As a big fan and fellow member of the Canadian Bushcraft, I was really excited to get my hands on Dragonfly 4.5 by TOPS Knives. The knife, designed by Caleb Musgrave, has been well received by the bushcraft community, so naturally, I was eager to put it to the test.
At more than 10 inches long, the Dragonfly is a beast of a knife. Once I opened the nylon sheath and took out the knife, I got a better perspective. Sheathed, the whole package is a little over 10 inches long and felt a bit awkward on my hip (maybe because I’m used to open sheathes).
Heading out into the woods, I certainly knew it was there and it seemed a bit bulky to me going through the thick brush compared to my usual carry. The sheath has the option for open carry and comes with some paracord and a pocket to put your magnesium fire-starter in. The knife itself is impressive and I can say with a reasonable amount of certainty that it would fit comfortably in the hand of a Sasquatch . . . It’s big for a bushcraft knife but it’s definitely meant for business.
While I prefer the Scandi grind the Dragonfly uses, I was a bit skeptical about the micro-convex beveled edge in regards to the sharpening process. The other thing that raised a small red flag was the uncoated 1095 steel blade as I have experienced a rust problem with similar steels. I was ready to put it to the test . . .
In the two weeks that I tested the Dragonfly, I must say that I am seriously considering giving up the beloved Enzo Trapper that has served me so well over the years. The knife flat out performs and surpassed most of my expectations. One of the biggest pluses for me was the size of the handle. As a guy with giant hands, even my Enzo seemed, at times, like an accident waiting to happen.
The Dragonfly with its well thought out Micarta handle, had an unmistakably positive feel while performing a variety of skills. The knife came out of the box with a razor sharp edge that I only had to re-touch once. Despite my uncertainty about the convex edge, I was able to return it to “shaving sharp” within a couple of minutes and the edge held well even after using it for a variety of tasks.
I was able to make a bow drill kit in less than 15 minutes and had a coal in another three minutes. The full tang 1/8 inch thick blade made splitting with a baton like slicing bread. Although I made my fire-kit out of cedar, I was able to split oak branches without worrying about damaging the knife. The Dragonfly is as tough as they get. Similarly, I was able to perform 75 percent of the notches on my “Try Stick” (a practice stick where you cut nine different notches) with the exception of some intricate notches that I would typically farm out to my small Mora.
I also made a “quick bow” out of a piece of bay I had lying around and had it tillered and ready to shoot in a little over an hour. From feather sticks to rabbit sticks, the Dragonfly performed to my satisfaction. I would feel comfortable in any outdoor situation with this knife and have used it extensively over a two week period without the need for another knife. I love this knife!
I would rate the TOPS Dragonfly a solid 9.5 out of 10 and aside from replacing the bulky nylon sheath with a leather one (they are available) I have no other issues. I did notice, after a wet outing, that there was a minute amount of rust on the uncoated blade but a mindful outdoorsman would treat it like he would treat a wet gun. I purposely left the knife in a wet sheath to test my concern with the uncoated 1095 steel and it only took a day for a small bit of rust to occur (a little steel wool and oil took care of that). Overall, I have to give a big two thumbs up to my friend Caleb Musgrave for designing this beautiful tool. This is a very tough and well thought out knife that will stand up to whatever task you decide to put it to.
Photo credit: Rich Wright