Quick Company History
The Ontario Knife Company was formed by three gentleman in Ontario County, New York in 1889. Their early production knives were manufactured with a water-run grindstone, loaded up in a pushcart and sold throughout the neighboring countryside. In 1902, the company moved to it’s current location in Franklinville. The company went through a few changes over the years, but they always remained in Ontario County. In 1923, production of the famous Old Hickory line would begin, which would put Ontario on the map.
Specs and Review
Blade Length: 5.25″
Blade Thickness: .19″
Overall Length: 10.5″
Blade Material: 1095 High Carbon Steel
Blade Finish: Black Powder Coat
Handle: Canvas Micarta
Sheath: Nylon MOLLE Compatible
Weight: 11.5 oz
The Ontario RAT 5 is a member of the RAT series that was designed by Jeff Randal and Mike Perrin from ESEE Knives. These knives are designed and built to be used in the field…period. The RAT series is used and carried by outdoorsmen worldwide. It’s also very popular among military personnel, including U.S. Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. These things are extensively tested and used because they work.
Solid construction: The RAT 5 features full-tang construction – made from a 3/16″ thick slab of 1095 High Carbon Steel. It also has durable Micarta handles, featuring 3 strong hex-head fasteners for easy maintenance or customization.
Quality steel: The RAT 5 uses the same awesomely heat-treated 1095 High Carbon Steel that the TAK1 uses, which makes it very easy to maintain. It takes and holds a very sharp edge with ease – and it can take a serious beating. It also showers sparks from a ferro rod, and works OK with flint. The jimping on the spine minimizes the amount of space you can work with, but you can get some sparks.
Comfortable scales: The Micarta scales on the RAT 5 are virtually identical to the TAK1, in terms of shape and size. They’re very comfortable out of the box and feature removable fasteners. This allows for easy maintenance or you can switch them out if you like to make your own scales. I have pretty large hands and the knife just feels natural to me and I can easily change grip styles if I need to.
Fit and Finish is Great: The fit and finish of the RAT 5 is great out of the box, just like the TAK1. I’ve heard some complaints in this department, but to be honest – all of the Ontario products I’ve purchased have had superb fit and finish from the factory.
Flat Grind: The factory grind on the RAT 5 is a flat grind. If you’ve read any of my knife articles, you know that I’m a Scandinavian grind guy. The flat grind is a great cutter and slicer (most kitchen knives are flat grinds) – but it’s not as functional as a Scandi, in my opinion.
Sheath: The factory sheath that comes with the Rat 5, while functional and MOLLE compatible, is nothing to write home about. It’s not a big deal, given the price of a quality designed knife, but I would much rather have a leather sheath. If you’re a Kydex guy, there are several options available at decent prices.
The Ontario RAT 5 is a pretty solid performer in the bush. For the price, you get high quality construction, great steel, super comfortable scales, and a great reputation from it’s designers. Apart from the flat grind, it’s perfectly functional for the bush and can take a serious amount of abuse.
If you’re looking for other bushcraft knife options, check out my Best Bushcraft Knives article. It’s a list with 15 of the best bushcraft knives available for any budget.