When looking for a great EDC (every day carry) knife, the Ontario RAT II is a great option to consider at a very economical price point.
Let me give a few disclaimers about this review. First, I am not an expert on knives. When I first started looking for good EDC knives, I had to look up several of the terms that were used to describe the various knives. I had no idea what a choil or jimping was on a knife. I am simply an everyday person who likes to be prepared, a “Prepper”. I was just looking for a good, dependable knife that was comfortable for me to use on an every day basis.
Here are my observations on the one I chose and am currently carrying as my EDC knife.
The Ontario Knife Company has been manufacturing knives for over 100 years. They originally started in Naples, New York in Ontario County, hence the company name. (Yes, they are an U.S. company, not Canadian!) In 1902 they moves to Franklinville, NY, their current home.
They are primarily known for their quality fixed blade knives which are made in Franklinville, but they do have some quality folders made for them in Taiwan. I wasn’t aware of this until after I received my Rat II folder and saw “Made in Taiwan” on the box. I immediately contacted the Ontario Knife Company to check on what was happening.
Here is the message I received back:
Good afternoon David,
First, as long as your knife has all black screws and a black pocket clip, it is definitely ours.
These folders are, in fact, made for us in Taiwan. The company that produces this particular line of knives for us is very reputable and produces knives of very high quality. The majority of our knives, however, are made here in Franklinville, NY. To keep the folders at a good, economical price, we have them made in Taiwan.
If for any reason you have an issue with your knife, just call us or send us an e-mail and we will assist you. I also have spare parts if the need arises where you require extra washers or a clip. These are still covered by our warranty.
Ontario Knife Company
Sales & Customer Service
The RAT II Folder is among their top selling products. It is a smaller and lighter version of their popular RAT1 knife. The RAT II scaled down version makes for a perfect size EDC (every day carry) knife. The Rat II knife was designed by the owners of Randall’s Adventure Training (RAT), a professional survival training team, that have been designing field knives intended for military, law enforcement, special ops, and survival knives and produced through the Ontario Knife Company.
The RAT II is just over 7” long when open, a 3″ blade, and measuring about 4 1/8” closed.
It has a 3” satin finish blade with a plain edge full flat taper grind blade. It is a cross between a clip point and drop point style blade. Made of AUS-8 stainless steel that is heat treated to a hardness of 55-65 HRC (measured using the Rockwell C scale, “HRC”). This make this blade tough with the ability to resist damage like cracks and chips when used in heavy duty applications and yet still easy to sharpen to a razor edge. (Mine came razor sharp out of the box.)
Many more expensive knives may use a more premium steel like CPM S30V or 154CM that will hold their edge better, but of course you will pay the difference in price and the more hardness in a blade, the less toughness it generally has. I tend to sometimes use my EDC knife for purposes it was not intended for (like using the blade for prying, or the tip for twisting/drilling a hole into something, etc.), and appreciate the toughness in a blade that is not so likely to snap under that type of missuse. The downside to this is that I have to sharpen it a bit more often.
There is a fairly aggressive jimping (small notches cut into the back of the blade) on the choil (the unsharpened back of the blade where it becomes part of the handle) to keep your thumb from sliding while using the knife.
It has a nylon handle with a scale (think snake skin) design, over stainless liners with a flow-through “pillar” design. This makes it easy to clean where dirt and grime won’t get trapped in by the blade. Some have complained about the nylon handle being a bit slippery and would prefer the more “grippy” G10. I haven’t found it to slip in my hand at all, and being a smoother, less “grippy” handle makes it easier to slip in and out of my pocket. (I’ve heard that some people have used a soldering iron or hacksaw blade to roughen up the handle for better grip.)
Here is a sequence showing how easy it is to take out and open the RAT II with one hand:
The pocket clip can be adjusted for left hand or right hand use and adjusted for tip up or tip down carry. Mine came out of the box set up for right hand, tip down carry. (As shown in the sequence above). The clip has three Torx (T6) screws if you want to change its location. The clip is located close to the end of the knife which I found made it very easy to grab with my thumb and finger to pull out of my pocket. There is also a hole ing the handle for a lanyard should you choose to use.
The painted clip does show wear easily, but being used everyday, that doesn’t bother me. This picture shows its wear after a few months of daily use. It holds securely in my pocket, and I forget it’s even there until I need to use it.
It has ambidextrous duel thumb studs for manual opening. Most people found it very easy to open. It first, I had some difficulty opening it using only one hand. It felt a bit awkward positioning it just right for my thumb to be able to flip it open. I must admit, I had been used to opening a Kershaw knife with the speed-safe opening mechanism. Now, having used my Rat II for a while, I find it is easy to flip open. It seems to have lost a bit of its original “stiffness” in the mechanism which helps, or maybe it’s just my having gotten used to the motion needed to open it.
The Rat II uses a liner lock style of locking mechanism which is easy to close one-handed without switching grip.
I was looking for a small EDC knife that would fit comfortably in my hand, be easy to carry in my pocket, and at a good value and an economical price. I have used my RAT II for everything including cutting string, rope, whittling wood, butchering (ducks/rabbits), opening boxes, and many other daily uses. It is still in perfect shape (other than slight wearing of paint on the clip) and has kept its edge throughout these uses. The Ontario RAT II fits the bill perfect for me, and I would recommend it to anyone as a very good everyday carry knife. (Click here to see more on Everyday Carry Items you should always have with you.)
Have a different favorite EDC folding knife? Let me know in your comments below!