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Knife Review: TOPS Bull Trout Fixed Blade Knife

Knife Review: TOPS Bull Trout Fixed Blade Knife

Posted by SD on Oct 1st 2020

The TOPS Bull Trout Fixed Blade Knife

In late 1998, TOPS Knives was founded with a mission to create the highest-quality knives around. Their knives are tools, designed and built using the extensive knowledge and real-life experiences of many operators with backgrounds in military, law enforcement, outdoor professions, and martial arts. Specifically, they have worked with designers with backgrounds ranging from Navy Seals to Airborne Rangers, from martial arts instructors to survival experts, and from SWAT Team Members to Native American weapons experts. They have a designer from nearly every background that uses hard-core knives. Perhaps the best part, all TOPS fixed blades are manufactured and hand-finished at their facility in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, USA.

Their knives have been requested and deployed in “Hot Spots” all over the world. Numerous individuals who are or were field operators use or have used their knives and report top performance and reliability from times when their life depend on the tools, they had with them.

Their mission is to create the highest-quality, rugged, unique, overbuilt, and functional tools for service members and outdoorsmen of all kinds through their superior manufacturing, finishing processes, and genuine field operators’ testing.

They have a vision to provide their clients with tools they can trust completely to exceed their expectations every time. Their values include American integrity, quality, durability, performance, and consistency.

Today we will be discussing the Tops Bull trout Fixed Blade knife, which is a new arrival at BladeOps.

TOPS Bull Trout

The Blade:

The blade on this knife has been made out of 154CM stainless steel. This is a high-end steel, although it is not a premium steel or a super steel. This excellent steel is made by Crucible Industries, which is a steel manufacturer known making steels that excel when used on pocket knives and other high-end cutlery.

The steel itself has become known as a superior version of 440C. Crucible achieved this superiority by adding in Molybdenum, which is known to create the hardness that leads to the great edge-holding capabilities. While the Molybdenum does reduce the levels of Chromium in the steel, which is used to increase corrosion resistance, the Molybdenum takes care of it all and has the same corrosion resistance that it would in the first place. 154CM steel does have enough toughness for nearly any use.

All in all, this steel is good. It is going to get the job done, plus a little bit more. The steel will be good enough for nearly anything that you encounter, allowing your trust levels to be high with this blade.

The blade has been finished with a tumbled finish. This finish is nearly the same as a stonewash finish, because it has been tumbled around with small stones to create the same textured look that we have come to know with the stonewash finish. The textured look is going to provide some great benefits. For starters, the textured appearance is going to hide any scratch and smudges, which will make this is a lower maintenance knife. This is important with a knife that you are going to be using in the field, because you never know what you are going to encounter, or what is going to end up on your blade.

The finish also looks more rugged than some of the finishes that you are going to find, which is ideal for a knife that is classic, yet tough. This is one that you are going to be using in the field, so you want it to match that style.

This tumbled finish is also a darker finish, which means that it will cut down on some of the glares and reflections that you come across. This is important with an outdoors knife, because you don’t want any glares giving away your position.

The blade has been carved into a drop point blade shape. The drop point blade shape is known for being versatile and durable. It makes the ideal shape for a knife that is going to be used in the field as much as the Bull Trout fixed blade should be.

For starters, the spine of the blade curves very slowly to the point. On the spine, there is also a row of thicker jimping. The jimping on the spine is going to give you the control that you need when the going gets messy or tough. The gentle slope of the spine does create a slightly lowered point. The lowered point is going to give you slightly more control over your cuts, which may be crucial if you are in the field. The Bull Trout has been designed to take on some of the toughest things, including skinning game. The lowered point and the control it adds is going to allow you to easily skin game without worrying about piercing any of the internal organs.

The point on the drop point is broad as well. The point is thicker, which also means that it is going to be stronger. This is a crucial aspect of the TOPS knife, because it allows you to have the strength and durability to take on some of the harder tasks. The last major advantage of the drop point is how large the belly is. The large belly provides you with plenty of surface area which will allow slicing to be a breeze.

The blade has been finished with a plain edge. This is the more commonly found edge on knives; essentially, it is a long, continuous edge that has been sharpened. The benefits of this are that it is going to be easier to sharpen, because you do not have to worry about the teeth like you would on a serrated blade. It is also easier to get a finer edge on a plain edge, versus a serrated edge. Really though, the biggest benefit that the plain edge offers is that it equips you to take on the widest variety of tasks. This is because the plain edge is going to excel at slicing, or push cuts, which are the more commonly used movement when it comes to using a knife.

