Review of Fallkniven Mod. S1 "Forest Knife"
I just received my Fallkniven S1 from Paul at Workwear Canada and my first impressions are good. At a measured 246mm long, the Swedish import S1 sits between the smaller Fallkniven F1 line of survival knives and the larger A1 or A2 military s. The S1 also comes with a black Ceracoat 8H finish, known as the S1BL, but I did not require a non-reflective finish. And since I already own more than one good hunting knife, I purchased the S1 primarily as an all round camping/survival knife, one that would not be too bulky or heavy to carry all day. Primary tasks could be shaving up wood strips to start a campfire, chopping branches for a shelter, meal preparation, or even field dressing dinner.
The S1 comes with either a Zytel sheath or a hinged leather sheath, but not both. I choose the classic black leather sheath and was not disappointed. It is well made and secure. I can turn the sheath with knife upside down, shake it and the S1 shows no sign of wanting to fall out. But the positive checkering on the Thermorun handle material also helps to keep the knife secure in the sheath and in your hand. Thermorun feels similar to Kraton, another common knife handle material, but somewhat less “tacky”. This type of handle material also prevents loss of grip in wet or cold conditions, a prime requirement for a survival knife.
The clip point blade is a hefty 180g, but it feels well balanced, like a natural tool for the hand. The point of balance is right at the moulded guard end of the handle. At 5mm thick, the laminated VG-10 steel runs the full length of the knife and ends in a pommel that protrudes about 2mm from the end of the handle. The exposed pommel is ground carefully to match the handle profile and when you look straight on the end of the pommel, you can see the distinct layers of the laminated stain resistant steel. The layer of VG-10 sandwiched between two layers of 420J2 is also clearly visible on the factory sharp convex edge and the false edge on top.
Laminated steel is not new. The concept of surrounding a very hard tool steel core with a tougher, but relatively softer outer layer gives a blade great strength. But it is more expensive to manufacture because of the extra care required to grind to profile and heat treat. But once manufactured, blade maintenance is simply a matter of basic sharpening techniques as you would with any other fine knife. I have a treasured set of Japanese wood chisels that are of laminate steel construction and they are a joy to use because they sever wood fibres so cleanly and effortlessly. With that in mind, I began my first real test.
I began with an off cut pine 2x4 in my shop, shaving off strips as if to start a campfire. The first thing I noticed was the blade did not dig into the wood like a hollow ground knife might, but gave good control from start to finish. Once I had a sizeable pile of shavings, I tried to split some hardwood kindling. I tried to pick dry hardwood with a fairly straight grain and found once started, all I had to do was drive the S1 on the spine with another piece of wood to split the kindling. Because of the convex grind, it splits wood very much like a lightweight axe. I completed the test with some quick chopping of some cedar shakes that turned into another pile of kindling.
At this point, I examined the edge and found no nicks or signs of dulling. Because I always try the shaving test and the slicing the newspaper test on every new knife, I was sure that it had arrived sharp. But would it still shave? Because of what it had just been through, I gave the S1 a couple of wipes on a piece of leather to clean and refine the edge. This is my normal final step with sharpening knives and does not remove aterial as much as perfect the edge. Happy to report that the S1 kept on shaving!