ABOVE : With the upswept ulu-style blade, there is a workable belly straight forward of the grip.
I am not a winter person, far from it. I would take blue skies and 80s every day for the rest of my life if I could. However, every year I do find myself longing for a short burst of winter in November. That time of year is when we all get together at deer camp and swap big stories and even bigger lies.
Each year, everyone asks me what new knife I have, and this year I am looking forward to introducing the TOPS Knives' Quick Skin to camp. I am sure it will receive a warm welcome. Not every year is a boon for our camp, but it is important to us all, as it is a time for family and friends to get together and fulfill an important pastime together.
Of course, one of the big parts of deer camp is the processing of the harvested game throughout the week, and everybody tends to get in on the action for the sake of expediency. While there are tasks that can be done without a knife - for example, you can peel the hide off without a knife, although it is easier with one - most every job during processing requires a good knife.
For this reason, the hunting knife has been one of the most designed and manufactured knives throughout history in the hunt for the perfect solution, and every designer's take on it is completely different.
"IT IS PURPOSE-BUILT AS A TRUE FIELD SKINNER THAT CAN GET THE JOB DONE..."
In steps the TOPS Knives' Quick Skin, a purpose-built knife with one function: process game. Unfortunately, at the writing of this article, it is blue skies and 70s, which means that processing game is an impossibility at this time.
If you have read any of my articles, you know that I prefer to put a knife through a solid battery of tests before writing about it; however, I will have to draw from my experience and knowledge base for this one.
Fortunately, I know the quality and performance of TOPS Knives, so I am very comfortable discussing the virtues of the Quick Skin.
ABOVE : The combination of the ULU and Nessmuk style blades gives the Quick Skin a very wide profile with many options.
There are two knife styles that I have always felt were the quintessential hunting knives, the ulu and the Nessmuk.
Right out of the gate, the Quick Skin tapped into both of those styles to make a combination that draws from the strengths of each, while adding a few of its own.
The 3.5-inch blade of the Quick Skin has an elongated edge, spanning approximately 1.5 inches before sweeping up to provide a nice, deep, ulu-style belly. This elongated edge provides ample room for chores that would be difficult with the full belly of the ulu, while the deep belly is perfect for skinning and deep slicing tasks.
"THE QUICK SKIN FEATURES A FULL FLAT GRIND, WHICH PRODUCES A HAIR SPLITTING EDGE BEVEL THAT IS IDEAL FOR SLICING AND SKINNING TASKS."
The Quick Skin features a full flat grind, which produces a hair splitting edge bevel that is ideal for slicing and skinning tasks. That combined with the Cerakote coating allows for the Quick Skin to glide through its subject matter with little to no resistance.
The spine profile has a very pronounced modified Nessmuk flair, which helps facilitate a couple of different purposes. With the high, hump back of the Nessmuk style, the tip of the Quick Skin is far less pronounced, which is ideal when first gutting your game.
Too sharp of a point on the tip can run the risk of puncturing the gut sack and ruining the meat, while the broader tip of the Quick Skin will allow for less risk of accidental punctures that could destroy the meat or the hide, if you intend to keep it.
With an overall length of 7.13 inches, the Quick Skin is very nimble in the hand and can access tight spots within the cavity of your game during field cleaning. The oversized lanyard hole at the butt of the Quick Skin allows for the lanyard to be doubled up, creating a loop for the hand, while still being able to move freely.
During extended use of any tool, fatigue can be a factor and knives are no different. The Quick Skin was designed with this in mind. The handle is designed with a well-placed finger choil and indent for the following three fingers, while the nice hump on the spine of the handle fills the palm perfectly.
