Ontario RTAK-II Fixed Blade Knife Reviews
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Comments about Ontario RTAK-II Fixed Blade Knife:
As the largest of Ontario's trendsetting RAT family, the massive RTAK-II is also one of the most useful when making-do in the great outdoors. Faced with building shelters and starting a fire in all kinds of primitive environments, this blade has been tried and tested by legions of hunters and recreational survivalists and has proven its worth, crafting a legend for itself one campfire at a time. Its size alone - 10 inch blade, around 16 inches overall length - is one reason for its popularity. The strength and durability of its 1095 tempered carbon steel is another. Add to that its nearly indestructible canvas micarta handle scales and it's obvious that this blade was meant to be used long and hard without much concern for its well being.
Fortunately, this blade can manage just about anything its abusive owners can dish out. Sectioning and splitting hardwood for the fire is one of its primary uses and it handles this task very effectively. Some of the dead oak on our property is as hard as a rock and full of knots and wavy grain. The RTAK-II has split scores of logs into kindling and has yet to need sharpening. No damage to the flat ground edge, just some wear on the heavy greyish blade coating. I have seen this 3/16" thick blade torque inside the toughest of those oak rounds to ridiculous degrees, enough so that I thought it would surely break or take a permanent bend but it has yet to complain. Thinking it a total loss as it became stuck in a log at a 35 degree bend, I kept waiting for it to snap as I cut it out with a chainsaw. Was about to dig it a hole but save for a slight bend in its blade it was no worse for its ordeal. We kept on batoning away and after a few more logs the blade had straightened itself back to factory spec. Whatever Ontario does to its common 1095 grade steel, I am always impressed with the results.
The RTAK-II is a good chopping tool for delimbing firewood though there are better blades for heavy chopping than this one. For such a large tool it handles well and is very comfortable in the hand while doing minor chopping. I've never had it cause a blister in my hand either, something that can't be said for some of its rivals like the Cold Steel Trailmaster. The Trailmaster has its fan base as well but for me it offers nowhere near the capability of the RTAK-II for outdoors use. It's a battle blade, whereas the Ontario is an all-purpose utility blade.
Some may find this blade just too massive to be useful but bear in mind, even the largest of blades shrink down to size when brought to bear in the outdoors. In my opinion they could have made it a few inches longer since it's too big to be a sheath knife anyway. Regardless, the RTAK-II is one of the better blade ideas of the last ten years. It deserved to live on when the Ontario RAT's were sadly discontinued. Like a Browning-designed Winchester, it was just too useful to die. And much like a Browning Winchester, it's found new life and has an excellent future in the higher-end blade market. ESEE knives - the creators of the original RTAK's - now offer this same blade with a few minor refinements. Now sold as the Junglass - I guess a contraction of "jungle cutlass" - it is essentially the same rugged outdoors workhorse as before.
If you're a serious outdoorsman and enjoy fending for yourself on cold nights in the woods, or if you just find yourself needing a large blade for arduous around the house chores, you can do no better than to pick up one of the original RTAK-II's on the internet or visit an online ESEE dealer for the latest greatest version of this venerable tool. Whichever one you find, you'll have a blade that will last a lifetime, one you'll be proud to hand down to the next generation after teaching them the basics of backwoods survival.