Tops vs Esee: A Comprehensive Comparison for Knife Enthusiasts

The knife industry has always stunned outdoor enthusiasts with countless options in designs and types of blades, suitable for various activities from bush-crafting, hiking to survival challenges. Two such leading market players are TOPS and ESEE knives manufacturing companies. Both are known for their superior quality, durability and versatility, making it often difficult for the customer to choose between them. This comprehensive review of TOPS versus ESEE will lighten your burden of decision-making.

Table: TOPS Knives compared with ESEE Knives

Parameters TOPS Knives ESEE Knives
Established 1999 1997
Material Quality High Carbon Steel Stainless Steel
Average Pricing Mid-High Range Mid Range
Design Variety of Designs Clean and Practical Designs
Warranty Limited Lifetime Warranty Unconditional Lifetime Warranty

TOPS Knives


Since its establishment in 1999, TOPS Knives has been renowned for the premium quality of their blades. A collaboration between survivalists and specialists has resulted in knives that are recognized for their extreme resilience, ergonomic design, and high-grade material quality.

My Experience with TOPS Knives

As an outdoor enthusiast, I have spent countless hours using different TOPS knives. During my experiences, the most noticeable attribute has been their exceptional versatility. Whether I’m slicing, dicing, chopping, carving, or batoning, TOPS knives proved to be reliable. However, the one challenge I faced was their slightly higher pricing range. But considering the quality and durability, I consider it a good investment.

Pros and Cons

The key strengths of TOPS knives are their high-grade material quality, impressive versatility, and innovative blade designs. On the other hand, the notable drawbacks are their high price tag and their limited lifetime warranty condition.

ESEE Knives


ESEE Knives, founded in 1997, stands out due to their simple yet practical knife designs. Their innovative approach towards blade designing couples with the guarantee of an unconditional warranty, making it an excellent choice for outdoorsmen, survivalists, and workers.

My Experience with ESEE Knives

During my usage of ESEE knives, what struck me most was their practical design. These knives felt comfortable in my hand even during prolonged use. Their range offers excellent choices for every kind of outdoor venture. I, however, wish that they would branch out into more adventurous designs to bring some variety for the user’s choices.

Pros and Cons

ESEE knives score points for their hassle-free designs, affordability, and unconditional lifetime warranty. One of the areas I believe they can improve in is to offer a wider variety of designs.

TOPS vs. ESEE: A Detailed Comparison

Material Quality and Durability

While both brands are known for their top-notch blades, TOPS uses high carbon steel which is known for its extraordinary strength, while ESEE opts for stainless steel, known for its remarkable corrosion resistance. Both material choices enhance the knife’s durability while giving it different strengths.


TOPS Knives are recognized for their variety in design, with options suitable for different functions. ESEE, on the other hand, sticks to more clean and practical designs providing ease of use.


An essential aspect for many shoppers is the product warranty. While TOPS offers a limited lifetime warranty, ESEE steals the show with its unconditional lifetime warranty.


TOPS and ESEE knives differ significantly in their pricing strategy. While TOPS falls in the mid-to-high price range, ESEE stays in the mid-range, making it an affordable option for many customers.

In conclusion, which knife brand a user should choose depends significantly on their individual needs, preferences, and planned use. TOPS and ESEE both offer excellent blades; it is up to the user to decide which brand aligns most with their requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does the military use TOPS Knives?

Answer: Yes, the military does use TOPS Knives. Their high-quality construction, durability, and versatility make them a popular choice among military personnel. TOPS Knives are specifically designed to withstand rigorous and demanding tasks, which makes them suitable for military operations.

2. Who owns TOPS Knives?

Answer: TOPS Knives is owned by its founder, Mike Fuller. Mike started the company in 1998 and has been involved in the knife industry for over 30 years. His passion for creating reliable and functional knives has led to the success of TOPS Knives, which is known for its innovative designs and exceptional craftsmanship.

3. Is ESEE 1095 good?

Answer: Yes, the ESEE 1095 is highly regarded as an excellent knife. It is made from high carbon 1095 steel, which offers outstanding durability and edge retention. The ESEE 1095 is known for its robust construction, ergonomic design, and versatile blade shape, making it a dependable choice for various outdoor and survival activities.

4. What was the ESEE 5 designed for?

Answer: The ESEE 5 was specifically designed as a versatile survival knife. Its robust construction, fixed blade design, and full tang ensure durability and strength even in the most demanding situations. The ESEE 5’s versatility makes it suitable for tasks like bushcraft, camping, hunting, and even combat situations.

5. What is the difference between TOPS Knives and ESEE Knives?

Answer: TOPS Knives and ESEE Knives are separate companies, but they often collaborate and share similar design principles. TOPS Knives focuses on creating a wide range of knives for various purposes, including tactical, hunting, and survival. ESEE Knives, on the other hand, specializes in producing rugged, survival-oriented knives known for their simplicity and reliability.

6. Can TOPS Knives be used for hunting?

Answer: Yes, TOPS Knives offers several models that are suitable for hunting purposes. Their hunting knives are specifically designed with features like skinning blades, gut hooks, and ergonomic handles to make field dressing and skinning tasks more efficient and comfortable.

7. Are TOPS Knives made in the USA?

Answer: Yes, TOPS Knives are proudly made in the USA. The company prides itself on using American-made materials and labor. They have their manufacturing facility in Idaho, where skilled craftsmen meticulously produce each knife to meet TOPS Knives’ high standards of quality and performance.

8. Are ESEE Knives covered by a warranty?

Answer: Yes, ESEE Knives offers a lifetime warranty on their products. They stand behind the quality and craftsmanship of their knives and will repair or replace any knife that fails due to a manufacturing defect. However, the warranty does not cover normal wear and tear or misuse of the product.

9. Can TOPS Knives handle heavy-duty tasks?

Answer: Yes, TOPS Knives are designed to handle heavy-duty tasks. They are known for their robust construction and use of high-quality materials, making them capable of withstanding demanding situations. Whether it’s batoning wood, processing game, or any other challenging outdoor task, TOPS Knives are built to perform reliably.

10. Are ESEE Knives suitable for survival situations?

Answer: Absolutely! ESEE Knives are highly regarded as some of the best survival knives available. They are designed to withstand harsh environments and offer the durability, reliability, and versatility needed in survival situations. ESEE Knives are often preferred by survivalists, outdoor enthusiasts, and military personnel for their superior performance under challenging circumstances.

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