Fallkniven A1 - review

Nov 25, 1999
Fallkniven model A1

When I saw first time this knife I thought: "It's not for me, I never tried to replace the axe with the knife". At least I claimed it several times on BladeForums: traveling in wilderness I always equipped myself with a medium sized or smaller knife and with a decent axe. However, testing Fallkniven model A1 I tried to be as objective as possible to make the comparison scale available to another probable users. Especially for those who have equipment philosophy different from mine.

Blade. This is a powerful knife with 160-mm (6,3") long and 6-mm (almost 0,25") thick Bowie style blade.
Blade has clear convex grind which in this knife native country Sweden is called "yx-egg" - axe edge in English. This kind of grind usually has less sharp sharpening angle and provides much stronger edge than conventional flat grind. It's a natural consequence of thicker edge. On the other hand some millimeters away from the edge line blade is thinner than flat ground edge with the same sharpening angle. This provides less cutting effort when the edge comes deeper into cut material. In other words convex grind allows to obtain great deal of the edge's additionally strength with a minor addition of cutting resistance.

Does it have any disadvantages? Of course, like each thing in this world.
  • It's more difficult to execute properly and causes additional costs in production, I got this info from manufacturer.
  • It's harder to sharpen properly, I got this info from some users and my experience proves it. Here I must say I found it more difficult to sharpen than flat ground edge but less difficult than I expected.
  • It's more difficult to do precise cuts than with the flat ground edge.
However for the powerful survival knife this type of grind is justified by all means.
I tried to sharpen color pencils with my A1, it was possible but I considerably would prefer thinner flat ground blade for this task.
I tried also to chop with this knife into 40-mm (about 1,2") thick branch of dry cherry wood. Here this blade is in it's element! The result of some hits you can see on this photo.

I tried to chop farther but no chips, no bright areas on the edge appeared on this powerful blade. It's really a very strong chopper!
I also tried to stab into the stack of old phonebooks. The main problem is not knife penetration abilities but man's own resistance to use all his force if he is not sure about his knife strength. It's out of discussion to stab with maximal force if someone has folding knife in his hand. With fixed blades it can be very differently also. Here I had complete trust for knife strength and I blasted off with all my force or near it at least. The result is visible: blade pierced 400-sheat thick phonebook and penetrated next 400 sheets into another.

Sharpening. First surprise for me was shaving sharpness of this thick and powerful blade out of the factory box, I think it proves great precision and care of manufacturing. I regretted to waste this amazing sharpness in my tests because I was sure I never could resharpen this blade to similar sharpness. I was wrong! Peter Hjortberger (Fallkniven) said me: "Don't worry about sharpening angle, just cut a thin slice from your sharpening stone" and I affirmed it works! I discovered very narrow (something about 0,5 mm) flat areas on the factory sharpened convex grind just near the edge line, these areas from both sides are creating the edge. I tried to pick them onto the photo with 5x magnification, hope you can notice them on the photo below. Please note bright strap between dark area at top-right (blade) and another dark area at bottom-left (shadow). This is I'm talking about, it's clearly visible especially in the right-bottom corner of my photo.
Grinding these areas from both sides I could restore literally shaving edge. Although ceramic stones worked almost equally well on this steel I would highly recommend DMT Diamond Whetstones. Using them you will save a great deal of your effort. You will need also fewer strokes what provides less possibility to make mistake in the sharpening angle.

Cliff Stamp suggested me another way to sharpen the convex edge. He said: "Put a sandpaper onto thick rubber or leather and work on this surface. The natural dent of surface will help you to cope with convex grind". I didn't try this method yet. When I will try it I'll share my impressions.

Handling. As all Fallkniven knives A1 has full tang construction, the end of blade tang slightly stands out of the handle's butt and can be used as a field hammer. Although the handle material is specified as Kraton on Fallkniven web page www.fallkniven.com I found it doesn't differs from the Thermorun Elastomer on my F1 and is a bit harder and slightly more slippery than Kraton on another my knives. Miniature handguard works very well, I had no doubts about my hand safety stabbing into phonebooks. The hole in the handle provides lanyard attachment; the steel liner in the hole secures handle against pulling from the blade tang.
Knife balance is more adequate to powerful chopping but it allows precise work also, maybe a bit less comfortable than with smaller knives. Starting my chopping test I was prepared to feel some kind of recoil usual when chopping with the relatively light knife, but I didn't feel it. Blade control is excellent, I could hit very accurate the place where I have aimed.

