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Review: TOPS Knives Baja 3.0

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.

TOPS Knives Baja 30

Overview

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)

TOPS Knives Baja 30 Handle

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.

TOPS Knives Baja 30 Spacers

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.

TOPS Knives Baja 30 in Sheath

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.

TOPS Knives Baja 30 in Hand

Wrap Up

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.

On Blade Bomb: The TOPS Knives EL PATRON XXX

The new EL PATRON XXX from Tops Knives represents a more utilitarian approach to the karambit. It features a drop point blade shape rather than the typical hooked shape. The drop point may give up some of the ripping/catching potential of a traditional karambit in reverse grip but makes the knife more useful in a hammer grip. The EL PATRON XXX was actually designed to sit well in the hand and be useful in a normal forward grip.

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This is also the first knife to feature TOPS Knives’ new “Tactical Stone” coating. The coating is a medium brown in color with texturing that has a stone like appearance. It contrasts with deeply grooved, Black G10 handle slabs nicely.

The EL PATRON XXX is ground from 3/16″ 1095 steel. It has a 3 1/2″ blade with a 8 5/8″ overall length. It comes with a handmade Kydex sheath.

Check out the EL PATRON XXX at TOPS Knives.

Check out more knife related content on our sister site, Blade Bomb.

TOPS Knives Crow Hawke

The Sparrow Hawke is one of the gems of the TOPS Knives line. It is small enough to EDC and large enough to dress out deer sized game. It can easily be carried as a neck knife or in your pocket and it all but disappears on your belt. TOPS Knives just introduced the Crow Hawke which is dimensionally identical to the Sparrow Hawke but features a new black coating and grippier black G-10 handle slabs with red spacers.

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O/A Length: 5.0″
Cutting Edge: 2.0″
Blade: 1095 High Carbon Steel
Thickness: 1/8″
Blade Color: Black Traction Coating
Handle: Black Linen Micarta®
Sheath: Kydex With Snap Link
Weight: 1.8oz
Weight w/ Sheath: 2.9oz

Check out the Crow Hawke at TOPS Knives.

On Blade Bomb: TOPS Knives Rocky Mountain Spike

The Rocky Mountain Spike (RMS) is the latest knife from TOPS Knives. This minimalist, full tang design was originally intended to be used as a companion to a larger knife but TOPS found that it worked well as a stand-alone design.

It may look trim but this little knife is actually pretty beefy. At 3/16″ with a differential heat treat, it should take just about anything you can dish out.

  • O/A Length: 7 1/4″
  • Blade Length: 3 1/2”
  • Thickness: 3/16”
  • Steel: 1095 High Carbon Steel
  • Handle: Skeletonized
  • Blade Color: Sandstorm Bronze
  • Sheath: Black Leather
  • Weight: 2.5 oz

Check out the Rocky Mountain Spike at TOPS Knives.

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Check out more knife related content on our sister site, Blade Bomb.

TOPS Knives Mil-SPIE 3.5 Tanto

The newest addition to the TOPS Knives Mil-SPIE folder series is now available. The Mil-SPIE 3.5 Tanto sports, you guessed it, a 3.5″ long tanto blade. The blade is saber ground from 1/8″ thick N690Co steel.

Like the other Mil-SPIE knives, this one boasts a tool steel liner locking mechanism and a machined 6061 T-6 aluminum handle. The liner lock is nested in the handle and the entire package is designed to be thin, light, and strong.

Check out the new Mil-SPIE 3.5 Tanto at TOPS Knives.

mil3.5ftp

TOPS Knives B.O.B. Knife with Tumbled Finish

The Brothers of Bushcraft designed BOB Knife has been a smash hit for TOPS Knives and for good reason – it is a great knife. I own one and it strikes a great balance between cutting performance and durability thanks to its somewhat unique modified “Scandi” edge and large, hand filling handle. There have been several iterations of the BOB Knife so far, all of them featuring a powder coat finish in various colors.brostbfMany users find that the coating reduces cutting performance and just ends up rubbing off during some common tasks like batoning. It is fairly common for people to actually strip the coating from their knives. The newest version of the BOB Knife is the first without powder coating from the factory. It features a tumbled finish that leaves the 1095 steel bare.If you don’t care for coated knives, this is the BOB Knife for you. Check out the new B.O.B. Knife with Tumbled Finish at TOPS Knives.

Cross posted from Blade Bomb.

TOPS Knives Tahoma Field Knife

The TOPS Knives Tahoma Field Knife is the result of a collaboration between Andy Tran of Inner Bark and TOPS. If you are not familiar with Inner Bark, you should be. It is a tremendous source of survival related information and gear reviews.

The Tahoma Field Knife (TFK) is a large survival knife that is ground from 3/16″ 1095 steel with canvas micarta slab grips. It features a 7 5/16″ main cutting edge with a short back up cutting edge on the spine near the tip. This back up edge is there to serve as a last ditch cutting method should you find yourself unable to sharpen the main edge.

taho-01

The TFK has a notch on the spine that can be used to score materials to create a weak point for breaking to save the edge of your knife. This is an extremely clever feature since saw back knives rarely work well. It appears that Andy and TOPS were able to get the only useful function of the saw back, notching, out of a much smaller section of notches. This leaves the spine of the knife clear and square which is advantageous for other tasks like striking a ferro rod or batoning.

The TFK has a host of other features like dual bow drill pivots on the handle slabs, 2 lanyard points (1 near the wrist on the thumb ramp, 1 on the butt of the grip), a large finger choil, and a pry tip at the butt of the grip. It comes with a ballistic nylon sheath.

Check out the Tahoma Field Knife at TOPS Knives.

TOPS Knives MSK 2.5

TOPS Knives MSK 2.5

The MSK 2.5 is the latest offering from TOPS Knives and it will have lovers of the “scandi” grind dancing in the streets. MSK stands for Mini Scandi Knife. This knife is aimed squarely at the survival/bushcraft market. It is a compact design, just 6 1/8″ overall with a 3″ blade, that sports a scandi grind, micrata slab handles, 1/8″ thick 1095 steel, and a multifunction kydex sheath.

The MSK 2.5 is available now from TOPS Knives.

TOPS Knives LITE TREKKER

When Joe Flowers designs a knife, I take notice. Joe is an avid outdoorsman who has been the brains behind several great survival knife designs like the previously reviewed Machete .230. His latest is another collaboration with TOPS Knives – the LITE TREKKER.

The LITE TREKKER is built to be a lightweight, all-around outdoors blade. To that end, it is made from one of the all time great knife steels for that application – 1095. The 1/8″ thick 1095 and tall flat grind means this knife should be a great cutter that is easy to keep sharp in the field. The handle has a large guard and offers several color options that range from discreet to highly visible.

Any knife can be a great aid when you are building a fire but the LITE TREKKER has some features that really help it excel at fire prep. It comes with a compact magnesium/ferrocerium fire starter. The spine of the knife is ground square to make it better for scraping fire starters.

As with most TOPS Knives, the LITE TREKKER comes with a kydex sheath with a steel spring clip. Check out the LITE TREKKER on TOPSKnives.com.

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