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Reviews > Knives > Fixed Blade > TOPS Anaconda 9 Tanto Point > Owner Review by Jesse D. Fister

OWNER REVIEW - TOPS Anaconda 9 Tanto Point Knife


Name: Jesse Fister
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Height: 5' 11" (1.8 Meters)
Weight: 168 Pounds (76 Kilograms)
Email address: Mako_tree@yahoo.com
City, State, Country: Missoula, Montana, USA
Date: July 8, 2007

       Backpacking Background: I have been a hunter and a fisherman since youth. I currently study wilderness preparation and survival. I have backpacked all over Montana, including many beautiful high mountain lakes. I have also lived out of a backpack in Europe and parts of Brazil; including the Amazon. I enjoy lightweight backpacking in any environment and sometimes experience harsh survival situations with minimal gear.

       Year of manufacture: My knife was bought in the summer of 2005
       Web URL: http://www.topsknives.com/
       Product description: The Anaconda was designed by Ron Hood and is individually produced by TOPS Knives in Idaho, and intended for use as a versatile survival knife. The Anaconda 9 is an upgraded version of the original design. This knife could be classified under the "chopper" category, meaning that it is useful for tasks which require large amounts of work through difficult materials (such as branches). It is a 26 Ounce (737 Gram) knife (that is over 1.5 pounds). It has a straight blade down its length with an inward curving handle to maximize chopping power (it increases the power generated by the wrist). The tip is "tanto" style, meaning that knife edge changes abruptly from the tip to the blade edge at angles, as opposed to "hunter" style, or one that curves stowly from tip to blade edge. The hand-shaped contour, overall build and balance of this knife make for a comfortable but serious wilderness tool.

       Measured Specifications:
              Measured Blade Length: 9 1/2 in (24.13 mm)
              Total Length: 14.88 in (378 mm)
              Cutting Edge: 9.13 in (232 mm)
              Thickness: 1/4 in (0.64 mm)
              Weight: 22 oz (624 g)

       Listed Specifications:
              Blade Length: 9 1/2 in (24.13 mm)
              Total Length: 15 1/4 in (38.74 mm)
              Cutting Edge: 9 in (22.86 mm)
              Thickness: 1/4 in (0.64 mm)
              Weight: 26 oz (737 g)
              Blade Color: Black Traction Coating
              Blade Steel: 1095 High Carbon Alloy RC-58
              Handle Material: Black Linen Micarta
              Sheath: Combat Ballistic Nylon with Kydex insert
              Designed by Ron Hood
              Mfg. Handcrafted in the USA
              USD: $269.00

       Because these are not factory produced knives, it took TOPS Knives several weeks to have an Anaconda 9 Tanto Point in stock for me, but it arrived in good order and in its own packaging. Included was a kydex dog-tag from TOPS knives attached to the black nylon sheath with a company motto on it. The knife has a large pocket on the front that exactly fits a standard Altoids Mint tin (See picture below). The sheath was custom fit to the knife and is held in by a velcro strap with an optional parachute-cord rope built in to the sheath for tying the knife in securely. The sheath has a large loop that fits snugly on my military pistol belt, and has additional parachute-cord rope at the bottom for securing the knife snugly against the thigh. Over time, the kydex insert in my sheath has begun to crack, which does not harm any functionality, but is rather annoying. This was the effect of both time and abuse during travel and rough handling.

Anaconda on Thigh Altoids Tin Peeking in Pocket

Unsheathed Anaconda Sheathed Anaconda

       I was very pleased by the quality and professional finish of this knife. All the lines and features on this knife were flawless. The Black Linen Micarta handle looks and feels flawless, and is designed to be comfortable and provide maximum grip traction even when wet or bloody. I have had mine both wet and bloody and can say that it performed well. Additionally, the handle has a loop of cord anchored to the bottom of the knife that the hand is inserted into to virtually eliminate the possibility of one's hand slipping up onto the blade portion of the knife by holding it down. The handle has a kind of beveled squareness to it that I find dissimilar to many knives, but is very comfortable at the same time. This knife also has an indented area in the handle for the pointer finger, as well as a blade choil for placing your finger closer to the blade for smaller work. I found these features to work very well. The blade additionally has a wire (fence) cutting and bone scoring tool near the top of the backside of the blade. I have not had the opportunity to try this feature.

