Pros: Overall Quality
Unexpectedly well-designed from a "fixed blade" company
Ontario isn't a big name in the premium "folding knife" world - I tend to think of Benchmade, Spyderco, and Cold Steel in the first echelon, with Kershaw having a somewhat unique niche in "assisted opening" folders, and CRKT still being that "upstart knife company" that first made a splash with the novelty K.I.S.S. knife but also made a lot of Kit Carson's designs available at budget prices - "custom" style knives at "big factory" low prices. There are other makers of folders that come to mind too - Gerber, Buck, SOG. Like I said, Ontario doesn't come to mind first. But they have one really good thing (and potentially bad thing) going for them: they're a big producer of bayonets, machetes, and fighting knives for the US military - read up on them at Wikipedia - they've been in business since 1889. The good thing is, they know fighting knives and they know their knives have to basically function. As knives. Not as show-pieces or pocket jewelry. Nothing fancy or exotic. Just have to get the job done. The bad side of being a military supplier is budget constraints. Over the past few years, Ontario has wisely rolled out functional, more or less tactical, fixed blade designs. No exotic steels, no gaudy flourishes, but good solid performance. I have the RAT 3 fixed blade and it is a very sturdy, workmanlike knife, about as modern as you can get and a great relief after the chrome plated (!) "Bowie" knife that was all that I could find as a 16 y.o. decades and decades ago in the local hardware shop. The RAT 3 takes a terrific edge, it has a good grind angle, it shows rust "love spots" on the uncoated edge (the rest of the blade is a flat industrial black, nothing pretty about it, but highly functional) because it has classic high carbon steel that can be quickly resharpened, holds its edge a reasonable length of time, and doesn't chip easily. When I saw Ontario come out with their folding pocket knives, I had to see what they were up to, especially at the budget prices they rolled out with, and especially given they were being made in Taiwan instead of China (some knives coming out of China now are very very good, but Taiwan and Seki City Japan set the gold standard these days). My only quibble with the Rat 2 folder is the glossiness of the black blade coating, and the lack of "grip" on the handle. Ontario has strayed - slightly - from their military industrial complex beginnings into pocket jewelry. Nothing wrong with the design, don't get me wrong, for a "freshman effort" it is outstanding in fact - I love the cut out for the finger, and I love the fact that the thumb stud doesn't get in the way of the blade's cutting action (it is set close to the handle over the unsharpened part of the blade). So don't hesitate to get this if you like Cold Steel, Kershaw, Spyderco, Benchmade - Ontario is playing in the big leagues now. Just like Ka Bar hit a home run with their Dozier (an updated riff on the classic Gerber LST), Ontario is hitting a home run with this Rat 2, which is a riff on the Emerson fighters. What I'd LIKE to see from Ontario, maybe on a limited edition or alternative edition, are the following: - dull, funky black finish instead of the slick current black finish (like the RAT 3 fixed blade); - good old high carbon, rusty steel, the gold standard for edges and durability; and - make me cry out in pain, grippy G10 style scales. ... while keeping the ultra tight tolerances and superb "fit" of the current model. Please note that every conceivable clip carry position is covered - there are holes for remounting the carry clip on all 3 remaining corners of the knife. It arrived as sharp as you can get, given the geometry of the blade (I'd just say "razor sharp," but unless it's razor think, technically no knife can be "razor" sharp, right?), and the grind appears perfectly uniform. Thanks to modern safety concerns - which fortunately Emerson at least continues to ignore, which I think they can do given their typical customer profile - this has a stiff as heck "opening detent" to keep the blade from accidentally opening in your pocket. The irony of this stiff opening detent (really a tiny ball-bearing that catches in a tiny cavity on the blade) is that I have to use extra force with my thumb on the opening stud to get the blade past the detent to open it. The extra force causes the ball of my thumb to flatten agains the edge of the blade, and I know have a series of (non bleeding) tiny lacerations on the ball of my thumb. If you need to be able to open this knife under stress without slicing your thumb (slightly) while opening, you will need to tape over the portion of the blade closest to the handle, where the ball of your thumb lands. Or maybe your thumb won't hit it at all, just be aware as you practice opening. (On my Emerson's, the lack of a stiff detent and width of the blade mean this is never a problem. Of course many if not most Emerson's have a blade geometry that is not well-suited to everyday chores like opening packages and cutting fruit -which this Ontario does well.) I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this to knife fans who have a couple of Jackson's lying around, even if your knife drawer looks like it is getting full....