Ontario RAT 1 Review

These days if you want a high value EDC knife, there are plenty of options. Kershaw and Spyderco make some great knives in the $30 and under category that are easy choices for EDC. If you want something that is both hard use and high value, it gets a little harder. Sure, the Spyderco and Kershaw blades are well built, but for many, these knives are firmly in the EDC category. Enter the Ontario RAT 1. The RAT 1 combines tank-like construction with a big blade and comes in around $30. At that price this larger folder becomes difficult to ignore. Lets take a closer look and see what the Rat 1 is all about.

General Dimensions and Blade Details

The RAT 1 has a an overall length of 8.6 inches, a 3.5 inch blade, and a weight of 5 ounces. So this ain’t no rice cake. It is, however, a very solid design. A lot of people find this to be a heavy knife, and I can totally appreciate that. Personally, I feel that the Rat 1 has a pleasant heft to it, and and it makes a nice larger edc. I know some like to use this as a tactical knife, and I think it would work well in that role. Finally this is could be a heavy utility knife – a solid folder to beat around on that won’t break the bank if it gets lost or damaged. I personally find it to be a very versatile size.

Ontario RAT 1 Review

The blade is an attractive drop point shape. It’s a no-frills blade, and the full flat grind adds to the simplicity. Overall, the blade is a great design for slicing, thinly ground from 3mm thick stock and an edge that has been neatly applied. There is no swedge on this knife, but the the tip is still sturdy considering. This is a very practical blade that will perform well in a variety of tasks.

Ontario RAT 1 - Blade Detail

The blade comes with either a satin finish or a black coating. The coating Ontario uses is pretty cheap, and will start wearing off almost instantly. For that reason I really prefer the satin finish. The satin finish on the RAT 1 is actually really sharp, it’s very bright and reflective (perhaps to the chagrin of more “tactical” crowd). Granted, this kind of polishing isn’t super practical for a work knife, but for those first moments when you take it out of the box it will be nice to look at.

The steel is AUS8, a mid-range Japanese stainless steel. AUS 8 is nice because it is tough and easy to sharpen, but it will lose its edge faster than higher end steels. For a ~$30 knife, I’m honestly happy to have it.

Handle

The RAT 1 has a flow through / pillar construction handle with zytel (plastic) scales over stainless steel liners. Zytel may not be everyone’s first choice for handle material, but it does the job here and serving as a lightweight and durable scale. Speaking of scales, Ontario offers this knife in a variety of different colors. I happened to like the OD green version, so that is what you see here. The liners on this knife are not milled out, which accounts for part of the knife’s weight, but for a hard working beater blade, milled liners are a luxury I don’t require. Nylon scales and solid liners are minor grumbles that shouldn’t detract too much from an otherwise very solid handle.

RAT 1 - Forward Grip

The ergonomics of the RAT 1 are quite nice. The handle is a very generous 5″ long, which gives you plenty of room, even if you have larger hands. The handle is also very thick, which helps with comfort, admittedly at the expense of carry-ability. The choil is well defined which keeps your finger from sliding onto the blade, always nice. There is a pretty good sized thumb ramp with some decent jimping – it’s not super sharp but it is sharp enough to provide some traction and control. This handle to performs very well in both forward and reverse grips; great if you plan on carrying this as a tactical knife.

RAT 1 - Reverse Grip

The pocket clip is a nice low riding 4 corners design. Carrying the knife tip down poses some issues as the clip tends to get in the way, but all in all I like the gesture, and you can’t beat the convenience of putting the clip wherever you want it. The clip has been blackened with the same cheap paint like material – it will wear off. Clip retention is good though, and the mild texture on the scales means that it won’t tear up your pocket.

Deployment and Lock-up

Deployment on the Ontario RAT 1 is excellent. There are some phosphor bronze washers in there, a welcome feature on this value priced knife, and it lends to nice smooth deployments. Ambidextrous thumbstuds are always welcome at BladeReviews, and the RAT 1 has some nice big ambidextrous thumb studs. This gives you plenty of leverage and allows you to snap the blade out fast.

