First and foremost, Tops Knives are TOOLS that are designed and built using the extensive knowledge and real life experiences of 12 Operators with backgrounds in the military, law enforcement, outdoor professions and the Martial Arts. Consequently, TOPS knives are specifically designed to be mission critical tools for extreme assignments. For more information on TOPS knives click here.
Like its larger cousins, the TOPS Spirit Hunter is an excellently designed and well made knife.
This knife features an overall length of 9 3/4” with a 4 1/4” clip point blade made from 5/32”, high carbon, 154CM stainless steel with a Rockwell Hardness of 58 to 60. Furthermore, the blade is subjected to a proprietary differential hardening process that actually creates three distinct zones of different hardness within each blade.
Then, each blade is cryogenically frozen to relive stress and to force the molecules of the steel into permanent alignment. When finished, the edge of each TOPS blade becomes very hard, while the center of the blade is less hard and the back of the blade is left relatively soft to create a “spring steel tempered” spine.
Last, in order to prevent corrosion, each blade is coated with TOPS proprietary TAC Gray epoxy polyester coating which is then baked onto the blade for permanent adhesion. In addition, the full tang is fitted with linen Micarta handle slabs knife is supplied with a heavy-duty, leather, sheath.
As hunting knives go, the TOPS Spirit Hunter is actually a very well designed knife. Although it is not as pretty as some hunting knives with polished blades, exotic wood handle slabs and nickel-silver bolsters, it is a highly practical design.
For instance the Clip Point blade positions the tip of the blade closer to the center line where it is out of the way when skinning game and it also serves to increase the control the user has over the tip of the knife. The wide blade also allows for a considerable amount of belly in the sweep which is excellent for removing the hide from harvested game animals. But, most importantly, the blade is made from 154CM which is a highly popular stainless steel that was first used by Bob Loveless in his custom knives as an alternative to 440C.
154CM contains 1.05% Carbon which makes it a very hard steel and 14% Chromium which makes it reasonably corrosion resistant; 0.5% Manganese and 4.0% Molybdenum which both serve to increase toughness and hardness.
However, as I have mentioned in previous articles, I personally do not like large choils ground into the back of the blade but, I do like the lack of any sort of quillion on this knife. In addition, at 4 1/4”, the blade is the perfect length for most people to be comfortable with. Plus, I really like both the shape of the handle and the linen Micarta handle slabs since they provide a non-slip surface for the user’s hand and it is extremely tough and it is impervious to moisture, heat, cold, chipping, cracking, or splitting.
Consequently, in my opinion, what the TOPS Spirit Hunter lacks in fancy aesthetics, it more than compensates with sheer functionality. Not only is it made from some extremely high quality materials, it is very well designed for the purpose of hunting.