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Ontario Rat 1
The Best Budget Knife
Finding budget-friendly gear can be difficult, especially where knives are concerned. Some of the offerings out there will crack with any amount of force, others will dull the moment you look at them, and some just completely fall apart with little use. When I bought the Rat 1 it was because I didn’t want my Spyderco Tenacious getting mucked up at a job I had started as an animal caretaker, but it didn’t take long for the Rat 1 to become one of my all-time favorite pocket knives.
Before we get to the review here are the details on the Wonder Rat (It has to have a nickname…)
Blade length: 3.6 inches
Folded length: 4.5 inches
Opened length: 8.5 inches
Width: ~0.6 inches
Weight: 5 ounces
Blade material: AUS-8
Blade style: Drop Point
Action: Thumb stud, unassisted
Locking Mechanism: Stainless steel liner lock
Scale material: Glass filled nylon (Nylon 6)
Stock clip position: Right side, tip up.
Where to begin with this knife… well, to start it lets talk about the ergonomics of the blade, they’re bland, but that isn’t a bad thing. The finger stop is more than adequate to make sure that your hand doesn’t slip and get chopped up (the same can’t be said for another knife I’ll be doing a QGR on) and the horizontal jimping on the liner lock does give a traction point for your finger to help prevent the sliding even further. The jimping on the back of the blade does give adequate enough traction for your index finger for cutting up food, or doing detail cuts (if you even can get those with a drop point). The thumb stud isn’t the best, but it works well enough for positive deployment of the blade which is really what matters. For those with medium to larger sized hands, the contour of the grip is…for lack of better words simply “meh” and the grip panels give some grip, but they are far from being aggressive. Overall, you aren’t going to hate this knife’s ergonomics even if you don’t love them. For me, its bland done properly, and this bland comes in basically any color you could want.
Now, let me lead off on the blade steel that I’m not a metallurgist or even much of a blade connoisseur, but just a fan of EDC gear. After being dropped in countless types of animal waste, dirtied water, and more the blade hasn’t rusted…but I’ve also wiped it clean each time it was dropped. The chip you may or may not notice at the tip of the blade is my fault, as I tried using it as a pry-bar to get a stuck drainage grate in a floor which it didn’t succeed at doing. But after two years now of hard use, the blade is able to cut frozen meat still, but it isn’t going to win any sharpness contests at the same time. At the price the Ontario Rat 1 comes in, if you’re wanting to have a sharp blade all the time, this is definitely a knife that you can hone your sharpening skills on, and not cry if anything goes wrong.
Deployment… oh boy. Let me start by saying…do you have that pair of jeans that you’ve had for years that fits just right that you cry when they tear? That’s how the action on the Ontario Rat 1 is the moment it comes out of the box. Having played with Benchmades at Gander Mountain when that was a thing, my Zero Tolerance 0770 (assisted), a handful of CRKT’s, and more I can honestly say that the Ontario Rat 1 has thee smoothest action and it doesn’t even have ball bearings! Unlike the blade, I’ve not cleaned the action or even taken the knife apart to do a thorough cleaning… and it is still just as smooth as the day I got it. To give an idea of how smooth the action is, I can get the blade unfolded faster than the 0770 which is spring assisted if that tells you anything. The only real issue I have had with the Ontario Rat 1 in terms of deployment is… well, the clip. I half expected the finish to get worn as fast as it has, but I didn’t think the clip would become as loose as it did as fast. About 3 weeks into owning the Ontario Rat 1 I hadn’t switched the clip for left-handed use (yeah, yeah, I’m a lefty but shoot righty) but it had become fairly loose, not enough for it to break or come off (the screws weren’t any looser), and to date it hasn’t become any looser or any tighter even after switching it to left hand tip up carry. For sub$30 though I can’t tell you that this is even a concern of mine.
Overall, the Ontario Rat 1 is one of those tools that you will look at and think “I love this thing so much…why am I beating the hell out of it like I do?” Immediately after you’ll drop it in something absolutely disgusting and laugh it off because well… it’s what you got it to do. If you’re in the market for a budget knife that will literally go to hell and back with you, the Ontario Rat 1 is a knife that I’d buy 10x over without hesitation, and I suggest you check them out as well (Quick tip: For $15-25 more you can get the same knife but with D2 steel…which I might buy next just because).
If you’re wanting to check out the Rat 1, here are a couple links to some different models
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