My initial review of the Fallkniven, F1 pilot Survival Knife was exactly that, an initial review. I discussed the general characteristics, my first impression and my expectations of the Fallkniven F1. Originally, I liked the F1 but thought it’s sub 4″ blade might be sub par. In comparison to the longer and thicker bladed S1 Forest Knife, I felt the F1 would be second best. I was concerned that the hard VG 10 blade would be too brittle for the F1’s combination of thinner blade, convex/ flat grind and fine cutting edge. I had my doubts as to whether or not it would stand up to batoning or other abusive tasks. I also worried that the blade width (from spine to cutting edge) would be too wide to be handy at smaller, finer tasks. The S1 has a thicker longer blade with, what I consider, a convex/saber grind, which comes to a wide more robust cutting edge. The S1’s swedged, clip point comes to a fine enough taper to seem useful at smaller scale work.
I was wrong. The F1 does everything better than it’s bigger sibblings, the S1 and A1, except in regards to the A1’s batoning abilities. Don’t get me wrong. The F1 is not a tank. The hard stainless steel, VG-10 cutting edge will chip if batoned into really hard wood (as has happened to my F1 in dried oak), dropped into rocks, etc. However, that’s the nature of VG-10 and many other excellent stainless steels, chipping is arguably to be expected under heavy use. Also, it’s thinner blade and convex/flat grind does not seem to give enough “shoulder” or blade width to split wood without continuous contact with the cutting edge. But, considering how equally well the F1 performs at heavy and fine tasks alike, the geometry couldn’t have been more spot on.
I have now had the Fallkniven, F1 Pilot Survival Knife for some time and have had the chance to really use it. Immediately, I was impressed with it’s style and simple but thoughtful design and appreciated the quality materials used. The company, Fallkniven, had already impressed me with their attention to their customers. I was a proud owner. In the interest of the love for my new tool and for the sake of my readers and this review, I took every opportunity to put the Fallkniven F1 through it’s paces. These are my experiences and thoughts on the matter.
After unboxing, I immediately brought the F1 to an unlucky piece of paper and started slicing. VG-10 is known for it’s fine carbide as a result of the addition of Vanadium and should take an extremely fine edge. I found the edge a bit toothy out of the box. Grind and tool marks were obvious. This was nothing a little stropping with some compound on a mouse pad couldn’t fix. Once it was scary sharp (which didn’t take long) and slicing paper like a light saber, it was time for some fun.
It did OK carving a racketball sized heart out of a piece of aromatic cedar, for my daughter. It’s certainly not my whittling knife, but it did what I asked of it.
Next came the dried pine 2″X4″. The 2X4 was like candy to the capable F1. It batoned through with ease and authority, leaving no signs of damage to the blade. I turned the 2X4 into sticks and the sticks into feathersticks. My F1, wood burning stove and I were happy. It was a good day.
That night the unthinkable happened. I dropped the F1 onto rock and chipped the blade. Oh no! I rushed over to my sand paper and mouse pad and, to my pleasant surprise, easily sharpened out the chips.
The F1 quickly found it’s way into the kitchen. It does not compare to my Shun, Damascus VG-10 Chef Knife, but who is asking it to. It peels, sclices and chops with no problem.
Next, I brought it into the woods. The Fallkniven F1 and S1 came with me to Fisheating Creek, just west of lake Okechobee, Fl. I batoned both through a variety of white and red oak, as this was the only firre wood available to me. Forget feathersticking this wood with either knife. The wood was too hard. I ended up cutting chips off my hatchet, instead. Both the S1 and the F1’s blades chipped under the abuse, although the S1 chipped less. I Quickly became sure to avoid any knots or cross grain and was able to process the wood, slowly but surely (don’t call me Shirley). However, despite the shorter, thinner blade of the F1, I was able to baton through the hardwood easier with it than the thicker, longer S1. I realized that the finer, sharper edge of the F1 initially bit into to dense wood better than the S1’s larger cutting edge angle. The S1 seemed to bounce off the top of the wood. This was consistently the case, regardless of the wood I used.
Feather sticking with the F1 is no problem. Although I don’t consider a convex edge to be a woodcarving edge, I have no complaints as to how the Fallkniven F1’s convex/flat grind and convex edge performed at woodcarving, shaving, or whittling. The S1, however, is a different story. I may just not be used to it’s thick convex/saber grind, but I don’t carve well with it at all. Yes, I can sharpen a stick or the trigger for a trap with it, but not as easily as with the F1.
I have not written the Fallkniven S1 off yet. On paper it has great measurements, design and materials and should make an excellent bushcraft knife. Personally, I believe the problem lies in the edge geometry. Often, knife manufacturers will give a knife an unusably large cutting edge angle attempting to make that edge super strong. Will a big, thick cutting edge be stronger than a thin one… Yes, but it won’t cut as well. What’s the sense of having a super strong knife that doesn’t function as a knife. I’m going to spend a little time refining the edge of my Fallkniven S1 Forest Knife and revisit it in the very near future. For now, let’s talk F1.
The Fallkniven F1 is not a specialized woodcraft knife or chef knife. Nor, is it an invincible survival knife. What it is, is versatile. It’s not a woodcraft knife, but it carves and splits wood well. It’s not a chef knife, but it is quite handy in the kitchen. It’s not a bombproof hunk of steel, but it is strong enough for just about any task, if used sensibly.
The Fallkniven F1 Pilot Survival knife is a great knife and has become my go-to blade, despite my original, differing opinion.