Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ontario Air Force Survival Knife Review

Today I bring you a product review of the Air Force Survival Knife, manufactured by Ontario for the United States Air Force. There have been various versions and updates of this same basic knife over the years, and they have been produced by various other contractors besides Ontario Knife Company. The newer ones feature electrically insulated handles and synthetic sheathes, but are otherwise very similar to the originals. The one I have is of the old style, with a stacked leather handle. While this technology is somewhat outdated by current standards, I appreciate its historic value as the classic Vietnam-era survival knife.

The Ontario Air Force Survival Knife has a nice size ratio. At 9.5 inches overall, the blade is 5 inches long, and the handle comes in at 4.5 inches. The size makes it a very capable tool, as well as easy to carry. The leather handle and sheath come unfinished, but can easily be waxed to improve water resistance.

The 5 inch blade is a convenient size for most utility and survival applications. While a little short for batoning large logs, it is perfectly adequate for splitting kindling. It is made from 1095 high carbon steel with a stout width of 3/8″. While this makes for a fairly strong blade, the width and steep grind angle make it difficult to sharpen to a fine edge. The blade features a clip point which come to a very sharp tip, which is known to be somewhat fragile. While I have never had any trouble with mine, I can see how it might snap under particularly hard use. All the metal parts of the knife are finished with a dark gray phosphate coating to reduce oxidization, which holds up fairly well. The blade also has small saw teeth machined in the spine, although I have not found them to be particularly useful.

The 4.5 inch handle is made from stacked leather washers, held in place on the tang by a simple cross-guard and heavy pommel in a manner similar to the classic Ka-Bar knife. The tang is fairly sturdy for a rat-tail type design, although they have been known to bend under extreme use. The pommel is held on simply by the end of the tang being smashed down, much like a giant rivet. It is a somewhat crude, but very effective construction. The pommel is heavy and flat on the end, allowing it to function as a hammer.

The sheath is simple but well designed. It is made of leather, and re-enforced with rivets along the edges, and sheet metal at the tip and on the back to protect the wearer. It features a small pocket with a sharpening stone on the front. Although not not an amazing sharpener, it does get the job done. The retaining strap fits nice and snugly around the end of the handle, preventing the knife from flopping around.

I love the Ontario Air Force Knife. It is neither too light nor too heavy yet it is strong and durable. This knife is an excellent value for the price.

To buy or get more information on the Ontario 499 Air Force Survival Knife with 5" Carbon Steel Sawback Blade, Leather Handle and Leather Sheath, click the link below.

Ontario 499 Air Force Survival Knife 5" Carbon Steel Sawback Blade, Leather Handle, Leather Sheath

All Comments are Welcome and Appreciated.

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