Ontario RAT Model 1, Copper and D2
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wherein I braze a rat.
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Specifically a RAT 1 in D2 and G-10 from Ontario Knives. The RAT is Ontario's best known collaboration with Randall's Adventure and Training (hence the RAT name), an outfit better known for their association with ESEE and for teaching people how to evade capture and survive in the jungle. The RAT Model 1 (and its slightly smaller brother the RAT Model 2) are fairly well known, very good budget knives. Fast flip, good ergos including a bit of thumb ramp, strong liner lock. No wiggle, no nonsense. The standard models come with AUS-8 -- with a good heat treat AUS 8 can be ok steel, but I wanted to go a little better for the Copper Rat. So I grabbed a D2 version with some light colored scales that I might customize later for some other project (light scales are a lot more interesting to dye.) So I have my threadlocker, my Torx T6 and T8, some lanyard stuff, and a pair of aftermarket copper scales from Flytanium. And a nearby pair of needlenose pliers, in case I need something to pinch the standoffs while I'm removing the Torx fasteners from them to disassemble the knife. This is an easy project -- a lot easier than redoing the Manix 2 in Copper. The Model 1 RAT is a fairly simple build, with screws going through scales and liner to bite into the standoffs and thus work with the pivot and hold the knife together. It has no backspacer, it has a simple hole for lanyards, it has a regular clip, and that's it, but if you're a left hander, the RAT's one of the easiest knives around when it comes to converting it to left hand draw. You take it apart by first removing the clip (the three T6 Torx fasteners holding it in place end up being slightly longer than all the rest, so keep them separate from the others so you don't mix the two) then unscrewing all the smaller T6 connectors on one side, then the pivot screw on that side, then lifting off the scale, the liner, and the knife -- keeping careful track of the washers, which like to stick to the liner or the knife tang. If you've never done this before, just be slow and methodical, and keep track of every bolt, fastener and piece you disassemble, preferably in something that'll keep them from rolling off the bench or getting lost. I use a little food storage container lid. If you worry about losing track of what goes where, snap reference pics as you disassemble the RAT 1. Reference pics on a smart phone are your friend. Once this disassembly is done, that leaves you with the other half of the knife, the standoffs that keep the sides evenly spaced apart still bolted to it. These are always trickier Torx fasteners to remove, because the standoffs want to turn with the fasteners as you unscrew them and now there’s no opposing Torx fasteners in place to keep the standoffs from rotating - you might want a pair of needle nose or jewelry pliers holding the standoff steady as you unscrew the fastener from it, one at a time. Use steady pressure on the Torx wrench, pushing down to apply it as you unscrew each fastener to avoid stripping the fasteners Slow down if you start doing that. Finish by unscrewing the other pivot screw - despite its budget status, the RAT can be adjusted from either side to center the blade, which is righteous -- and separating all the layers. Once you've broken it down, you get this.
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When you take a lot of knives apart you'll find this sheen of oil on them. It's meant to keep the knife from rusting. It can be safely wiped off, but if you do, it's wise to wear gloves while handling the material after that. The more oil you see, the less rust resistant the steel likely is, and the more that your fingerprints can cause blemishes in the long term. Note the PB washers also have a razor-thin skate of teflon on them. The pivot on the RAT 1 is huge, and none of my stash of premium washers really are a good fit to replace them -- but the teflon looks like it's actually in ok shape, and the knife flips nicely when tested, so I'll leave those stock as well. So you reassemble the bottom half of the handle, adding in the copper scale instead of the G10. Essentially doing everything you did to disassemble it, in reverse. Replace the washers, adding a fairly stingy drop of lubricant on each one (excess lube eventually gums up with dust, so less is very much more in the long run) and make sure the teflon gasket is between the phosphor bronze and the knifeblade as going the other way will shred them eventually. Tighten all the fasteners, but do not overtighten them. It'll look like this:
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Put the last liner on first, making sure that the pivot and standoffs are nestled properly in their boreholes, and then the copper scale on. then add the fasteners and pivot screw, finger tight. Finally add your clip again.
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Now that the knife's back together, give it an experimental flip, then adjust the pivot to how you like it. Flip a few times to be sure, then once you know it's going to be ok, put it back down on the desk, and one at a time take the pivot screws out and apply a bit of threadlocker to the tips. Just the smallest bit will do. If you want to, this can also be done with the other fasteners, but it's more important to do with the pivot. Make sure all are back in before fully tightening. NOW you can tighten the fasteners down. One at a time. Putting them in 'finger-tight' at first, then tightening them once everything's all together, ends up giving you a ton better of fit than when you dog down each fastener as you put it in. Properly tightened, all the Torx fastener heads should be flush with the surface of the copper scale. Be aware that copper is soft; over tightening can distort the metal around the bore, which is bad in general, as well as place stress tension on the frame in complex ways.
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Then if you feel like it, add a lanyard. Some people like lanyards, some don't, I do sometimes and not other times. For this, I'm putting a simple one together with some copper fittings I had sitting around. Figure my Copper Rat should have a tail. Voila.
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And there you are, if you do your own, with your very own copper RAT 1:
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Drop, that is The Copper Rat. You'll have a really hard time finding one of these in the stores: sometimes retailers offer preassembled copper modded knives but they always sell out fast. Hence these guidelines so you can make your own fairly easily. The RAT is a forgiving knife to assemble. Your total bill should be less than a benjamin as the Flytanium copper scales and the RAT 1 in D2 are both available for under $50. Your Copper Rat will be a fattie -- the original RAT 1 weighs a little over 5 ounces, and with the copper scales it's at 9.5 ounces. (The copper beads and lanyard actually push this knife over 300 grams, which is quite a hunk of metal. ) And while putting the copper scales on a complex knife like the Manix 2 is very much a journeyman's job, if you can turn a driver you can make your own Copper Rat. Because there's only one way to make magic, kids: with your own two hands. And if someone asks you 'hey do you have a rat in your pocket or are you just happy to see me' you'll have your choice of answer. :)
(Edited)
thumb_upChrisGold, Qwervy, and 11 others
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J_applejuice
1
Nov 25, 2019
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I’ve been eyeing the rat 2 and brass scales from Flytanium for a few days now. So seeing this gets me even more excited about it. Appreciate the thorough guide and will definitely come back to reference when I pull the trigger soon!
Nov 25, 2019
reswright
1137
Nov 25, 2019
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Cool. All this should work just as well with a RAT 2. Post a pic when you're done!
Nov 25, 2019
reswright
1137
Nov 24, 2019
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The thing I like about copper is its luminescence under light. Well, there's a ritual weight to it that's kind of pleasant in a throwback-to-the-druids way, but I like the soft glow that rough copper gets in just about any level of light.
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Nov 24, 2019