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Author Topic: Long term test of Ontario RAT series folding knives  (Read 703 times)

coelacanth

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Long term test of Ontario RAT series folding knives
« on: October 17, 2021, 04:40:54 pm »
Just a heads up on a couple of no-nonsense, working man's knives from the field. 

The knives in question are, specifically, the Ontario brand RAT 1 and RAT 2 folders in AUS8 steel.  These are the plain vanilla models with textured nylon handle scales and non-serrated blades.  They were purchased about three years ago for the exact purpose of being EDC, knock around, rough use knives. 

Functionally, they remain in near perfect condition.  The liner lock design has been simple, robust and flawless in operation.  It works in the bare hand or with gloves on and as long as pocket crud or other debris doesn't get jammed under it there is little to go wrong.  The locking of both knives remains secure under any normal usage and the engagement has not developed any noticeable play.  The blade pivots have also remained strong and wobble free and after years of hard use there is really no perceptible play.  The pivot screws have not loosened or required adjustment at this point. 

The blade steel is a tried and true stainless and while not on par with many of the super steels in terms of edge holding it is easy to sharpen and refuses to show any rust even under adverse conditions ( more about that in a moment ).  The basic blade geometry works well for most tasks and is easy to maintain.  These knives have been maintained on inexpensive bench stones when secondary bevels needed to be re-established and periodically honed on a butcher's steel and alumina-ceramic crock sticks for day to day sharpening touch ups. 

The handle scales show minimal wear and have remained undamaged and tight as the day they were installed.  Same with the pocket clips which are secured with three screws and have not loosened at all.  The open design of the frame allows most dirt, debris and other crud to simply fall through under use and anything that gets stuck in it is easily removed at the end of the day.  These knives have been cleaned out with popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, canned air, lighter fluid, hot, soapy water and anything else that came to hand over the years and appear none the worse for wear.  A drop of lube ( usually EEZOX or Marvel Mystery Oil ) is applied to the blade pivot when everything is clean and dry but other than that no maintenance has been required. 

Aside from minor wear to the high points and some scratching of the blade coating they remain unperturbed by being used daily. 

They have operated in the high summer heat and dust of the Sonoran Desert environment of Phoenix, Arizona where they performed yard maintenance ( cutting and trimming woody vegetation and cutting cordage for tying up garden plants ) household maintenance ( cutting and slicing cardboard and plastics, carpeting and padding, drywall and MDF board and some light gauge wire cutting ) food prep ( preparing meats and vegetables - primarily for home made pet food ) and general chores probably better suited to task specific tools that were in the garage so the knife was pressed into service. 

They have operated in the cold of an Arizona winter in the White mountains where they performed camp site chores including firewood prep ( kindling and fuzz sticks and general cutting and carving associated with making hot dog sticks for grand kids  :cool ) and general camp site and cabin tasks ( cutting heavy fabrics and tarp materials, trimming cabinet doors to fit, etc. ).  They have not been used as dedicated hunting knives but I would not hesitate to press either one into service based on my experience so far.  The blade geometry and handle design would allow them to be used effectively on game animals larger than rabbits and their ease of re-sharpening would keep them working as long as needed. 

A year ago they were entrusted to a professional meat cutter working in a high volume grocery store environment for evaluation.  He's not giving them back.  :doh   They cut all manner of packing cartons and wrapping materials as well as plastic wrapping, label material and retail packaging and remain unscathed.  They are not used for meat cutting but they are used for everything else and invariably end up cutting through meat scraps and remnants that get stuck in machinery.  Their design works well and their easily cleaned and maintained features make them essential.  He carries them both when working and the rest of the crew always wants to borrow one when they don't want to ding the edge on one of their working blades. 

In closing, I think these knives remain one of the best investments I've made for a couple of knives.  Simple, robust, reliable tools that fit the hand and the task you face.  They do this at a price point anyone can afford.  I bought them as new/old stock at less than a C note for the pair.  They are Taiwanese manufacture if that bothers you.  It doesn't bother me enough to avoid owning them at this point based on their performance.   

Keep 'em sharp.  c. 
Arizona" A republic, if you can keep it."

                                               Benjamin Franklin

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    booksmart

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    Re: Long term test of Ontario RAT series folding knives
    « Reply #1 on: October 17, 2021, 06:54:46 pm »
     :thumbup1

    coelacanth

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    Re: Long term test of Ontario RAT series folding knives
    « Reply #2 on: October 18, 2021, 02:09:41 pm »
    Sometimes I forget to chime in on stuff that works well enough to fade into a pattern of daily use without ever becoming a PIA.  These knives fall into that category so I decided to correct the omission.  Always happy to answer any specific questions as well. 
    Arizona" A republic, if you can keep it."

                                                   Benjamin Franklin

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