When I was a kid in the late 80s I asked my Dad to subscribe me to a magazine called Combat and Survival. I used to look forward to its arrival on a friday evening when Dad would bring it back from the newsagents complete with a 1/4lb of cola cubes and a stick of nougat. While slowly destroying my tooth enamel I would read about tactics and kit. In the back pages it would often advertise cool looking kit.. The thing I really wanted was a survival knife. Of course my parents did not get me one – not because of the safety aspect, it was the glorious 80s!! I had knives, catapults and all sorts of awesome stuff. It was the price! Wilkinson Sword and Fallkniven knives were my favourites and they cost a little too much for a small boy to own. I continued to drool but that may have been due to the cola cubes..
Anyway we now fast forward to 2016. Wilkinson Sword knives are a distant but pleasant memory. Fallkniven however have endured the test of time and their classic design has remained simple, beautiful and uber functional. In late 2015 Fallkniven updated the classic F1 and released a Pro version. I got my hands on one for review and thus I sit here with a mouth full of sweets for old times sake smiling happily because it is an EPIC blade!
The F1 has been used by the Swedish airforce since 1995. This tells us that it is a very reliable and functional design capable of enduring difficult environments. The simplicity of design is the key to the F1s brilliance. There are no quirky features at all. The overall length of the F1 Pro is just over 21cm with the drop point blade taking up 10cm of that. The full tang has been enlarged and strengthened on the Pro model which in tests have shown the knife to be notably stronger than the standard F1. At first appearance the handle seems plain but it really fits the hand well. The tang is covered in a tough rubber like material called Thermorun. Thermorun has excellent properties – it is grippy, a good insulator and is extremely resilient to abrasion and knocks. An ideal material to use on the handle of a knife, especially if your using it in cold environments. The tang is visible at the pommel end and could be used as a striking surface.
The handle has a lanyard hole at the rear which is a required feature for many users. If you are using the knife on a boat then you would be sensible to have it permanently attached via the lanyard. It would be a very expensive splash..
Coming up toward the blade end the F1 has a minimalistic handguard which is just big enough to brace the forefinger on below and rest the thumb on in front of the spine. It has no funky jimping or agressive edges and it is perfect in my opinion. Fallkniven have changed it a little on the Pro model by fixing it firmly to the tang. This was another of the changes they made to increase overall strength which they have verified in multiple tests..
The sheath has recieved criticism in the past for feeling “cheap”. I am not sure what people expect from a sheath. Personally I want it to be functional and light. The F1 pro sheath is both of these. It is made from a Zytel material and is fairly flat. It attaches to the belt via a simple webbing loop and has slots on each side should you wish to attach paracord for molle fixing. There is a slot in the bottom which will allow drainage of any moisture. The F1 clicks securely into the sheath and I have had no retention problems when running or climbing with it on the hip.
One of the standout features of the F1 Pro has to be the presentation box with included accessories. The box itself is a waterproof plastic impact resistant affair which is just excellent. It could be used for stowing phones and electrical kit that need protection from the elements or as a place to keep the knife when not in use. The inside is foam lined with cutouts for knife, sheath and the DC4 diamond sharpener. The sharpener is fantastic and provides a coarse and fine side for field sharpening. It doesn’t beat a full size whetstone at home but it is great to take out with you. I would suggest using it a few times on a cheap knife to take the newness out of it before unleashing it on your F1 Pro. It sits in a nice leather pouch which is an excellent touch. Finally Falkniven supply some branded plasters for small cuts. This really made me chuckle but is probably wise considering this knife is super sharp out of the box..
This is where the major change takes place on the Pro model. The 10cm drop point blade on the standard F1s are made of laminated VG10 steel which is considered excellent by most. Fallkniven took things a step further to improve edge retention and have upgraded to laminated cobalt steel which they designate as Lam.Cos. For those that do not understand the benefits of laminated steel let me explain. Hard steel produces a good sharp edge which will last a long time. However if the whole blade were made of a very hard material it might be prone to snapping under pressure. Softer steel produces a more durable blade material which will bend and spring back to shape but with loss of edge retention. The idea with laminate is that you sandwich some hard steel for the cutting edge with softer steels which ensure durability of the blade as a whole. The Japanese developed this process when making Katanas which of course needed to be razor sharp and durable for battle.
Fallkniven have also thickened the blade slightly bringing it up to 0.5cm which in my mind gives it a perfect trade off between workhorse and fine detail capabilities.
The blade has a convex edge which has also been reworked to improve strength while maintaining hair shaving sharpness. The drop point shape is incredibly functional with no gimmicks and does exactly what you need it to..
I have used the F1 Pro for a variety of wood prepping tasks which it handles with ease. It batons like a champ and is also at ease with making fine kindling, feather sticks and shavings. It is heavy and sharp enough to delimb branches.
I have also used the F1 pro for food prep and it is superb in the role. Whether you are cutting up game or slicing tomatoes it will not dissapoint.
The greatest test I gave it was in the snow and water of the Welsh valleys. I took the knife on a shooting weekend where the weather was truly awful. I used the knife in snow and ice and purposely left it wet to see how the new steel coped. After two days of rough treatment without being dried or cleaned the steel did not have a mark on it. The edge is still sharp as a razor and the knife looks as new. The sheath proved comfortable and functional and while there was no need to use the whetstone it was nice to have just in case.. I really appreciated the size and versatility of the F1 Pro. Are there bigger more capable survival blades? Sure. I have the ESEE 5 and the famous Parry blade as well as a couple of large Schrade models. They will do the big stuff BUT they are large and heavy. The F1 will keep up with them for most things at a size and weight that I could happily carry all day everyday.
Value and conclusion.
Fallkniven have never been cheap but neither are they ludicrously expensive. We live in a time where people reguarly pay £300+ for a knife, often just to collect/own it. The F1 pro comes in around £200 or around $250. Considering the materials, case and extra kit I would say that is excellent value for money.
The F1 Pro has become my go to fixed blade at the moment. If I am going into the woods then this is the blade that I bring just because it is so versatile and compact. I cannot imagine any improvements I could suggest in terms of design it is that perfect!
Fallkniven – www.fallkniven.com
Heinnie Haynes U.K. Distributor – www.heinnie.com/fallkniven-pro-series-f1