Monday, 21 May 2012

Unboxing Review: Fallkniven TK6

[Drum Roll] For the first time in the history of the SBW blog, ladies and gentleman, bushcrafters, hunters, foodies, boys and girls: something from the 'I Want One' series has actually dropped on to the doormat! I know! I can't quite believe it myself! My friends at Eden Webshops have been kind enough to let me have a Tripple Krona 6 to play with.

The Totally Objective, Scrupulously Fair and Unbiased bit 
The TK6 is one of the lesser-spotted Fallkniven's. I know a few people who want one, but no one who's seen or handled one, and I'm guessing that's because of where they fit into the Fallkniven range. Most of us started by buying an F1 and then looked at the range and either went for something bigger as a camp knife (S1) or the WM1 as a neck knife. The now 'hens teeth' 'posh F1' with the Micarta handle is highly regarded, the TK2 is a bit more 'Bushcrafty' so the TK 5 and 6 haven't found as much traction with the knife buying public in the UK.

I've always wanted a little-big-knife; something smallish but very strong, I tried the Bark River Mikro Canadian II - loved the blade shape but loathed the fit and finish, and found the blade just a bit too small. There are lots of nice folders out there, not many of the nice ones currently within budget, and the hassle of taking them apart to clean them after beast-processing duty kind of puts me off.
Truthfully, despite what I might say from time to time, I'm not done accumulating fixed blades!

In the hand - first impressions
Petite. Petite yet muscular. The TK6 feels quite heavy for it's size, and is sharp enough to pop hairs off my arm going with the lie of the hair! Very Sharp!! There's a noticeable palm swell that I'd not picked up looking at the pictures. The bolster-to-blade fit is seamless. The fit between the Thermorun and steel could be better although it wouldn't be a big job to sand it out.

Total length: 6.9" (175 mm)
Blade length: 3.15" (80 mm)
Blade thickness: 0.18" (4,5 mm)
Weight: 120 g (4.2) oz
Steel: 3G which is  Fallkniven's proprietary name for a lamination of  VG2-SGPS-VG2.
Hardness (edge): 62 HRC - yep sixty effin' two!!
Handle material: Thermorun AKA Grippy Black Plastic
Sheath(s): Fold-over black leather or Zytel (a cast plastic)

The TK or Tripple Krona [three crowns] series are a celebration of Swedish knife design and are somewhere between Fallkniven's more utilitarian knives [F1-S1 ect.] and the ultra high-end Northern Lights series. The Fallkniven design philosophy is immediately present; super trick steel, and a thick laminated blade, with a convex grind.

The 3G knives have a reputation of being slow to blunt and then equally slow to sharpen. Being a lamination of three pieces of steel they are incredibly strong allowing the use of very hard steel in the ore without the risk of cracking. The centre section of the lamination obviously forms the cutting edge and is Super Gold Powder Steel, a super trick steel from Japan that can be hardened to 62 HRC. Which is A LOT harder than most knife blades so its not going to lend itself to easy field maintenance. But on the upside it should still be sharp by the time you get home.

The TK5 comes with Cocobolo scales, personally I'm not a believer in Cocobolo as a material for knife scales, some people are allergic to it, and in comparison to other timber it's just not that good looking. I want my knives for field use, not as drawer queens that are just for looking at and occasionally fondling.  I've always wanted to pimp one so a TK6 with its Thermorun handle seemed like a better bet.

You can have a choice of Fold-Over leather or Zytel sheaths. I know the fold-over sheaths have both their fans and detractors, I'm not that fussed either way myself. The Zytel sheaths are truly spectacular in their fuglyness proving that even utilitarianism can be taken too far. There is a whole cottage industry devoted to making sheaths for Fallkniven knives, with some of the guys, like Martin Swinkels, making really nice work. My plan for the TK6 has always been to pimp it out and give it a matching sheath.

Value for money
Sure Fallkniven are asking quite a lot of money for what is basically a mass produced knife, the F1 isn't the crazy bargain its once was, but is still a lifetimes worth of knife for around a days pay.
The TK6? Yes you could buy a very nice knife from one of the less well known makers for the same money, but you wouldn't get the laminated super steel. The TK5's price puts you within reach of a true custom knife bespoken to your requirements. But as the knife I most wanted to commission would be a TK5 clone anyway and G3 is only available from Fallkniven I'm using the TK6 as my starting point.

As regular readers will know I don't really care about the initial purchase price: I've been cash rich and [as now] I've been cash poor.  When I've had the money I've been pleased to be able to afford good kit, when I've been broke I've been pleased that I have good kit.
Some of the good kit that I bought a while back is now two and even three times what I paid for it. My pal The Northern Monkey said no to an F1 at forty quid back in the day, and now they're a hundred and twenty, expensive is relative, quality isn't.

I'm planning on the TK6 being 'another lifetimes worth of knife'. So having used up the other 'value is what you get' mantras in previous posts I guess I'll just have to repeat the words of a man wiser than I

'I spent most of my money wining and dining northern tarts, [and buying boutique outdoor gear]. The rest of it I just frittered away.'

Edenwebshops sell all the cool brands of knives, and somehow are quite a lot cheaper than most suppliers, very nice guys to deal with, warmly recommended.

Better go and put that first heart-wrenching scratch on it.

More soon