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Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by PMCsoldier, May 30, 2019.

  1. PMCsoldier

    PMCsoldier Gold Member Gold Member

    May 28, 2019
    I have been “collecting” TOPS knives for a little while. I like the blades over all. I have several more expensive knives but I admit I do like the TOPS that I have and many that I have tested and handled. I own a couple ESEE knives yes I know they are all the rage but so far I haven’t found anything that I can’t live without. I mean yep they are good knives but nothing especially significant from what I’ve seen one to another makes anyone of them stand out.

    Now to my point; have any of you had a negative experience or found significant problems with TOPS? How do you guys rate them?
    Legendary_Jarl likes this.
  2. Mikel_24


    Sep 19, 2007
    My take, not owning any, is that with the exception of a few models, they have a too wide of a range of somewhat tactilol designs with overpriced tags (for being coated carbon steel with micarta handles mostly) and huge lettering printed on the blades.

    The main reason ESSE is "all the rage" as you mention, is that they offer tried and true utilitarian designs in well treated carbon steel with the best warranty out there for a much reasonable price. IMHO.

    BUT if you like them, other people's opinion shouldn't steer you away from collecting them.

  3. Legendary_Jarl


    Feb 8, 2010
    yes because tiny Izula at $97.98 MSRP is quite a reasonable price...
    Jeff S1, 115Italian and Mikel_24 like this.
  4. Mikel_24


    Sep 19, 2007
    JC972 likes this.
  5. bikerector

    bikerector Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 16, 2016
    For me, I think tops is a bit over-priced and they tend to have thick edges and blade stock. But pricing is based on what people will pay and they are fine knives.

    I really like the esee 6, both versions, but the HM is better for me as I like the more neutral handles. I think esee does a good job getting useful sheaths right out of the box. Overall though, I just prefer the pricing and materials of Becker knives with upgraded handles instead of going down the esee route, if buying new.
  6. PMCsoldier

    PMCsoldier Gold Member Gold Member

    May 28, 2019
    Do Becker knives really stand up, hold an edge easy to maintain etc? Can I get micarta scales for them?
    B Griffin and jkwithawave like this.
  7. Shorttime


    Oct 16, 2011
    Some of TOPS knives are goofy to look at.


    And they grind their secondary bevels very steep. The splitting maul in that photo showed up with something like 40 degree bevels on it, which have since been adjusted to something like 25 degrees.

    They have moved away from the "By Oper8tors, For Oper8tors" marketing in recent years, and their general gist seems to cover "outdoorsy types", whether they got there by car or helicopter.

    I give them credit for wanting to do their own thing, though. They're not interested in chasing the everyday carry market, and if their Facebook group is anything to go by, it's gotten them a dedicated following.

    I have only owned two, and that's down to one, now. I have not heard of any significant problems with quality control, or customer service. That doesn't mean there are none, but as a company, I would put them in the same tier as Kershaw or Buck.
    PMCsoldier likes this.
  8. bikerector

    bikerector Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 16, 2016
    Yes, the 1095 cro-van really isn't 1095, and is a bit better, IMO. It has a little more chromium and vanadium than 1095, I don't remember the actual steel's name, but it originally from a now out-of-business steel manufacturer from what I remember (sharon steel). Kabar makes micarta scales for a reasonable price and g10 handles are available from the knife connection. Tomar's Kabar is one of the best places to get kabar products, at least in terms of price. Their service seems decent as well, I just don't use as much as other forum supporting websites.

    I think you will find many of the Kabar made Becker knives hold up as well or better than tops or esee, though I don't hear much about any of them failing on people. They're all pretty top notch, with Becker getting a little more value oriented because of the cheaper stock sheath and handles, which some people really enjoy. I don't mind the stock sheaths but the handles aren't for me, too smooth. The steel and blades are top-notch.
    B Griffin likes this.
  9. PMCsoldier

    PMCsoldier Gold Member Gold Member

    May 28, 2019
    Ok so to make sure I’m following correctly Becker is a KBAR product? For lack of better words a line of knives they produce? I was just shopping on Blade HQ and saw a couple I think I will buy and try out. Before I do that I will check out Tomars. I really appreciate the info. I am honestly only familiar with a handful of makers and that’s simply because when I find a maker I like I tend to stick with them.
    bikerector likes this.
  10. skyhorse

    skyhorse Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 30, 2010
    Becker knives are currently made by KA-BAR.
    PMCsoldier likes this.
  11. Boozoo Chavis

    Boozoo Chavis

    Oct 18, 2003
    I have a Tops Bird & Trout knife - very well made little knife but the blade stock is a little too thick for its designed purpose.

