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Ontario Knife Company RAT II vs. ESEE Zancudo

  • Total Score for the OCK RAT II
  • Total Score for the ESEE Zancudo
In this detailed head to head review, I will be comparing the Ontario Knife Company/Randall Adventure Training (OKC/RAT) II folding knife to the ESEE/Blue Ridge Knives Zancudo folding knife.

You should check both of these knives out on Amazon before digging right into the details and scoring, so you can gain a greater understanding of the critique that I apply to them.

You can see the Ontario RAT II here and the ESEE Zancudo here.

FYI, the OKC RAT II was designed by Mike Perrin & Jeff Randall of ESEE and is manufactured under license by OKC.

okc-rat-ii-blade

It measures 4″ closed and weighs 2.8 ounces and it features a flat ground, 3″, Drop Point blade made from AUS-8 stainless steel hardened to 57-59 Rockwell with a non-serrated edge, a satin finish, and a reversible thumb stud.

In addition, it features textured black Nylon 6 (fiber reinforced nylon/FRN) handle scales with a Frame Lock liner lock and a reversible, tip up/tip down, pocket clip. Last, the OKC RAT II retails for $46.95.

The ESEE/Blue Ridge Zancudo (Spanish for Mosquito) folder on the other hand, was designed by Mike Perrin & Jeff Randall of ESEE and is manufactured in Taiwan by Proceeding Manufacture which is owned and operated by Paul Lin and is imported under license by Blue Ridge Knives. It measures 4″ closed and weighs 3.1 ounce and features a flat ground, 3″, Drop Point blade made from AUS-8 stainless steel (Rockwell Hardness unknown) with a non-serrated edge and either a stonewashed or black finish along with dual thumb studs.

esee-zancudo-blade

In addition, it features a single black, desert tan, coyote brown, or orange, G10 handle scale with a Frame Lock liner lock, a right hand, stonewashed, tip up/tip down pocket clip, and a lanyard hole for added convenience.

Lastly, the ESEE/Blue Ridge Zancudo retails for $43.95 to $44.95 depending the handle scale chosen.

Video Review of the RAT II & ESEE Zancudo

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Ontario RAT 2 vs ESEE Zancudo

Aesthetics – The OKC RAT II or the ESSE Zancudo?

While I do like the blade design on both of these knives, there are several aspects of each knife that I do not care for at all.

okc-rat-ii-pivot

For instance, I really dislike the way that the center line of the blade is positioned above the center line of the handle on the OKC RAT II and I really don't care for the deep dip in the handle of both knives even though I am aware that it is there to facilitate access to the liner lock lever.

Also, although both companies say that the dip in the handle is present to make the handle more ergonomic, if you will examine your own hand, you will immediately notice that your index finger is much longer than your little finger and therefore, it seems to me that this argument is not at all valid.

esee-zancudo-pivot

I would like the OKC RAT II much better if the center line of the blade were positioned lower as it should be and I would like the handle of both knives much better if they would eliminate the dip so the handle would do a better job of filling the user's hand.

Furthermore, I really dislike the fact the ESEE/Blue Ridge Zancudo only has a single handle scale on one side of the knife and leaves the other side exposed since it seems to me that, with a little creative positioning of the screws, a second handle scale could easily be attached to the other side and still allow the Frame Lock to operate as intended.

OKC RAT II – 5/10 vs. ESEE/Blue Ridge Zancudo – 3/10

Blade Design

First of all, I simply do not understand why the designers made the blades on both of these knives so short since it seems to me that a 3″ blade is better suited to a slipjoint pocket knife than it is to Lock Back folding knife.

In fact, the Boker Large Stockman that I carry as my every-day-carry knife has three inch Clip Point blade and thus, if I were going to carry a Lockback, then I would want the blade to be at least 3 1/2″.

Having said that, I also have to say that I like the blade design on the OKC RAT II much better than I do the blade design on the ESEE/Blue Ridge Zancudo simply because I find it to be much more aesthetically pleasing.

OKC RAT II – 6/10 vs. ESEE/Blue Ridge Zancudo – 4/10

Blade Steel

For a thorough introduction to blade steel you should read our article “Blade Steel Composition; what makes one blade steel superior to another?“.

AUS-8 (aka 8A) is a Japanese-made, high-carbon, stainless steel that is both reasonably tough and highly corrosion resistant and it is commonly used on knives that will see hard use.

In addition, it contains 0.70 – 0.75% Carbon, 13% – 14.5% Chromium, 0.10% – 0.30% Molybdenum, 0.10% – 0.26% Vanadium, 0.5 % Manganese, and 0.49% Nickel and is typical hardened to 57-59 Rockwell.

