A knife can be a good knife in of itself but is it a good knife to be used for survival purposes? This will be my second article in which I am not just reviewing a knife but also answering the question, “Is this a good survival knife?”
The next knife up on the chopping block is the Ontario TAK1. I had heard many good things about this company and the items that they make but I had never gotten around to making an order. One day while talking to a friend I found out that he had the TAK1 and had been extremely happy with it. I asked him if I could try it out. Lucky for me he was in the market for a different piece of gear and through a little bartering, I ended up with the knife.
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Ontario TAK1 Review
At first glance I liked this knife. The design, the shape, the feel. But like all new gear I needed to test it over time. Here is a quick rundown of what the knife has to offer.
- Overall length 10”
- Blade length 4.5”
- Blade thickness 0.188”
- Full flat taper grind
- Full tang, fixed blade
- Powder coating on the blade
- Blade material is 1095 carbon
- Scales (handle) are micarta
- Nylon sheath
I like the overall length of this knife. It is not too big to handle small tasks and it is not too small to handle large tasks. The straight back of the knife allows for safer use for certain tasks, such as a drawing cut motion. It has a nice little belly for slicing, a straight edge for cutting and enough of a point for “drilling” or puncturing tasks.
The thickness of the blade is a little on the high end of what I normally like. But in my use of it, I was still able to obtain thin cuts of material and keeping the edge sharpened wasn’t as difficult as I anticipated.
I like that between the edge of the blade and the scales, there is a small grove in the frame (choil). This is a comfortable, safe place to put my index finger when I need more control of the blade or am working on a small area.
The weight and thickness of the blade give it decent chopping action. I have worked my way through many small branches with this knife with no problem. Though I don’t recommend it, there is enough length and sturdiness to the blade should you want to baton cut small pieces of wood.
Generally, 1095 steel is not too difficult to sharpen, and this knife has proven to fall in line with that. After a few minutes on a typical sharpening stone I can bring the edge back to where I need it. This material and the flat spine of the knife work well with a ferrocerium rod for getting a fire going. I was able to produce a shower of sparks that quickly ignited my tinder bundle.
I find the design of the handle to be quite comfortable and form fitting. This allows for a full grip which ensures safer use. The butt of the knife (bottom of the handle) extends slightly past the scales and has a hole drilled through the frame. Depending on the task at hand and environment I am in, I have threaded cordage through this hole in order to create a looped lanyard. This can be advantageous so that you don’t lose your only knife in a critical situation.
The scales are made from micarta, which is a light weight composite of several materials. After much use and abuse, these scales appear to be quite durable. They are secured to the frame of the knife by three hex head screws on each side. The tan colored scales are also engraved with a checkered like texture which has enhanced my grip even during wet conditions.
I need to add a quick note about the sheath. After looking at a few pages, including Ontario’s website, it looks like it has been updated a bit from the one I have. The other difference I need to bring up is in the picture of the sheath.
I wrapped the bottom half of mine with 550 paracord. I simply did this as a way to carry extra cordage and this cordage does not come with the knife. So, keep that in mind as you read on. The entire sheath is nylon with a belt loop, a snap clasp that goes around the handle of the knife, and two metal eyelets at the bottom. It is also MOLLE compatible.
There is a very cheap, clear plastic insert that the knife sits in. Upon closer inspection, this plastic has busted and is cracked in several spots. It is not very sturdy as I can easily compress it with my fingers. Because of this I don’t carry it on my belt much but rather throw it into a pack.
Ontario TAK1: My Personal Pictures
Here are pictures of my personal Ontario Tak1.
Ontario TAK1 Pros and Cons
- Comfortable in hand
- Easy to care for with the powder coating
- Easy to sharpen
- Works with a ferrocerium rod
- Predrilled hole for a lanyard
- Heavy enough to chop
- Works for detail tasks
- Made in the USA
- Midrange for pricing
- The powder coating on the blade is not conducive for food prep.
- The sheath is on the weak side (remember I may have an older version)
- Once the coating comes off you will need to remember to oil the blade
Overall this knife has gotten good customer ratings. A few common concerns seem to have to do with the knife feeling unbalanced and the micarta scales being a bit blocky. There is more weight in the handle than I am used to but not enough that it interferes with me using it. As for the scales, I got this knife second hand, so it had already been “broken in” a bit. The scales could have felt differently brand new.
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After spending a lot of time with the Ontario TAK1 I would call it a good survival knife. Should an emergency ever arise I would feel confident and comfortable using it. If you have experience with this knife or have any questions, please feel free to comment below. Stay sharp!
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