TOPS Knives 9″ Anaconda (MSRP $269.00) – @crazy2sin

If you aren’t in a profession where the difference between life and death is a good quality knife, you may not have heard of TOPS Knives.I first discovered TOPS after watching a movie called “The Hunted” about ten years ago. I saw a knife highlighted in that film that was truly unique. After some research I discovered the designer was Tom Brown and the only company that could legally sell his product was TOPS Knives.In more recent years my wife and I have found we can always agree on television survival shows for an entertaining evening. When I watch those “experts” with their hardcore military background I am always interested in seeing what knife they have chosen to bring to these scenarios. What I noticed was Mykel Hawke used an interesting knife of his design called a Hellion. I noticed Joe Teti used an Anaconda and after that his design called a SurvTac 7. All of these blades are made by TOPS Knives!So when I had a chance to talk with TOPS Knives about doing a review I was star struck. The knife sent to me was the nine inch Anaconda. Immediately, I was blown away. The first thing you notice is the shear size of this knife. Overall it’s just over 15 inches in length. With a full tang and 1/4 inch thickness of 1095 high carbon alloy steel throughout; it looks as if it should weigh enough to be unwieldy (23oz). In fact, the 17 degree blade drop angle actually makes the knife feel extremely light while enhancing chopping ability. This knife was designed by a true master, Ron Hood of It is his ultimate bushcraft design and seems to be up to any task you can throw at it.So what did I throw at it? As usual I looked at chopping, batoning and precision tasks. This time due to the reputation and cost of the product my approach was go big or go home. Upon receipt, this was not just the largest knife I’ve received but also the sharpest. Despite it’s 1/4 inch thickness the Anaconda was easily able to slow shave hanging paper! After noting the sharpness I set out to dull the blade. First, I found a large standing piece of dead hardwood. I chose this tree because the top had broken off some time ago and while it provided a substantial challenge there was no danger of having a lethal tree fall accident. The target in question was about 8 inches across with a hardened dry center. I would never suggest that anyone should cut something so large with any knife. As a matter of fact chopping wood at all with most knives is considered abuse. While it took some time and significant effort, I never had any worry about the Anaconda being up to the task. The knife handled the task with no serious problems. The only negative was a little loss of the “black traction finish” in the center of the blade edge area. This is not concerning to me because such a task would surely damage any finish and the damage was minimal even though the task was not. (In fact the “finish damage” was present in each photo taken of this knife and in most it’s not noticeable.) Next, it was time to baton with the Anaconda. Generally batoning would be done to make kindling for a fire in the bush. You may be splitting fallen half rotted limbs in hopes of getting to the dry wood in the center. The wood used usually isn’t saw cut, aged, dry 4 inch round firewood. That’s what I chose to baton. The surprise was how easily the wood seemed to fall apart under the Anaconda. Next, I set to smaller tasks like making a feather stick. This is done by shaving super thin layers of wood back to create a bundle of tinder for fire starting. It takes a sharp knife to get the fine thin shavings you want. As shown, it was no problem despite the knife’s size. This is partially due to the balance point being at the choil providing great control. After doing all of this, it was time to see how the Anaconda’s sharpness held up. I was shocked to see I could still slow shave hanging paper. I attribute this edge retention to the zone hardening of the 1095 steel. TOPS truly provided an incredibly hard edge with seemingly no problems with brittleness. No edge damage could be found. The Anaconda comes with a Molle compatible ballistic nylon sheath with dual accessory pouches and the TOPS signature emergency signal whistle. It should also be mentioned the back of the blade has a useful built-in notching saw. In the end, this is the most impressive knife I have ever seen. I feel it would be up to any task. So now we have to ponder a couple is issues that may be seen as negative. I personally think 1095 high carbon steel is the perfect choice for this application. However, some will complain about the possibility of the blade rusting. Of course this is the reason for the coating TOPS uses on the blade. That being said, a high quality tool should be maintained. This blade should be oiled before storage. The other issue is the big hang up for most consumers; the price. $270 is a high price for a knife. Consider what you are paying for; this is a hand made knife made entirely in the USA. Face it American labor isn’t cost effective. TOPS is keeping it’s manufacturing at home and that’s worth something. You’re also paying for a professional level of quality and performance. If you are a weekend camper maybe you don’t need it. If you ever need to rely on a blade to save your life, maybe you do. In the end, I bet you paid more for the stereo head unit in your dashboard and it won’t save your life in a survival situation. I like a deal but I think the price is right in this case. Full Specifications: Designed by Ron Hood ( Blade Length: 9 1/2″ with a 17 degree blade drop (designed to increase chopping efficiency) Overall Length: 15 1/4″ Cutting Edge: 9″ Thickness: 1/4″ Weight: 23 oz (29 oz with sheath) Blade Color: Black Traction Powder Coating, made from a proprietary polyester-epoxy hybrid Blade Steel: 1095 High Carbon Alloy It is differentially heat treated for superior strength and durability with three hardness zones: the hard edge (RC-56-58); a middle, slightly softer zone; and a “spring steel tempered” spine. Handle Material: Black Linen Micarta® Sheath: Combat Ballistic Nylon





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