The TOPS Knives Baja 3.0 has a size complex. It is small enough to be pocketable but it boasts a blade larger than you would expect.
The Baja 3.0 is a TOPS Knives creation through and through. They often follow a simple formula and get great results. That formula is quality 1095 steel + micarta slab handles + solid heat treat + usable sheath = great knife. This one doesn’t stray far and that is a good thing.
- Steel: 1095 carbon steel
- Thickness: 1/8″
- Blade length: 3″
- Overall length: 6 1/4″
- Blade shape: Drop point
- Primary grind: Full height flat grind
- Scales: Green canvas micarta
- Coating: Tan traction coating
- Sheath: Leather pouch style sheath (can be worn vertically or horizontally)
Observations from Use
The Baja 3.0 is comfortable to hold and use. The handle is lightly contoured and the scales are flat but grooved for texture. The butt of the knife is turned down a bit and this curve rests nicely on the ring finger. Some users will be able to get all four fingers on the grip.
TOPS Knives added jimping on the spine and the self guard area. The spine jimping is well placed and provides grip during cuts that require you to back the blade with your thumb. I could do without the jimping on the self guard but it isn’t so aggressive that it is uncomfortable.
The first thing that jumped out at me when I unwrapped the Baja 3.0 is just how much cutting edge is packed into a relatively small knife. It is just 6 1/4″ long and 3″ of that is blade. When measured from tip to handle scale (instead of the plunge line), it is actually more like 3 1/4″ of blade with 3″ of handle. That is a lot of blade for a knife in this size range.
There are times when I am glad it has that much blade but I often find myself wishing it was 1/4″ – 1/2″ shorter. That would leave plenty of edge for an EDC fixed blade and make this knife just a bit more compact overall. Maybe a Baja 2.5 is in the works!
Back in the day, you could expect a thick edge from TOPS Knives. Their edges were bomb proof but they didn’t always cut so well. This little Baja 3.0 is just the opposite. It has a very tall flat grind and distal taper that results in very aggressive cutter with a fine point. TOPS Knives turns the point down just a bit to keep it strong. This knife came to me shaving sharp (literally, I always check on my arm hair) and it graduated to laser status without much work on a strop. The combination of flat grind, carbon steel, and good edge geometry almost always creates a solid cutter that is easy to maintain. That is definitely the case here with the Baja 3.0.
The sheath is of good quality. The leather is fairly thick and it has double stitched construction. It is ambidextrous in design and holds the knife securely. There is some kind of insert in the bottom of the sheath to protect from pushing the knife through. In addition to belt carry, the rounded shape lends itself well to back pocket carry. While the sheath is well made, I do find myself wishing that the Baja 3.0 came with one of TOPS Knives Kydex sheaths with metal clip. They are a little smaller on the belt and I like how easy their metal clips are to place on the belt. This is purely a preference and I suspect that many users will prefer the leather.
Normally, I don’t really care what a knife looks like as long as it works. The Baja 3.0 certainly works but I think it could be a lot more attractive without the brass crosshead screw that is used in the handle construction. It is a tiny nit to pick but it just looks out of place.
The size of this knife allows it to work well for a variety of tasks. This is a true general purpose knife. It may not be the right tool for every cutting job, but it is rarely the wrong tool. It is great as an EDC fixed blade due to its compact size and more than enough blade for opening boxes, cutting strings, and other typical tasks that an EDC knife must perform. It would also make a good hunting knife. I prefer a more compact knife for dressing game up to whitetail deer size and the Baja 3.0 is ideal for that. Surprisingly, it is pretty handy in the kitchen as well. The blade is offset from the handle quite a bit allowing the user to get close to the cutting board.
The Baja 3.0 is a solid offering that stacks up well with other similar EDCable fixed blades. I find myself wishing the blade was a bit shorter at times and the crosshead screw is a bit off putting but these are small nits to pick. It cuts like a laser thanks to a tall flat grind paired with 1/8″ stock. The handle is comfortable and offers plenty of purchase. The sheath is usable and well made. It is just a very solid, ready-to-use package.
More often than not, you’ll find mine tucked into my back pocket.
Diclosure: This product was sent to me by the manufacturer, free of charge, for review.