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RTAK II Survival Knife Review from the Ontario Knife Company

The Ontario Knife Company has a very rich history of quality knife making. William Maudsley, William B. Ensworth and Charles Albert Brace were the founders of the Ontario Knife company. This well known knife company was founded in the year 1889 by these three men, who named the company after the Ontario County in Naples, New York.

They started selling hand manufactured knives from a pushcart in the neighboring countryside. The relationship with the customers grew due to the high quality of their product. Since then, they are known for high-quality materials, uncompromising craftsmanship and a real commitment to their workforce. The RTAK II knife from OKC is no exception to this rule. 

RTAK II 8628 Knife from Ontario Knife Company

This is a high quality knife from OKC. This particular knife has a blade made from 5160 carbon steel and it comes with a flat finish. The overall length of the knife is 17 inches (which comes to 43 cm) with blade length of 10.5 inches (comes to 27 cm). Thickness of the blade is 0.2 inches (0.5 cm). The steel has been hardened to 54-56 Rockwell hardness with a powder coated finish to prevent corrosion. Color of the blade is foliage green due to the color of the powder coating. It also has a full tang construction and it comes with a MOLLE compatible, black in color, nylon sheath.

The best survival knives are those which are made by the people who have actually needed to use them in survival conditions. The RAT and TAK series of knives has been produced by OKC with the help of men who have actually been in the conditions in which these knives are meant to be used.

Mike Perrin and Jeff Randal run Randall’s Adventure Training (RAT). RAT is a research team which tests outdoor gear and they are also engaged in expedition guiding and survival training and consequently they have a lot of experience in using knives in real survival conditions.

In the year 2002, OKC entered into an exclusive agreement with RAT team for production of RAT and TAK series of knives. Since then, these RAT designed knives have been used by civilians, adventurers and professional soldiers around the whole world in real life conflict situations such as Iraq, Afghanistan and have been praised by everyone for their quality and durability. RAT knives are now known as ESSE knives.

ESSE also produces the Junglass series of knives, which seem similar to the RTAK II knives from OKC but there are some major differences between the two. The blade of ESSE Junglass knife is made from the SAE grade 1095 steel whereas the OKC RTAK II knife blade is made from the SAE grade 5160 steel. 

The major difference between the two grades is the composition of Carbon and Manganese. The 1095 grade steel has 0.9 – 1.03% carbon and 0.3 – 0.5% manganese whereas the corresponding quantity in the 5160 grade steel is 0.56 – 0.64% and 0.75 – 1.0%.

The 51 series steel is a better quality steel as compared to the 10 series steel due to small amount of chromium(0.7 – 0.9%) being present in the 5160 steel whereas the 10 series steel does not have any chromium. The carbon content of 51 series steel is lower than the 10 series steel which makes the 51 series steel softer, comparatively. The high manganese content of 51 series steel makes it tougher than the 10 series steel which means that the 51 series steel will have a higher impact resistance but will not hold an edge as good as the 10 series steel. It also means that the blade made from the 51 series steel is less likely to snap and the edge is less likely to chip when compared to the 10 series steel.

Also, the RTAK II knife is longer in length by half an inch. An addition, the spine of the RTAK II knife is a bit thicker than the Junglass knife. The color of the blade is also different as the ESSE knife is black in color whereas the RTAK II is foliage green. 

Apart from these differences, there is no major difference between the two knives. However, the suggested retail price of RTAK II knife is $174.95 as compared to MSRP of $317.95 for the Junglass. Another difference between the two knives is that the 5160 steel used in the OKC knife is comparatively more prone to corrosion and requires more maintenance for keeping it corrosion free. Therefore, the exposed edge of the RTAK II knife will need higher attention to keep it safe.

The steel used for making the blade of OKC knife comes with the medium Rockwell hardness of 54 to 56 which means that sharpening this knife in the field will be easier than the other stainless steel blades but its edge will need comparatively higher attention.

The blade of OKC knife comes with a flat grind which is somewhere between the hollow grind and saber grind. It means that the blade will be able to cut through the foliage easily and will cut deeply into the wood. The flat grind is sharper than the saber grind and also tougher as compared to the hollow grind. However, the edge of the flat grind is weaker as compared to the saber grind.

The shape of the handle is ergonomic and it fits the hand nicely which makes it perfect for heavy duty use. The handle of this knife is made from canvas MiCarta. This material is resistant to abrasion, absorption of moisture and it does not chip, spit or crack. The pommel exposes the tang of the knife and it has a hole which can be used for keeping it attached for keeping it within reach. It can also be used as a glassbreaker when needed. 

Overall, this knife is meant for use as a survival knife as well as a great camping knife. Quality of the material used for construction for both the blade and the handle is great, as discussed above. Also, it is a very balanced and durable knife which can also be used as a dedicated chopping tool. If one combines this knife with OKC RAT-5 or RAT-7, It will be an excellent choice especially when compared to the Junglass from ESSE.