Ontario RTAK-II Review
This really is the BIG pappa smurf of the RAT series of blades. I had both the RTAK and Rat-7 arrive in the same box and I just couldn’t believe it. Let me put it this way, I expected the RTAK to be the size of the RAT-7, give or take an inch, so pulling this out immediately after was just surreal. My first thoughts were this is pointless, impractical, ridiculous and stupid. I loved it. It’s size and shape reminded me of a Gladius although somehow a Gladius was actually bigger, but at the time this felt like the biggest chunk of steel I had ever held. The problem I though was this is far too large to be practical (at least in Britain) and for the price pointless as it seemed like it was nothing more than a smaller machete. The more I used this knife though the shorter it seemed to be. It felt more and more comfortable and at home at my side and it really is quite light so that you don’t actually realise you are carrying such a large blade, until you kneel down and the handle gets jabbed into your ribs. The lanyard on the sheath was actually around my kneecap so you really need to be over 6 feet to keep it at your side without issue.
The sheath is like the others in the RAT series, they look cheap but are robust enough to last a long time. It has two button fasteners and is reversible for left handed wielders and it comes with a good sized accessory pouch on the front which I use to carry a smaller folding knife for the finer tasks I might want to do. It has a non removable plastic insert to secure the blade and protect the sheath and overall is what I would call functional. It’s not pretty to look at but it will serve you well. It has molle compatible straps on the back which is the only way I will ever use it, despite the belt loop that’s also available, as I can attach it to my pack and generally scare any other outdoor enthusiasts that cross my path. I’ve been out with this on display on my pack, and you see people casually walking with friends who suddenly go wide-eyed, stiffen up while also dropping their gaze and shuffling off at what they think is a normal, but quick pace, but actually ends up being slower and much more obvious that they spotted a huge knife on your backpack. It amuses greatly, especially if like me you turn to force them to hold their gaze with a blank expression on your face.
The handle like the rest of the knife is enormous, but it really feels good in the hand. Its shaped much better than the RAT-7 I have, even if the scales don’t perfectly smooth out on the tang. The balance makes it slightly blade heavy but given the size of the blade this is no surprise but its much better than you might think, it feels good enough that I want to actually throw it, but I wont because that’s just stupid (I so will). Thankfully they have shaped a sort of guard into the handle to prevent accidental slippage as this is one blade you know will cause some damage and there’s also the lanyard hole so, if you know what you are doing, this knife will never get ahead of you. I don’t know why they colour the scales so that they look old and dirty, but on this it really works and makes it look like the jungle knife it is made to be.
The weight and balance of the 1095 carbon steel blade really makes it bite into wood. You don’t need to hammer the spine to chop through some thicker branches although you might still want to for batoning as it helps to keep it under control. There is a finger choil, although it may be more for design rather than practical use as there’s no way you will be choking up on this beast to whittle a spoon, unless that spoon was for feeding a python or one of them weird zombie-vampire things from I Am Legend. The coating on it is reasonably rough although it’s less heavy-duty than I would like. I’ve seen a few people with this same knife and they have all told me how the coating wears out pretty quickly although I haven’t used mine enough to see this. Really though with the work this was designed for, and the tasks for which you will use it, it’s hardly a shock to know it’s not going to last a lifetime. It would be like asking your skin to stay on after supergluing it to a frozen steel bar, totally unrealistic. It’s also grey rather than black, like the rest of the RAT series but I think it looks better given the size of it.
I really, really like this knife. It wasn’t one of those blades that I ‘had to have’, but every time I pull it out of the sheath I smile. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to anybody wanting a general purpose blade as its far too large, but if you want a big, heavy-duty chopper, then this really fits the bill. It’s one of those tools hat you cant use everyday, but you will try to find a reason to take it out with you every time. I love the size, weight and feel of this as a whole package and there’s probably nothing I would change to the knife itself. Like the other RAT series knives it would be nice if there was a kydex sheath option, but that’s really the only issue I have, and that’s not to say that the nylon sheath isn’t good. This is an epic, epic blade and one that will stay with me for a long, long time.
If you are in the UK and want an RTAK-II click here.
If you are in the US and want an RTAK-II click here.