Therefore, at this hardness, it will do an excellent job of holding an edge and yet, still remain reasonably tough.

However, with a Chromium content of 13% – 14.5%, it is just barely above the 12% Chromium content required to create a “stainless” steel and thus, this would normally make it a fairly corrosion resistant blade steel.

But, it also contains a small amount of Nickel which increases both the strength and corrosion resistance of the steel and thus, AUS-8 tends to rival 440C in corrosion resistance.

This steel contains Molybdenum which combines with Chromium during the forging process to create hard, double-carbide, bonds which increase the strength, toughness, abrasion resistance, and tensile strength of the steel.

It also contains Vanadium which serves to refine the grain structure and thus, this steel can be honed to a fine edge and will hold it quite well.

So, for folding knife blades that will be subject to a myriad of different environments and uses throughout their lifetime as well as to the humidity generated by the human body when carried in a pocket all day, AUS-8 is actually an excellent choice of blade steels.

OKC RAT II – 7/10 vs. ESEE/Blue Ridge Zancudo – 7/10

Handle Material

I have noted that the handle scales on the RAT II are listed as being made of nylon 6 whereas, the handle scales on the ESEE/Blue Ridge are listed as being made of G10.

okc-rat-ii-scalesHowever, both of these handle materials are essentially the same thing with the exception that G10 is available from the manufacturer either with or without fiber reinforcement.

esee-zancudo-scales

However, it has been my experience that this handle material is nearly as tough as the steel the blades are made from and thus, it is an excellent choice for folding knife handles that will see hard use since it is a strong, highly abrasion resistant, material that will not chip, split, or crack and is also impervious to the absorption of moisture and thus, it will not swell over time.

OKC RAT II – 8/10 vs. ESEE/Blue Ridge Zancudo – 8/10

Locking Mechanisms

Concerning locking mechanisms, both of these knives feature a Frame Lock liner lock which is similar to the Walker-style liner lock invented by Michael Walker for use on electrician's knives to lock the screwdriver blade in place.

However, instead of using the liner of the knife to lock the blade in place, the Frame Lock is designed in such a way that a long groove is milled through the frame from the blade's pivot pin toward the pommel of the handle so that the top half of the handle rests tightly against the side of the blade's tang so that when the blade is opened, the top half of the frame moves in behind the blade's tang and locks in the open position.

Consequently, the Frame Lock is actually considerably stronger than the Liner Lock.

Therfore, this type of locking mechanism makes opening and closing the blade with one hand a very easy task.

OKC RAT II – 7/10 vs. ESEE/Blue Ridge Zancudo – 7/10

Value for the Money

When it comes to weighing the value of these two knives, I find that they are so close to each other in blade materials, handle materials, and retail price that there is essentially no difference between the value of each knife for the money.

Thus, I am inclined to rate each knife equally in this category.

OKC RAT II – 9/10 vs. ESEE/Blue Ridge Zancudo – 9/10

Personal Preference and Gut Feeling

As I mentioned earlier, I find that each of these knives has aspects that I both like and don’t like.

okc-rat-II-wood

On the other hand, I also have to say that both knives are made by companies with a solid reputation for producing quality knives and indeed, each of these knives incorporates materials that I feel are imminently well suited for their intended use.

However, I have a distinct preference for the OKC RAT II over the ESEE/Blue Ridge Zancudo because I like the blade design much better and I really dislike the fact the Zancudo only has a handle scale on one side.

OKC RAT II – 7/10 vs. ESEE/Blue Ridge Zancudo – 5/10

Total Scores

Last, in adding up the numbers, I see that these two knives are reasonably close to each other in total scores on the Folding Knife HQ rating system but, the RAT II has a slightly higher score than the Zancudo which is what I had expected when I started this article.

esee-zancudo-wood

However, I could not really be certain of that until I had objectively examined each individual aspect of each knife.

Total 7
OKC RAT II
  • Aesthetics 5
  • Blade Design 6
  • Blade Steel 7
  • Handle Material 8
  • Locking Mechanisms 7
  • Value for Money 9
  • Personal Preference 7
Total 6.1
ESEE Zancudo
  • Aesthetics 3
  • Blade Design 4
  • Blade Steel 7
  • Handle Material 8
  • Locking Mechanisms 7
  • Value for Money 9
  • Personal Preference 5

1 comment… add one
  • Cliff Matthews

    Good Review. I have 2 OKC RAT I s that I really like for “bug out” situations but find, as a comfortable EDC, they are a bit large. Now I have ordered an OKC RAT II to try that and your review has given me hope.
    Thanks for the excellent review!
    Cliff

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