Everyday Carry

The Drop: TOPS Knives "El Pionero" Fixed Blade

Authored by:
Jonathan Tayag
The Drop: TOPS Knives "El Pionero" Fixed Blade

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It's a big EDC market out there, and tons of awesome gear is released all the time. We made The Drop to help you discover the latest and greatest essentials worth a spot in your EDC.

It can be easy to dismiss EDCing a fixed-blade knife. After all, they tend to be larger and more cumbersome than a folding knife simply because they don’t fold. But if they are designed well, like the TOPS Knives El Pionero made in collaboration with Ed Calderon, you can see that’s not always the case. The TOPS Knives El Pionero is a sleek and slim EDC fixed blade knife that brings all of the know-how of the bladesmiths at TOPS Knives in a compact and lightweight 2.9-ounce form well suited for neck knife or belt holster everyday carry.

Unlike a folding knife, the TOPS Knives El Pionero's fixed blade design means there’s no need to fumble with an opening mechanism to get a knife ready to go and do the work you need. The lack of a folding mechanism also eliminates the chance of failure during rough use that even the most sturdy folding knife can experience, especially during hard use and abuse. TOPS Knives has been making outdoors and survival knives for decades, and the El Pionero brings that rich pedigree into a sleek and slim knife that’s more suited for urban carry, as long as your local laws and rules let you do so.

Another thing that helps the El Pionero stand out is its use of 1095 carbon steel in its 3.38” modified clip-point blade. 1095 carbon steel features a top-end maximum sharpness and edge retention. And you can even whack on it with a hammer if you need to baton through wood or other rough material, which you cannot do with a standard folding knife. While it’s not stainless steel and requires some maintenance, you get excellent performance for a relatively affordable price.

What we like: This compact fixed-blade knife gives you excellent performance without the fear of failure that runs with carrying a folding knife instead. It’s also light enough for neck carry as a backup to a folding knife if your missions require that kind of security.

What to watch out for: Fixed-blade knives are sometimes more restricted than folding knives, so check your local rules and laws before deciding to EDC a knife. And like with any fixed-blade knife, you will have to plan around carrying it in a dedicated holster or sheath, making it less convenient than a standard folding knife for some EDCers. Thankfully, the El Pionero comes with a sheath, making it easier to take out of the box and carry right away.

Final verdict: With its sleek and ergonomic design, the TOPS Knives El Pionero is one of the best fixed-blade knives you can EDC today, whether as your primary daily driver, a backup knife in case things get bad, or a knife you dedicate to carrying when you go out to the great outdoors.

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Jonathan Tayag

Senior Contributor

About the Author
Jonathan Tayag is secretly an information technology and corporate security expert who prefers to moonlight as a creative event and commercial photographer whenever possible. His varied experience and substantial travels have led him to seek, without even thinking about it at first, the best gear for the best use at the best price available. Before the concept of EDC (everyday carry) firmly took hold, Jonathan already spent untold amounts of time optimizing for the best-in-slot pieces of gear, from cameras and lenses to pocket knives, pens, and bags and packs. In November 2015, Jonathan joined EverydayCarry.com and has since written numerous articles and guides to help impart his knowledge to the community as a whole.

Jonathan's photographic works have appeared on numerous online websites, print, video, and television outlets for over a decade. Jonathan's previous clients include Blizzard Entertainment, Red Bull, ESL, Razer, and several other endemic and non-endemic esports sponsors and brands. His work also features heavily in online competitive gaming communities, especially those of the StarCraft and Fighting Game genres. You've likely seen his work if you've spent time in a stream or in-game chat over the years.

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