There have been a few cases in the past where two well known knife companies team up for something unique. Often this occurs between a company that has an excellent rep and good pricing and a company that has an excellent rep but higher pricing. The team up allows for an excellent well-priced design to be produced. Welcome to the reality of Buck Knives teaming up with TOPS Knives to produce a high performance locking folder.
Enter the Buck / TOPS CSAR-T, model number 0095BKSTP-B. When I first pulled the knife out of the box it was inside the black ballistic nylon sheath that it ships with. I pulled it out of the sheath and my first thought was, "Holy cow! THIS is a chunky knife." For those of you who remember or are familiar with previous collaborations Buck has taken on, they don't flinch away from performance for the sake of light-weight or easier-carrying. They focus on building the knife to take abuse and perform as it's supposed to: in harsh conditions being abused to complete a job / mission. The CSAR-T definitely fits into that mold.
With a 3.8" blade and an overall length of 8.24", the CSAR-T is unique in a couple of ways. First, I've never seen a blade shape quite like this. It has the feel of a Tanto blade, but also incorporates a slight drop at the point. The angles aren't pure Tanto and they aren't pure clip point. What they are is designed to take a serious beating and still be there - not broken off. The blade design also permits it to retain its full 3/16" thickness to within 5/8" of the tip. It's still a full 1/8th" thick within 1/4" of the tip. It's not a blade tip that will be easily broken.
The blade steel is ATS-34 and is secured in the locked out position by a liner lock that one of my children described as "hefty". When you lock the blade out you'd better have a strong thumb to unlock the liner lock (move it to the side) so you can fold the knife back closed. The thumb studs used to open the knife are large and easy to engage even with gloves on. Near the back end of the spine there are some milled-in ridges to serve as a press point for pushing into cuts.
Now, I mentioned the thumb studs. They are one feature on the knife that is equally easy to use with either hand. The grips are cut so allow equal access for either a left- or right-handed user when it comes to disengaging the liner lock. Why? Well, the steel pocket clip can be mounted on either side of the knife grips so you can clip it into either your right or left hand pocket. If you're going to carry the knife on the left side then it's good to be able to open and close it efficiently with your left hand, don't you think? That's one place some knife makers drop the ball. They design the grips so the clip can be attached on either side and at either end. What they don't change is the fact that the liner lock is specifically accessible for a right-handed person. Tsk tsk. Buck got this right.
Since I mentioned the pocket clips let's talk about carrying this knife a bit. I wouldn't recommend clipping it onto a pocket unless you're wearing cargo pants, baggy tacticals or you're putting it into a pocket specifically designed for a knife of this size and weight. The knife, at some points, measures almost 5/8" thick. While the handle is nicely shaped and comfortable in the hand, and the G-10 grip slabs are textured to provide for a secure grip, it's not a knife with a thin profile. My preference in carry is going to be in the sheath or in the knife/utility pocket of my tactical pants.
The last feature I want to mention before I get into the testing is the lanyard loop on this knife. On one side the lanyard hole is round; on the other it is hex shaped. That hex shape is there for a reason - and it's properly sized to boot. It's intended us is as a hex-head drive handle. Now let's move on to the abusive part.