With the upswept blade at the belly, there is a comfortable working edge directly forward and centered with the hand, allowing for slicing and skinning tasks in tough-to-reach spots. This also keeps the tip at an upward angle, helping ensure that you don't experience accidental punctures.
|Tactical Operational Products (TOPS Knives) Quick Skin "ULU" SPECIFICATIONS|
|OVERALL LENGTH||7.13 INCHES|
|BLADE LENGTH||3.5 INCHES|
|CUTTING EDGE||3.5 INCHES|
|BLADE THICKNESS||0.19 INCHES|
|BLADE STEEL||1095 RC 56-58|
|BLADE FINISH||TUMBLE FINISH|
|HANDLE MATERIAL||BLUE/BLACK 610|
|HANDLE STYLE||DRAGONFLY TREAD|
|KNIFE WEIGHT||6.6 OUNCES|
|SHEATH MATERIAL||BLACK KYDEX|
|SHEATH CLIP||BETA LOOPS|
The ergonomics of the handle, combined with the Micarta scales with Dragonfly Tread pattern, work together to fit the hand perfectly for extended use with little fatigue or hot spot development.
The Dragonfly pattern is fairly new to the TOPS Knives line and helps to add an extra level of grip, with the fingers fitting nicely into the grooves. The curvature of the grip also allows for a very comfortable backwards grip with the blade facing outwards for cuttings tasks that require a chest pull method of cutting.
ABOVE : The full flat grind creates an almost distal taper effect at the tip of the blade.
The web of the hand fits very nicely into the finger choil, while the humped back spine fills the fingers very well for a very natural grip The combination of ulu and Nessmuk styles also creates a very broad edge profile, with the widest spot being approximately 1.75 inches.
This broad profile makes it easy to grasp the blade itself between your thumb and fingers for finer, more detailed work, or scraping/skinning jobs. The top of the spine also includes jimping at the thumb and on the drop point for enhanced control while the blade is wet.
The ulu is an all-purpose, deep-bellied knife used by Inuit, Yup'ik and Aleut women for many different tasks from skinning and cleaning game to cutting hair and building igloos.
The deep belly of the ulu combined with the handle perpendicular to the blade, provides more pounds per square inch on every portion of the edge, requiring less strength to utilize and creating less fatigue during extended use.
It is typically a very thin blade, giving it a very keen edge. The keen edge combined with the rounded blade, make for the perfect slicing knife.
George W. Sears (1821-1890) was a writer for Forest and Stream Magazine in the 1880s under the pen name "Nessmuk." Healso authored a book on camping titled "Woodcraft" which is still popular today in wilderness survival circles.
It is unclear where the "Nussmuk" knife originated, but illustrations of it can be seen in his book along with a small axe of his design and a large Moose pattern folding knife.
Sears was known for having knives made from his own specifications. It is known that Sears preferred thinner knives with keen edges and smaller, more useable size lengths.
The 1095 high carbon steel blade has a tumble finish to give it a rustic look before having a protective Cerakote coating applied.
Utilizing the 1095 high carbon steel and TOPS Knives superior heat treating, the Quick Skin is tough enough to complete every aspect of the game processing from start to finish, including separating joints and splitting the pelvic bone with some light batoning. Utilizing a high carbon steel also makes it easier to maintain your knife in the field, should the need arise. However, due to the nature of high carbon, it is susceptible to rust and must be properly maintained and oiled.
Since its purpose is the processing of meat and potentially other food products, I recommend using edible oils, such as vegetable oil or olive oil to preserve the edge.
Although I am a fan of a leather sheath on a hunting knife, because it adds to the overall feel of its purpose, the Kydex sheath provided with the Quick Skin has enough merits to be worth the departure. The sheath for the Quick Skin utilizes the new Beta Loops with Pull The Dot snap enclosures, allowing for multiple carry options, from scout carry, inside the waist band carry, cross draw, dangler and many other options limited only by your own imagination.
If you prefer a more streamline approach, the straps can be removed easily, and the sheath with knife will become narrow enough to slip into a pocket or pack with very little footprint.
As with any knife, the hunting knife is a very subjective tool that speaks to everyone differently. With many varying styles of processing game, there is no way to truly find the one knife that will work for everyone.
However, there are features that can make a given hunting knife more effective and better at its purpose than others. I believe that the TOPS Knives Quick Skin has incorporated some time-tested and approved features that put it high on the list of knives that can cover a myriad of different tastes and styles. With its ulu blade and modified Nessmuk spine profile, the Quick Skin not only has a very classic look, but is purpose-built as a true field skinner that can get the job done from start to finish.