“These look like your kind of heavy-duty brush-whacking knives,” the editor mentioned before sending me the new Ranger line from Ontario Knife Company. He knows me well, as a package arrived at my door containing four heavy-duty blades I immediately fell in love with. Justin Gingrich of Ranger Knives merged with Ontario in mid 2008 to provide affordable production versions of his blades. Justin’s custom knives have become notorious for the hard use they have been put through, both in combat and the outdoors. As handmades, Ranger Knives were popular due to their wallet-friendly price tag. Now, with Ontario making them, the prices have gotten even better!
The larger knives in the line are made out of 5160 spring steel, a carbon alloy that is known for its toughness and is also a favorite with the hammer and anvil crowd. I first was introduced to 5160 through a Bowie knife I purchased from Mineral Mountain Hatchet works, and was happy to know that the Ranger line uses the same material in their knives. The steel is not a new one, if fact, it is used commonly in heavy-duty trucks and railroad car couplings. Justin informed me that 5160 is jokingly called truck spring steel due to the fact that it can be found on old Chevy springs. A steel that is used on the stress points of heavy vehicles should be tough enough for a knife steel, and it continues to perform well under many demanding conditions.
A Soldier’s Friend
The Ranger line has unveiled a knife called the Afghan, a pudgy little blade of stout proportions and compact functionality. This thick cutter gives the soldier the option of having a wide and hefty blade that is compact on the belt. The spear-point blade, the curvy lines of the Afghan and the absence of a protruding pommel give it a more utilitarian look than that of the RD-4, a knife of similar size and weight. The 5-inch blade is flat ground, with a 1-inch choil and a 4-1/2-inch handle. The Afghan, RD-4 and RD-9 combine the 5160 steel with a thin, flat-ground edge tapering from the spine to the bevel, all desirable aspects of a blade that works well any day!