TOPS Hornero — A Compact Fixed-Blade With a Full-Sized Handle


Sometimes we just don’t need or want to take along a large, heavy knife with us on our travels. Enter the TOPS Hornero, which is one of the company’s smaller offerings. Today we’re going to take a look at this little gem.

TOPS Hornero knife
The handle fills the hand well, and the thumb naturally fits into the cutout on the spine of the blade, locking the knife into the user’s grip with satisfying security.

The Hornero

The TOPS Hornero is a fixed blade knife with a blade length of three inches, and an overall length of 7.13 inches. It sports a blade made from 1095 carbon steel with a hardness of 56-58 on the RC Scale. The fact that it is constructed of high carbon steel means that this is a tough blade that is relatively easy to sharpen, which is a real advantage when the user needs to sharpen the knife in the field.

Steels with a hardness of 60 or more prove to be very difficult to sharpen in the field. TOPS was wise to choose this steel and heat treatment, and they use this combination for most of their knives. Trendy it is not, but functional and practical it very much is.

The stong tip of the TOPS Hornero knife anchored in wood
The tip of the knife is strong and will easily penetrate various materials with ease.

The blade is coated with a black powder coat finish that prevents rust and corrosion, increasing the durability of the blade and also giving it an attractive appearance. On the Hornero, the blade thickness is .190″ (3/16”) thick. For a knife this small, that is a fairly thick stock and contributes to durability.

The blade shape is similar to a sheep’s foot, but with a bit more of a point so that it will be an effective stabber. There is a swedge that runs along the spine of the knife. Just in front of the handle on the spine of the knife is a sort of cutout (located where normally a thumb ramp would be).

Here in it’s natural habitat, the Hornero fits right in. It’s a natural in the woods, performing all manner of camp chores and survival tasks. It will even process game.
Here, in its natural habitat, the Hornero fits right in. It’s a natural in the woods, performing all manner of camp chores and survival tasks. It will even process game.

This is an unusual approach, and I presume it is there as a divot where the user places his thumb in order to lock the knife into his grip better.  I can’t say this is my favorite aspect of the knife, as I am far more accustomed to a thumb ramp, or at the very least, a straight spine, on which to rest the thumb. The cutout does not seem detrimental, and I can’t say that I dislike it, but I’ll allow that I’m simply not used to it. I’m in the process of getting used to it.

One aspect that I really admire from TOPS is that their knives are made in the USA. To me, that’s a major selling point.

The Hornero’s Handle

The handle material on the Hornero is tan and black canvas micarta, with the black being closer to the blade. The two-tone handle material looks attractive and lends a nice extra touch to the knife. Canvas micarta is one of my very favorite handle materials because it offers an especially positive purchase while not creating hot spots that abrade the skin during use. It gives a “warm” grip, even when cold, which is always a pleasant quality.

TOPS Hornero sheats belt clip can be repositioned for different options and the lanyard is a nice touch. You won’t notice that you’re carrying a knife until you need it because of the small size and light weight. And it’s made in the USA!
The sheath’s belt clip can be positioned for different options and the lanyard is a nice touch. You won’t notice that you’re carrying a knife until you need it because of the small size and lightweight. And it’s made in the USA!

While it’s a simple handle design without finger grooves and the like, the handle of the Hornero is comfortable and allows it to lock into the user’s grip nicely. The micarta scales are attached to the full tang with three heavy screws, creating a robust and durable handle. At the pommel, there is a lanyard hole, and my knife came from TOPS with a lanyard made from OD-colored paracord that is several inches long. While the overall knife is on the smaller side, the handle is large enough that it fills the hand very well and does not leave the user wanting for more real estate in the hand.

The Sheath

The sheath is designed simply and works perfectly. There is a belt loop that will fit up to two-inch-wide belts, and it is built from thick kydex stock, so this sheath will not be breaking any time soon — it’s built as robustly as the knife is. There are extra holes in the sheath so the user can move the belt loop to have the knife ride high or low, giving the user more options.

The Hornero comes with a very well thought out sheath that is just as durable as the knife itself. Together, they form a small, light package.
The Hornero comes with a very well-thought-out sheath that is just as durable as the knife itself. Together, they form a small, light package.

The Hornero and sheath together offer a very small package that can be carried unobtrusively by the user, making it just the thing to bring along on a hike or carry to work every day.

Performance

The Hornero has a flat grind, which contributes to its cutting ability. This knife is good for whittling fuzz sticks for fire-starting, along with a myriad of other cutting tasks. It slices through paracord like crazy.

It would serve to process game for hunting, although it’s not optimal for this task, given its fairly thick stock. This knife is meant more for durability than fine cutting tasks (remember, it’s .190 inches thick). Still, I’m certain it would have no problem field dressing a deer or other large game.

That said, I didn’t have any freshly killed game with which to test the knife, but one does develop the ability to discern a knife’s capabilities after years of using various knives. I cannot imagine a task that would call for a similarly sized blade that this one could not accomplish.

The TOPS Hornero knife is a great, little companion for a hike in the woods!
The Hornero is a great, little companion for a hike in the woods!

For an EDC (Every Day Carry) knife or a knife to take along for hikes in various terrain, this one offers the perfect combination of capability, coupled with durability. Given a desperate situation, this little fixed blade could be pressed into service as a defensive implement should life and limb be threatened.

Why “Hornero”?

This is one of those knife names that may seem inscrutable. It isn’t so complicated, but it helps to know the knife’s origins. As TOPS describes it:

The Hornero was designed by Tomás Reynoso from Argentina, and we named the knife after the national bird of his country. He has an extensive background with wilderness and survival activities as a student and teacher. He has had a passion for knives from many years, which has developed into him modding and he has even started making them in his spare time.

All in all, the little Hornero is a stout addition to everyday carry or outdoor excursions. It carries in a small package and is more capable than its diminutive size suggests. The user gets a knife that carries discreetly and doesn’t weigh much.

Because it has a handle that fills the hand nicely, the user gets a comfortable-to-use blade that can be counted on for hard tasks. Carrying this little guy on your belt, you barely notice it’s there until you reach for it, at which time you’re pleased to have a little tool to accomplish the task at hand.

At the time of this writing, the Hornero retails from TOPS for $150, which is a good value for the quality. I believe that this is a great purchase. Check it out, I think you’ll agree.



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Author: Joey Webster

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