If you are a regular reader you might have seen the review of the iconic Fallkniven F1 a couple of months ago. The F1 is part of a range of knives – the A1, F1 and S1. The F1 is the baby of the bunch which suits a specific niche – a small but incredibly tough survival blade. The size of your knife is always a trade off – small and light will sacrifice heavy chopping ability while knives that can chop will be bulkier and heavier. Fallkniven cater for all requirements of course. While the F1 makes an excellent bushcrafter/packable survival blade the A1 gives you real chopping power with extra length, girth and weight.. Fallkniven have now given all three models the “pro” treatment and we will take a closer look at the A1 here.
The original versions of these knives are iconic and many users that are alot more experienced than me have called them perfect. Fallkniven have given themselves the impossible task of bettering the best. The changes are subtle as it would be crazy to lose the primary design which works brilliantly. Fallkniven have always kept away from gimmicks and the changes made to the A1 pro are functional.
The handle has changed shape and offers a more contoured fit to the hand. The change is not dramatic but it does provide a firmer feeling grip. This is further enhanced by the material covering the handle – Thermorun. Thermorun is very resistant to heat, abrasion and provides a good grip. Fallknivens handles always feel superb in the hand and I find them comfortable for elongated use. Some more complex handle shapes look very dramatic but do not lend well to hard, long use. The handle of the A1 feels robust, gripping it gives you the feeling that this is a strong and durable tool. The handle has a lanyard hole and the pommel is bare metal should you need to use it as a striking surface.
Further up the handle you have a stainless steel cross guard which is firmly attached to the tang. The cross guard offers a degree of protection and prevents the hand slipping. The standard A1 has a polymer cross guard built into the handle. I have never heard of any failing but the steel on the pro certainly gives you added confidence. It also looks a lot cooler for those of you who are more interested as collectors than hard users (probably quite a large proportion of modern knife buyers).
The A1 pro has a tapered tang as do the other models in the range. The pro version has a wider and thicker tang than the standard model. This adds more rigidity which has been proved in testing at Lulea University. Fallkniven back up their marketing claims with unbiased scientific testing. Now that is pretty impressive! I don’t know many knife manufacturers who would be ballsy enough to test in that manner..
Just like the F1 and S1 pro versions the A1 comes with a zytel sheath, sharpening stone and waterproof box.
The sheath has received some heat in previous reviews I have seen due to it not looking particularly exciting. Personally I am not in the least bit bothered about sheath aesthetics. I want the sheath to do two things.
1. Secure the knife safely
2. Relinquish secure hold when I grasp the handle of the knife and pull.
The sheath does both without a problem.
The diamond sharpener included has a neat little leather pouch. The sharpener is great for taking into the field but at home I will stick with a large whetstone.
The box really is the icing on the cake. It makes a great storage box for other bits if you are a user of the knife. It also serves as a perfect display box for those that like to collect and store their blades in mint condition.
The A1 pro has a 16cm (6.2″) blade which puts it safely into the “large knife” category. The blade has gained 1mm at the spine, measuring 7mm.. Plenty thick enough for hard use and ideal for batoning firewood.
The big change across the pro range blades is the steel. The standard models are VG10 steel which has an excellent reputation. VG10 is resistant to rust, holds a great edge and is pretty easy to sharpen. A difficult area to improve on basically. Fallkniven decided to use what they refer to as lam. CoS steel. This is a laminated cobalt steel which on paper boasts more resilience to rust and the ability to retain a sharper edge. I have been using the F1 for around 10 months and the A1 for around 5 and I can confirm they are both wicked sharp. It takes several days of very hard use to make them even slightly dull and they return to their former wicked sharp with only a few sweeps over the waterstone and a quick strop. They came sharp enough to shave with out of the box..
The blade shape looks simple and functional but actually has a lot of thought behind it. The heaviest part of the blade is forward of centre making it feel like a natural chopper in the hand. The blade wants to fall into the chopping motion. The point is sharp but rugged enough to take abuse. Digging out holes or indents in timber is something I often end up doing which has cost me the tips of lesser knives.
The A1 and F1 tips remain as sharp as the day I got them. The blades really are exquisite on the Fallkniven Pros and I must confess I have spent quite some time just admiring them. They seem to ooze quality craftsmanship which is something that words can’t do justice. I strongly recommend getting one in hand and seeing for yourself..
The A1 has been in use for about 5 months now. I have used it for batoning and erecting crude shelters just for fun. I have not had to use it to survive (Thank God!) which is the role it was primarily designed for. It makes light work of firewood and is comparable to an ESEE 5 Or Parry Blade in terms of chopping ability. I found it to be well suited for finer duties as well and it produces kindling, feathersticks and sliced veg for the pot without an issue. The knife is very well balanced and never feels ungainly in the hand even when set to delicate work. It doesn’t beat 2 knives (one dedicated chopper and a smaller blade for fine work) but it is about as good as it gets if you only have room for one. The A1 weighs in at 360g (around 12.8oz) which is certainly more than you would want for an EDC (unless you hunt crocodiles for a living). Lets be realistic though the A1 is no EDC blade, it is a specialist survival or wilderness blade and it needs to have some weight to remain efficient. If you have to chop firewood then those 12.8ozs are going to be a benefit.
I have taken the A1 into cold, hot and salty coastal environments and it never missed a beat. I have not been gentle with it and the blade looks as good as new. I always rinse, dry and oil my blades after use.
Value and availability.
The A1 Pro is a little more expensive than the standard version. Most people buying a knife from Fallkniven are either serious collectors or serious users. Both groups will find the price really good as they likely have a fair idea of what good quality costs. Those just looking for a blade to take on the odd camping trip might find the A1 Pro to be a little on the expensive side. To be fair it really is a pro tool and is priced as such. In the U.K. the A1 can be found at www.heinniehaynes.com for £295. In the U.S. www.knifecentre.com are stocking it for $345.
I straight up love the A1 and will carry on using it in the future. It is a little more refined than the ESEE 5 and a little more minimalist than the Parry blade. I love both of those knives for their brash no compromise looks and function. The Fallkniven materials are what really sets this knife apart. I strongly suggest trying it for yourself. If you hold one I bet you will buy it!
Fallkniven – www.Fallkniven.com
Heinnie Haynes – www.heinnie.com
Knife Centre – www.knifecenter.com