Smooth curves and good ergonomics are hallmarks of this jungle weapon. The full, flat grind takes much of the weight out of the blade and the Power Eagle’s no-nonsense handle is surprisingly comfortable and did not strain the author’s hand during any heavy chopping.
Even with the army of well-known professionals TOPS Knives has teamed up with, there exists one very notable hard worker that slaves away in the company’s Idaho headquarters receiving very little public notice. Leo Espinoza is one of the men who really keeps TOPS running. Mr. Espinoza has been working for TOPS for a long time and has become a cornerstone of TOPS’ quality. He is the one that actually designs, grinds, and finishes many of the knives coming from this American maker of superior cutlery.
When it was released that TOPS was working on a large 12-inch bolo-style blade, I was interested to see if it would be hefty like other large knives that TOPS produces. Leo combined the functionality of a kukri, bolo and machete into a no-nonsense, bulletproof TOPS design that is as nimble as it is large. This machete was requested by a special jungle warfare unit in a western part of South America. I was never given the name of the instructional facility, as they have extensive cooperation with foreign militaries and wished to remain anonymous. The Jungle Combat School needed special tools that could withstand the abuse of combat, as the demanding conditions of the jungle along with the lack of re-supply, rules out more common tools. If a villager breaks a machete, they go and trade for a new one. When a soldier breaks one in a combat situation, they might not have that option.
The design of the blade made it excellent for slicing small saplings and other material that machetes cut. This TOPS knife is a good balance between chopping and slicing, and will please a lot of users who need to have a do-all camp tool for multiple continents.
To start out with, the 12-inch blade is a whopping 1/4-inch thick. This may elicit groans from traditional machete lovers, but read on. The full flat grind takes the original width all the way down to 3/64 inch before the secondary (and final) bevel starts. This makes for a large taper and a good amount of steel and weight taken off. At the widest point between the spine and the edge, about 2-11/32 inches, the blade’s sweet spot still has this thinness, allowing it to become a carver and a slicer rather than just a sharpened wedge. Many of the South East Asian blades such as traditional goloks, klewangs, Thai–eneps, and Kukris share this taper in one form or another. The 1-pound, 9-ounce blade is probably not something you would see an ultra-light backpacker carrying, but for those who know how to use it, the weight is indispensable. There is a classic debate about axes in the North woods and machetes not having enough power behind them. This is not a thin little brush cutter.