Ontario RAT 2 Review: Is This the Knife You’ll Need?

Outdoors have fun and danger in almost equal measures. Usually, any serious camper or hunter won’t leave their home without a well-packed survival kit. And in every survival kit, a good stainless or carbon steel knife ranks high in must-have items. Whether it’s a fixed blade-hunting knife or a folding EDC tool that sits tightly in your pocket, it may be your only way to survive in a life-and-death situation.

And no company understands the needs of the modern knife owner like the Ontario Knife Company. They partnered with Randall’s Adventure Training to bring you the Ontario RAT 2 folding knife. It’s a smaller version of Jeff Randall’s famous RAT 1 model design, with similar great qualities but better sized for EDC carry. Let’s discuss everything about RAT 2 in this review.

At A Glance

A reliable blade is all you need, whether opening packages, peeling a fruit, or skinning a catch in the woods. But, in dire situations, you need a sturdy pocketknife like the Ontario RAT 2. This knife features great ergonomics, reliable AUS-8 steel, and a firm liner lock that flicks the blade out fast when you need that super speed. And all that for an affordable price of around $30.

Specs Summary

Blade length3 inches
Overall length7 inches
Weight2.75oz
Blade materialAUS-8 or D2
Handle materialNylon
Locking mechanismLiner Lock
Deployment MechanismThumb Stud
Country of OriginTaiwan

Pros 

  • RAT 2 knife has a perfect size and length for efficient functionality.
  • The AUS-8 steel blade is strong and easy to sharpen.
  • The thumb studs allow for easy and speedy deployment.
  • Durable nylon handle.
  • It’s a safe knife in the pocket thanks to the strong liner lock.
  • Reversible pocket clip and good-sized lanyard hole help with the carriage.
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • AUS-8 is not as strong as carbon steel
  • The blade doesn’t hold an edge for that long
  • This knife can’t handle extreme heavy-duty tasks.

Blade details

You can easily tell from its name that this knife’s design purely focused on outdoor usability. The idea is simple, a blade that meets outdoor needs while keeping the price relatively low. And the RAT 2 scores high in all those areas.

RAT 2 features the reliable AUS-8 budget steel, heat-treated to a hardness of 59HRC for peak performance. The AUS-8 steel resists rusting fairly, is easy to give a razor-sharp edge, maintains an edge well, and holds to impact cutting jobs nicely without chipping or breaking.

And oh boy, this steel is very easy to maintain. To better corrosion resistance and improve aesthetics, Ontario gives AUS-8 a shiny black coating or a bright satin finish.

The slimmed blade features a modified drop point design and a full flat grind. The tip pierces easily and perfectly handles detail work. This 2.75 ounces knife has a folded length of 4 inches that perfectly fits in most pockets, and the 3 inches working blade handles cutting tasks without breaking a sweat. Of course, its brother, the RAT 1, would be better in tasks that require a longer blade.

The Handle

Ontario decided to give this knife the same fiberglass reinforced nylon handle as the famous RAT 1. Possibly, Ontario wanted to ride on the popularity of RAT1 handle design or wanted to capitalize on the low weight and cost-saving benefits of plastics. Either way, they did a great job of scaling the nylon with micro-checkered patterns that gives it a denim-Micarta feel and a pleasing look.

Nylon is notorious for poor grip under moist conditions, but not in RAT 2. Ontario shaped the handle like a canoe with a generous finger choil, which feels very natural to hold in standard forward or sabre grips.

The well-rounded corners and scaling ensure tight grips without the roughness of G10. To top up, the handle comes with a satin black painted clip, which you can screw to any of the four corners of the handle. The clip is strong, and be sure it will keep this knife where you want it in your pocket.

Ontario does more than give you the freedom to place the clip where you like the most. The designers knew pocket knives need to complete the user’s style by blending well with their dressing. And boom, they offer the blade in several color variations to match either a black or satin blade finish. Also, RAT 2 has a lanyard hole that gives you the option to hang it around your neck for extreme accessibility.

