The Ontario RAT 1 occupies a competitive segment of the every day carry category of folding knives, and in a market full of low-cost pieces of cutlery, even major brands have to provide some serious value in order to stay relevant. In this regard, Ontario makes a statement with the RAT 1. The RAT 1’s durable construction and sizable blade is worthy of praise, especially at its economical price point. Ontario has built up a strong reputation over time, and though this particular blade is manufactured in China, the company operates in the United States and has supplied the U.S. Government and its armed forces in the past.
The RAT 1 packs a solid design and weighs in at 5 ounces, just slightly heavier than the average knife of similar design. The blade is 3.5 inches long, and counting the grip the knife has an overall length of 8.6 inches when fully extended, 4.5 inches closed. The extra weight is surprisingly easy to appreciate: it doesn’t feel as cumbersome as it is reassuring. The RAT 1 has the overall appearance and feel of a knife that can be taken anywhere and adapts to any role. It controls, cleans, and handles with exceptional finesse.
The RAT 1’s blade is attractive in its simplicity: there are no gimmicks, no excessive design, just a pointy end and a full flat grind of AUS-8 Japanese steel, hardness 55-56 HCR. It’s about 3mm wide with a clean edge good for slicing, and the tip is appropriately sturdy. The blade’s edge is resilient enough to last through consistent and moderate use, but may need sharpening from time to time. The satin finish is vivid and attractive, giving it good aesthetic appeal out of the box.
The RAT 1’s blade is lined with plastic scales on the handle side, which do help counteract the weight of the rest of the materials. The handle is best described as durable, if not as elegant as it could be, but it functions well for any kind of work. Ontario offers the RAT 1 in multiple colors, none of which clash with the blade finish or the optional black coating. At 5″ in length, it is easy to carry and has good traction for dexterity.
The RAT 1’s clip is conveniently movable via its four corner design, and tactfully textured so that it doesn’t damage pockets. It rests low and the weight helps keep it from moving around too much, so after a few days of carrying the RAT 1, anyone ought to be able to instinctively draw it in a heartbeat.
Perhaps the most important feature to many, the Ontario RAT 1 deploys very smoothly. The blade features thumb studs on either end for the sake of ambidextrous or left-handed users and has plenty of leverage to let the blade out with a satisfying snap. The washers within the handle are made of a smooth phosphor bronze, a feature less common in folding knives in the RAT 1’s price range. The RAT 1’s open scale construction makes it virtually impossible for debris to get stuck in its mechanisms, guaranteeing the blade to deploy with reliable consistency.
The lock is equally effective, reinforced with a thick steel piece. The chance of accidental deployments is very low with the RAT 1, and the security is much in step with the overall solidity of the knife. When closed, the liner lock matches the blade’s position with extremely fine precision and is very well crafted.
The Ontario RAT 1 is a formidable piece of equipment with minor flaws but great value. Each aspect of the knife seems to complement the other, even its shortcomings. It’s heavy for a modern folding blade but incredibly secure and easy to handle. The steel of the blade is only mid-range quality but makes up for it in stability and overall durability. The RAT 1 is a relatively simple knife with a great deal of personality, fit for work, outdoor exploration, or personal defense. It will take any kind of punishment and keep coming back for more, which is all one can ask of a hard-use folding blade.