The TOPS Longhorn Bowie Tactical Knife Analysis

TOPS Knives is a company that specializes in the manufacture of high quality law enforcement and outdoor knives. They produce mission-specific tools which are designed using the extensive knowledge and real life experiences of 12 individuals with backgrounds in the military, law enforcement, outdoor education, and the martial arts. Indeed, TOPS knives are specifically designed to handle extreme assignments.

For those of you who are not familiar with the TOPS Longhorn Bowie knife, it is, in my opinion, one of TOPS best looking knives.

This knife features an overall length of 13” with a 6 3/4” clip point blade made from 1/4” 1095 high carbon non-stainless steel hardened to 58 Rockwell with a flat grind, a recurved edge and a black “traction coating” to help prevent corrosion. In addition, it features full tang construction with an integral quillion and black linen Micarta handle slabs. Plus, it’s supplied with a black, combat style, ballistic nylon sheath.

In fact, the TOPS Longhorn Bowie is one of the few TOPS knives that do not have a decidedly martial look to it. Instead, to me, it looks like an excellently designed hunting knife but it’s built like a dedicated wilderness survival knife. Thus, while the Longhorn Bowie is neither as long nor as massive as the Tops Condor Alertor the Tops Armageddon, it is far better suited for detail work and camp chores than either of those two knives are, although it does leave a bit to be desired as a medium to heavy chopping tool.

However, the flat grind on the blade will allow this knife to bite very deeply and the recurved edge enhances this knife’s ability to chop, cut and slice because it creates a slight positive forward angle which effectively increases the speed of the blade when the knife is swung sharply with the user’s hand. In addition, the 1/4” spine makes this a very strong knife with considerable heft which should easily withstand the shock generated when using as baton to split saplings and the clip point places the tip of the blade closer to the center line for better control when performing precision cutting tasks with the tip of the edge.

Also, the sweep from edge to tip (also called the “belly” of the blade) is perfectly suited for removing the hide from harvested game animals while the straight section at the back of the recurved edge is perfect for carving and cutting tasks. In addition, the back of the edge has a large finger groove ground into it so that the user can “choke up” on the handle by placing their thumb on the spine and their index finger on the “finger groove” for better control over the knife when performing precision cutting and carving tasks.

Furthermore, the Tops Longhorn is a very sturdily constructed knife with its 1/4” full tang construction which is made from the very tough 1095 non-stainless steel that consist of 0.90% – 1.03% carbon and 0.30% – 0.50% manganese (which increases toughness and hardenability in steel.) Also, I happen to really like the shape of the handle because it is very ergonomic and it features an integral quillion adjacent to the “finger groove”. In addition, I like the fact that the full tang is covered with black micarta handle slabs which is a very tough material that is impervious to chipping, splitting, cracking and the absorption of moisture. Plus, it provides a very positive gripping surface.

Consequently, I believe that this particular blade displays a truly elegant, yet functional, knife design. If fact, were this knife to be dressed up using a high quality stainless steel such as 440C or 154CM and an exotic natural handle material such as antler, bone or stabilized wood burl, it would be very much at home with a gaggle of custom knives from most any of America’s top custom knife smiths. However, dressed as it is, it makes an excellent choice for a dedicated wilderness survival knife although, it is important to note that the non-stainless steel does require more care to keep is corrosion free than many of the knives made from a stainless steel.

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