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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.