Probably the first question many readers are going to have is “What the heck is ‘tactical’ about a steak knife?” Well, I don’t know if this is what TOPS meant, but a few years ago an individual well known in the firearms and cutlery publishing business gave me some advice. It seems that after trade show dinners he often found himself walking back to his hotel in strange towns. Whenever he felt the least bit uncomfortable about the walk he would pocket a “steak knife” from the restaurant and then ditch it at the hotel. Most of the better steakhouses serve their steaks with a 4- or 5-inch bladed knife that sports a fair amount of belly on a straight back, large comfortable wood handle, and usually serrations out near the point. In other words, something like a TOPS Tactical Steak Knife.
No Steak Too Tough
TOPS’ knife offers a 4-inch blade of 440C stainless with a “black traction coating.” In keeping with its true function, the blade is only 5/32-inch thick. The handle is black linen Micarta and all knives come with a Kydex sheath. Both straight-edged and point-serrated versions are available. Given steak knives are frequently bought in sets, TOPS has priced the model at a very reasonable one for $99, 2 for $79, or 6 for $59 each.
It didn’t take many of us to think, “Wow, that steak knife would also make a great lightweight outdoor knife for just about any use.” The knife only tips the scales at 6.5 ounces in the sheath. It is a routine practice for me to wear a general-purpose fixed-blade when preparing meals on camping trips, just to have a knife close at hand whenever I need it. Peel a potato, slice an onion, open the bacon, cut a steak, the TOPS Tactical Steak is just about the perfect blade for what I consider normal camp kitchen work. I also find having a knife handy is essential when barbequing ribs, pork loins and other large chunks of meat over our wood-fired grill. And, of course the TOPS blade is a first class steak knife!
My “field testing” consisted of peeling a potato, boning out a chicken breast and making a pile of fire-starting wood shavings. Peeling a potato may sound pretty ho-hum, but it tells me two things: the first being whether the blade is actually thin enough for kitchen work and the second being whether the handle/blade angle will be comfortable in a wide variety of positions. Whittling wood shavings off a chunk of western red cedar was equally easy, so the knife should pass all the normal campfire-starting requirements. If you absolutely must have a knife for batoning firewood, take a closer look at any one of a few dozen other TOPS models.
While it isn’t the primary focus of this column, the wide, sweeping edge of the TOPS knife should make an excellent skinning tool for the hunter. I also see no reason why it wouldn’t work equally well for small game, birds and pan fish. Going back to why this is a “tactical steak knife,” I think it is just a small joke on the part of TOPS. There are lots of young guys in uniform that simply like to show they are ready 24/7 even when they are off-duty. So wouldn’t it be great to show up at your next backyard barbeque decked out in camo with a tactical steak knife on your belt?
At the grill or in the backcountry, TOPS has a real winner in this model. For more information please contact them at www.topsknives.com.