Both KA-BAR and Ontario Tool and Knife have been around for over a century. Both have a long and storied history when it comes to their roots and their commitment to making excellent knives.
KA-BAR has made a name for themselves by cutting into the United States Military and other local law enforcement agencies. They are utilized by many different service members across the United States. We’ve also compared KA-BAR to other manufacturers here, here, here, and here. You might say that we know a little about them (one of our editors has over 10 different KA-BAR Knives).
Ontario Knife and Tool is probably slightly less known than KA-BAR but they do produce some awesome knives. They manufacture many of their knives in the United States, but also go overseas for some blades. They are extremely popular and have a very broad selection of knives, specifically pocket knives.
1. More about KA-BAR
KA-BAR’s history dates to the 1890s and as mentioned, they are a very popular manufacturer with the US Military and many types of local law enforcement agencies. Many of their knives are somewhat tactical looking in nature, but that doesn’t limit the functionality that they have. Their knives can be used for a wide variety of different tasks, and are often carried daily by outdoor enthusiasts that prefer a fixed blade.
2. KA-BAR Specs
KA-BAR has a number of different options to choose from; and here are some of our favorites:
Leather Handled Little Finn: The Leather Handled Little Finn is a fixed blade knife with a stainless-steel blade of 3.62”. Weighing just 0.10 lb., this knife is easy to carry around. It has a straight point shape and hollow grind.
The Gila Folder: The Gila Folder is an affordable folding knife made from stainless steel. The blade length is 3.87” and the open length comes in at 8.87”. This is a hollow-grind knife in a clip shape.
TDI Law Enforcement Knife: The TDI Law Enforcement Knife is a tactical themed military/law enforcement knife. With its 2.31” stainless steel blade, this knife is ideal for close-quarter encounters. It is a hollow grind knife with a drop-point design. It weighs 0.20 lb. and the overall length is 5.62.”
Kraton Handled Big Brother: The Kraton Handled Big Brother packs a punch with its 9.37” Cro-Van steel blade. Its overall length is 14.37“and the weight of the knife is 0.90 lb. This product comes in a clip shape with a flat grind blade.
Skeleton Knife: The Skeleton Knife is made from stainless steel and has a 2.5” blade. The overall length of the knife is 6.12” and it has a clip point shape with a hollow grind. Its skeleton handle lends it a unique appearance that distinguishes it from other fixed blade knives.
Agama Folder: Convenient, portable, and stylish, the Agama Folder has a 3.62” stainless steel blade. This clip shape knife weighs in at 0.30 lb. and has a side lock mechanism. It is a hollow grind knife with an overall open length of 8.5.”
3. About Ontario Knife and Tool
Located in Upstate New York, this manufacturer has been priding itself on quality and high performance for more than 125 years. Like KA-BAR, it offers a range of knives in a variety of categories. They are particularly well thought of with their diverse line of folding knives, but carry some fixed blade options as well.
4. Ontario Specs
While there are a number of different models that Ontario Knive and Tool produces, here are some of our favorites:
P3 Army Quartermaster: The P3 Army Quartermaster comes with a satin stainless steel fixed blade. Its overall length is 10.8” and it has a plain edge and a sturdy brown handle.
Bushcraft Woodsman: The Bushcraft Woodsman, is a stylish fixed blade knife measuring 15” overall. It has a satin steel blade and a solid brown handle. It also comes with full flat taper blade grind. While we prefer the Blackbird SK-5 better for Bushcraft activities, the Woodsman is a close second.
XM-1DS Camo Combo Edge: The XM-1DS Camo Combo Edge is a robust folder with a stylish camo design. It has a satin steel blade and a custom tan camouflage handle. It also comes with a liner lock mechanism and a combo edge blade (hence the name).
SP-41 Boot Knife: The SP-41 Boot Knife is an outdoor survival knife made from 5160 steel. It has an ergonomic handle for comfortable handling and its overall length is 8.3”. The knife has a powder-coated finish and a plain edge type
CT2 Sawbuck: If you are looking to buy a machete, you can opt for is the CT2, 12 Inch Sawbuck. The blade is made from 1095 carbon steel and is also comes with a zinc phosphate finish and a shatterproof handle. The length of the machete is 1.77 inches. It didn’t make our list for the top in its class, but it’s a close runner up.
You will also find a range of tools available from Ontario, such as strap cutters and axes. In addition, you can buy limited addition knives, cutlery, and accessories from this manufacturer.
5. Choose Your Manufacturer
Both these manufacturers have roughly the same amount of experience within the knife industry, having both been founded over a century ago. The product range and number of categories with KA-BAR are more exstensive, but quality and performance are the focus of both companies.
While it’s hard to make a bad pick, make sure you weigh up suitability, quality, and price when you are making your choice.
Bottom Line: If you are looking at price only, Ontario Knife & Tool has some really solid options to meet any budget. If money isn’t an object, KA-BAR has some quality stuff that will last for decades.