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

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I'm very selective with Tops , so far I only liked 3 things from them , one The Prather War Bowie, I unfortunately already sold It. The rest I have and love it.
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That Hawk is, in my opinion, the nicest offering in hawks they have. It does not look crazy in any way, where as their others... well, just a little out there :)
Even their idea of milling that arrow design into it, really works with it. Again, very nice piece, Sir! :)

You know, Tops has obviously done some growing of their business. But, they still seem like a small operation, so I wonder what kind of production numbers they are currently at per year?
 
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Andy the Aussie

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If one is going to quote someone's words here, it should at least be complete.

and..

I am not condoning, nor condemning, something I don't know the facts on... But, what is on record as being fact, is that he indeed saved American lives in battle in a very heroic way. The rest is... well, pretty much a mystery of the Cold War.

In the interests of brevity only ;)

I have no doubt of his great achievements and heroism in his service in the RVN, that is not in dispute. The point, to some of us clearly, is twofold, do those actions preemptively wipe the slate clean for the ones that came after (you know, money laundering, drug running, fronting for whomever needed fronting - and not just the CIA - and perhaps extending to the point of accessory before or after the fact to murder, even if that was all untrue, they were involved in high level fraud, certainly nothing to be proud of) AND more importantly do these things, as you seem to insinuate somehow "add" to the value/worth/desirability of the brand, many would say not. This goes to, I would suggest, why these points - good and bad - were omitted from the company bio.

And these discussions are not really for the GKD area so maybe we just agree to disagree at this point.
 
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So, on the subject of Tops products... Their .230 machete is much believed to start off as an Ontario Knife Company item. It is believed that the .230 starts as either an OKC 18" machete blank, or a complete OKC 18" machete that then gets it's modifications by Tops.
I am intrigued as to how they may doing this?
If Tops chose to work out a direct deal with OKC to get the unfinished machete blank, did the OKC heat treat come as part of that deal? Or, do they receive it without heat treating, Tops then needing to have that done after their machining is accomplished?
That then leads me to wondering how the heat treatment was done on it, (if done at Tops), and if it's differentially heat treated or not?
We have folks on these boards that are knife makers, and I'm curious to know what they may think is the case with this Tops offering? For instance, if the 18" machete is received from OKC in fully heat treated form, how problematic would it be, (any issues/downfalls), for them to then machine the changes onto that heat treated, (read as hard), steel?

In general, I'm curious to hear what folks on this forum feel to be the process for Tops acquiring and modifying the OKC 18" machete into their .230 model.

My own guess, at least on the heat treatment part of it, is that Tops uses the already heat treated OKC blade. I don't believe that differential heat treating on a roughly 1/8" thick blade would lend itself well to the overall toughness of the final product. A heat treatment that only concentrates on the edge of a 1/8" thick machete, would likely cause that machete to much more easily bend. Just not a thick enough blade for their usual differential heat treatment process. Their knives are usually thick, (1/4" or more is not uncommon for them), so that obviously lends itself better to having a concentrated heat treatment applied to their edge, since the softer middle and spine area of the blade are likely more than thick enough to add some toughness for through the thickness factor alone. Just a guess, of course :)
I know that any responses will likely all be educated guesses and opinions, (unless someone here turns out to have some actual inside information from Tops)... but, I'm still interested in hearing out your thoughts on this subject.
Thanks in advance :)
 
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15z2m84.jpg


So, on the subject of Tops products... Their .230 machete is much believed to start off as an Ontario Knife Company item. It is believed that the .230 starts as either an OKC 18" machete blank, or a complete OKC 18" machete that then gets it's modifications by Tops.
I am intrigued as to how they may doing this?
If Tops chose to work out a direct deal with OKC to get the unfinished machete blank, did the OKC heat treat come as part of that deal? Or, do they receive it without heat treating, Tops then needing to have that done after their machining is accomplished?
That then leads me to wondering how the heat treatment was done on it, (if done at Tops), and if it's differentially heat treated or not?
We have folks on these boards that are knife makers, and I'm curious to know what they may think is the case with this Tops offering? For instance, if the 18" machete is received from OKC in fully heat treated form, how problematic would it be, (any issues/downfalls), for them to then machine the changes onto that heat treated, (read as hard), steel?

In general, I'm curious to hear what folks on this forum feel to be the process for Tops acquiring and modifying the OKC 18" machete into their .230 model.

