Ontario Rat Model 1 Review - An EDC and Survival Knife?
A good knife is one of the best survival tools you can have with you in an emergency, not to mention a useful item for everyday life as well. Therefore, it makes sense to have a knife with you at all times, and one of the easiest types to pack is a folding knife with a carry clip like the Ontario Rat Model 1.
The Rat Model 1
While I wasn't familiar with the Ontario Knife company both their Rat Model 1 folding knife and SP-8 Machete caught my eye as being both versatile and affordable; so I decided to give them both a try. The Rat Model 1 isn't a new knife but has come down in price in recent years and is now available in numerous configurations most of which are currently selling online for between $25 - $35 dollars. These knives feature 3.5" blades made from AUS-8 steel and use a liner lock system to secure the blade when it is ope
Black Handle & Satin Blade
The Rat Model 1 is available in a wide variety of configurations now including coyote brown or olive drab handles, partially serrated or plain edge blades, black coated blades, and even some options with G10 grip panels are generally found on higher end and more expensive knives. I ended up choosing the model with a black synthetic handle, plain edge, and satin finished blade. I was tempted to get a model with a black coating for added blade protection but read numerous times that the coating was essentially just painted on and came off easily so decided against that option.
The first thing that I noticed about this knife was that it was sharp, and I mean really sharp. Next, I was presently surprised that it locked up rock solid with no side to side play at all even with significant side to side pressure applied. Also apparent was this knife is well made, not fancy or eye catching but definitely a strong feeling of quality and a good balance. Finally, despite its 5" handle and 3.5" blade this knife seemed very packable for its size, which coincidentally when it is opened is nearly identical in overall length to a Mora Craftline fixed blade
I know every knife review on the internet that isn't of a $7 gas station knife says this blade was "really sharp" and I always wonder what their definition of sharp is based on. So while sharp can be tricky to define, I can tell you that this knife was definitely one of the sharpest out of the box knives I have ever handled; and I have had the good fortune of handling some high end models from top brands. The 3.5" drop point blade makes the Rat Model 1 suitable for a wide variety of applications from everyday taks to outdoor and survival uses. While AUS-8 steel might not the be the equal of some higher end premiim blade materials it is a great option especially at this price.
The Ontario Rat 1 comes with a carry clip that can be mounted in four different locations providing for tip up or down carry for both left and right handed users, or it can be removed entirely. The ambidextrous thumb stud and recessed areas around it on both sides make it easy to open with either hand. Despite its relatively large overall size, when carried in my front pocket I quickly forget it was there due to its streamline shape when folded. When I needed to get something out of my pocket I could do it without removing the knife but it was kind of a tight fit; this is something I was not able to do with Hogue Extreme which is a comparable sized knife overall but has a larger folded profile.
I have yet to really abuse the blade, but have put it through the paces of my everyday routine plus some extra cutting chores just to see how it preformed; so far the blade has performed very well cutting a variety of different materials with ease while retaining its edge. Initially, I was tempted to get a partially serrated blade for cutting rope, but choose the plain edge for ease of sharpening. So far this knife has been able to easily cut all the types of cordage I have thrown at it; and I have been able to use a simple pocket "v" style sharpener to keep the blade sharp with just a few swipes through it all that is necessary to keep the factory edge sharp.
Carrying a knife in your pocket eventually leads to lint, dirt and other junk building up in the bottom of the knife; however this knife has an open bottom (don't worry the blade doesn't come close to sticking out the bottom) which can easily be cleaned out with a can of compressed air or Q-tip. I have also found The Rat Model 1 to be extremely versatile, not too small for the big jobs and not too big for the small jobs. Next, this knife is sturdy, it features a .12 wide blade and is held together by 5 small screws plus the larger hex headed center pivot pin. Finally, I paid under $30 dollars for this knife, and while there isn't really a shortage of good knives out there; the pool of great knives under $50 let alone $30 is really pretty small.
This knife is made in Taiwan, but it is made well and I doubt it would sell anywhere close to $30 if made in America. (Side Note: Many knife companies are now shifting production to Taiwan, even the well known fixed blade Cold Steel Trailmaster is being made there). Next, the pocket clip had a black coating that seems to easily wear off, while this isn't a big deal and could easily be recoated with something better; however, if this is the same coating used on the blades I'm glad I got the uncoated satin finished version. Finally, while I liked the size of this knife some will probably find it too large; but Ontario Knife Company does makes a smaller Rat Model II knife that should suit those looking for a scaled down version of this knife.
Overall I'm extremely impressed with the Ontario Rat Model 1; this knife has become my every day carry when I'm not testing other models. Its size and durability make it a good choice for everyday general use, but could easily be used effectively for self defense if necessary. Furthermore, this knife makes an excellent back up survival knife, and if you are using it as your everyday carry it would be with you when needed. Finally, at under $30 the Ontario Rat Model 1 is definitely one of the best value buys, not just in knives but in all the gear I have tested.