The Handle:

The handle on this has been made out of burlap micarta handles. This material is created when thin layers of burlap are soaked in a phenolic resin and then set. This process creates a material that is strong, lightweight (which is crucial for a knife that you are going to be carrying with you into the field), and even looks classy. It is able to look classier than most other knife handle materials because it is the burlap that shows through, instead of a plastic-y looking material. This material is also durable and tough, which is exactly what you will need out of a fixed blade.

While micarta does have plenty of great aspects, it does have a few drawbacks. The absolute biggest one is that when the process is first finished, it doesn’t have any surface texture. This means that a lot of time and hand labor is going to need to go into carving in texture on this handle, which is going to make it a more expensive product. One of the other bigger drawbacks that micarta has is that it does tend to be brittle. This means that if subjected to too hard or sharp of an impact, it may begin to break down and crack.

The burlap that is used is a darker brown, almost the color of wood. This creates a classic appearance for the TOPS Bull Trout that you wouldn’t be able to find if the handle weren’t made out of natural materials.

The handle is shaped rather simply. The spine has a very slight curve to it, the butt is rounded. The belly is unique because it actually starts off very thin. The handle and the blade have formed a sort of deep and thick finger groove. After that the handle does curve slightly in, which will allow this knife to fit more comfortably in your hand. At the butt of the handle, there is a large lanyard hole that will fit nearly any lanyard that you do come across.

The Mechanism:

This TOPS knife is a fixed blade, which comes with a variety of benefits. The first is that the blade has the ability to be longer and thicker. This is because it does not have to fit inside of the handle, like a folding knife does. This means that the blade is going to be more durable, stronger, and more reliable. The blade is going to be able to take on tougher tasks than the smaller blades of a folding knife would.

The next major advantage is that the blade and knife are going to be easier to clean and maintain than a folding knife. This is partly because there are no small moving parts, or even any parts on the inside, that can begin to break down or rust. This means that cleaning is going to be easier, because you don’t have to worry about cleaning the insides. All you really have to do to maintain the Bull Trout is wipe down the blade and the handle. Occasionally, you will want to oil the blade as well. As always, make sure that the blade is clean and dry before you put it back in the leather sheath.

Also, the fixed blade is able to just be larger in general than a folding knife. This means that you will be able to take on those tougher tasks that folding knives cannot handle.

The Sheath:

The sheath that accompanies this knife fixed blade is made out of a chocolate brown colored leather. Leather is definitely known as one of the more traditional materials that sheaths are made out of. Leather is known to be rugged, tough, and strong. This is not going to break apart the way that plastic does. And, if the stitches happen to come undone, you can easily re-sew them. Leather is also going to provide a custom fit for your Bull Trout fixed blade once it has been broken in. Not only that, but it is going to be completely silent. You will be able to pull the Bull Trout fixed blade in or out and not have it make a sound. This is idea for those outdoor lovers that don’t want to disturb the wilderness. It is also perfect for hunters who don’t want to scare away their potential game. Lastly, when cared for, leather has an incredible aesthetic. When taken care of correctly, it is only going to look better with age.

Of course, leather is also going to have some disadvantages. The first is that it is not a waterproof material. If it is exposed to water often, it can dry out, which will lead the leather to crack. Leather is also not heat resistant. The same thing is going to happen, the oils can dry out and cause it to crack. Luckily for us, a simple oil occasionally is going to make the leather last longer and age a little better.

The Specs:

The blade on this TOPS fixed blade measures in at 2.75 inches long with a thickness that measures in at 0.13 inches thick. The overall length of the Bull Trout measures in at 6.13 inches long. The overall weight of it comes in at 3.1 ounces. This knife was proudly made in the United States of America.


This fixed blade knife features burlap micarta handles, a drop point style blade in a tumbled finish and includes a chocolate brown leather sheath.

The Bull Trout was the winner of the 3rd annual TOPS employee design challenge where Martin Murillo took his years of experience as an avid outdoorsman and fisherman to create a utility knife that can be carried by all. Enjoy great edge retention with the stainless-steel blade swap and feel confident in your grip thanks to the grippy burlap micarta handle scales.

This knife is currently in stock at BladeOps. Click here to purchase it today