Survival Knives: Check Out the Ontario RTAK II Field Knife

RTAK II field knife review
July 22, 2020
Categories:Stuff and Things

The Ontario RTAK II is an impressive field knife, to say the least. It’s not something that I carry around with me, but there are occasions where it comes in so very handy. From time to time, I have to clean up fallen trees from the back yard, and this knife will take the limbs off in a most handy manner. Limbs up to an inch in diameter usually come off with one swing.

With almost no effort, the RTAK II sinks into wood. Seriously, I barely swung the blade and it went in that far!

With almost no effort, the RTAK II sinks into wood. Seriously, I barely swung the blade and it went in that far!

The RTAK II was designed by Jeff Randall as a survival implement to help the user in extreme environments. We’ll see how it stacks up.

shelter building with RTAK II field knife.

It serves many functions in shelter building.

Tough Construction

Before we get into all the uses of this knife, let’s explore the materials that comprise it. The blade is 10.5 inches of 5160 Carbon Steel at an RC hardness of 53-55. This steel is very tough and impact resistant and holds an edge well. Because it is not stainless steel, the steel will rust if not treated. The blade is powder-coated (mine in a greyish color), which effectively stops rust from appearing in any area that has been coated. The finish also prevents it from shining.

RTAK II field knife surface rust in areas without powder coating.

The blade will experience some surface rust in areas that do not have the powder coating.

The overall length of the knife is 16.75 inches, making for a substantial overall package. This is not a light knife, coming in at 1 pound, 6 ounces. However, when hefted in the hand, it is instantly apparent that this knife is very lively in the hand, and it balances extremely well. You know you have a heavy knife that will do large chopping jobs, but it doesn’t feel ungainly. There is power there, but it is quite controllable.

RTAK II field knife in hand.

RTAK II in hand. The handle fills the hand very well.

Blade Features

The blade has a full flat grind and is .188 inches thick. It’s a nice compromise, as the blade is not too thick, but thick enough to handle real cutting and chopping tasks. The flat grind is one of the best for slicing into a variety of materials. There is also a choil in front of the handle on the blade, and this allows the user to choke up on the blade a bit for more precise control while cutting.

RTAK II Handle

The handle deserves some mention as well. It is a large handle, and I have small to medium hands, but it really does work very well. There are no hot spots when the user is chopping, and this is owed to the design, and also the material, which happens to be canvas micarta (the color on my handle is brownish, but I’ve seen many that are green in color too).

RTAK II Canvas Micarta Handle closeup.

A close up of the canvas micarta handle.

There is a nice palm swell in the handle, and the edges on the handle are well rounded, which adds to the comfort. I normally don’t care for large handles, but this one gets a thumbs up from me, and a knife this large, meant for large cutting tasks, benefits from the large handle. The total length of the handle is 6 ¼ inches long. The tang at the butt of the handle is exposed and there is a lanyard hole there if the user wishes to take advantage of that. The exposed tang also serves as a glass breaker.

Sheath Design

The sheath has some good features that need a mention as well. There are straps on the back that are MOLLE compatible and will also fit onto standard belts. It could also be easily attached to a backpack. It is constructed of black nylon and has a Kydex insert to hold the knife.

RTAK II field knife sheath attachment points.

The back of the sheath has a few points for attachment.

The sheath also has a pouch on the front so you could carry a folding knife or possibly a sharpener and maybe a fire-making tool. The pouch has a Fastex buckle, making it secure.

The front of the RTAK II sheath has a pocket for a knife or sharpener, complete with elastic securing band.

The front of the sheath has a pocket for a knife or sharpener, complete with elastic securing band.

There are gromets at the bottom of the sheath to secure it to the user’s leg if desired. I like to wrap some paracord around the sheath to give me shelter building material for emergencies.

So, what can you use the RTAK II field knife for?

As mentioned, this field knife is an efficient chopper, chopping wood for fires and shelters, sharpening tent stakes, and stakes to use in our garden. It can double as a machete or a hatchet, making it extremely well-rounded.

The RTAK II makes sharpening stakes child's play!

The RTAK II makes sharpening stakes child’s play!

This beast can also serve quite well as a defensive weapon if pressed into service. The cuts that it could deliver are devastating.

RTAK field knife, sheath, and pistol.

Companions for a jaunt in the woods.

Overall, this is quite a knife. If you only had time to grab one blade to take afield in an emergency, and you grabbed this one, you’d be fairly well equipped for most of the tasks that you’d encounter. I’d like to augment it with a smaller blade for little tasks too, if I had my wish in a pinch. It will give you shelter, fire, and protection. The RTAK II makes a nice addition to a bugout bag for the vehicle.

field knife prepare sniper hide or firing lane.

This knife really helps when preparing a sniper hide and clearing a firing lane.

Nice Price!

Nowadays, you expect to pay a handsome price for such high quality in a field knife. Here is perhaps the best part of the entire package: this knife can be found for well under a hundred bucks. No, that’s not a misprint. In fact, I’ve seen websites listing it at just under $90.00. For that price, this knife is a steal! I highly recommend this knife for its versatility and utility value.

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Jim Davis served in the PA Dept. of Corrections for 16 ½ years as a corrections officer in the State Correctional Institute at Graterford and later at SCI Phoenix. He served on the Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT), several of those years as a sniper, and also the Fire Emergency Response Team (FERT). For 25 years, he was a professional instructor, teaching topics including Defensive Tactics, Riot Control and Tactical Operations, Immediate Responder, and cognitive programs as an adjunct instructor at the DOC Training Academy. He was then promoted to the title of corrections counselor, where he ran a caseload and facilitated cognitive therapy classes to inmates. His total service time was close to 29 years. He was involved in many violent encounters on duty, including incidents of fatalities.