Deployment and Lockup

While some knife enthusiasts argue that a frame lock is better than a liner lock, they may be wrong with the nicely done liner mechanism in RAT 2. Even at the price of this knife, Ontario has managed to use two pairs of washers to better the performance of the lock.

A set of bronze washers press against the blade, and the nylon washers separate them with the handle scales. Coupled with full stainless steel liners, the lock mechanism is simply the best among budget pocket knives. The lock holds the blade firmly within the handle when folded and flicks it out at impressive speed under a gentle nudge of the thumb studs. Disengaging the lock is easy and smooth, and a little practice will make you a pro at opening and folding the blade with one hand.

The washers also keep the blade well centered and beef up the lock to keep the blade firm when unfolded. We have done some nasty cutting with this knife and noticed no play or side wiggling of the blade. We recommend using RAT 2 for risky cutting jobs that you would mind subjecting your expensive knives too.

Ontario RAT 2 Alternatives and Equivalents

Ontario RAT 2 vs. Ontario RAT 1

These two knives share more similarities beyond a common designer and manufacturer. They have AUS-8 steel blades, which boost good edge retention, wear resistance, and high anti-corrosion ability. RAT 1 and RAT 2 feature ergonomically designed fiberglass reinforced nylon (FRN) handles, which work well with both right and left-handed users. Technically, RAT 2 is a smaller version of RAT 1.

If you are undecided on which RAT to buy, it won’t hurt to have both if your state laws allow, as each excels at different cutting tasks. The two knives also come with a D2 blade for better performance but for a few more dollars.

Ontario RAT 2 vs. ESEE Zancudo

Jeff Randall designed the ESEE Zancudo to directly compete with RAT 2 after he parted ways with Ontario. He made it the same size and using the AUS-8 steel. The pricing is also similar. They are both survival EDC knives that possibly split the Jeff Randal’s designs lovers almost right in the middle.

While these two knives share more than a designer, they also have several differences. The RAT 2 features the famous liner lock, but Zancudo has the stronger frame lock mechanism. Both have nylon handles, with RAT 2 having a satin finish while Zancudo sport a nice stonewash. Finally, RAT 2 tops the race by being lighter and ambidextrously designed.

Ontario RAT 2 vs. Kershaw 1605CKTST Clash

The Kershaw 1605CKTST Clash has a longer blade by a tenth of an inch than the RAT 2. They both have drop point blades designed to handle most cutting tasks but the Kershaw is partially serrated. In terms of blade steel type, RAT 2 is available in AUS-8 and D2, while Kershaw 1605CKTST Clash comes in 8Cr13MoV stainless steel. However, Ontario RAT 2 is easier to sharpen, and Kershaw is pricier.

Read also: Is VG10 A Good Knife Steel? [Complete Steel Guide]

Users’ Review on Amazon

Ontario RAT 2 gets more love than hate on Amazon. More than 80% are happy with the blade performance, durable nylon handle, sufficient grip, perfect size and length, and a superb designed liner lock mechanism. Overall, users expressed satisfaction with the sturdiness and usability of this knife. The ambidextrous thumb studs and spine shape also are top pleasers.

However, several large-handed users complained of the less gripping area and possibly would like the RAT 1 more. Also, some users reported quick rusting of the steel when left unattended or not properly maintained. To avoid rusting, keep your knife clean and dry. All in all, many users have admitted referring their friends to purchase this budget-quality knife.

Wrap Up

Few words sum up the Ontario RAT 2 knife; quality in a compact design. Certainly, the price is a bargain for the quality AUS-8 steel on a well-crafted nylon handle. This knife performs nicely and requires low maintenance. You won’t go wrong in having it around as a backup for other larger knives. If you want better performance, you can go for the D2 version of RAT 2, but of course, at a few dollars extra.

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