TOPS’ Tanimboca Puukko
By Pat Covert
When the modern Bushcraft movement began well over a decade ago, the go-to knives were Finnish puukko designs chosen for their feistiness in the field. The translation to English means “to work” and these fixed-blades were primarily for woodworking, fish processing, and everyday carry. The tradition lives on today in a modernized TOPS Knives’ version, the Tanimboca Puukko.
Designed by lifelong woodsman and knifemaker Goran Mihajlovic, the Tanimboca Puukko is a small knife with a big attitude. Overall length is 7.75″, with 3.63″ of the total in a stonewashed 1095 high carbon steel blade with a hard working Scandi grind. Mihajlovic’s design brings the traditional puukko up to modern standards without sacrificing its timeless purpose. The tan canvas Micarta scales (accented with red liners) have a divot for accommodating a bow drill for firestarting, and the spine of the blade is ground to a sharp 90-degree edge for throwing sparks from a ferro rod. As an added benefit, brass screws allow the scales to be removed for cleaning. A natural leather sheath is included and a TOPS emergency whistle comes attached to the belt loop.
The TOPS Tanimboca Puukko is a blend of traditional styling with modern touches.
The sheath is a deep leather pouch type, classic for the design.
The Tanimboca Puukko offers two different methods of firestarting, including a hard
edge on the spine for ferro rods and a bow drill pivot in the Micarta handle.
There are two types of Scandi grinds found on puukko knives. The traditional one is called a “zero grind” in which the V-shaped cross section tapers all the way to the edge. The other is the modified Scandi with a slight secondary bevel along the lead edge of the blade. TOPS uses the modified version on all their knives with Scandi grinds because it’s easier to sharpen, especially in the field. Both are effective, and average users like us will notice little difference.
Scandi-style knives are excellent for working wood, which is the main reason Bushcrafters picked up on them early on. Most of the practice of Bushcraft centers around the use of a knife for jobs like the notching, pointing, and shaving necessary for making items such as bow drills, pot hangers and tent pegs.
My brief tests with the Tanimboca Puukko proved it to be worthy of its Finnish namesake. The blade shaves very well, and digs into wood for notching when asked. Survivalists will appreciate it for such chores, but keep in mind, most of us would carry a much larger knife, axe or machete to handle heavy-duty chores like shelter building and batoning logs.
Got A Light?
The two firestarting options on the Tanimboca Puukko are excellent primary or backup features for anyone who spends time in the backwoods. Ferrocerium rods are an easy way to start a fire if your matches get wet or lighter gets lost. Tinder can be easily made using cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly. These catch fire easily off of sparks and will keep for months in a tin or pill bottle. The hard edges on the spine of the Tanimboca Puukko’s blade works well for throwing sparks and lighting that cotton tinder in a jiffy. The bow drill pivot is a nice added feature for more experienced users. Just bone up on how to make one before you head out to the wilds. It’s not as easy as it is in the movies!
It’s not surprising Bushcrafters and survivalists have embraced the puukko design. It simply works, and works hard. The TOPS’ Tanimboca iteration adds to the classic with dutiful and stylish additions. At an MSRP of $150, you get a lot of cutter for your buck.
TOPS (208) 542-0113