TOPS has partnered with Al Mar Knives for their latest release, a USA-made version of the Mini SERE Operator. The surprise announcement gives a classic Mar design new life and could lead to more TOPS models based on the legend’s designs.
The SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, & Escape) Operator family endures as some of the finest tactical knife options in the world. The simple, spare design belies their usefulness and TOPS wasn’t one to mess with what isn’t broken. For their iteration of the Mini SERE Operator, they retained the straight 4-inch drop point blade with swedge and ergonomic, slightly angled handle. Even smaller details like the hollow handle pins and lanyard hole location mirror the original.
“In terms of translating this model to our lineup, it was a simple process,” says the company’s Craig Powell. “Because we aren’t making any changes to the design, it was just a matter of making it with our own manufacturing process.” The Japan-produced Al Mar Knives iteration utilizes VG-10 steel, but TOPS chose 154CM for their take. Additionally, they opted for G-10 instead of Micarta for the scales. “The two designs for all intents and purposes are the same just with slightly different materials,” Powell says.