       One of the tests that large knives like these are put through for survival use is called the "frozen elk hoof" test. That is right! In one of Ron Hood's survival videos you can watch him chop right through a frozen elk hoof, with the blade integrity remaining intact. Eager to test the blade's ability for myself, I took it into my backyard the very first night and hacked through a 1/2" (1.27 centimeter) deer antler several times, even finally making a pass in a single strike as the weight shattered through the antler. I then chopped through fiberglass board, plywood and various other woods. The knife had no disfigurements and required only a re-sharpening afterwards.

       I am not experienced with sharpening larger tools, and found the Anaconda's blade edge to be extremely difficult to sharpen, and I am still not fully certain how to get it any sharper than it is. The edge is very steep and the metal very dense and hard to remove in sharpening. I was told by the retailer of my knife that TOPS uses triple tempered steel, meaning that the heat treating process essentially creates three sections of various hardness. The blade portion is tempered the hardest of the three. The second and third portions towards the back are incrementally softer so that the blade edge is hard and durable where there is direct contact, with the back portion of the blade absorbing the impact of the hit. I found the Tanto tip to aid in both prying and chopping. Furthermore, the knife is a high-carbon steel, which makes it an incredibly durable and strong knife, but therefore not rust proof. Because of this I often carry gun or vegetable oil to wipe on my blade after use. I switched to vegetable oil since I have been told that gun oil can cause diarrhea if it comes in contact with food. Which reminds me...I have considered that this knife seems like it may be a very good self defense knife against a large animal? No experience there thankfully.

       Since then I have cut through a large variety of woods and found it to be very useful for certain tasks. The blade weight is perfectly distributed, and the blade carries itself through branches with ease with a proper snap of the wrist. I have found that the blade works best when properly propelled, and when it hits the top few inches of blade near the tanto tip. It seems to me that the Anaconda is best used for such tasks as prying bark, chopping branches (especially green ones) and in general, chopping smaller things. I was a little disappointed at the blade's ability to chop through larger things such as logs and trees, and found that it was nowhere near as useful for such a task as a saw or axe. In fact, for the weight, I found that the tasks that it did best at could easily have been accomplished by a good Swiss Army Knife, especially a small to medium sized saw. But boy is it fun to carry and play with, and I like what it does for my wilderness image

        I have used this knife on various camping trips, usually several times per month. The knife has seen various weather, but mostly happy days. I have tested it both at home and in the wilderness. I use the knife for various work and allow it to get covered in pitch and get wet and dirty, but I always clean and oil it at the end of the day.

       I had one experience with this knife in the Bob Marshall wilderness in which the knife was put to the test. There was a large pine log on fire one evening and it would have been a forest fire for sure, but using my Anaconda and a tin can, I was actually able to suppress the fire all alone, putting out three foot high flames during the night with only those two tools. Without indulging in the details of this story, I used the Anaconda to chop low hanging branches down in single strokes, dig moist soil up from the ground to extinguish the coals and flames and to attempt to pry the log open. I say attempt because I was trying to pry open a very large, hard log with my full body weight against the knife, and actually bent my Anaconda a little bit. After I had put out the fire sometime during the night, I went to sleep in sub-freezing conditions, and forgetting to clean off my knife and leaving it in the dirt, I woke to find it beginning to rust, and as I said, bent. Both of those problems were my own due to my own misuse of the knife. I emailed TOPS Knives however and got a personal and interested response from the president of TOPS Knives who agreed to have me send the knife in to be straightened and re-sharpened. My returned knife was completely straightened, and the blade was as sharp as I when I first bought it. TOPS Knives even sent me a T-Shirt for the ordeal, and all I paid was the price of shipping to mail the knife to them. Their service has been outstanding! In the picture above you can see the "character" of the new knife, which makes me more pleased with my knife today than when I bought it.

Summary

       The TOPS Anaconda 9 Tanto Point is a very durable and strong knife. It is a very well made, and professional looking knife that will serve its purpose well. I find, however, that a saw or and axe may be a more useful purchase to someone who plans on using such a tool extensively.

What I like:
       Durability, strength and resilience
       Weight distribution
       Chopping power
       Comfortable and attractive
       Makes certain tasks (i.e. chopping branches) very easy
       Reliability
       Outstanding customer care from TOPS Knives

What I dislike:
       Price
       Weight for hiking
       Plastic insert in Sheath broke
       Very difficult to sharpen
       Rusts without proper care (although it is easy to care for)
       Not extremely useful if saw or axe available

Read more reviews of TOPS Knives gear
Read more gear reviews by Jesse D. Fister

Reviews > Knives > Fixed Blade > TOPS Anaconda 9 Tanto Point > Owner Review by Jesse D. Fister



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