Ontario Rat II Review

Not everyone who reads the site knows about this, but I do have a couple sections dedicated to knives I have reviewed and recommend. Of particular interest could be the recommended EDC knives section, and the recommended tactical knives section, as these types of knives are generally pretty popular. When browsing those lists there are a few special knives that make the cross over to both categories. Typically, these are gold standard blades like the Spyderco Paramilitary 2 and Benchmade Griptilian which are great knives, but clock in at $110+ and $70+ respectively. But then there is another category, the recommended high value knives section, where I try to limit the knives to $50 or less. It is quite rare to find a knife that can fall into all 3 categories. The Ontario Rat I is one of those knives.

I reviewed the Rat I a couple years ago, and I am still of the opinion that those seeking serious bang for their buck when it comes to a big EDC / “tactical” knives would be well served with a RAT I. That’s great for guys wanting a big knife, but what about the rest of us who are looking for a more pocket friendly EDC?

Enter the Rat II. It has everything we all know and love about the Rat I, but in a much more compact package.

General Dimensions and Blade Details

The Rat II is 7″ long, has a 3″ blade, and weighs 2.75 ounces. This is a great size for urban EDC. It is both pocket and people friendly, and you still have enough knife to get some real work done. Of course, if you are looking for something larger then the Rat I has you covered.

Ontario Rat II

The blade is a modified drop point design. Nothing about this knife is particularly sexy looking, but this plain utilitarian blade gets the job done. The full flat grind is thin, and the knife zips easily through all manner of material. The tip is plenty pokey for detail work while the bright satin finish is both attractive and corrosion resistant. They do offer the knife with a shiny black coating, but it is not very durable. I prefer the satin finished version.

Ontario Rat II Blade

Just like the Model I, the Rat II comes in AUS 8 blade steel. Steel snobs may turn their nose up at AUS 8, but my own testing and use has proven again and again that AUS 8 takes a great edge, is super easy to maintain, doesn’t chip out easily, and resists rust and corrosion. For a $30 folder, AUS 8 is about as good as it gets.

Handle, Ergonomics, and Pocket Clip

The handle on the Rat II features the same robust design of it’s bigger brother. You have plastic scales over full stainless liners with pillar (or “flow through”) construction. It is simple and effective. I also like the choice of handle colors and the black hardware. This knife is made in Taiwan, and like many of the other Taiwanese knives I have handled, this knife features exceptional fit and finish. One nit pick is that the handle scales are plastic. I would prefer some G10, but some corners have to be cut when your are targeting the under $40 market.

Ontario Rat II Handle

From an ergonomic standpoint the Rat II is pretty good. Obviously it’s not going to be as comfortable as the oversized Rat I, but, given the size of the knife I was still able to get a nice grip on it with my larger hands. Extra large hands may run out of real estate, but you could always choke up near the ricasso and gain a little extra room. The plastic scales are comfortable. All the corners have been rounded, and a texture provides some feedback without being aggressive. The jimping on the other hand is pretty aggressive. Under extended use this jimping definitely bites into your thumb, and I don’t like that aspect of the knife. All said though, and this is a decent knife to work with.

Ontario Rat II Pocket in Hand

The pocket clip is a classic shape (think Benchmade or Emerson), comes with a painted satin black finish, and can be put on any of the 4 corners of the knife. It’s simple, discrete, and totally functional. The painted clip does show wear easily, but this is a user so I don’t mind. In pocket the knife rides low and stays where you want it to. I really cant complain about its simple and utilitarian design.

Ontario Rat II Pocket Clip

Deployment and Lock Up

For a low end knife the Rat II is surprisingly smooth. The Aus 8 blade glides on sintered bronze washers. A gentle nudge of the ambidextrous thumb studs sends the blade cascading out with a satisfying “thwack”. The blade on my knife came perfectly centered, which adds another level of enjoyment to the knife.

Ontario Rat II vs. Ontario Rat I

For lock up, you have a robust liner lock. This is a beefy liner lock, and there isn’t even a suggestion of play when I tug the blade in any direction. This is a great choice for hard use tasks, and I don’t hesitate to use this as a work knife. In fact, it’s a great choice for those nasty jobs you don’t want to risk a more expensive knife with. The blade locks up tight and the lock bar disengages easily when you need it to.

Ontario Rat II – Final Thoughts

For the money the Rat II is a hall of fame blade that makes my lists for both recommended EDC and recommended high value knives. It may not be the prettiest pony in the stable, but if you subscribe to the philosophy of function over form, want a folding knife with a 3″ blade, and have around $30 to spend, then the Rat II could be just the knife you are looking for. Looking back, my biggest gripes were about the plastic handle scales and aggressive jimping. Beyond that I find very little to complain about, and these are easy objections to overcome given the price. Just like it’s big brother, the Rat II is a no-nonsense tool ready to provide years of service.

I recommend purchasing the Ontario Rat II at Amazon or BladeHQ. Please consider that purchasing anything through any of the links on this website helps support BladeReviews.com, and keeps the site going. As always, any and all support is greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.

List Price: $46.00
Current Price: $24.82
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Comments

  1. Michael says

    Thanks for the fine review of a good value folder, Dan.

    The Rat II, with its 3 inch blade and 3 oz weight makes for a good pocket EDC. Mine opens and closes smoothly with no lock stick. It’s much more pocket-friendly than its older, larger brother, the Rat I.

    The plastic scales aren’t very grippy and I don’t care for the satin-finished blade, but both are serviceable.

    I liked mine enough to buy a second: a one-of-a-kind pimped model with CF scales and stonewashed blade.

    Another folder consumers may want to consider is the ESEE Zancudo. It’s also a 3-inch, 3 oz. model, with the same or similar materials. Published reports say it is manufactured in the same factory in Taiwan as the Rat II.

    Even the designs are similar. But where the Rat II has a linerlock, the Zancudo is a framelock and is available with several finishes, including a lovely stonewashed blade.

    Choose the framelock or linerlock; both are fun to use and excellent values in the under $30 imported folder market.

    • says

      Thank you, Michael. Glad you like yours. The satin finish is pretty bright, but I definitely prefer it over a bead blast. I suppose a tumbled finish would be preferable?

      I actually picked up a Zancudo at the same time I grabbed this Rat II. The similarities are undeniable. It does look to me like they were made in he same factory (same hardware, same materials, same high levels of fit and finish). Expect to see that review in the next couple weeks. I’ve been on a bit of a $30-40 folder kick, so I have been sampling a variety of offerings at that price point (including the Cold Steel Medium Voyager, Kershaw Injection 3.0, the ESEE Zancudo, and I just ordered a CRKT Swindle last night). I have to say, now is a great time to be a consumer interested in a knife at that price. There are several very nice choices to pick from.

      As always, thank you for stopping by and taking the time out to comment.

      Cheers,

      Dan

  2. RussC says

    I own both the Rat 1 and 2. Back before I started getting into the next tier of folders one of these was my constant companion. Rat 2 is a great urban EDC option and for the price you cant go wrong. Granted its not as sexy as some others but it certainly makes up for it in functionality and quality of construction.

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