Next Tuesday, a small batch of Pre-Production Fieldcraft Folders will be released on the TOPS Knives website. It will be the first opportunity for fans to get their hands on one since the company unveiled a prototype folder version of their best selling fixed blade 18 months ago at SHOT Show 2016.
Limited to just 50 numbered pieces, it marks the only time that TOPS has ever offered a collectible. “The overwhelming popularity of the fixed blade version combined with the anticipation told us that if any TOPS knife needed some collectability, the Fieldcraft folder is it,” TOPS Knives’ Craig Powell tells us. With so few available and so much pent-up demand, Powell acknowledges that a portion of the knives could end up in the hands of knife speculators.
Each knife comes with a serialized box, a cleaning mat, a bottle of maintenance oil, and a whistle. Idaho-based TOPS tells us they produced the pre-production folders to full production specs. The 4.5-inch 1095 carbon steel blade is the same length as its fixed blade predecessor. With a thick steel liner lock and its micarta scales, the knife tips the scales at 8.1 ounces. The pre-production Fieldcraft Folders will go up for sale at 1 pm Mountain time on July 18 and orders will be filled on a first come, first serve basis.
A question that remains unanswered is what took so long? “TOPS is obviously known for fixed blades,” Powell explains. “Folders are a fairly new thing for us and we wanted to make sure that this one came out as good as possible.” TOPS put the knife through multiple cycles of prototyping and testing. Any hiccup during this process meant more time spent finding a solution. “This sounds simple, but it’s a weeks to months long process for every change.”
“The other thing we grappled with was our expectation of what this knife could handle,” Powell continues. He points out that no folding knife can match a fixed blade in the arena of pure strength, but says that the prolonged R&D phase gave TOPS the time it needed to maximize the Fieldcraft Folder’s performance. “This knife is solid and it’s going to be awesome,” Powell states.
It will be the fourth folder in TOPS’ current lineup, joining the Mil-Spie family, the Xcest Delta, and 2016’s Tac-Raze friction folder. MSRP for the limited edition pre-production Fieldcraft Folders is pegged at $500. The price of the production model is expected to come in under $300 with a launch date still to be determined.
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