North American Puukko: F1 + Concealex

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Jun 29, 1999
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I’ve been looking for a ‘North American puukko’ for some time, meaning, a rugged, all-round utility knife large enough to skin and quarter a moose, small enough to handily peel an orange, and compact enough for discreet civilian carry. Something along the lines of a 4/5 size Master Hunter, with a non-slip grip for cold, wet or messy conditions, a sturdier blade than traditional puukkos and a convenient carry system. The sheath is integral to the knife, as the Finns know.
Nothing I saw quite seemed what I wanted, although my collection grew substantially (Frost, Ericksson, Roselli, Marttiini, Colorado Cutlery). I was starting to think about ordering what I wanted from a custom smith when Fallkniven in Sweden came up with almost exactly what I was looking for: the F1 survival knife.
The F1 was adopted by the Swedish Air Force in 1995, and considering that the military are usually pretty careful about selecting their hardware (notwithstanding the occasional multi-billion dollar boondoggle), I took that as a resounding endorsement. Plus, all of the reviews I read (Fred Perrin, Sergiusz Mitin, James Mattis) were highly complimentary. It was also affordable, even with the Canadian peso at 65 cents US, so I ordered one from Blowoutknives.
Two weeks later it arrived, setting some kind of new record for Canada Post, although the wait seemed longer, sort of like a kid after sending off cereal box tops for a prize. (I ate a lot of Cheerios during a largely misspent youth.)
This is a compact, solid knife. The Themorun grip is harder as well as slimmer than the MH’s kraton but still provides a good grip. A portion of the tang is exposed at the butt in case you need to pound on it, or with it, and there’s a lined lanyard hole, handy when working over water. I couldn’t find a single grind flaw in the blade. It was almost shaving sharp out of the box with a very aggressive edge and one tiny burr for about a quarter inch, which resulted in a slight nick when I tested it for shaving capabilities (ouch!). Five minutes on a DMT ultra-fine diamond hone, followed by a few licks on a wooden-backed strop impregnated with chromium dioxide sharpening compound (from Lee Valley Tools), brought it to hair popping sharp.
Carbon steel would have been my first choice, say, O1 or Carbon V, maybe even 1095, but I’m not fanatical about that. My usual daily duo, a SAK and a CS Voyager, are stainless steel, and they cut well and re-sharpen easily. Stainless alloys can do even better than tried and true carbon steels under certain conditions, as editor Steven Dick of Tactical Knives pointed out recently.
The steel is VG-10, reputedly specifically alloyed as a cutlery steel. Various reports indicate that it is produced in ingot form in a small steel mill on Honshu island in Japan, using Swedish iron ore. VG-10 has been turning up in a number of higher end knives, including Spyderco’s little Moran fixed blade. There has been little said about the heat treatment, but all of the reviews so far have concluded that VG-10 is one very tough steel with exceptional edge holding qualities. I haven’t tried it out on any big game yet, but it works well around the kitchen and the workshop, out in the garden and along the jogging trail where it tends to get grown in. It seems to sharpen almost as easily as carbon on a diamond hone (it should – diamond is way harder than any steel), and it holds an edge well enough that I can’t tell much difference between it and carbon. With any kind of luck I’ll try it out on something with fur this fall, alongside my Carbon V Master Hunter and the little Marbles Fieldcraft in 52100.
The F1 came with an puukko style sheath in heavy leather dangling on a four inch strap. This basic Finnish 'tuppi' design is intended to hold the knife securely so it doesn’t drop out as you gambol through the woods, so it requires two hands to draw. It works well if you’re sitting in a car or a canoe; it just gets out of your way and holds the blade securely. It is a little bulky for inside the waistband carry, though ("Is that a Fallkniven in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?"), so I got hold of Eric Noeldechen (a.k.a. Normark) at On/Scene Tactical in Harrow, Ontario. He carries ready-made Concealex sheaths for all of the Fallkniven line, in addition to his custom sheaths for knives, tools, flashlights, etc.
The black, F1 Concealex sheath arrived in less than a week, another record for Canada Post. Concealex is a tough, light, springy thermoplastic, thinner than leather. Lightly textured and non-reflective, it is available in a variety of colours and patterns including Real Tree camouflage. Like the F1, it first appears deceptively simple, but as you examine it closely it’s obvious that a lot of thought and good design went into it.
The sheath is made of a single piece, folded over and precisely molded to the shape of the blade and grip. Three rivets secure it, with a G-clamp belt clip attached by two Phillips head screws that thread into aluminum fittings through holes along the edge of the sheath. A hole is provided at the toe to drain any moisture.
The mouth is subtly flared for easy insertion and the F1 snicks into place perfectly. The sheath holds it firmly, no rattles, but you can remove the knife with a good tug or replace it one-handed. The handle protrudes a mere three inches, and the total package sheathed is nine inches long.
All of the Concealex sheaths from Normark are ambidextrous. The G-clip can be attached to either side, and positioned in 45 degree increments for vertical, canted, horizontal carry, inside or outside the waistband, strong side or weak side. There’s even a grommet at the tip for neck carry. It is slim enough to slide unobtrusively into a front or back pants pocket. Another option available is a hunter style sheath with a belt loop.
I love the look and feel of wood, brass, stag, and leather, but this combination makes a slim, elegant, practical package that’s all function. From now on, it goes where I go.
 
