Smith and Wesson knives vs. Ontario Knife Company knives

Gear

Smith and Wesson and Ontario Knife Company each has a rich heritage that dates back to the 19th century. Both companies produce expensive and varied collections of knives.

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Are Smith and Wesson or Ontario Knife Company knives best? 

There are a few similarities between Smith and Wesson (S&W) and Ontario Knife Company (OKC). Both are known for their folding and outdoor fixed blade knives and both companies have long histories in manufacturing tactical goods and accessories. They each produce a wide range of knife designs made for various purposes. S&W products are more tactical and military-focused, whereas OKC has a broader range that also encompasses outdoor activities, such as hunting, camping and fishing.

Smith and Wesson knives

The Smith and Wesson brand is better known as a firearms manufacturer than a knife maker. Nowadays, S&W knives are sold and manufactured by the Taylor Cutlery company and are targeted at the military, rescue, police and everyday carry (EDC) markets. These knives are generally affordable and represent good value for money, with most costing between $15-$40. Some high-end models, such as those in their “Performance Center” range cost between $100-$180.

Smith and Wesson knives pros

One thing you get with Smith and Wesson products is the name, as this is synonymous with American tradition and the Old West. They use modern innovations in their products, including Teflon blade coatings and tactical, sand and satin finishes on their handles. They also have a wide range of products within the tactical genre, including boot knives, throwing knives, survival knives, bayonets and folding knives. 

Smith and Wesson knives cons

Smith and Wesson has come under some criticism for moving its production to Asia. Some people have gotten upset because Smith and Wesson is supposed to be a quintessentially American brand. With that said, the manufacturing quality is very good overall and all the design, innovations and proprietary technology is created on American soil. Foreign manufacture has also brought prices down. Smith and Wesson has lost some of its reputation as a maker of boutique products, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing as far as the consumer is concerned.

Best Smith and Wesson knife

Smith & Wesson Border Guard 10-inch High Carbon S.S. Folding Knife

Smith & Wesson Border Guard 10-inch High Carbon S.S. Folding Knife.

One of the brand’s most popular knives is the Smith & Wesson Border Guard Folding Knife. This is unsurprising, as it is one of the most versatile models in the range, with its folding 4.5-inch carbon tanto blade and sturdy aluminum handle. It is suitable for everyday carry purposes, as well as tactical and survival pursuits and it even has a cord cutter integrated into the handle.

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Ontario Knife Company knives

You could be forgiven for thinking the Ontario Knife Company has Canadian origins, however, it was founded in Naples, New York in 1889. Since then it has provided blades for the US military in two world wars and expanded to create chef’s knives, sporting knives, industrial and agricultural tools and scientific instruments. These knives are high in quality and that is reflected in the price, with small folding models starting at around $30. Midrange knives cost between $40-$60, with some specialist items costing well over $100. 

Ontario Knife Company knives pros

The Ontario Knife Company is very innovative and prides itself in its manufacturing methods and specialized techniques. This leads to a high standard of products across the board that are built with durability in mind. OKC knives are generally traditional in their styling, with familiar profiles for their fixed-blade hunting knives, survival knives and machetes. The materials used are of the highest quality, including handles made of hickory, micarta titanium and Kraton and blades made of coated AUS-8 and high-carbon stainless steel.

Ontario Knife Company knives cons

Ontario Knife Company products are basic, and as such are limited in their functionality. They tend to produce tools specific to the task, and most of the OKC fixed-blade range, whether it’s a bayonet, machete, Bowie knife or hand ax, is a cutting tool, plain and simple. Their folding designs are also basic, with fewer additional features like openers, serrations, clips and assisted opening mechanisms. This is no bad thing if you are simply looking for a high-quality and durable blade, but OKC knives are not the most versatile tools.

Best Ontario Knife Company knife

Ontario Knife Company 8848 Rat I

Ontario Knife Company 8848 Rat I

The Ontario Knife Company Rat I is an excellent example of a basic, everyday carry folding knife. It is highly compact, with a 3.5-inch blade and measures just 5 inches when closed. It is lightweight at 8.5 ounces and has an ergonomically sculpted handle that feels positive to grip. The handle is made of durable nylon and the locking blade is high-quality AUS-8 stainless steel. This knife is a simple but useful tool that will come in handy in all kinds of circumstances, whether at home or on the trail.

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Should you get a Smith and Wesson knife or an Ontario Knife Company knife?

Which knife you should get largely depends on what you want to use it for. While there are certainly several similarities between Smith and Wesson knives and Ontario Knife Company products, S&W is certainly targeted more at consumers who purchase tactical gear and engage in survival, hunting and outbound pursuits. S&W knives are also more affordable than their equivalent OKC products, so they will appeal to the minds and wallets of those who use their knives occasionally and casually. 

As anyone who owns more than one knife will attest, knives are beautiful and well-crafted tools that can last a lifetime if properly cared for. If you use a knife professionally, on expeditions or might come to rely on one in a survival situation, then it’s worth spending extra money on one. Having a robust, durable and well-built model that won’t let you down at a crucial moment is important. For these reasons, Ontario Knife Company knives come out on top, as they represent good value for money and appeal to serious collectors, hobbyists and professionals alike.

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Luke Mitchell writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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