Ontario Ranger Falcon Review
Ontario knives is an American company that's been producing knives since 1889. Ontario is one of my favorite companies for heavy duty production knives and today we'll be looking at one, the Ontario Ranger Falcon. Ontario's Ranger series are high carbon fixed blades with non-reflective black coatings that are marketed towards armed forces personnel. The Falcon is a broad bellied knife designed for heavy duty work.
What can this knife handle?
The Ontario Ranger Falcon would probably be best categorized as a survival or hunting knife. The knife is full tang and very thick, making it excellent at chopping and batoning. The blade shape is also ideal for cleaning large game. Basically, if you get lost in the woods, this is the kind of knife you'ld like to have with you. While ideally suited for these roles, the Ontario Falcon could also double as a weapon in a pinch. The knife is kind of heavy and it's broad blade isn't suited for detail work, but for heavy camp chores or game prep the Falcon is a winner.
Construction and Blade
Ontario used 5160 steel in the blade. 5160 steel is an alloy steel that also contains Chromium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Silicon, and Sulphur. It's high Chromium content makes the blade on the Falcon extremely tough, perfect for a blade you want to beat on. The steel is hardened between 53-55 HRC on the Ontario also did a good job with the heat treatment as the blade is easy to sharpen and the edge you put on it can slice through paper. A non-reflective black finish makes the knife stealthy and helps protect it from the elements.
The Falcons large blade is 4.25 inches in length (over 50% of the lenght of the knife) and over a quarter of an inch thick. I can't stress enough how tough the 5160 steel and thickness of the blade make this knife. I was able to baton down a small sappling when I was field testing the knife. There was no damage to the blade and after a few swipes on the whetstone it was as sharp as ever. The blade has a very broad belly and a drop point shape. There is a small choil located on the ricasso but it's too small and you run the risk of having your finger slide onto the blade if you try to use it. The choil is really my only beef, other than that it's a good blade designed for hard work.
Handle, Grip, and Feel
Ontario tends to keep it simple with their handles and the Falcon is no exception. A pair of green micarta slabs screwed to the tang constitute your grip. The handle swells in the middle and despite being under 4 inches in length it fills your hand. Micarta is pretty standard as handle materials go. It's durable and provides a solid grip. The handle slabs are lined flush with the tang, so your hand won't get rubbed raw after heavy use either. I dunked the knife and my hands in a bucket of water and shaved some wood with it... there were no problems with slippage. The design is no frills but it gets the job done.
The area where this knife needs major improvement is the sheath; it's awful, even by production sheath standards. The sheath is made of nylon and kydex, with a plastic insert for retention. The plastic does hold the blade in, but unfortunately the the sheath doesn't hold the plastic; you'll end up drawing insert out with your blade. Apparently, this is a common problem with this sheath so be advised. the plastic also rubs against the blade which doesn't help if you want to keep your knife sharp. These problems combine to make the Falcon's sheath almost unusable. I strongly recommend going with a custom sheath. How Ontario could design such a failure of a sheath after making such a great knife blows my mind. It's obvious there was next to no thought put into it as some simple testing could have exposed this problem and it wouldn't have been hard to fix.
The sheath really detracts from the overall grade of the knife. I love the knife itself but if I'm gonna pay good money for a fixed blade knife, I don't want to settle for a sheath that is unusable. I love the falcons design, it's got that broad belly that a staple of Ontario Knives and it's simplicity is refreshing, as I think a lot of production knives try to include too many bells and whistles and end up cluttering up the knife. It's a great little knife for the outdoors and it's a shame Ontario didn't put more effort into the sheath.
Check out the Ontario Ranger Falcon at Knifehog.com.