In June of 2006, the Italian military’s RAO (185° Rgt. Ricognizione ed Acquisizione Obietivi) (English translation: Target Acquisition Regiment) commissioned Extrema Ratio to design and build a compact field survival knife. The RAO is the only unit in the Italian Armed Forces tasked with long-range recons for the purpose of locating targets to be engaged by artillery, helicopters, aircraft and warships. This regiment operates in all possible theatres including Interforce and multinational operations such as Iraq and Afghanistan, with each soldier completing two years of hard training for survival in hostile surroundings. Simply put, their knife had to match the conditions and environment they work in. In other words, they wanted something that wouldn’t break under the ever-changing world of combat operations, as well as a tool that could be used to improvise when nothing else was available.
The requirements the RAO placed on Extrema Ratio demanded that the folding knife have an extremely strong blade designed for chopping, prying and cutting. Most importantly, the knife had to have the ability to be used as a folder or fixed blade, so a weak locking system was out of the question. The end result of this project is a unique knife design appropriately named the 185° RAO.