The High Desert Harpoon, the most recent collaboration between designer Terrill Hoffman and TOPS Knives, caught the eye of Reuben Bolieu, who decided to test the knife for the July 2014 issue of TACTICAL KNIVES. Given that the 9.25-inch knife’s versatile shape lends itself to any number of outdoor tasks, Bolieu took the High Desert Harpoon into the California desert for a series of tests aimed to test the unique design’s potential as a survival blade.

“At first glance it looks like something I may have seen in an old museum display in the able hands of a caveman, or maybe even mounted on a spear. I was attracted to the modern spin on such a primitive looking tool,” says Bolieu in his review. “I could imagine a caveman skinning animals with it, sparking a fire, cleaning fish, scraping hides, and maybe even using it for self-defense.”

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The construction of the High Desert Harpoon exhibits trademarks of previous Terrill Hoffman designs as well as signature materials used in other well-regarded TOPS Knives offerings. “Although the general shape and size of the knife is similar to its predecessor, the Hoffman Harpoon XL, the High Desert Harpoon has a coyote tan coating,” says Bolieu. “The steel is what I like to call the mainstay of TOPS Knives—1095 high carbon steel with a Rockwell hardness of 58. The High Desert Harpoon also differs by way of Micarta scales instead of the cord-wrapped handle found on the Hoffman Harpoon series.”

On the trail, the High Desert Harpoon was tasked with a variety of campsite chores to test the knife’s unique design characteristics. This included splitting wood, with the High Desert Harpoon serving as a splitting wedge. “Lacking an axe or hatchet on one specific trip didn’t necessarily mean I couldn’t split damp wood for a fire. Due to the 0.25-inch thickness of the High Desert Harpoon, I was able to split wrist-thick pieces of wood by using the knife as a wedge in a tip-down fashion,” says Bolieu. “The long length of the handle kept my hand far enough down and away from the butt where I would be landing a few well-placed blows with another piece of oak.”

For more information on the High Desert Harpoon, visit:

To read the full article on the High Desert Harpoon, check out the July 2014 issue of TACTICAL KNIVES, available on newsstands March 25, 2014. To subscribe, go to

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