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Ontario RAT-3 D2 Serrated Knife

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The Ontario RAT-3 knife is still the sharpest tool in the shed.


This is a minimalist blade so I'll try to keep from straying in this review and just tell you up front that if you hunt, camp or cook the RAT-3 is the best knife you'll ever buy. When you stop playing around with super steels and start grading knives on the fundamentals - things like cutting performance, ease of cleaning and fittability - the little RAT-3 starts to leave the elusive pack behind. Fittability? Take off the plastic clip and the whole rig - knife and sheath - fits in your front jeans pocket for hikes that have no scheduled end. I hate knives that poke me in the side no matter how cool they look to other hikers. This knife simply disappears until you need it. Fixed blade knives don't get any better than that. Here's what I use mine for so if you want one I can tell you what it does well. Peeling apples (we make a lot of apple pies.) Cutting various meats, including steak. Slicing and dicing fruits, vegetables, cabbages and peppers. Spreading condiments, butter, peanut butter, jellies and sauces from all kinds of jars. Splitting small diameter kindling for the fire ring. Whittling pencils. Opening boxes, cutting tape, scraping sludge from small machinery, etc.. It'll do rope. You get the idea. It's an all around chore knife and one that I'm proud to carry for unexpected duties. Producing it never fails to elicit swooning females and dancing children whatever the occassion. But I digress here. The blade is deep-bellied, flat ground and comes sharp but can be made even sharper to the point that it would make an excellent hunting knife for all North American game animals. It isn't one of those thick blades that are so popular today that look indestructible but are too wide to cut anything. RAT-3's cut like chef's knives and are stout without being overly rugged. Pound on them all you want anyway. My blade came with tough D2 tool steel which is normally used to stamp-forge or mill other steels. With some practice I learned how to keep a really sharp edge on it. Other RAT-3's come with 1095 carbon steel which is nearly un-killable no matter what you do to it. My thoughts on this are that if you want a hard use, abusable outdoor blade go for the 1095. If you want a really durable kitchen knife like me that rarely needs sharpening choose the D2. Both are excellent real world steels. The slender handle scales are made of canvas micarta. It is imperious to water and oils or blood and cleans and dries very easily. There's no better blade-handle material out there. The knife feels small in the hand, much like a larger folding knife but much smoother and more comfortable. RAT did an impressive job of determining its overall proprtions. It mimics the capabilities of much larger knives while being very tidy and compact. If I had to ditch all my blades except one chances are the RAT-3 would still be in the lifeboat ready for duty. It's even better than the incredible Cold Steel Bushman and its own big brother, the RAT-5. Small knives are overachievers and the RAT-3 is one of the best small knives ever conceived. The Ontario version is out of production following the messy public divorce. They're still around new on the internet though or you can spend a little more and get an ESEE RC-3, which is the same knife with some minor refinements made by the knife's designers. Those ESEE's are all 1095 now but that really doesn't matter any. Neither knife is cheap but both blades are well worth the investment. Like all really good tools they have a way of finding themselves back into your hands with great frequency. You'll find yourself using them just for the pleasure they bring to the cause. RAT hit a home run with this knife. It's always sold well and will probably be one of those rare patterns that remains in production for years to come. A true classic and a gem of a tool, regardless of the name.

Houston, TX


Ontario RAT-3 D2 Serrated Knife

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