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June 15, 2009 Comments (0) Blades & Tools

Ontario/Ranger RD-4 Review

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Before I get into the review, I’d like to share a little insight on me.  Unfortunately for most of you, I’m not really an outdoorsman.  Actually, my idea of roughing it is staying in a hotel room that doesn’t have a separate living room!  My kids have been asking to go camping lately, so I figured this was a good time to start getting prepared for that.  I am a police officer whose duties are primarily investigative.  I am also a member of my Department’s tactical team.  Getting back to the topic, so when I was asked to review this knife, I was reminded, ever so diplomatically, that this review is for a predominately outdoors website, not a police site.  I’ve reviewed products before, so this is not a new endeavor.  I am not that familiar with knives as one might expect for a police officer.  I did learn one valuable piece of information though throughout my years of training and experience.  If you get involved in a knife fight, you will get cut!

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A couple of years ago, I began searching for kitchen knives.  In doing the research, I learned about materials, especially the types of steel and handles.  Prior to receiving the product to review, I did some research. I was told I would be reviewing an Ontario Knife product.  To be honest, I knew of Emerson, Swiss Army, and Benchmade knives, but not Ontario.  The day came when the knife arrived and Tim brought the Ranger Knives RD-4 over to me at work.  I was sitting at my desk when he plopped it down.  My initial thought was this thing is huge.  I own a couple of folding knives, but my only experience with a fixed blade knife was my Air Force survival knife.

IMG_0143aI looked at the knife as it was secured in a black nylon sheath.  I picked it up and there was some heft to it.  I asked Tim what the handle was made of.  He said it was Micarta.  I must have had a perplexed look on my face because Tim said it is a composite material.  Continuing on, there is a Fastex buckle on the front of the sheath about halfway down.  I’m guessing it’s a covered pouch, for a sharpening stone.  I turned the sheath over, I and was pleasantly surprised when I saw a Molle strap.  I immediately began thinking about where I can attach this knife to my tactical vest!  There are two grommets on the top and two on the bottom of the sheath for other means of attachment.  I opened the Velcro strap at the top and pulled out the knife.  I have to admit, I was somewhat surprised when I unsheathed the knife.  The blade is about the same size as the handle.  Tim actually chuckled out loud when I looked inside the sheath to see if the rest of the blade was in there.  He said, “Nope, that’s it”  My next thought was why the sheath is so damn long, if the knife isn’t.  There is about 3 inches of wasted space/material.  As one might expect, that space could be utilized for other equipment or could be the difference of purchasing the product or not if space is a consideration.  Don’t get me wrong, the sheath is a quality product. I didn’t see a label, but I think it is comparable to an Eagle or a Blackhawk product.

RD4002aThe knife felt great in my hand.  It is very well balanced.  That was one piece of information I learned doing my research.  It may be the best knife in the world, but if doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t do you any good.  There are three Allen type screws in the Micarta handle.  Until I was asked to write this review, I never heard of Micarta.  Now, I am a believer in Micarta.  It is a composite material developed by George Westinghouse nearly one hundred years ago and had different uses to include electrical products.  Briefly, for those that like the technical stuff, Micarta is a hard dense material made by applying heat and pressure to layers of paper or glass cloth impregnated with synthetic resin.  Getting back to the Ranger RD4, at the base of the handle is an extended piece of steel that extends about 1 ¼ inches.  I guess you could use that as a meat tenderizer or to break something open or off.

IMG_0145aThose ridges would definitely leave a mark.  Obviously, it is one solid piece of steel from the handle to the tip of the blade.  The knife measured 10 1/4 inches overall.  The blade is 5 1/8 inches from the end of the handle to the tip, that’s including the thumb ridge on top of the blade.  According to the Ontario Knife Company specs, the actual blade length is 4 ½ inches long and ¼ inch thick.  The blade features a black textured powder coat.  Additionally, the steel is 5160. I also learned that is the type of steel used to manufacture truck springs.  5160 steel is a common spring steel, basically 1060 with one per-cent of chromium added to make it deep hardening, for the techno geeks out there.  Enough about specs, it’s time to put this knife through its paces.  I grabbed the knife, strapped it on my hip, and off I went.

IMG_0137aAgain, I’m not really an outdoorsman, so I had to think what I could use a knife like this for.  I immediately thought, “Fire!”  I found a few branches on the ground and decided to see if I could make some kindling without slicing or amputating a finger.  Some of the branches were pretty dry and others weren’t.  The Ranger RD4 didn’t care.  The bark and small shavings just flew to the ground.  Believe me, I was careful!  I didn’t want to explain how I injured myself.  I continued on my trek through the woods and thought what else I could do with this thing.  I came across some chicken wire.  I thought to myself, what do you think?  Why not. I was asked to review the knife.  Then I thought, well if I had to make a trap to catch a critter, I could use chicken wire.  Let’s give it a try.  It took a little time, but with repeated bending it some instances, I was able to get through it.  Although it goes without saying knives weren’t designed to cut metal, I learned that I should also carry a multi-tool.

Continuing on my quest, nature called.  No, not that one, well yeah it was #1, not #2. Then, my devious mind then thought, “What if it was number 2?”.  Afterwards, I used the ranger to dig a small hole.  I would have rather used an e-tool, but in a pinch, no pun intended, I was able to dig a small hole with the knife.  I noticed that even when my hands were sweaty, I did not lose my grip on the knife.  Maybe it was my imagination, but it seemed to get better!   When I finally returned home after a couple of hours, I was surprised that I enjoyed being out in the woods!  Maybe camping wouldn’t be that bad after all.  I washed the dirt off the knife and was surprised that the finish was still black.  There were a few scratches on the blade, but not what I expected especially using a knife to dig a hole.

IMG_0142aI do want to mention briefly the tactical portion of the review.  My tactical vest is somewhat heavy, about 45 pounds and pretty limited in space.  I thought about attaching the sheath inverted, but honestly I had my doubts about the Velcro strap holding the knife in place.  Again, it has some weight to it.  I did attach it upright on the right side of my vest.  It was a bit too long for my liking, getting back to that extra three inches on the length of the sheath.  I left it on my vest for the training day, but had to remove it because it just hung too low and was jabbing my leg.  On one of the training days, some of the guys asked what knife I had and I showed them. These guys were much more knowledgeable about knives than I was.  They were impressed with the knife.  They also had the same questions about the sheath length though.  One of them did, in his best Australian accent, an impression of Paul “Crocodile Dundee” Hogan, “Now that’s a knife.”   Their enthusiasm with the knife invigorated me to continue to test the knife.  I know cutting paper and cardboard will definitely dull the blade quicker, but again I am testing a knife.  The Ranger RD4 cut through targets and Para cord without a problem.  I really wanted to try and pry something with it, but unfortunately I did not have that opportunity before writing this review. I do have to believe that if I had, it would have performed admirably.

In conclusion, I appreciate the opportunity to write this for you.  I am not the most knowledgeable person on knives, but after this review, I did learn a great a deal and enjoyed testing the Ontario Ranger RD4 for you.  I would not hesitate to buy this knife and if this is the quality throughout the Ontario Knife Company, I would certainly buy more of their products.

Visit: www.ontarioknife.com

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