It was around 8 years ago that I first saw the TOPS Xcest Delta. I was flipping through a survival magazine and I saw an ad for TOPS knives in one of the back pages. What I saw was both impressive, and a little out of my price range. An overbuilt, rugged, bombproof, and incredibly innovative folding knife appeared as the featured knife in the ad. This would become what knife enthusiasts refer to as my “grail knife”, a take on the holy grail, of sorts. As an avid hiker and outdoorsman, I was always seeking something smaller to pack when going into the outdoors. And as a knife junkie, I was constantly shuffling out new gear depending on where my hike took me. Naturally, this was something I wanted.
Fast forward about 3 years, and I finally took the initiative to drop the nearly $250 on the knife. You read correctly – $250 United States Dollars. If there’s one thing that one learns about high quality, US made knives, it’s that they don’t come cheap. These knives are purpose-built to last, and their lifespan will in most cases, outlast ours.
TOPS Xcest Delta Knife Review Overview
As mentioned above, this knife is purpose-built for the outdoors. Sure, some knives make excellent utility or EDC knives – this isn’t one of those. Generally, if you’re a hiker, hunter, fisherman, or avid camper, I wouldn’t expect to see this knife in your pack. Surprisingly, I found it as a particularly handy companion when working outdoors as well. In lieu of carrying an ax, tree saw, or small hatchet, the Xcest Delta is actually robust enough to clear branches with just a few hacks. Up until owning the Xcest Delta, I had never owned a folder that could fill that void!
Additionally, other than being big, tough, and built do last, the Xcest Delta is ergonomic. I’ll touch on this more below, but the balance and general feel of the knife is excellent. Since it has such a massive, heavy blade, the handle must be pretty equal in heft. To do this, TOPS has went with 6061 T-6 aircraft aluminum, widely used in aviation, and also in the cycling industry to build lightweight bike frames. In addition to the frame, it is accompanied by G-10 Scales (the handle). G-10 is a common, fiberglass composite material used largely in the knife industry for handles. The material grips the hand even when wet or slippery, making this an ideal material for an outdoor blade.
TOPS Xcest Delta Knife Review Features
The blade is a beast at .190″ in thickness.
To complement the large size of the knife, the blade length is 3.38″
The overall length of the knife opened is just about 7.5″, not too far outside of the average for a large EDC knife. However, the handle is much thicker than other EDCs, at nearly an inch!
An oversized lock bar prevents the blade from ever going backward under hard use, and jimping (grooves on the back of the blade) can be found for better purchase on the knife. Also, an ambidextrous thumb stud is integrated into the blade to assist in one-handed opening.
The grippy G-10 composite material is both attractive, and practical. TOPS sands the G-10 down to make the pattern in the material.
The blade steel is Cryo-Treated 154cm steel with a hardness of RC58-60. The blade is coated with a tough black traction coating to avoid tarnishing and corrosion.
The Xcest Delta is a liner lock, meaning that the blade able to be opened and closed with one hand via the locking mechanism inside of the handle.
A good knife will always have a removable pocket clip to configure the carry in different ways – the Xcest Delta is no exception!
If you opt out of the pocket clip, and wish to belt carry, or put the knife on a pack, the Xcest Delta includes a ballistic nylon carrying pouch.
TOPS Xcest Delta Knife Review Performance
As said before, most applications for the Xcest Delta are found outdoors. For example – if you’re a garage dweller, I can’t say that this is your best choice for an EDC knife. However, if you’re someone who works on a farm, owns and maintains property, or even works in the outdoors often, this might just be the answer. With that being said, over the past 5 years (since I bought the Xcest Delta) I’ve beaten it and put it into situations that I probably shouldn’t have. Without fail, this TOPS has gone through everything without a hitch. From improvising, while camping when I didn’t have anything to split thick kindling, to clearing out overgrowth around stacks of seasoned firewood, it’s done it all – with ease. Certainly, the thick blade helps, in addition to the grippy, and ergonomic G-10 handle. And depending on what pocket and configuration you plan on carrying the removable pocket clip, and MOLLE compatible case sure comes in handy.
TOPS Xcest Delta Knife Review Value
It’s no secret – this knife is pricey. However, if you look at other leading knife brands, and their flagship EDC models, the Xcest Delta is right on par. Keep in mind though, that those other knives will not compare in durability, or build quality too! Overall, I consider this knife a tool. It’s a tool that will be around longer than I will, and I don’t regret shelling out the coin for it. Even if I do have other knives (many!) this particular one has a purpose, and it’s just plain awesome. To date, I have struggled to find any other folding knife that compares in toughness, and sheer appeal. It’s also worth noting that TOPS makes all of their knives in the US, and all of the blades are hand finished. This just adds to the overall quality of what you’re buying. You aren’t just buying a tool. You’re buying a US made tool, hand finished, with materials that are top of the line.
TOPS Xcest Delta Knife Review Final Thoughts
I guess just like with most other tools that I really like, it’s hard to review something like the Xcest Delta. I just do not have any criticisms about it! This is pure because of how well it’s made, and the reputation of TOPS knives in the knife community. When you buy a TOPS knife, it’s built like a tank. This is something that can be appreciated these days, especially since TOPS makes their gear in the US. With all of this in mind, I can’t help but encourage those who feel this would make their everyday life a little easier. You just have to look into this blade! As someone who spends plenty of time outdoors, it’s nice to be able to grab a more compact folding knife. In most cases, the first choice is a fixed blade – think again. This is really the Xcest Delta’s strong point with me – why carry a fixed blade, when there is a perfectly capable folder that is 1/3 the size? In most cases, the Xcest Delta is lighter too, a win all around. Considerations like this, and others above, make the Xcest Delta a fantastic, and unique choice for those with a use case!
That is a cool knife and looks sturdy as hell. But I’m not spending 250 for a knife anytime soon. Just the facts. Too many other knifes that are a fraction of that cost that will fill the bill. But that is a cool knife that I would love to have. Thanks for the info and the review.