TOPS Tracker Knife T3 - Review
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The original Tracker Knife was designed by Tom Brown, Jr. It was custom built in small quantities first by Ed Lombi, and then by Dave Beck. The Beck version became known as the Beck WSK (for "Wilderness Survival Knife") and was featured in the movie "The Hunted". After that TOPS Knives started making them. The TOPS versions are factory-made in the USA and finished by hand. The TOPS version had steeper grind angles and many people thought it was inferior to the original models, though many others loved it. After a while a smaller version was made, which was called the T-2 version, and the original then became known as the T-1 version.
Finally, a third version was made, the T-3, which is in between the first two in size and weight. The T-1 version weighs 600 grams without the sheath, which is pretty heavy for a knife. The Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet also weighs 600 grams, and it's an actual axe, and chops much, much better than the Tracker knife. But of course the Wildlife Hatchet doesn't cut like a knife.
The Tracker T-3 knife weighs 375 grams, which is a lot lighter. It's bit over an inch shorter overall, which is not that much really, and a lot of the weight reduction comes from it being thinner, 4.8mm (3/16") instead of the T-1's 6.38 mm (1/4"). The thinner blade also means the grinds are shallower, so the T-3 cuts better.
The Tracker style of knife is meant to be an all-in-one tool, so you can cut and chop with it. Of course there is a compromise with any multipurpose tool, and having a separate knife and axe would be much better — apart from having two items to carry instead of one. The saw on the back is mainly meant for putting notches and grooves in wood, as when making traps, or grooves to tie rope around, etc., rather than for sawing through large branches. The blade is made in two sections, the straight part close to the handle is for finer tasks, and has a shallower grind (meaning it's sharper). The curved part further away from the handle has a thicker grind (meaning its stronger), meant to chop.
The T-3 model is made from ATS-34 steel, which is a very high quality stainless "supersteel" made in Japan by Hitachi, and then imported into the USA where the TOPS knives are made. The other TOPS versions of the Tracker knife are 1095 carbon (non-stainless) steel.
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