RAT 1 Pocket Clip

The liner lock is very solid and crisp. It’s a nice early lockup with a thick piece of steel. It feels very secure. One open there is zero blade play in this knife, which comes as no surprise when you feel how solid the rest of this knife is. 5 ounces is heavy for a modern folder, but I think the RAT 1 makes up for it here with it’s rock solid feel and lock.

Ontario Rat 1 Review – Final Thoughts

For an inexpensive hard use folder the RAT 1 is very tough to beat. You simply get a lot of well made knife for your money. However, it’s not all rosy with the RAT: the knife is made overseas (Taiwan), the steel is on the lower end, the handle scales are plastic and the weight is 5 ounces. To me these are minor niggles. If you can get beyond the little stuff you are left with a very solid knife that will be ready for almost anything you throw at it. If you want a inexpensive “SHTF” knife, a larger work knife or something to beat around with at the campsite, you can’t ask for a better deal on a hard use folding blade.

List Price: $48.75
Current Price: $25.28
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Comments

  1. says

    I have always wanted to try one of these. The designers know a thing or two about using a knife and the price is certainly right.

    I think that AUS-8 makes a lot of sense for knife like this given how easily it can be sharpened in the field. AUS-8 is one of the only stainless steels that I actually like. It takes a good working edge and if you have a bit of extra time to refine it, the edge can polish up nicely.

  2. Marc says

    Good read, I’m a knife nut!
    I study survival and self defense techniques, I purchased the Spyderco Tenacious and it was nice but I already broke it after 2 weeks. I should have my Ontario Rat 1 OD green scales, in a few days. I’m hoping this knife can handle my hard usage!

    Great review Dan.

    • says

      Thanks Marc! Glad to find a fellow blade addict! :) I’d be curious to hear how the Tenacious broke – that is really unfortunate! The RAT 1 is pretty beastly for a $30 folder, but you may find that a fixed blade will hold up better. Something like an Izula II might work well for you if you can carry a fixed blade. Thanks for reading and for the kind words!

    • says

      Hey Scott! Thanks for subscribing man I have been reading your blog since I saw the interview they did on you over at the cutting edge. Big fan man. Best regards.

    • says

      Charles, both are very solid knives. However, the medium Voyager is going to be a lot lighter. It’s also going to be noticeably smaller than the Rat 1 with a 3″ blade vs. a 3.6″ blade. I’d say both will hold up just as well. For my use I prefer a medium Voyager because the size and weight are perfect for my every day needs but if you like bigger knives then it may be worth it to move up to the Rat 1.

      My pleasure man, many more to come! :)

  3. Peter says

    How does this knife compare to a Zero Tolerance 0350 for hard use? Their both heavyish blades but manageable for me, so basically, what I am asking is the 350 worth the huge price difference of the Rat 1?

    • says

      Well, the 0350 is made in America and features a serious upgrade in materials. Those 2 factors alone make it worth the price for a lot of people. The assisted opening might be another factor to consider.

      I will say the level of fit and finish are both very good. Whether it is worth the premium really depends on what you need the knife for and what you value. Personally, yes, I think the 350 is worth the premium. It’s a wonderfully made knife. However, the Rat 1 is a nice knife, and for only $30 it is tough to beat if you just need something for dirty jobs and occasional use.

  4. says

    have one of these and I love it…it is a great design for edc and all tasks…..the blade hsape makes it easy to sharpen and gives you a lot of cutting surface…I also like the four corners clip mounting option they really understand what makes a good folder there is little else out there for the money and value of this knife

    • says

      I couldn’t agree more man. This is such a well done “budget” folder. I know many will disagree, but in a lot of ways I prefer this one over the Spyderco Tenacious, another amazing budget blade. Thanks for stopping by. :)

  5. stu lindores says

    Hi Dan,

    100% agree with your final thoughts on this knife review, its certainly one of my best buys at just over £30 in the UK. Most of all I love the ergonomics of the handle, its a good quality hard use tank of a knife with decent steel and a nice blade shape, i cant imagine anyone being disappointed unboxing this gem of a knife a give away at this price, the only problem i have encountered with my Rat 1 is a few rust spots on the liners where they come in contact with my hand, but that’s being picky.

    keep up the good work :)

    regards

    stu (N.Wales)

    • says

      Thank you Stu! Glad to hear we see eye to eye on this one. This is one of the best values out there and I don’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone needing a large and sturdy EDC. I haven’t experienced any rust issues with mine yet, that is an interesting observation.

