March 1, 2024

BLUF

The TOPS Fieldcraft 154 Stainless fixed blade knife is a rugged tool for use in the field or around the yard. It has a 4.75 inch, full-tang, Scandi-grind blade made of 154CM stainless steel. With a price of $295 at the time of this writing, it is not cheap in terms of either price or quality. It has earned a place among my gear as my go-to camping knife.

Background

A little more than a year ago, I tested the TOPS Mini Scandi Folder 4. The resulting review was later published in SurvivalBlog. I liked the Mini Scandi Folder a lot. In fact, I liked the knife so much so that I gave it to my son, who is in the military. I thought that it might be useful to him during his next deployment.

Based on that positive experience, I took a look at some other TOPS knife designs to see if they had anything else that looked especially interesting. The Fieldcraft 154 caught my eye. I contacted TOPS to see if they could provide me with a sample for testing and evaluation. They were kind enough to agree. About a week later a package arrived in the mail.

First Impressions

One of the first things I noticed on the product box was the claim “101% Made in the USA”. I am not quite sure where they got the extra 1%, but it is always gratifying to test American-made products.

The product box contained the knife in a sturdy black Kydex sheath and a small bottle of HP100 knife oil. The G10 handle of the knife is black as well. The G10 is textured in a way that strongly reminds me of the canvas micarta handle of the Mini Scandi Folder that I previously reviewed. It is a very attractive and comfortable texture that provides an excellent grip.

The tumble finish on the 4.75 inch 154CM stainless steel blade is quite attractive. Jimping on the back of the blade just in front of the handle helps to give better control of the blade during more precise cutting tasks.

The sheath has a spring steel belt clip that makes it simple to attach or detach the sheath from a belt without the need to remove the belt. There is a holder on the front of the sheath which contains a ferrocerium rod. The blade arrived generously oiled.

The knife comes with a fairly typical limited lifetime warranty that guarantees it to be free from defects in materials and workmanship. The warranty quite reasonably restricts the use of the knife “to prudent and applicable functions” and notes that any “misuse of this knife other than to fulfill normal ‘knife-like’ functions will result in voiding of this warranty.” I must confess that on occasion I have used knives as hammers, screwdrivers, pry bars, and a host of other tools for a variety of non-knife-like functions. Knife companies would be well justified in excluding me from their warranties.

The knife was designed by the Brothers of Bushcraft, a coalition of seven men from across North America who specialize in bushcraft and outdoor survival skills. My initial impression was that these men had done an excellent job in the design of this knife.

Testing

One of the first things I did to the knife was to polish the back of the blade with a sharpening stone. By making the edges along the back of the blade more acute, the knife became more effective at striking sparks with the ferrocerium rod.

Over the following weeks, I used the knife for a variety of tasks around the yard and in the field. Most of these were the boring tasks of everyday life. I used it to remove the plastic wrap from a new lawn mower blade before installing the blade on my mower. I cut the ends off a nylon rope so that I could get a clean end on the rope to melt in order to prevent fraying. And, like almost every other knife that I have ever owned, I used the 154 to open packages.

The knife really came into its own when I took it along on camping trips. This was particularly true in relation to starting campfires. The 154 was great at cutting shavings to use as kindling. It was outstanding at batoning wood to create additional kindling of various sizes ranging from slightly larger than shavings to roughly half the size of standard billets of firewood. Although for most tasks I tend to prefer saber grind over Scandi grind blades, the Scandi grind is pretty much the ideal blade form for especially tough camp tasks like batoning firewood.

The ferrocerium rod worked great for igniting waterproof tinder to get the blaze going once I had my kindling and fuel prepared.

The tough blade was excellent for log home maintenance as well. I had a log on the side of our home that was starting to show some signs of decay. I think the previous owner had stacked some firewood against the side of the house in that location, allowing moisture to collect there. I needed to cut decaying wood out of the log down to the sound wood beneath. When the decay was cut out, I could then patch the log with additional sound wood. This process required a blade that was both sharp and strong. The 154 was up to the task. It was also useful for shaping the replacement wood that would be used to fill the voids where decaying wood was cut away.

Sharpening

The tough 154CM blade takes and retains an edge quite well. But all of the batoning and cutting finally began to dull that edge. Rehoning the edge of a blade made of such hard steel requires a bit of perseverance. After four 20-minute sessions with the EdgePro Apex4 Sharpening System, the knife was once again shaving sharp.

Jehovah (Yahweh) is Salvation

While I was sharpening the knife out in the pole barn, a middle-aged couple drove up the driveway. This was a notable event, since uninvited visitors seldom find their way onto our property. The man got out of the car, handed me a piece of literature, and started talking. The somewhat disgruntled-looking woman remained in the vehicle.

It turned out that this couple was part of a religious group that claims to believe the Bible, but does not accept the deity of Jesus Christ. They were inviting me to an upcoming event put on by their group. I explained that I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I then noted that in Matthew 1:21, when an angel of the Lord told Joseph that Mary’s baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit, the angel told Joseph to name the child Jesus “for he [Jesus] shall save his [Jesus’] people from their sins.” I further noted that the name Jesus means, “Jehovah (Yahweh) is salvation”. So by saying that Joseph should give the child the name Jesus because the child would save His people from their sins, the angel was acknowledging that Jesus is Jehovah (Yahweh) who would save His people from their sins.

The man then said, “You have talked to people from my religious group before, haven’t you?” I affirmed the accuracy of that statement. He then asked for his piece of literature back, and got into his car to leave. As the couple was leaving, I expressed my desire that they would find eternal life in Jesus, Who is Jehovah (Yahweh) Who saves His people from their sins.

As a result of this interaction, my Fieldcraft 154 knife also serves as a reminder that the word of God is living and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword.

154CM

154CM is a higher-end American-made stainless steel developed by Crucible Industries of Solvay, New York. The steel consists of 80.15% iron, 14% chromium, 4% molybdenum, 1.05% carbon, 0.5% manganese, and 0.3% silicon. It is harder than most other stainless steels, and is also quite tough and corrosion-resistant. For those who have a good sharpening system that they know how to use well, it is an excellent blade steel choice. Those who are less comfortable with knife sharpening may be better served by a more easily sharpened steel like 420HC.

TOPS Knives

“TOPS” stands for “Tactical Operational Products.” The TOPS company is located in Ucon, Idaho. They advertise themselves as producing “Tools for professional military, law enforcement and survival experts.”

Conclusions

The TOPS Fieldcraft 154 knife is an outstanding fixed-blade knife for field, yard and home repair use. It is rugged, corrosion-resistant, and sharp. The Kydex sheath is just as rugged as the knife, and the included ferrocerium rod is an added bonus for field use. The 154 has become my go-to camping knife. If you are in the market for a somewhat-higher-end, tough, fixed-blade knife, this one would be a good choice.

Disclaimer

TOPS was kind enough to provide me with a sample of their Fieldcraft 154 Stainless Fixed Blade Knife for testing and evaluation. EdgePro provided me with a sample of their Apex 4 Sharpening System for a review that I wrote some months ago. I tried not to let the kindness of either TOPS or EdgePro interfere with the objectivity of my reviews, and I believe that I have succeeded. I did not receive any other financial or other inducement to mention any vendor, product, or service in this article.