Ontos Survival Knife with its sheath and survival kit. Pocket for survival kit takes up minimal space.

One evening during the rainy season, as we listened to the rain beat on the roof of our basha, we started comparing what we carried in our E&E (Escape and Evasion) kits.

We didn’t completely trust our hosts, plus there was a chance other events would force us to take to the jungle. As a result, we always carried on our persons a handgun (we all had Browning Hi-Powers) and at least two spare magazines, a good fighting/survival knife, and a belt order survival kit. We all kept little packets of potassium permanganate, a trick we had picked up from the SAS because it could be used as a fire starter and in solution for water purification or to sterilize wounds.

Ontos’ blade and ergonomic handle. Note serrated edge and chopping edge.

We also each had a Gigli wire saw. The others were impressed that I had gotten a 30-inch medical one with detachable handles instead of the standard two-inch version with ring handles. You see, mine could also serve as a garrote. I suppose it says a lot about the time and place we were in that we considered this a really, really good thing!

Well, that was years ago, when my waist was much smaller and my hair much darker. These days I don’t generally have to carry my belt order survival kit, but I still take an interest in developments in survival gear and fighting knives.

Regular S.W.A.T. readers also know I think very highly of Extrema Ratio knives and try to cover one of the newer ones in this column every year or so. As a result, when Extrema introduced the Ontos Survival Knife/Kit, I decided to take a look at it.

The Ontos knife is a heavy-duty utility knife with a 6.5-inch flat ground blade and a drop tanto point, for lack of a better description. At 14.11 ounces, the knife is heavy enough for rough usage, and the .25-inch blade is tough enough for hacking or prying. Blade steel is Bohler N690 cobalt stainless, which is tough yet takes and holds an edge well. Extrema uses the same MIL-C-13924 Black coating on this knife that they use on their military contract blades.

Ontos Survival Kit with pocket open. Chem light is in its wrapping on one side of the pocket. Diamond sharpener is partially pulled out on the other.

The handle is Forprene NATO milspec “elastomer” and incorporates the ergonomic shape used on other Extrema knives, such as the Col. Moschin special forces knife. This handle is easily removable for cleaning the tang after exposure to salt water, blood, etc. It also incorporates a hole for a lanyard.

An additional hole in the small crossguard allows attachment of a thong or lashing to a pole as a spear. I generally do not recommend this practice, as I feel the chances of losing the knife are greater than the advantage of using it as a spear point. A point sharp enough for spear fishing can be whittled onto a pole with the knife.

The Ontos’ blade is designed for excellent versatility. The cutting edge is full length, while along the top of the blade is a serrated section that may be used for sawing rope or perhaps small tree limbs. Toward the point on top of the blade is a good hacking edge.

The design of the Ontos’ point is such, and the blade thick enough, that it can be used for fairly heavy prying or puncturing cans.

The sheath is of heavy-duty nylon, as is the survival kit pocket on the front of the sheath. In addition to a double-snap retention strap, the Ontos has a second cross double-snap retention strap and incorporates a leg strap. The kit pocket closes with a snap-lock buckle.

Loops on one side of the sheath carry a 12-hour chem light, and a small pocket carries a diamond sharpener, a utensil I normally include with a survival or utility knife because it works well and takes up minimal space.

Overall, the Ontos combines Extrema Ratio quality and utility with a clever little survival kit that is easily carried. I admit I did not maroon myself in the jungles of Borneo to test the Ontos’ survival kit. I do know from experience and training how most of the survival items function.

I took the Ontos and did some sawing, hacking, cutting and prying with it. It performed all tasks quickly and effectively. For those who know and like Extrema Ratio knives as I do, this one performs as you’d expect an Extrema to perform. For those new to Extrema Knives, I will say this is a good one.

Extrema Ratio knives may be ordered direct from Italy or from the U.S. distributor, Xtreme Knives.


In addition to the chem light and diamond sharpener, the survival kit that comes with the Extrema Ratio Ontos Survival Knife consists of a small metal box holding the “Ultimate Survival Kit UK.” This kit contains:

  • water bag
  • nylon cord
  • button compass
  • night light
  • fire-starting flint
  • fishing kit
  • mini multipurpose tool
  • book of matches
  • sewing kit
  • water purification tablets
  • safety pins
  • single-edged blade
  • salt sachet (packet)
  • mayday signaling mirror
  • gold wire
  • pencil
  • distress whistle
  • tampon
  • wire saw
  • PL11 grip lock bag
  • waterproof instructions

First, let me comment on the tampon. These are excellent for packing a wound to stop heavy bleeding from lacerations. I have carried multiple ones in a pouch on my belt. In addition to clothing repair, the fishing kit, sewing kit and safety pins can be used to make snares for small game and to close a wound if necessary.

If no other antiseptic is available, using a water purification tablet in a very strong solution to wash a wound offers some protection, though not as much as a real antiseptic. I would supplement these items with a small first-aid kit containing Band-Aids, tape, gauze, antibiotic cream, aspirin, etc.

In addition to the mini multi-tool, I would carry a full-sized, heavy-duty one for harder tasks. I would also add packets of potassium permanganate.

Additionally, I’d carry a larger military-type lensatic compass, which would allow me to shoot an azimuth, and a map of the area I’d be entering. Since the Ontos’ sheath with pocket does not take up that much real estate on the belt, a couple of compact pouches would handle the rest of the gear I’ve suggested.

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