Presented by: Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpeners
The TOPS Bestia is the KnifeNews Readers’ Choice for Best New Outdoors Fixed Blade 2021! This creative kukri conquered a crowded category that also contained the CJRB Silax, Ferrum Forge Lackey XL, KA-BAR Camp Turok, Krein Knives K9 Model 6, and the Ontario Knife Company Hiking Knife.
If you’re new around here, you may not remember, but the Readers’ Choice Awards have their origin in the Dealer’s Choice Awards, where we asked knife dealers to vote for their favorite blades of the year. In 2017, the dealers crowned TOPS’s El Chete best outdoors fixed blade of the year. So it’s fitting that the Bestia is taking home a 2021 RCA, because it evolved directly out of El Chete.
“The Bestia came about because Leo [Espinoza, TOPS CEO] wanted a kukri, but not a traditional one,” TOPS’s General Manager Craig Powell tell us. “He doesn’t have anything against the design, they just don’t feel quite right in his hands for some reason, but he likes the idea of the kukri.” When looking for something in the TOPS catalog to use as a starting place for his own kukri-inspired design, Espinoza turned to his recent smash hit chopper. “The Bestia is a blending of El Chete and a kukuri, which to me, explains the popularity,” Powell continues.
In fact, it’s easy to see both parts of the Bestia’s heritage. Its blade has that mid-edge crook that is a hallmark of the kukri, but if you straightened it out the shape would be almost identical to that of El Chete – although it’s worth noting that, at 13 inches in length, the Bestia blade is actually long than of its predecessor. The fusion creates a chopper with serious horsepower, raring to chew through branches and brush and wood.
For as cool as the blade itself is Espinoza’s work on here form a core part of the appeal. The handle shape offers a lot of length, so users can move their grip back to wring every last bit of performance out of their swings; but a big forward finger groove means that some finer campsite work is not outside of the Bestia’s capabilities either. Combine the handle profile with thick, rugged Micarta scales, and you have a grip that is as comfortable as it is useful.
TOPS has more design range than it is often given credit for, but the first thing that comes to mind when we hear their name are big, brash knives with the quality and specs to back up their swagger. The Bestia is an instant classic in that regard and it is no surprise it took home the award this year. “TOPS is honored and humbled that your readers would choose one of our fixed blades to represent any category,” Powell says on behalf of the team in Idaho. “So all the thanks goes out to the people that we make these tools for.”
Come in from the woods and get your bib and a fork: tomorrow afternoon we get to see which knife won the KnifeNews Readers’ Choice Award for Best Kitchen/Culinary Knife 2021!
Monday, January 3rd: Best New Tactical Fixed Blade (WINNER: Benchmade 375 Adamas)
Tuesday, January 4th: Best New EDC Fixed Blade (WINNER: LionSteel H2)
Thursday, January 6th: Best New Kitchen/Culinary Knife
Friday, January 7th: Best New Slipjoint/Non-Locking Knife
Monday, January 10th: Best New High-End Knife (MSRP of $300 or more)
Tuesday, January 11th: Best New Value Folder (MSRP of $100 or less)
Wednesday, January 12th: Best New Folder
Thursday, January 13th: Best Knife Upgrade
Friday, January 14th: Best Overall Lineup
Knife in Featured Image: TOPS Knives Bestia