Ontario SP8 Review

Now it’s safe to say I’m a knife guy, I’m a gun guy first and foremost but I appreciate a knife that serves a specific purpose.

I have knives of all shapes and sizes, I’m not a collector per-say, I have the odd rare one tucked away,  but I use knives heavily in a focused fashion!

I use knives for hunting, skinning, food prep, Bushcraft, fire-starting and a whole host of other tasks and I personally like to fine tune my selection based on a specific application.

I have a couple of ESEE’s in regular use, the CR2.5 and PR4 are seriously focused knives, a UK legal Spyderco and Boker Tech Tool for everyday carry. I’m not a ‘one knife does all’ sort of guy, that’s a fools errand and a bit gimmicky for me!

One task I perform a lot is wood preparation for fires both at home and out in the bush. It’s important to make this sort of work as efficient as possible. It’s one of the core tasks of survival in fairness and as such you need to be good at it, complete it as safely as possible, and more often than not a lot of this is down to the tool you use!

Now I won’t say you should use a certain tool for small and medium wood prep! Some people like a smaller knife and baton it down with another chunk of wood! I get that. Some people insist on using a medium axe to make kindling, I understand that, a little less, but I still understand it.

What I want, what I use, in my humble opinion is something that does what both of them do and more. Surely worthy of consideration? 

I’m a swine for researching things, like “measure twice and cut once”, I like to get a load of info and reviews on something first, and it was this very research that led me to something I’d never even heard of, the Ontario SP8!

Ontario SP8 Clean and New

At first i was put off a little by the shape. It’s not a conventional style for a blade, flat head and saw back, but I thought why not, I’ll give it a go! It looked tactical though, and I’m a tactical guy after all! 

SP8 RAT3 Izula
Tactical Trio

I got mine from the States, no one stocked them in the UK when I got mine. Bear in mind this would be a good 8 or 9 years ago!

Since then I’ve come to trust this blade without reservation. Aside of me not sharpening it enough once or twice (all my fault) it has never let me down! And boy it was blunt then!

It’s made of 1095 Carbon steel and it’s not gonna appeal to the super-steel crowd, but I love that steel. Cheap, reliable and throws a good spark if needed! It’s a tool after all and relatively cheap for what it is, so whilst I paid a lot more back then to ship one from the US, you can now pick them up for reasonable money in the UK.

So, let me focus on the most important thing about this knife, in my humble opinion of course. The weight/control ratio on this blade is perfect for small and medium wood tasks. Where an axe can be unwieldy and often used without full control up close, this thing can put the brakes on whilst still being heavy enough to split logs! This means I can carry it instead of an axe in an environment where I know I don’t have to fell a tree! Which is the majority of instances in fairness!

With a lanyard on you can use it ‘one handed’ with confidence, freeing up the other hand for articulating wood. 

I’ve used mine extensively in this way and it’s my preferred tool for splitting logs around camp and at home! 

The powder coat is solid despite mine being well worn after years of heavy use, trust me this took some time and doing!

SP8, PR4 and CR2.5
The perfect Bushcraft trio

Not gonna lie, I’ve never used the swaback, perhaps I should but at least I know it’s there and in a survival situation it’d be an ace up my sleeve I’m sure!

The flat head and 90degree tip is one of my favourite features. As a pry-bar, wedge, chisel and digging tool, this thing is immense! I can drive it into wood, get it stuck, knock it round and then drive it down with a rock or some more wood! Very effective indeed!

The handle is solid, grippy and has worn really well! It’s the same handle Ontario use on all their ‘SP’ range so if you’ve tried any of them before you’ll know how good it is! 

I’ve been able to sharpen mine up in the field no worries with a Lansky puck and stones. It won’t set records for shaving balloons if its being used heavily but it gets where it needs to be quick enough for sure! 

SP8 at work

Mine came with a leather/canvas sheath, which new ones don’t, but even so it’s portability is a big thing for me! It does a lot of what a medium axe does without the bulk and hangs easily from a belt or pack. I’ve thought of having a kydex sheath with Molle backing made for it a few times and attaching it flat to a pack would be useful. I may revisit that thought at some point! 

All in all, this is a great bit of kit. Ticks the value for money box, looks the part and does something a lot of blades of a similar length don’t!

Hey, it’s not a machete and it won’t sharpen up to a razor finish like some super-steel choppers but as a reasonably priced alternative to carrying a knife and an axe it’s certainly worth a look!

I’m sure there’s more this thing can do that I’ve missed but me and this blade have no plans to part ways anytime soon so I’ll be sure to check back in on this topic in the future!

Thanks for reading! 

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