Sheath. As all Fallkniven knives A1 comes with some different sheaths including ones of leather, Cordura and Kydex. Mine has very strong Kydex sheath designed for the low belt carry. It holds knife very securely, in fact it's some kind of double protection against knife loss: handguard clicks firmly into sheath's molded lip and Cordura strap with fastener provides additional security. I can't imagine what could I do to let knife fall out of the sheath.

Resuming: Fallkniven model A1 is a very strong and powerful cutting tool which can be used additionally as a chopper, field hammer and even prybar. I think a normal man simply can't to break it even hanging on this knife plunged into the wood or into the crack of rock. As I marked above I would prefer a bit lighter knife with a bit thinner blade. However after tests I performed I'm feeling myself much more comfortable than before with this knife. But if you are limited in weight conditions to knife only (no axe) - this knife is a goal! It's also a great choice if you are traveling in a group and one of your companions carries an axe.
Very strong convex edge supported with great edge retention of VG-10 stainless steel makes this blade extremely hard to make dull. But even if you would do it - don't worry, the convex edge resharpening is easier than it is common to think.
My play with this knife isn't over; here I described my first impressions only. But I'm impressed enough to say:
This is a true heavy duty survival knife, you really can rely on your A1 in all extreme situations.

Sergiusz Mitin
Lodz, Poland

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I read this review over on the "other" forum. A really great and informative review.
You've got a real knack for this sort of thing, Sergiusz.

I see your a gun writer. Do you do knife reviews for your magazine also?

My new bumper sticker:

Let me tell you about my SIFU!
Excellent Review..
Just to carify..
Fallkniven A1 and F1 are Flat Ground..
Fallkniven S1 and WM1 are Convex Ground..

Take Care..
Murray Haday
Hmmmm, my A1 has convex edge.
Info I got at Fallkniven suggests all models in new run will have convex edge, F1 also.
Sorry, I can't to edit this massage to make images visible.
I'm editing all properly but when I submit my massage somethin wrong with it occurs, server is reediting it.
Originally posted by Sergiusz Mitin:
Hmmmm, my A1 has convex edge.
Info I got at Fallkniven suggests all models in new run will have convex edge, F1 also.
Interesting, then perhaps your A1 doesn't have a Kraton handle either, but a Thermorun E like the other models?

Urban Fredriksson
Latest updates Moki Hana, Fällkniven WM1 neck sheath, Moki Blossom and Fällkniven S1

"All this takes only about ten seconds, and then I hang the knife vertically, with a nail through the thong hole (and that's one of the big reasons why most every LOVELESS knife has a thong tube; it makes things easy, handling the blades and knives here in the shop)."
- How to make knives, Richard W. Barney and Robert W. Loveless
I was just speaking with Tom Lagan, Canada's Fallkniven Knife Distributor.
He contacted Fallkniven and was informed that the A1 new models have the convex grind and the F1 soon will also..
Also the S1 will soon be offered with the Black Blade..
Take Care..
Murray Haday

"Its Not Over Till I WIN"
Very nice review. Excellent penetration test, I will have to steal that one from you. Concerning sharpening the convex grinds. If you use a regular benchstone as described above "just cut a thin slice from your sharpening stone", this will sharpen the blade but will remove the convex bevel and replace it with a v-ground one.

This sharpening method was Peter's idea, not my.
These flat areas just near the edge are making it a bit on V-grind side. Grinding them on regular benchstone they could become flatter and flatter in each next sharpening session.
On the other hand they are so narrow that it's practically impossible to "catch" the same sharpening angle for each stroke. In fact this will make the grind much more convex than if it would be done using the sharpener with preset angle.
It's also possible to round the back edges of these flat areas just slightly reducing sharpening angle at the end of each stroke.
Sergiusz :

It's also possible to round the back edges of these flat areas just slightly reducing sharpening angle at the end of each stroke.

Yes exactly. If you have enough skill you can sharpen a convex bevel entirely freehand on a benchstone by doing this. You just have to rotate the blade to match the curvature of the bevel. A dished out stone helps.