      Thanks for reading and leaving the nice comment.

      Best regards,

      Dan

  6. Jack says

    WOW!
    What a nice blade. Imma have to get my hands on one. Cheap too!
    I really like the look of this kind of knife and this knife especially.
    Great Review as always!

    Jack

  7. Alex says

    Hi,

    Thanks for a good review!

    I’ve got 2 medium-sized folders – Ontario RAT 1 and Spyderco Paramilitary 2, so I use them for some camping (and small jobs in the kitchen – still waiting to get a proper set of Japanese kitchen knives ;).

    What I found out is that RAT is better for cutting vegetables (and lobsters ;), and I am doing some woodwork with it. While Paramilitary is better with wood, and absolutely awesome with meat (on par with pchak – central asian traditional knife), its price is keeping me from giving it a lot of hard work for now. I’ll wait several months, and then I could do a proper test in the wild.

    Best,
    Alex

    • Alex says

      PS. I saw people sharpening RAT 1 using usual rocks while on different trips. Obviously, this can’t be done with many other knives;)

      • says

        I couldn’t agree more Alex! That is one of the nice things about AUS 8 – sure it won’t hold an edge forever, but very easy to field sharpen.

    • says

      Hey Alex,

      Thanks for reading and commenting – my pleasure! I am glad to hear the RAT 1 is working out well for you in the kitchen, it has got a nice grind for that, although a nice set of kitchen knives will be a substantial upgrade. At any rate glad to hear the knife is working out so far and I would be very interested to hear how it holds up during some wilderness testing.

      Thanks again,

      Dan

  8. Nav says

    Not quite sure how I ended up here but 1. I feel not I ended with an education on knives 2. I think I might like to start a collection. Your videos and site organization is great – very well done and thanks for your time and effort. I didnt even know what EDC was until about an hour ago :) (admittedly I grew up in London – much more opportunity for use in Georgia )

    So I just ordered the Rat 1 it arrives Tuesday (cant wait) and I now have 5 others in the wishlist.

    Thank you!

    • says

      Hey Nav! Thanks for the very kind comment. Glad you enjoyed the website and found the content helpful. Knife collecting is a lot of fun so I encourage you to take your time and enjoy yourself. The Rat 1 is a great start – you will be hard pressed to find a more solid or functional folding knife for the money, so you made a very good choice.

      Thanks again.

      Dan

  9. james says

    Can you give me a clue what a “tactical” folder is? What tasks would it perform that a non-tactical folder can’t do (or do well)? Slicers, I get. Thin, thin, thin sharp blade. Necessarily not sturdy. Maybe not for sharpening 300 1″ thick wooden stakes for a fish trap. That task would go to an outdoor/hard use knife. What do you do with a tactical folder that you wouldn’t with a slicer or outdoor knife?

  10. Alex says

    Hi again, Dan.
    People might not know that the Rat 1 is a very popular knife in Russia. Now, Russia has a huge knife adict comunity in forums and on youtube. They got more knife reviewers and hard use testers than alcoholics (okey, that’s not true). And they got the best
    and latest knives from all the manufacturers, and custom makers, on their youtube chanals. And top 10 votes with thousands of participants, for best knife of the year. And 3 years in a row, the Rat 1 was at first place. 2nd place is often taken by the Paramilitary 2, or Spyderco military, and the Griptilian is often up there too, and a Strider SNG or SMF also normaly makes it to the top 10-just to give you an idea of what the Rat is up against.
    Just thought this bit of random info might be interesting to knife nuts.

    • says

      Alex,

      Interesting! That Rat 1 is a sturdy, no-nonsense knife so I am not surprised to hear it is well regarded, but the fact that it has been voted best knife of the year for 3 years running is a real eye opener. Thanks for taking the time out to provide that interesting perspective.

      Dan

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