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It always seemed to me that Tops knives were quality made...

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by PocketKnifeJimmy, Jul 5, 2018.

  1. PocketKnifeJimmy


    Aug 4, 2013
    My having handled some specimens, and having seen a Tops factory video on you-tube of their manufacturing processes... Is why I've never doubted the quality of their manufacturing.
    That said, so many of their designs, especially those designed by their head shop guy, Leo Espinoza, are just too over the top for me. I mostly collect knives, so appearance/style of a knife matters, and yet most Tops knives just don't catch my eye.
    I finally did buy my first Tops product a few months ago, but it was their .230 Machete. I believe Mr. Joe Flowers was the main guy behind the .230 machete's final overall design. My understanding is that it actually starts off as an Ontario 18" Mil Spec machete blank, and then Tops performs some alterations to make it the .230.
    Yup, that was my first Tops product. But, there was one Tops knife I handled at a gun show last year, that really tickled my fancy. Problem was, it was selling for almost full retail, and money doesn't grow on trees. Smart shopping can get you quality for less. So, fast forward to this morning, and I found a great deal on the same Tops knife on an online vendor's website. The deal was too good to pass up, so I placed the order :)
    The knife is the Tops 'Wild Pig Hunter'.
    Wait, me like a Leo Espinosa designed knife!... Umm, not really. Yes, Leo may have added a few of his touches to the final handle design, but the overall knife is basically an unauthorized copy of a Kizlyar Phoenix-1, (a Russian Special Forces type knife). Funny that the one knife that Tops offers, that really caught my attention, is not truly a Leo Espinoza designed knife, (although he was obviously involved in the copying of the original Russian design) ;)
    Like I said, I have never doubted the Tops company manufacturing quality, but... too many of their knives just turned me off in their styling. In some ways, looking at their knives, was like looking at some of the crazy flea market type knives, (in styling), but with the amazing level of quality that Tops offers in their factory production knives. Just my opinion, of course, and everyone is certainly entitled to their own likes and dislikes ;)

    Here is the original Russian made/designed knife...

    And here is the Tops U.S. made rendition...
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2018
    LCKT707, jwb01, Charlie Mike and 2 others like this.
  2. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel

    Feb 11, 2016
    I like the blade, but not those real humpy finger grooves.

    Not a bad looking knife over all though and I can see why you wwanted it.
    AF and PocketKnifeJimmy like this.
  3. McFeeli


    Feb 13, 2017
    Tops makes one of the sexiest production fixed blades out there.. The Prather War Bowie. I only own one Tops, the G10 MSK, which is a great little fixed blade, but the War Bowie is on my "to buy" list. Not exactly sure what I'd use it for, but I know I want one, haha.
    Chris*33, Riz! and PocketKnifeJimmy like this.
  4. MeritedEdge


    Jan 3, 2018
    Nice knife.
    I hope you get many years of enjoyment out of it.
    PocketKnifeJimmy likes this.
  5. jill jackson

    jill jackson

    Sep 5, 2006
    3 1/2 inch blade and 1/4 inch thick. Dullest knife out of the box I've ever seen. Nicely made though.

    SpySmasher, knoefz and Charlie Mike like this.
  6. Wolverine666

    Wolverine666 Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 7, 2009
    I have found TOPS to make great fixed blades with outstanding quality. Although , I'm not the biggest fan of 1095 these days.
    Cryptyc, TheEdge01 and buckfynn like this.
  7. Tommy-Chi


    May 25, 2017

    I have two different copies of the Kizlyar Phoenix-1. They are both great!

    - Wild Pig Hunter std edition
    - Wild Pig Hunter - BladeOPS BlackOut Edition
    PocketKnifeJimmy likes this.
  8. PocketKnifeJimmy


    Aug 4, 2013
    If I ever find the original Russian model at a decent price, I may add it too to the collection :)
    Tommy-Chi likes this.
  9. jbmonkey

    jbmonkey Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Jun 9, 2011
    I have one. as a pig sticker the handle design is great. for a regular user it's got hot spots but the shape of the blade isn't real useful as a regular use large knife so it's a non issue.

