TOPS Knives Frog Market Special Review

by | Sep 9, 2020 | cutlery and knife | 0 comments

Tops Frog Market Special on a tree stump with kydex sheath.

So TOPS Knives made an outdoor coke knife for some reason

This is at first a confusing knife. The handle and the cap mark this as a kind of camping or backpacking knife, but the actual shape of it looks more like the kitchen. Place the Frog Market Special in a row of hundreds of other fixed knife knives and you can choose it right away. It’s a refreshing thing to see in an industry that is getting saturated with tactical and survival knives so similar that companies are starting to blur in my head.

It also helps that the Frog Market Special is actually useful.

It was designed by Stephen Dick, who is probably best known as the author and editor of Tactical Life magazine. The inspiration for this knife came on a trip to Vietnam, where he saw many of the sellers at a fish market using a knife style to chop, slaughter and cut what was in their stall. Then he has come out with a rather interesting outdoor knife that can cut meat and fillet fish almost as easily as it chops vegetables.

specifications

  • Total length: 9.5 ”
  • Knife length: 5.2 ”
  • Handle length: 4.5 ”
  • Blade steel: 1095
  • Leaf finish: Black River Wash
  • Knife sharpening: Flat
  • Leaf style: Modified chef
  • Handle material: Micarta
  • Knife weight: 3.6 oz
  • Weight w / cape: 6.5 oz
  • Sheath: Kydex
  • Made in the USA
  • Price range: $ 85 – 110

Advantage

  • Simple, hard design and materials
  • Thin leaf slices well and irons easily
  • Light and easy to pack
  • Versatile fishing and cooking knife

Disadvantages

  • Can not wear right-handed scout style
  • Does not come super sharp
  • The rotating belt clip cannot be removed

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The blade and the edge

Frog Market Special butcher knife on a branch in the desert ready for some camping food preparation.

The edge is not spectacular outside the box, but the leaf mass is so thin that if you lay this on a rock or just strap a little, it will cut pretty clean.

But even after this point, there are some interesting things about how the edge behaves, and it may take a little tweaking on your part before it really starts to feel useful.

It seems that they intentionally made the upper part of the knife sharper, leaving the lower part with the belly a little more dull. So when working in detail like cutting a tendon into a piece of meat or cutting small fruits and vegetables, use the sharper end. You can get a cut started with the top of the blade, then push the knife up so that the thicker part can lighten the vegetable or meat slice smoothly.

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There’s probably a cool chef designation for that kind of haircut, but I’m not a chef. I’m just the idiot trying to make salsa on a tree stump.

The advantages of this blade style are that you can get a lot of work done with the dramatic curve. There is so much belly on this that you get a lot more leading edge than usual on a knife of this size. Once you get used to how things cut, it suddenly becomes a viable option for everything.

It does not work as well as the coke knives in my kitchen, but these knives do not have kydex jackets.

The handle

Frog Market Special Chef Knife Pinch Grip

The thin handle can become uncomfortable in a full grip, but it’s not the kind of knife you generally use in a full grip. Most of the time I have it in a pinch or something in between. What is much more important is that it is light and well balanced so that it is easy to hold on to when I move it around and move my hand in different positions.

The handle does not exactly go out of its way to be comfortable, but there is also nothing about it to get in the way of you. It’s a simple plate, and any way you need to hold it to get the job done is just as accessible. And it’s so light, it feels like the knife could dance in your hand.

TOPS could probably have added a few small features like thumb ramps or jimping or even a bit of a swell to the handle to make it a little more ergonomic, but I like this knife as it is. Maybe the few extra features would make it better (as long as they were done well), but there is something about the simplicity of these rectangular plates of Micarta rivet for steel with almost no frills. Whatever improvements could have been made to this handle, I am more than willing to take it as it is.

Check out the price at Blade HQ

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The vagina

This knife is to the right pull only in the front horizontal position.

It is simple, easy and versatile. It wears well on the belt so they have covered the basics well.

The restraint feels a little loose. There is quite a bit of scratching when I shake it, even though it has not yet fallen out or even loosened. Since the knife is so light, it does not take much pressure to hold it in place, so it is possible that I never have to worry about it.

