Ontario RAT-7 Review
The sheath is functional if not a little cheap feeling, but it’s still going to last plenty of years of hard use. If they offered a Kydex option that would be lovely. It comes with 2 button fasteners which really hold the blade securely so your never going to drop it even in the most extreme conditions. There’s a plastic insert in the sheath to hold the blade, but unfortunately this isn’t removable for cleaning. There is also quite a large accessory pocket which would be plenty big enough for a sharpening stone and a flint steel or a mini survival kit which is just great given you could get a full array of emergency supplies in there for almost any survival situation. The front pouch also has an elasticated band near the top so you could probably add one or two extra items to the outside of the pouch as well (that’s a nice feature). Besides this, it has the usual belt loop and lanyard at the base along with its molle compatible strap. So even though I say it feels cheap (but doesn’t feel poor quality), it comes with plenty of options that more than make up for it. It’s actually a very good sheath and you could do much worse.As a whole its a very well-balanced blade and very nimble in the hand with its low weight. I haven’t done knife based combat training in many years (if I’m completely honest I would be more likely to throw it like a brick than rely on my blade skills to save me), but it would feel confident wielding this over a lot of other blades I’ve handled. It’s very nimble in the hand and really feels like an old friend as you know exactly where the blade is at all times and that’s very reassuring. I tend to do some ‘shadow boxing’ with any new blades I get hold of but this is, for my reviews at least, the first time I thought it worth mentioning due to its natural feel.
The handle on this feels a little square and ‘box-y’, but it’s by no means uncomfortable. I really wish they spent more time on it in the factory as it must have been made separate to the blade itself and attached later on with no further shaping and sizing. The result is a handle that isn’t bad, but could be much better, as I mentioned though it isn’t uncomfortable and this is something you could easily adjust with some sandpaper and half an hour of your time. The size is very nice and it fits securely in your hand. The finger choil and jimping on the spine made for some really easy feathering and I carved up a few primitive spears with less issues than some higher end blades I’ve had. Extended use, as is, is a little uncomfortable due to the less than curved edges in the palm of your hand. The handle feels robust and it’s not bad enough that it should put you off even if you don’t want to do any work on the scales yourself.
The blade of a knife is usually the best feature anyway, but this one is far superior to the handle and sheath. The flat grind and very good size makes it ideal for batoning and hammering the spine for chopping some thicker branches for shelter. I have used it a fair bit over the last few weeks and, even after processing wood that would last a couple of weeks, it still remained sharp enough for some feathering afterwards. The edge really does hold up well, but I would definitely keep a small sharpener in the sheath pocket. This for me is what makes the RAT-7 a perfect fit for my type of survival knife. It’s capable of doing every task you would require thanks to its large (but not excessive) blade size and grind. The finger choil and jimping really give you a solid hold on the knife so, if you needed to, you could confidently skin and gut some game. It has a gentle drop point, but it tapers into a very robust and effective point that will stand up to some heavy-duty tasks. The blade is very sharp out of the box and the black powder coating on this just extends its durability in the field (even if like me you feel it’s a shame to destroy such a nice looking coating), the sort of weathered look of the scales just makes it look more appealing as you wear it down.
Overall its a very good knife. It does have its flaws, but again these are easily remedied with a little knowledge and time and I dare say you can tailor the handle to fit yourself better than any factory finish could. If I was lost, alone and fighting for survival I would be completely comfortable if I had to rely on this as my only knife. It cuts, chops and, if it had to, would make a great spear head while feeling solid and durable for a very long time. It stood up to some pretty heavy use and came out much like it did when I first opened the box. There are much worse blades out there if what you want is a solid, reliable survival knife, and at this price range your options are rather limited. This should definitely be on your list, and I’m glad it’s on my belt.