TOPS are a relatively new brand to the BA Blades family but they have not disappointed! Hailing from Idaho, USA, the knives are designed, manufactured and hand finished at their facility right in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, if that isn’t the perfect setting for dreaming up and creating knives I don’t know what is.
TOPS have one objective – create the highest quality of knives possible – drawing upon the extensive knowledge and real-life experiences of their designers, each an expert in their own field.
Upon opening, the first thing that jumped out at me was the striking contrast between the black traction coated blade (a hallmark of TOPS blades) and the bright satin finish on the sharpened top edge. It’s a really (figuratively speaking) eye-catching piece! The blade itself is a 3.75” clip point style constructed from 1095 Carbon Tool Steel, with an up-swept spine culminating into a needle sharp point. One thing to note is that the top edge of the knife, while sharp isn’t razor sharp from the factory like the main cutting edge.
In the hand the Cockpit Commander felt comfortable, the black linen micarta scales are nice and chunky and offer substantial grip, even without using the finger hole you can tell it’s not going anywhere. An indent on the scales guides your hand into position by acting as an index reference point. White fiber liners add to the contrast theme and give the knife a lux feel.
This piece, as the name suggests was created originally to be used in emergency situations by pilots and in-flight marshals in situations where dropping or having the knife taken simply isn’t an option. This is where the finger hole comes into play. The knife can be held in a variety of grips and none feel unnatural in any way. The jimping on this is really pronounced and allows for excellent control. By swapping the grip from thumb-on-top to having the index finger on top you can really choke up the choil and the knife can be used for utilitarian tasks that require precision.
The accompanying sheath is made from Kydex which is an in increasingly common material for high end manufacturers now, and for good reason – Kydex is impervious to the elements and won’t rot, crack or warp. The Cockpit Commanders sheath is textured and grippy and feels lightweight yet sturdy. On the back there is a rotating steel clip for a multitude of carry options, in-pocket, belt, boot, or as a tactical vest attachment.
As if that wasn’t enough the Cockpit Commander comes with a TOPs Survival whistle, while I didn’t test it – for fear of being ejected from the warm office into the rain – it can reach an impressive 126 decibels! The whistle has a chain attachment so this is something I would definitely consider attaching to my keys. Also included in the box is a certificate of authenticity with detailed care instructions on the back, this is a company that isn’t just churning out sub-par knives to be replaced every few months, this is a company that WANT their knife to last a lifetime. To me that screams value for money.