintenance and will last for years, even after being put to the most rugged use. Ontario also uses nylon for the handle of RAT II, but it’s so well made that it doesn’t feel “plasticy” at all.
In fact, you might mistake it for denim Micarta. It has a micro chequered pattern and a canoe shape, which not only make the knife aesthetic but also offer maximum grip and comfort.
The rounded design of the handle makes it natural and comfortable to hold. You can use the knife for hours without getting sore hands.
Despite being plastic, the handle is surprisingly sturdy and feels solid in the hand. You don’t have to be Chuck Norris to figure that out.
The Ontario Rat II is hands down one of the best knives on the market. Its construction is simple and yet effective and folds up in a jiffy. The knife features exceptional fit and finish and is comfortable and safe to carry on your body!
The pocket clip is much like what you would find on a high-end Benchmade or Emerson.
It has a classic shape and features an elegant satin black finish. The pocket clip slips onto any of the four corners of the knife with ease.
It’s discrete, simple to operate, and totally functional. The painted clip, however, does tend to show wear easily, but this is something most users can deal with considering the many other robust features of the knife.
When in the pocket, the knife does ride low and stays exactly where you would like it to.
Deployment and Lock Up Mechanism
When it comes to deployment and lock up, the Rat II is rather smooth for a low-end knife. The sharp AUS 8 blade slides smoothly on bronze washers.
A quick nudge of the thumb studs that can be operated by both hands, sends the glistening blade out with a resounding ‘thwack’. The blade on the knife comes perfectly centered, which according to users adds to another level of enjoyment to this handy utility knife.
A robust liner lock keeps the blade out of sight when the knife is not in use. The knife has a beefy liner lock that shows no signs of play when you tug the blade in any direction. This makes the knife perfect for hard use tasks.
The blade locks up firm and tight and the lock bar disengages without too much trouble when you need it to!
Overall Quality and Features
The RAT I and the RAT II have two sets of washers, something rarely found on other knives. While one set (bronze) is placed against the blade, the other set (Nylon) is placed between the first set and the handle scales.
The result? The knife deploys super fast and smooth, without requiring even a drop of oil or grease.
The locking mechanism is also fantastic, all because of the full stainless steel liners. Once you lock the blade, there is no movement at all, either side to side or up and down. This means the knife will never accidentally open and injure you.
Next come the design and finish. There are times when you see a knife that you love but hate its color.
Knives are mostly all black or brown, and there are those who seek a different color. When you buy a RAT II, it isn’t a problem at all, because the knife comes in five different color options, including pink, orange, and green.
The blade comes in either black or satin finish. If you don’t like knives that don’t offer multiple carry options, the RAT II scores here with its four-way adjustable pocket clip. Ontario also makes both plain and combination knives, catering to those who require more versatility.
Whether you want to slice meat (nothing wrong with having an amazing steak no matter what AOC says) or cut a cord or open packages, this small, lightweight knife packs quite a punch. At $30, hardly any other knife offers such quality, features or ease of use. Of course, the RAT II is made in Taiwan, but it hardly affects the quality of the knife.
ome Alternatives for the Ontario RAT II
The RAT II is in a league of its own, up with other premium lightweight EDC knives. Not many knives can match up to the features or performance offered by the RAT II at a remarkably low price tag, but a few knives do manage to come close. Three of them are discussed here.
#1 ESEE Zancudo
This is a must mention because it was also designed by Jeff Randall after splitting from Ontario. What makes the Zancudo worth a mention here is the fact that almost all features are similar to that of the RAT II.
It has a 3 inch blade, a drop point design, a full flat grind, and made of AUS-8 steel. The only difference is that the Zancudo has a frame lock, but the liner lock on the RAT II isn’t any less strong.
The other difference is that the pocket clip can only be adjusted up and down, unlike the RAT II that has a four-way adjustable pocket clip. However, if you are unable to get the RAT II for any reason, the Zancudo is the best alternative.
#2 Spyderco Tenacious
The Tenacious is also priced around $30 which is a lot more affordable after those tax cuts were put into action and have many of the features of the RAT II – the full flat grind, the plain edge, and the pillar construction. The overall length of the knife when open is 7.75 inches and the closed length is 4.5 inches.
This budget offering has been the center of attention ever since it released. The only difference is that it has G-10 handle scales, something not offered in the RAT II.
#3 Kershaw Skyline
Kershaw is another premium knife manufacturer, and one of their offerings is very similar to the RAT II and it’s called the Skyline. It’s 3.1 inches long, comes with a drop point blade, with a 4.3-inch handle.
The knife is definitely affordable and lightweight, with the overall length being 7.4 inches open and 4.25 inches closed. It’s a worthy contender to the RAT II.
An impressive product
When talking of a budget EDC knife with all the quality features you could ever ask for, at a price range that won’t hurt your pocket, then the Ontario RAT II tops the list.
Don’t be turned off by the “made in Taiwan” tag—it certainly has an effect on the quality and performance of the knife. Taiwan is our ally anyway against China but this is another topic.