Friday, 27 February 2009

The Return Of The F1

My fallkniven F1 dropped onto the door mat a couple of days ago, back from its trip to its birth place in Sweden. Now that it's back I though I do a review after a year or more of use.

I bought the F1 as I'd seen them mentioned on numerous Bushcraft and knife forums and seen a few well thought of instructors using them. While the F1 isn't my idea of the perfect bushcraft knife - blades too thick for fine woodcarving- I do really rate the design. Alone in the woods this puppy would be a wellspring of confidence. For fire and shelter it's absolutely perfect, if you wanted to whittle a violin to play while your waiting to be rescued you may find something a little thinner more to your taste.

Regular readers will remember that I chipped the tip (1mm-1.5mm) a while back splitting a piece of Leylandii for a backyard fire. I wasnt that impressed, but in fairness to fallkniven I had already subjected the knife to some heavy use during which it had acquitted itself admirably. 
One of the key feature of a 'survival knife's is that it needs to be a 'pry bar with an edge' and buoyed with the confidence of other peoples user reports I took them at their word and treated it without mercy. After the testing I did in the first few days I had cause to take up all the carpet in the bottom part of the house; cut it into pieces small enough to sneak into the domestic rubbish collection, take up what seemed like miles of carpet tracking (the nail studded wooden strips that holds your carpet against the wall) and then pry up a few floor boards. No problem. Scratches? Yes loads, but it kept an edge and showed no signs of bending.

Then I set out to teach myself convex sharpening, using the mouse mat method, and although it pains me to tell you this - I suck at it. The idea is that you glue a range of different abrasives papers to the undersides of old mouse mats and by pulling the blade over the abrasive service you'll sharpen the edge, while maintaining the 'apple seed' shape of the blade. Many, many people have achieved spectacular results with this method. One day I may even join their ranks.

If you fancy a go yourself here's the top tip I SHOULD have followed.

The only pressure you need is the weight of the blade, ANY pressing down on the blade will round the edge not sharpen it. Opps!

I put the F1 in the post to Peter Hjortberger, owner of fallkniven, and this is what he emailed back to me.

......Your knife has arrived. What I find is a well used knife, very blunt edge and a loss of the tip of around 1.5 mm. Regular wear and tear is NOT covered by our warranty. Our offer is to regrind your blade into a good shape for free but charge you for the return cost......

I thought this was a fair assessment of the situation and gratefully coughed up for the postage.

Team Fallkniven have refinished the blade to a wicked edge, sharper than when it came out of the box, and put a shine on the blade that would let you signal to a rescue plane. The blade seems a little thinner than I remember it, but I didn't/don't have a micrometer handy.
The person who re worked the blade took a bit of metal off the ricasso (where the handle ends and where the shaping of the edge begins) I'm sure many Britishblades or knifeforums members would be livid, but as I keep having to explain to my nearest and dearest I'm not a knife collector, I'm an enthusiast. They're tools to me.  

So, having been thoroughly tested,  I can give what I expect to be my final assessment of the F1. 
  • Worth the money? YES 
(I told a well known knife vendor what I paid for mine and the look on his face made me think they aint that cheap wholesale, but even during our current exchange-rate-meltdown they're still a lot of tool for the cash - if you are after one: I keep seeing bargains on british blades in the Portobello Rd forum)
  • Holds an edge? YES (It'll withstand anything. Except incompetence)
  • Strongly made? YES  (very, beating it this deep destroyed the Oak mallet I used)

  • Fit for purpose? YES (they were designed as survival knives, not scalpels, not bushcraft knives. They also make excellent carpet removal tools)
  • Would I buy another? What do you think? ;-)
Wait 'till you see the bayonet I got for my birthday!!
your pal
The Bushwacker


Albert A Rasch said...

Nice Review SBW,

I haven't had the occasion to handle one. I wonder if they are available here in the USA? I'll check into it. If it survives your Bushwacking it will survive anything I do to it!

Albert A Rasch
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
Proud Member of Outdoor Bloggers Summit
Southeast Regional OBS Coordinator

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

You gotta check one out, they're ace. I bought mine in the US as it was loads cheaper than the UK price.

Also look at the H1 their hunters knife which I'll be getting as my economy improves.
I made certification this morning so I'm now an approved contractor for water, electric's in a week ohh errrr! I keep my myself motivated thinking about all the neat crap i'll be able to buy

Fallkniven do quite a few really nice knives, I'd love to pimp a TK6, then there's the new PHK or professional hunter knife which is similar in blade shape to the knives some New Zealand hunters use and looks ideal for butchering a big ol' Hawg.

The real issue for us in the UK is that with the demise of the great british rupee they are now REALLY expensive. So expensive that the work of some top end custom knife makers is starting to look a lot less expensive in comparison.

With Fallkniven you get the super trick laminated steels, but when you can have made to measure for the same or less.....

Hope you're well

Anonymous said...

Albert, try He's got the F1 for $99, the H1 for $129 and the H1 3G for $169. That's pretty close to the cheapest you'll find and he's got them in stock.

I love the Fallknivens. I've been eying both an F1 blade blank (if I can find one) for a project and that H1 3G.

SBW, once you're flush with contractor's cash I'd also drop a couple hundred bucks on a Charles May custom.
Depending on the exchange rate, you might get a good deal. I know a lot of the guys on Britishblades speak highly of Gene Ingram and Charles May. They're friends and their knives are of similar quality but Charlie's are cheaper and the wait is shorter.
I recently went on a knife-buying binge and picked up a few of Charlie's knives on the secondary market and his Skifa Scandi is pure bushcraft bliss. I ended up with that one and a drop-point knife he calls the Bladiemae.
I ended up selling the Skifa because I wanted a different handle material but I'm calling next week and ordering one with the handles I want. It's about an 18-month wait so my wallet can recover. Just Google "Charles May Knives" and you should find his site.

I've got a couple Bark Rivers as well, a Montana Guide and full-tang Kephart,with which I used to baton (poorly) some wood this morning. The Montana Guide's a bit thick, but I love that retro-looking Kephart.

My new kick is Moras and other scandis. In addition to the aforementioned Skifa I'm buying assorted scandi knife blades in the delusional hope I can make a knife. Starting out with one of those cool Enzo trappers.

Bushcraft and woods knives are kind of an addiction, aren't they?

Brian King said...

I know this is an older post, but I saw it and had to comment. I have an F1 and love it! Great knife! Fallkniven did it right with the exception of the placement of the lanyard hole, but I don't use it. The F1 is a great everyday-use knife.

I also own Becker and ESEE knives which are great blades, too.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


Feel free to comment at any time on any post. It's not often that something lives up to the hype, but the F1 does, I've had it for ages and am still delighted with it