My own guess, at least on the heat treatment part of it, is that Tops uses the already heat treated OKC blade. I don't believe that differential heat treating on a roughly 1/8" thick blade would lend itself well to the overall toughness of the final product. A heat treatment that only concentrates on the edge of a 1/8" thick machete, would likely cause that machete to much more easily bend. Just not a thick enough blade for their usual differential heat treatment process. Their knives are usually thick, (1/4" or more is not uncommon for them), so that obviously lends itself better to having a concentrated heat treatment applied to their edge, since the softer middle and spine area of the blade are likely more than thick enough to add some toughness for through the thickness factor alone. Just a guess, of course :)
I know that any responses will likely all be educated guesses and opinions, (unless someone here turns out to have some actual inside information from Tops)... but, I'm still interested in hearing out your thoughts on this subject.
Thanks in advance :)

.230” is a lot closer to 1/4” than to 1/8” so I’m guessing they’re not actually using Ontario blanks, but rather thicker stock copies. Maybe they are giving Ontario the credit for the inspiration. One guess.
 
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No, I think it's more like 1/8"... At least that's what mine more or less is. The Wild Pig Hunter blade, (which is 1/4" thick), is roughly twice as thick as my .230 machete.
 
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I have no clue as to why it is called their .230... But yeah, the thickness is the same as Ontario's 18" military spec machete.
I have both, and compared them side by side... In my mind, there is no doubt that the .230 blade starts off as an OKC blade.
 
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I've never known quite what to make of TOPS Knives. The company burst onto the scene, seemingly out of the blue, and immediately began playing up the special operations mystique. Early articles implied (or occasionally stated) that Mike Fuller was a Special Forces veteran, but they were always short on details--an instant red flag for me.

Now these latest revelations make some of that clear. It's obvious that Mike "Fuller" wanted to capitalize on portions of his Michael Hand past without revealing all of it, including a lot of scandal. The irony is that, unlike so many tactical community posers, his military history was legitimate!


I don't have much to say about all that except for two points:

1) I don't trust guys who tout high-speed pasts but don't want to get specific.

2) I don't trust guys who change their names.

The lessons of Strider Knives were not lost on me.


About TOPS Knives products, I've remained curious-but-ambivalent:

1) I didn't always favor the designs, despite the fact that I respected (and still respect) the company's willingness to try an unbelievable variety of styles.

2) The knives weren't always solely U.S.-made. I began looking at them much more closely once they switched to domestic production entirely.

3) Between Mike Fuller's nebulous past and the company's blind acceptance of clearly embellished (if not entirely fabricated) resumes from designers the likes of Jeff Prather, I was leery of believing that TOPS was serious about putting out quality products. For me, sketchy backgrounds equal sketchy business practices equal sketchy products.

4) The absence of attribution or design history of the Bush Ranger and the Bird and Trout Knife (BTK) models made me suspicious that the company was stealing designs. They are clearly copies of custom maker John Greco's work, yet I never saw him credited.

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PocketKnifeJimmy, I really appreciate your starting this thread and supplying those updates on the history of TOPS Knives and Mike Fuller/Hand. I'm also grateful to the others who have filled in some of the blanks. I hold no malice toward the company, particularly now that Fuller/Hand is gone and Leo Espinoza is running it. I sincerely hope that TOPS distances itself from its somewhat tarnished beginnings and continues to bring quality American knives and uniquely innovative designs to an industry that can become complacent and dull at times.

-Steve
 
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There aren’t that many companies making properly ht’d and cryo-treated knives in 440c or 154cm for under $150, or diff-ht’d carbon steel knives for that matter. I’ve learned from some of the comments here that a) they may have crappy customer service and b) they may be stealing designs to keep their catalog page numbers high.
I didn’t learn anything about the founder’s present circumstances except that he is hated in Australia and admired in Idaho, but I don’t care to know details having nothing to do with a knife’s construction.
Their prices seem reasonable and their practices seem honest when compared with Mick Strider knives, I guess.
 

Riz!

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Lets keep this about the knives before the thread gets bounced to the BGU!

Here is my favorite model, the Prather War Bowie. Left is my user, middle is one I stripped, sanded and then hot vinegar etched and the right is my reserve. The black kydex sheath is one I made. It carries cross draw. The tan came with the reserve which I got LNIB off the exchange for a steal. The stripper is eventually going to get a set of wooden handles and a leather sheath. You can see that it is diffentially heat treated by the hamon that appeared during the etch. My dream knife would be a war bowie in CPM 3V with the Carothers D3V heat treat protocol!

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BladeScout

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Lets keep this about the knives before the thread gets bounced to the BGU!

