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Last Updated: March 9, 2018
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.
Buy the Ontario RAT II at BladeHQ
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, weighs 2.75 ounces, and is made in Taiwan. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Review – 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. 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.
- secure: the ambidextrous handle features textured black nylon 6 scales with an open-built steel linerlock frame
- comfortable: the rat-2 knife is a handheld size designed for comfort and performance making it ideal for everyday carry
- dependable: quick and easy access with dual thumb studs and a 4-way reversible pocket clip
- "durable: the rat-2 comes equipped with a 3" plain edge blade made of reliable aus-8 stainless steel as well as a textured nylon handle"
- "convenient size: the 4. 1" closed length handheld size is ideal for every day carry and fits in the hand and pocket comfortably"
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.
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.
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.
I think I remember reading that both knives were from the same designer
Had a pleasure reviewing this knife too. It’s really solid and worth every penny
Thanks for the comment, Andrei.
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.
Thanks, Russ. I totally agree. It isn’t sexy, but will definitely get the job done.
Dan, just picked one up for a EDC. Eric at Old School Knife Works in Otto, NC recommended it for a $30 knife. The knife is smooth and tight on opening. A perfect size and weight. It isn’t bulky and the price point is dead nuts. A no-brainer purchase. A great review, no doubt!! Semper-fi. Mike
Excellent, Mike! Yes, this one is a no brainer. Awesome little knife for the money and one you can beat on without regret. Enjoy it, and thanks for the comment!
I can’t seem to find this particular brown version on either Amazon or Blade HQ, was it a limited edition run?
I don’t think it is a limited run. Here is a link to the brown version on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1FeSkBW
I wasn’t able to find a non-coated, non-serrated version on BHQ at this time.
Thanks Dan unfortunately the link is to a RAT I but the color name helps a lot! Just to confirm the color for your RAT II is coyote brown?
Ah, sorry. Yes it’s coyote brown.
Robert Ackerman says
First, thank you for your educational and insightful reviews. I recently re-entered the knife world after a 3+ decade absence. Through loss, damage, gifting and misplacement, I had officially exhausted my supply of EDC/gentleman’s knives, most of which I purchased in the 70’s or early 80’s.
When I began looking for replacements for my trusty Al Mar 1002WM Hawk Classic, my scrimshaw and bone handled/brass bolstered Kershaw 2100/2110 /2120’s, my Gerber Paul 2PM and Silver Knights, and other assorted “Sunday go to meeting” knives, I discovered a brave new world. No one seems to offer quality lock blade knives that disappear into a vest or slacks pocket any more. I never worried about anyone being put off or intimidated by the white micarta or polished blades of my old EDC companions, and their 2.5″ and shorter blades did all that I asked of them over the years. Admittedly, I would break out my Stanley box cutter when tackling large amounts of cardboard, or my Kershaw Folding Field or classic Buck folder when tackling heavy duty back yard or wilderness work. Otherwise, my small blades did yeomans duty.
With your guidance, I have recently acquired a Spyderco PM2, a Mini-griptilian, a Kershaw Blur and Skyline (an attractive piece but it has lots of sharp corners to snag things when closed), an Ontario Rat II (and let me just say that sexy is in the eye of the beholder. I find the Rat’s slender blade profile reminiscent of my old Hawks and quite sexy with those friendly brown scales), and a Senrenmu 710 (another non-threatening EDC with its bright metal scales).
While I appreciate each of these recent additions for different roles, none of them truly provide the balance of quality, precision, performance, non-threatening appearance and easy pocketability of my old marks with the possible exception of my next addition….a CRK mnandi in bog oak (the mahogany seems to be unavailable at present). Based on your review, I think this one will check all of my boxes, though given it’s price, I will be hard pressed to consign it to a daily beater role or subject it to the risk of loss that claimed my old Al Mar Hawk. While I will probably get the CRK mnandi regardless, as it is, to quote Fat Bastard from Austin Powers fame, “Dead Sexy”. I would appreciate any recommendations of slightly more affordable options that still embody all of the features the mnandi affords along with a bit more piece of mind should I lose it. Perhaps you know of something one of the better Chinese manufacturers offer, (though like most, I prefer American made when possible). Thanks for any suggestions and thanks for all of the time and effort invested in your reviews over the years that have been so helpful to me, and I am sure, countless others.
Thank you so much for taking the time out to stop by and leave such a nice comment. Wow! Thank you!
I am glad to hear the website has helped fuel your re-entry to the world of pocket knives. What can I say, you have excellent taste and have picked up some pieces that are my personal favorite. And congratulations on the incoming Mnandi. I hope that becomes your perfect knife. It’s one of my all time favorite folders. I agree that it can be tough to abuse, cut certainly it is meant for use and daily carry. So carry it in good health! Thanks again.
My Ontario Rat 2 knife lock is off a few hairs. It stays locked once open. The bar should not stay locked every other time you open it. Any suggestions?
Sounds like the knife may be either damaged or defective. I would contact Ontario and see if they will replace or fix it. I would not continue to use the knife if the lock doesn’t always work. Good luck!
Oh the lock works, too good. It won’t unlock very easy. It is out of alignment. Thanks for the effort in helping me.
Great review. I have 2
RAT1’s and 3 RAT2 so obviously I like them. I’m not sure if sexy is the word but I love the look. Getting ready to give 2 as gifts. As far as carrying, whether im carrying the 1 or 2…..i can’t tell the difference. I’m never even aware theres a blade in my pocket. That’s one of the things I love about the 1. I’d suggest that if you’ve got one or the other and like it…..you need the other one too. I’ve been a fan of Randall Knives for years and this Taiwan made knife meets his standard I assume so it’s good enough for me.