First and foremost, TOPS Knives are designed to be TOOLS and are built using the extensive knowledge and real life experiences of 12 “operators” with backgrounds in the military, law enforcement, outdoor professions, and the martial arts.
Consequently, TOPS knives are specifically designed to be mission critical tools for extreme assignments and their design and construction clearly displays that purpose. The video below will give a great breakdown of this particular knife, and you can check out the Amazon link below that for user reviews at Amazon.com.
In addition, it features full-tang construction with ergonomically shaped, black, canvas Micarta handle slabs and a large lanyard hole. Last, this knife comes with heavy-duty leather, pouch-type sheath.
For instance, the 6 1/8” straight-spined blade is a full two inches wide and 3/16” thick with a sabre grind, a straight edge and a shallow belly on the sweep. Thus, while it is obviously not a dedicated heavy chopping tool, the blade does have enough heft to chop through small saplings.
Also, the long, straight edge combined with the miniature Ricasso makes this knife superbly designed for cutting, carving, and slicing; and the shallow belly combined with a two-inch blade width provide plenty of sweep to the belly of the edge for removing the hide from harvested game animals. In addition, with a 3/16” spine, I would not hesitate to use this knife in conjunction with a baton to split saplings.
While I am not a particularly big fan of non-stainless blade steels, 1095 does seem to be the standard steel of choice for many manufactures of large knives because it is both inexpensive and very tough due to the fact that it only contains 0.90% – 1.03% carbon to convert the iron into steel and harden it; and 0.30% – 0.50% manganese to make the steel tough.
In addition, TOPS Black River Wash clearly displays the “Hammon” where the blade has been differentially heat treated to produce a hard edge combined with a softer spine to create knife that holds an edge well and yet, is also very tough and very impact resistant.
Both the spine and the top of the tang feature grooves ground into the metal called “jimping” which is designed to help improve the user’s grip on the knife and the edge side of the tang has been ground in such a way that it creates an integral quillion which is designed to prevent the user’s fingers from accidently slipping onto the edge of the blade.
However, because 1095 contains no chromium whatsoever, it is highly prone to corrosion and thus, knives made from this non-stainless steel do require more care than those made from stainless steels in order to keep them corrosion free.
Furthermore, the TOPS Tex Creek Hunter XL features full tang construction with a very ergonomically designed handle shape covered with black canvas Micarta for a very positive grip and a large lanyard hole in the butt of the handle. In addition, the black canvas Micarta handle slabs are an excellent complement to the 1095 blade steel used on this knife because is it every bit as tough as the steel and it will not absorb moisture the way some natural handle materials do.
Last, while the heavy-duty, leather, pouch-type sheath is certainly sufficient to secure and transport this knife, I would prefer to see it wet molded to the shape of the knife rather than as a simple, straight-walled pouch.
Consequently, in addition to being very well designed and very sturdily built, the TOPS Tex Creek Hunter XL is, in my opinion, also a very aesthetically pleasing knife with a form that defiantly follows function. In fact, I happen to like everything about this knife except for the non-stainless, 1095 tool steel and the relatively shapeless sheath.
But, on the other hand, I have to remind myself that TOPS is not in the business of making fancy hunting knives or collector’s pieces but are instead in the business of making no-nonsense working knives and the TOPS Tex Creek Hunter XL certainly is that.