    Lapedog likes this.
  12. Mikel_24


    Sep 19, 2007
    Nah, surely it is not. You are missing the whole idea behind the knife. It is meant for you to chop down the tree where the birds are resting so as to get them easier on the ground.

    Chopping as in one-swipe-is-enough chop, just to clarify.
  13. bikerector

    bikerector Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 16, 2016
    Sounds like you're familiar with some good ones at least. Kabar makes some nice fixed blades, not as great on the folders, though the dozer folder is a pretty solid budget folder, IMO.

    The bk16, bk9, and bk2 seem to be the most mentioned, with the bk7 shortly after. The newer BK62 is an amazing blade as well. Ethan Becker has stated the BK16 is his favorite all-around knife, maybe that's changed after designing the BK62.
    buckfynn likes this.
  14. McFeeli


    Feb 13, 2017
    I like my one and only Tops, a MSK. [​IMG]

    My little MSK is my dedicated “take the dog on a walk through the woods” knife. I’ll toss it in my back pocket and shave down some sticks to toss around with my pup, or whittle some tiny spears while he’s off marking his territory. The stock may be a bit thick, but once I put my edge on it, it became a little laser. It also came with some of the most even bevels I’ve witnessed on any production knife. I was impressed.

    Because of my experience with this one there are two others I really want to try out. One is just a bigger MSK, the Scandi Trekker, I love the ergonomics of my MSK and I think a slightly larger model would be even better. The other is one that caught my attention ever since I saw a picture of it, a Prather War Bowie. It’s a thing of beauty.
    rpn, buckfynn, 115Italian and 3 others like this.
  15. slyraven


    Feb 19, 2019
    I never owned one but always planned to, they seem nice and highly reviewed
    jmh33 likes this.
  16. justjed


    Oct 23, 2010
    My normal EDC fixed blade (for now) is a TOPS Skinat. Needed a little work on the edge, but holds it well enough, it's tough, and it fits my hand nicely.

    As for Kabar, their 1095 CroVan was previously designated 0170-6C, from Sharon Steel, as was mentioned. You might also remember it as Carbon V.
  17. katanas


    Jan 6, 2012
    Thank you for not saying "intel". :thumbsup:
    palonej likes this.
  18. Shorttime


    Oct 16, 2011
    Nah, "intel" isn't available on forums. You have to do secret ninja things to get "intel".

    Seriously though, PMCsoldier seems to have got the general idea of Bladeforums pretty well. A lot faster than I did, anyway....
    eveled likes this.
  19. coinbuysell

    coinbuysell Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 29, 2014
    I collected them for a while a few years ago and never had a problem with any of them except for the already mentioned thick blades and the on-line pricing. I ran into a wholesaler at a show who would order them for me at 5% over cost so the pricing was fairly reasonable for me and I liked the thicker blade stock at that time because I was a lot rougher on my knives. I have learned more over the years about the right tool for the job so I don't abuse my knives nearly as much but they will stand up to just about anything that you can put up against them.

    I went through a BOB, Team Jackal 5, Pasayan Traveler (154CM), Pit Stop (wish I would have kept that one), and at least a dozen others that I don't remember their actual names. I have moved all of them except for a little Sparrow Hawk, Wolf Pup, and a 154CM Trailmate that I may list here since it is still new in the bag with all of the goodies that they came with at the time. I had a nice leather pocket sheath made for the Sparrow Hawk so it is with me most of the time when I am out in the yard and I bought the Wolf Pup used before I met that guy so I don't have the bag, etc. so I use it from time to time if I go camping and/or down to our land in Central TX.

    They were heat treated by Rowen, same people that do Esee, but it seems that I heard they may have moved it in house or to another provider but don't quote me on that one :rolleyes:
  20. B Griffin

    B Griffin Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    I think you're refering to 0170-6 but it's late, I'm tired and I could be wrong here. As for TOPS, I like their stainless models. they outsource their stainless heat treating. To Bos I believe. or at least used to be as that's what was written on the Lite Traveler I had. I don't care for the thicker 1095 models these days because they are heavier than necessary, and I don't care for the thinner 1095 models with taller blades and the differential heat treat because I've had three, a HOG, a Dragonfly, and an Idaho Hunter bend and kink on me under a lot less stress than I have put Becker or ESEE through with now damages to them. I do like a few of the thinner 1095 ones where the blades are narrow and as far as I can tell are through-hardened or just had a better differential heat treat. I liked the Hellion I had 10 years ago, and I've liked all three of the Mohawk Hunters I've had. So far my absolute fav was the DART in CPM S30V I had 8 years ago. Wish I still had it.

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