By Jake Wilson
Photos by Jake Wilson
Recently, I had the opportunity to use the TOPS Power Eagle 12 in the field. I have to say, I am very impressed with such a hefty blade. Going into this review, I already knew the size of the blade was a full 12 inches. In my mind, I thought I was going to be limited to “chopping only” tasks. However, I also wanted to put it through the paces to see how well it performed. In all honesty, I should not have been as shocked as I was, because the Power Eagle 12 is a powerhouse! TOPS Knives always deliver, especially when it comes to quality.
When I first arrived at the small riparian zone in Dugas (Northern Arizona), I decided to gather and scrape some inner bark and get some fine tinder to make a bird’s nest. I utilized the ALRTXL-01 that comes with the Power eagle 12. Worked like a charm; and is an exceptional combo. Once I constructed the bird’s nest, utilizing the three bar TOPS fire starter, I was able to shoot a massive amount of sparks into the dried tinder. The 5160 RC 56-58 blade steel is amazing when it comes to starting a fire. The tinder lit right up from the sparks, and with a few deep breaths into the glowing embers, my tinder burst into flames. Once I had my fire going, I set out to accomplish a few camp chores as I normally would. I noticed that the woodpile here was lacking. I found a 6-in. thick pine that had been lopped off at the top. I got to work, what short work it was, though. Maybe a few dozen heavy-handed chops in a v-notch formation, and I fell, the tree in a manner of minutes.
Once I had my log stripped of smaller twigs, I got to work processing it. Seven feet of 6-in. thick pine was cut into roughly 2-foot sections in about 10 minutes. The elongated teardrop curvature of the blade made this a very easy task. I needed to beef up the fire, so I took some of the dried logs from the pile and batoned them into useable pieces of firewood. I know making tinder is a viable service of any knife, so I grabbed a semi-dry piece of wood and began to feather it. Let me tell you, the Power Eagle 12 feathered this forearm-sized log very quickly and with such ease. I felt like I was using a large Fieldcraft B.O.B. My original plan was to construct a shelter; however, I did not want to damage any more of the forest than I had to. Based on the chopping ability I experienced, there is no doubt in my mind that any able bodied soul could use the Power Eagle 12 to construct a semi-permanent shelter.
The specs on this fine specimen of a blade are what make it more than just a tool. It is a lifeline! The blade length measures 12 inches long, with the overall knife length measuring 17.63 inches. Total thickness for the Power Eagle 12 is an impressive 0.250 inches. The beefiness is what gets the job done, every time! I do, however, have to point out that no 2 TOPS blades are the same. They are all hand-made and finished in the U.S.A. (Some of the measurements may vary slightly).
Now, let us move on to the weight. Balancing a blade of this magnitude is no easy task, weighing in at a reported 26 ounces is impressive. Based on the size and length of the blade, this was done very well. The Power Eagle 12 I received had the standard tan canvas micarta scales, but the rocky mountain tread is available as an option. I chose, and like, the black traction coating. You do have the option to change the coating to a camo finish. It is all based on your preference. The Power Eagle 12 comes with a ballistic nylon sheath that has a molle backing and 2, yes, count it, 2 additional pouches on the front. In my honest opinion, I think TOPS knives hit a home run with Leo Espinoza’s design of the Power Eagle 12.