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Mission Team 21 by TOPS knives

Knives, what is a knife to us? Since the beginning of time, humans have carried edged weapons and tools. Some simply view a knife as a tool, while others obsess and collect them. The more I read about knives, the less I know. With so many companies manufacturing knives and custom knife makers trying to make their place in the knife world, the grind, tip, handle options seem endless. Do we make a knife for a specific task which can often make it less useful in other areas, or do we make a multi-purpose blade? We could begin with the definition of a knife.


1. an instrument for cutting, consisting essentially of a thin, sharp-edged, metal blade fitted with a handle.
2. a knife-like weapon; dagger or short sword.
3. any blade for cutting, as in a tool or machine.

I have been carrying the for a few weeks now. It is a nice cutting instrument and a tough tool. It meets the definition of knife on multiple levels. In my opinion this blade falls into a tactical/battle combo blade that can be used in the wilderness if needed. The knife was designed by TOPS with the help of Bill Hill (Command Master Chief -SEAL TEAM 3 RETD). The blade was featured in the February 2006 issue of Blade magazine.


Blade length is 6 3/4" with a 5 3/4" cutting edge. Blade steel is 1095 High Carbon Alloy RC-58. Blade thickness is 1/4 inch.With a full tang 1/4 inch blade, the knife is suitable for prying doors and opening cans if the need arises in an urban situation.

There are two non-slip locations (scalloping) on the spine of the blade. The scalloping helps with knife grip allowing appropriate index of the thumb for added leverage or dexterity while cutting. With the use of the choil we can get our hand closer to the blade for tasks such as carving. When we used the blade for chopping we changed the grip further back on the blade handle which gave us added weight for chopping or batoning wood.

The blade has a Scandinavian grind with a secondary bevel. The blade also features a very robust penetrating tip. The knife's false edge aids in deep penetration. In testing the knife was able to pierce through a one inch phone book.

The blade edge held up to over a week of chopping, carving, and cutting. Without sharpening the blade, we are still able to shave.

Blade overview:

Blade Length: 6 3/4"
Overall Length: 11 3/4"
Cutting Edge: 5 3/4"
Thickness: 1/4"
Blade Color: Black Traction Coating
Steel: 1095 High Carbon Alloy RC-58

Handle / Slabs

The handles are made of Green-Black Micarta. Micarta laminates are used in industrial and military applications. Most recently, Micarta is being used for ballistic material. Micarta is industrial high pressure laminates produced with resins and fibers. These materials made of composite of linen, canvas, paper, fiberglass, carbon fiber or other fabric in a thermosetting plastic are tough and low slip. This allows knife makers to have handles that are strong, durable and light. Micarta has become fairly standard on a lot of knife handles. The choil on the blade allows for grip in two positions. Note: I tend to have smaller hands for my size. Therefore, the feel of the blade handles felt like they are built for someone with larger hands.


The sheath is made of Molle compatible (Cordura) ballistic nylon with a Kydex insert. It has an external pouch for storage that can be used to carry a small PSK (personal survival kit) or a sharpening stone. The outside pouch has an adjustable buckle and elastic to help secure your items. The sheath holds the blade in place with two velcro enclosures. Towards the bottom of the sheath there are two tie-down holes that can be used to secure the sheath to our leg (leg tie).

In the Field

The purpose of the testing was to attempt both urban "tactical" type testing and also some wilderness tasks. We used the Mission Team 21 to chop, baton, and pierce wood. We also tested the tip strength by prying on several doors and opening large metal cans. In the bush we hammered the knife tip deep into a fallen tree without any issues. The integrity of the blade and the coating remained intact until we hammered the blade into multiple cans. The metal on metal scraping did scrape off a top layer on the finish but it did not reach the raw metal.

As with all of our blade tests, we pushed the blade by twisting is as we pull it out of the wood. We twisted while penetrating the tip deep into the wood and while we batoned the blade sideways into the green wood. Although this is not good practice, the Mission Team 21 was unscathed.

We mentioned earlier that the knife felt like it was built for larger hands. The extra room allows for use of the knife while wearing gloves. This is a nice advantage if using the knife in an urban/combat scenario. If you are looking for a rugged, heavy weight hitter knife that can handle an urban environment and still coming through in the wild, this is a knife to consider.

Knife Specifications

Blade Length: 6 3/4"
Overall Length: 11 3/4"
Cutting Edge: 5 3/4"
Thickness: 1/4"
Blade Color: Black Traction Coating
Steel: 1095 High Carbon Alloy RC-58
Handle Material: Green-Black Micarta Semi Gloss
Sheath: Combat Ballistic Nylon
Mfg. Handcrafted in the USA

TOPS knives are guaranteed for life and TOPS stands behind their product.

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