    I seem to remember tops made a more of a direct copy to the original design different grips. called it a different name. believe it's been long discontinued but not sure.

    enjoy yours it's a well made knife...least my example is. mine came very sharp.
  10. jux t

    jux t

    Jan 10, 2018
    That thing looks like like regret. Is the blade geometry as bad as it looks?
    jbmonkey likes this.
  11. CookieRawwr

    CookieRawwr Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 23, 2014
    My father gave me a TOPS Rangers Edge last Christmas, it is certainly satisfactory as a boot knife. It sparked my interest in daggers, then Busse just had to come up with their own dagger which I really am excited about. The Pig Sticker and the Apache Falcon are two of the Tops designs I would like to try.
  12. DocJD


    Jan 29, 2016
    Wanted this for a while , interesting design ! :cool::thumbsup::thumbsup:
  13. jill jackson

    jill jackson

    Sep 5, 2006
  14. TheEdge01


    Apr 3, 2015
    I have owned several Tops fixed blades and they all have been quality blades. I wish they would come up with some new designs for folders. I understand that using 1095 helps keep cost down, but I would like to see them use other carbon steels like A-2, 52100, 5160, etc, in a few of their models.
    buckfynn likes this.
  15. A.L.


    Jun 27, 2007
    I believe the wild pig hunter was inspired by kizlyar, and it was credited and not stolen. I don't know about the royalties or anything but that's what I remember reading once.
  16. PocketKnifeJimmy


    Aug 4, 2013
    It may be that we'll never know the situation behind all of this. I actually read the total opposite of what you read. My reading was of a post made by an Australian dealer of the Russian knives. His understanding of the matter was that the Tops version is definitely an unauthorized one, and that in fact the original Russian maker and Tops had had some talks prior to Tops starting their versions. The talks supposedly went silent, and supposedly the Tops version appeared on the market, (to the surprise of the Russian makers).
    Whether or not Tops had actually talked to the Russian makers, is certainly not known as fact to me... But, although the Tops version has it's own touches on the handle's styling, their blade, (imo), is far from just being a pattern that Tops got an inspiration from... I mean, that blade on the Pig Hunter looks about 99% a copy of the Russian designed knife.
    As for me, I would like to own both :)
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2018
  17. A.L.


    Jun 27, 2007
    Ah, all right! :thumbsup: My memory is indeed shade on the case.
  18. goldie


    Feb 18, 2000
    I had a model similar to the wild pig hunter,forgot the name,had 2 color micarta handles. great knife,i just had no use for it. I love that wild pig hunter too just don't see what I would do with it.Seems too pointy for a general use bowie.
  19. EricV

    EricV Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 19, 2008
    Tops makes nicely finished sharpened pry-bars. They're made a few knives that cut rather than wedge, but its certainly not their forte.
    Lapedog likes this.
  20. PocketKnifeJimmy


    Aug 4, 2013
    After my watching a couple more videos where Tops manufacturing processes are shown and explained, I would have to say that there is one particular employee that is worth his weight in gold. That man is named Benny. He is the important guy in their differential heat treating and handle scale final shaping... and, he does so much more! Talk about job security! It would be extremely difficult to find a replacement to even do one of his tasks that he does to his level of expertise... And almost impossible to find, or train, somebody to do all his tasks to his level.
    While watching one particular video, I kept seeing Benny doing this, and then that, and then more, (and you can just see his calm cool demeanor through it all).
    Heck, if this guy Benny ever went on his own, I think his company products would be some amazing stuff :)
    It seems like a tightly knit, well trained/knowledgeable, and consistently kept on board staff. That all likely is perfect for a consistently high quality product. The people factor, it can truly matter with items such as these. Then, you add in their high quality machinery, and there is no wonder why they are known for their quality among factory made production knives.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2018
    buckfynn likes this.

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