Here is my favorite model, the Prather War Bowie. Left is my user, middle is one I stripped, sanded and then hot vinegar etched and the middle is my reserve. The black kydex sheath is one I made. It carries cross draw. The tan came with the reserve which I got LNIB off the exchange for a steal. The stripper is eventually going to get a set of wooden handles and a leather sheath. You can see that it is diffentially heat treated by the hamon that appeared during the etch. My dream knife would be a war bowie in CPM 3V with the Carothers D3V heat treat protocol!

View attachment 946754 View attachment 946755 View attachment 946756
Noice.
 
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With Tops having used/borrowed/copied/been inspired by, other designs in the past... I wonder how they would compare in side by side comparisons with the originals.
As I mentioned earlier, their Wild Pig Hunter is almost a carbon copy in appearance to the Russian original that it was inspired from. I saw a video of how tough the original is, the version that is designed for military use and is made in Russia with some steel called U8, (a Russian steel). It would seem a difficult task to match it, and even more difficult to surpass it.
But, there have obviously been times in history where a "copy" turns out so good, that it surpasses the item that it was based on/copied from.
I have no idea the quality control on the Russian Phoenix1 military knife, but I read that it too is differentially heat treated. If all is comparable, I wonder if the U.S. 1095 steel used on the Wild Pig Hunter would compare favorably with the Russian U8 steel.

In any case, I still don't understand why it seems so difficult to locate the Russian version in the U.S.... But my eyes continue to stay peeled :)
 

not2sharp

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Lets keep this about the knives before the thread gets bounced to the BGU!

Here is my favorite model, the Prather War Bowie. Left is my user, middle is one I stripped, sanded and then hot vinegar etched and the right is my reserve. The black kydex sheath is one I made. It carries cross draw. The tan came with the reserve which I got LNIB off the exchange for a steal. The stripper is eventually going to get a set of wooden handles and a leather sheath. You can see that it is diffentially heat treated by the hamon that appeared during the etch. My dream knife would be a war bowie in CPM 3V with the Carothers D3V heat treat protocol!

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I am sorry that I am late to the party, but I suspect the so called Prather knife is a rip-off of Don Norris’s Battle Bowie II.

See posts #38 and #42 in the thread below:
https://bladeforums.com/threads/let’s-talk-about-interesting-knives.1699684/#post-19439340

I am not knocking Tops Knives. They seem to make a fine product at a fair price, but they seem to have barrowed some of their designs from makers who were no longer able to produce the original. Then again it may have been Prather who acted in bad faith.

n2s
 
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Makael

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Decent knife. Feels good. Ive been thru their factory on a tour. I enjoy the time ive spent with them at Blade show. Real good salt of the earth people. Nice knives at great prices. 20191222_205634.jpg 20191222_205619.jpg 20191222_205658.jpg 20191222_205647.jpg
 
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I am sorry that I am late to the party, but I suspect the so called Prather knife is a rip-off of Don Norris’s Battle Bowie II.

See posts #38 and #42 in the thread below:
https://bladeforums.com/threads/let’s-talk-about-interesting-knives.1699684/#post-19439340

I am not knocking Tops Knives. They seem to make a fine product at a fair price, but they seem to have barrowed some of their designs from makers who were no longer able to produce the original. Then again it may have been Prather who acted in bad faith.

n2s
Wow. It was definitely copied. Since Prather is the designer of the knife, and Tops the maker, if anyone ripped it off it was Prather. But who knows, maybe he knew Don and had his blessing? If not, they do say imitation is the best form of flattery.
 
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The top photo is of my Tops Wild Pig Hunter, and the bottom photo is my Kizlyar Phoenix Combat.
The Tops is most definitely inspired by the Kizlyar, but whether it was an authorized situation or not, I guess only Tops and Kizlyar truly knows.
 

BladeScout

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I am sorry that I am late to the party, but I suspect the so called Prather knife is a rip-off of Don Norris’s Battle Bowie II.

See posts #38 and #42 in the thread below:
https://bladeforums.com/threads/let’s-talk-about-interesting-knives.1699684/#post-19439340

I am not knocking Tops Knives. They seem to make a fine product at a fair price, but they seem to have barrowed some of their designs from makers who were no longer able to produce the original. Then again it may have been Prather who acted in bad faith.

n2s
Unmistakable likeness. I dont know the background either but would like to. Not saying they did (as I dont know) but disappointing, if they ripped off the Don Norris Battle Bowie II.

Not knocking Tops either. The few I have, I like (jury is out, if they ripped off designs) but many other Tops knives are too thck across the spine for my liking.
 
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