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Digital Subscriptions > American Survival Guide > February 2019 > TOPS’ NEW WOODSWORKERS



No stranger to the pages of American Survival Guide, TOPS Knives has been making hardworking American cutlery for 20 years. Its two recently launched knives, the Operator 7 and the Little Bugger, couldn’t be more different from each other. The pair looks like a modern-day David and Goliath, yet they complement each other well.

TOPS Knives has some of the best outof- the-box quality I’ve seen. These knives are individually packaged in an attractive black-and-yellow box, so even before they are out of the box, they inspire confidence in your purchase decision. Their logo and information stands out in bright yellow, while the knife inside is packaged with clear plastic for an added degree of protection. Both are made in Idaho Falls, Idaho.


The Operator 7 is a beast! It fills the hand, to say the least. Like a good, hardworking tool, it has to be comfortable for the tasks at hand to cause less fatigue. Take an axe or good pick-axe—it fills the hand for the same reason. TOPS took this to the next level with the Operator 7. Because the 1075 carbon steel is a full 5/16-inch thick, the tan canvas Micarta with black G10 layered scales measures in at about 1 inch thick in the handle—big steel and big handles with a classic American fighting look. Hefty!

I always assess the design and weight of a new knife, which tell you what it is best suited for. A knife with a blade starting around 6 inches long and up and with some heft to it means you can chop. How well or effectively the knife will chop varies. No knife will chop as well as a tool designed for chopping, such as a hatchet or ax, but it all depends on what you are willing to sacrifice when selecting tools. The Operator 7 can effciently chop 1-inchthick green saplings in a single swing … when conditions are right. It can chop thicker-diameter wood when it is backed by a strong chopping stump or if you’re using the rotating technique. I like to use large knives such as a machete and stand the wood up at an angle off to the side and give it a short chop, rotate, chop and rotate until it breaks cleanly.

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