Things That Don’t Suck: TOPS Modern Gladius


Folding knives are convenient, and what most of us carry as EDC blades, but sometimes it’s nice to have a good fixed blade around for more serious purposes. A good friend and mentor always described a folding knife as being pre-broken, in that it’s already in multiple pieces and we’re relying on the lock to hold it together during use.

A fixed blade knife with a full tang is all one piece, and inherently stronger. This is especially beneficial in a knife intended for heavy camp use or self-defense. That’s one reason you don’t see too many folding survival knives or military combat knives.

If you’re looking for a tough fixed blade, no list is going to be complete without something from TOPS Knives. TOPS makes their knives in Ucon, Iaho and they’ve been at it since 1998. They have over 25 years experience making tough fixed blade tools designed by military, law enforcement, and outdoors experts.

One of their more recent designs, albeit one with history that’s over 2,000 years old, is the Modern Gladius. The Modern Gladius takes its design cues and name from the ancient Roman sword of the same name. The Roman Gladius served as the standard issue sidearm of the Roman Republic and Empire for 600 years and has gone on to inspire many later swords and knives for centuries.

Th Modern Gladius is about 11½ inches overall so it’s definitely a knife, not a sword like it’s namesake. It’s big enough to be a serious defense tool, but not so big as to be a burden to carry. It has Micarta scales which give it a solid, secure grip, and uses red liners for a pop of color.

The Gladius’ blade is 6 inches long and 0.190” thick, and made from 1095 high carbon steel with a black, non-reflective coating. The double-edged blade has the angular tip of the late Pompeii Gladius, which makes it great for stabs and thrusts. A double fuller helps lighten the blade and make it more nimble in the hand.

The Modern Gladius comes with a black Kydex sheath and has a removable leather dangler for belt carry. The large D ring could be used to clip or lash the sheath to your pack or armor as well. If you need even more carry options, the rivet spacing on the sheath makes it Tek-Lok compatible.

The Modern Gladius feels good in the hand. Its Micarta grip gives a solid purchase whether with bare hands or when wearing gloves, and is long enough for most any hand. The combination of textured Micarta and an integral cross-guard keep you hand off of the blade during hard stabs and thrusts. And make no mistake, the MG excels at thrusts and stabs.

I didn’t get into any knife fights when I was working with this TOPS pig-sticker but I tried it out on stacked cardboard, both bare and covered in layers of denim or leather. That needle tip makes for impressive penetration. It also did well for crosswise cuts on the cardboard targets.

The ring pommel seems mainly for aesthetics, but it’s a great point for securing a lanyard if you want one. Weight with the Kydex sheath is only a touch over 14 ounces so you’ll find the TOPS Gladius a little easier to pack around than the original Roman Legion-issued models.

If you like the idea of a rugged modern combat dagger, but one that traces its lineage back a couple of thousand years, then the TOPS Modern Gladius is well worth checking out.


Blade Length: 6.50″
Cutting Edge: 6.00″
Handle Length: 4.88″
Overall Length: 11.38″
Blade Material: 1095 Carbon Steel
Blade Thickness: 0.190″
Blade Hardness: 56-58HRC
Blade Style: Double Edge Dagger
Blade Finish: Black Traction Coat
Handle Material: Tan Canvas Micarta
Sheath Material: Kydex with Dangler
Weight: 8.30 oz.
Weight with Sheath: 14.30 oz.
Made in the USA
MSRP: $245.00

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