The spring belt clip is the most notable feature on the jacket. It just sticks in the casing of a rotating pin, so it’s really easy to carry this knife at any angle you want. I’ve seen this on a few other TOPS Knife Caps, and I really like the idea except for one big problem: You can’t take it off.

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The spring belt clip on the jacket is nice, but it would be better if it was removable.

For the most part, this is not a big deal as this is not really a survival or hunting knife. It was not technically made for packing on long hikes. It’s primarily for cooking, so it does not really need to be optimized for quick implementation. But if you want to use a kydex cape, let’s change it for God’s sake.

As it stands, you can not wear this in a right-handed scout style, and even if you managed to get a Tek Lok on it, the factory belt clip would still be there that got in the way. Even if you just throw it in a bag, it’s annoying, but the clamp interferes with the fabric and whatever else you throw in the bag.

This knife will mostly sit in my kitchen, so it’s not a big problem. But if TOPS could figure out a way we could move the rotating clip to the other side of the mantle or at least take it off, it would improve the situation a lot.

As a kitchen knife

Cutting tomatoes effortlessly with a knife that is primarily a butcher knife.

Here’s the thing. I’m not a cook. The majority of the people who have and will undergo this knife are probably not any kind of chef. This knife was made by a tactical knife company after they were inspired by butchers at a meat market. It should really show you what this knife will excel at:

Slaughterhouse.

Although best as a boning or butcher knife, Tops Frog Market Special cut the carrots in this picture easily.

Especially as a boning knife. Apart from the large belly, it fits the thin, flexible blade and the sharp tip required by a good boning knife. It’s not a big clover, and it’s a sub par coke knife. The point is not that it excels at food over other knives; it is that it excels over other camping knives.

That does not mean you can not do any clean cooking with it. I have cut several pounds of food along with FMS and earned a week’s worth of halfway decent fried fries. But if you want to use this knife to the fullest, try using it to cut off pieces of meat.

Check out the price at Blade HQ

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Comparison and alternatives

Condor Bush Slicer is the biggest competitor to Tops Frog Market Special.

The Condor Bush Slicer pictured here is probably the biggest competitor to the Tops Frog Market Special.

It is difficult to think of alternative recommendations for this knife because it is quite unique in terms of fixed knives. You do not really see other knives like out there except for the Frog Market XL, so the criteria should follow the function more than the shape in this case.

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The only knife I have personally used that meets these criteria is the Condor Bush Slicer. This was designed to be a hybrid kitchen / bushcraft knife, so even though it is the opposite of FMS in every way except length, it will be the other viable option if your requirements are “a knife I can cook on my camping trip. “Of course they want to do different things differently. You can chop and cut vegetables and trees with the Bush Slicer, but the Frog Market handles meat much better.

The most similar fixed blade I have found at the Frog Market in terms of both style and function is the Spyderco Bow River, which is about half the price but uses a much softer stainless steel and is made in China. I have not handled that knife personally, so I could not say if it is worth saving $ 40, but all my experience with Spyderco so far tells me that Bow River should work fine.

Conclusion

This knife is not a necessity, but it is very fun to use.

I could live without this knife, but I love having it around. Between this and my Spyderco Bill Moran, I have pretty much every food-related activity well covered for a camping trip. And I keep finding myself after it in my home kitchen, if not always because it’s the better option, but because I just really enjoy using it.

It’s probably worth getting a custom sheath for this knife. Not because the factory chain is bad, it just lacks a bit in terms of tightness, and it would be nice to be able to pack this like a right-handed scout carrier.

It is also without a doubt overpriced. Not much, but we’re talking about a very bare knife. Everything from scales to cape is light and simple. And even though that’s the thing I like about this knife, it’s priced me at $ 85 with a little caution. However, it runs that line closely. If this was a $ 50 knife, it would be an incredible deal, and if it was $ 120, I would at least say I should see some of that price represented in a better cape.

But for $ 80? It feels like something on this should be a little better; I just do not know what it is. Maybe I just have to accept that this is the price of an American-made magazine.

Check out the price at Blade HQ

Check price on Amazon



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