When it comes to survival knives, most people think of one of a couple of big names like KA-BAR, SOG, and ESEE. There’s one company that’s been in the full tang knife business for a very long time that sometimes goes forgotten. The Ontario Knife Company, makers of the RAT-3 Adventurer.
Ontario Knives has been crafting quality steel in Ontario Country, New York since 1889, and boy does that experience show. Having a range of offerings from Bowie’s to Bayonets and tried and true folders, there’s something for most anyone to love.
Before we get too deep into the RAT-3, a disclaimer is needed, and it goes by the name the 499 survival knife. The 499 is the standard issue survival knife for US Air Force flight crews worldwide, and I know it very well. Nicknamed the “bolt-handled knife” I’m incredibly familiar with Ontario Knives from the mountains of Alaska in deep winter to other field conditions all over the world. We judge every knife based on its own merits, but its worth noting that I had incredibly high standards for the RAT-3 to live up to.
Note: Itsjustsharp.com was not paid for this review and is not associated with the Ontario Knife Company in any way.
The RAT-3 Adventurer. A survival knife you can EDC with confidence.
The RAT-3 Adventurer is one of the few knives that perform a great many tasks well. Ontario claims that its main functions should be in the realms of tools, tactical, and survival. With its finger notch, this knife feels as comfortable in helping you skin a deer as it does taking down logs into firewood all while being small enough to carry every day on your belt.
Here are the key stats you can find right off the box.
|Overall Length||7.9 Inches ( 20.1 cm)|
|Blade Length||3.9 Inches (9.8 cm)|
|Blade Material||High Carbon Steel|
|Blade Hardness||57-59 HRC|
|Handle Material||Laminated Hardwood|
Right out of the box, the RAT-3 performed well. It fits well in my hand and was able to pierce through and cut a large carpet (80 Inches of thick pile) and not wear my wrist out. When we got it out into the field in the northern Utah mountains it was able to craft feather sticks via baton with relative ease.
Personally, I prefer a knife with a black coating on the blade itself. All of my EDC knives have had a black coating over the face of the blade itself and the RAT 3 gave me this option as well. I view it as scuffing on the blade as just a sign of good use. Needless to say, we put some solid scuffs in the coating.
The Good Stuff.
I was very impressed by the RAT-3. As I said in the disclaimer above I had incredibly high standards for it to live up to after carrying the 499 for as long as I have. The Adventurer is a full tang that lives up to the 499’s legacy in my opinion.
Though it lacks the leather wrapping my inner nostalgia was hoping for, the laminated hardwood was easy to grasp and maneuver and with its hardness rating I wasn’t afraid to put it through abuse without worry.
Going through testing I never once sharpened the edge, simply taking it from one task to the next without running it over the stones or honing it. Despite going from cutting through carpet, to splitting wood for fires, and a bit of evening whittling, the blade is still as sharp as it was out of the box.
Where It Fell Short.
There were really only three places where I wished Ontario had improved on the RAT-3.
- The balance of the blade is too far toward the handle. While great when you’re beating on the spine trying to split wood, It feels like it could have had a little more weight further up the blade.
- The one I have has a leather sheath not made in the USA. The sheath fits snugly however it was a bit of a letdown when the box says “Made in USA.”
- Lastly, there’s no ferro rod notch. While not a must, when packaged as a survival knife I would have liked a notch.
The RAT-3 is an outdoors knife that’s as comfortable in the field helping you get wood ready for fire as it is on your belt every day. I wouldn’t think twice if the need came up to use it for skinning, or just cutting rope.
Frankly, the RAT-3 has earned its place right next to the 499.
Up Next: Finding The Perfect Bushcraft/Survival Knife For Your Needs!
The right bushcraft knife can make all the difference when venturing into the great outdoors. It can be a lifesaver in survival situations, a reliable tool for various tasks, and a trusted companion on countless adventures. Are you prepared to find the perfect bush craft or survival knife to meet your needs?
Frequently Asked Questions:
Do I need a full tang knife? We recommend full tang for survival and outdoor knives. We explain more about that HERE
How Do I Sharpen or Hone My Survival Knife? Sharpening and honing your knives is incredibly important for continued use. We show you all about how in our article Sharpening VS Honing.
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