Hey Ed...

Thanks for the kind words..
smile.gif


I agree the FI is a pretty darn cool knife for it's price range no doubt.

It's probably the most used knife in my fleet,, next to my SAK....

Thanks again..

Eric...

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Eric E. Noeldechen
On/Scene Tactical
http://www.mnsi.net/~nbtnoel
Custom made, High Quality
Concealex Sheaths and Tool Holsters
Canada's Only Custom Concealex Shop!

 
Great post, Ed.
I’ve been looking for a ‘North American puukko’ for some time
Have you seen Fallkniven's H1 yet? It looks even more puukkoish than the F1.
 
Ed!

Great post, fun for us swedes that knives designed here is appreciated "over there" usually it's quite the reverse.

And cerulean, qoute: "even more puukkoish", puukkoish?? dude, definitely a new word in my vocabulary
biggrin.gif
well put and funny to read.
Please note that i didn't mean any offense, i just started laughing when i saw it.

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Be well!/Jonas aka 2Sharp

"May all your detonations be expected"

The coolest bar in the world: http://www.geocities.com/Pentagon/Camp/8373/index.html

[This message has been edited by 2Sharp (edited 06-08-2000).]
 
cerulean,
I have looked at the new H1 Fallkniven hunting knife -- saw it on their website a couple of days after ordering the F1 (of course). Haven't handled one yet; James Mattis sounded interested in the H1 and maybe he'll carry them. The H1 looks similar to the Roselli erapuukko, maybe not as pointy. I prefer a drop-point for all-round use, though, especially opening game. You have to be really careful when using the Roselli with its upswept tip when doing the opening cut, but it is a great skinner.
 
Ed,
It would be even more ideal if it had micarta scales. James @ Chai Cutlery had 'em but I don't know if he still does. They were a little too price for me but I kinda wish I had one.

I have a MH and I always thought these knives were too similar for me to justify buying one since I already have an A1. How different are they really?



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Hoodoo

The low, hoarse purr of the whirling stone—the light-press’d blade,
Diffusing, dropping, sideways-darting, in tiny showers of gold,
Sparkles from the wheel.

Walt Whitman
 
I've gone down some similar paths looking for the optimum hunting knife. I've got an F1 and my primary complaint is the lack of a guard combined with the slim handle. The issue for me is when you get bloody I like a guard or choil arrangement to keep me off the edge. When I use the blade inverted to open an abdominal cavity I like to choke up on the guard so my finger tips can shield the point.

I am using a Buck Vanguard Master Series for this role. It is a bit bulkier, but has a better handle. For something the size of moose or elk a Carbon V Master Hunter would be a great pick.

I am going to break down an get a custom one day. It is likely to look a lot like Greco's Green River Camp Skinner (I wish I could talk him into making one 1/8" thick instead of 1/4").

http://www.hammerheadknives.com/images/knifeImages/HIrez/MidSize/GrecoMID06.gif
 
I have the same combination and it's a good one. Normark's kydex sheaths are excellent products. I also have the Micarta F1 and it's one of the nicest production fixed blades around with a handle that fits my hand better than the standard F1. I know that the Micarta knives are limited edition but I might just start using it because it feels so darn nice.
 
Hoodoo,
The Master Hunter and the F1 are very similar, both being drop-points with synthetic handles. The Master Hunter is a little bigger and the kraton grip is fatter. Kraton works great under adverse conditions, even when covered with fat. The F1 Thermorun grip is harder than kraton and not as tacky, but it should do. Then there’s the difference in the steels, Carbon V (great edge holding, tough, will rust) vs. VG-10 (excellent edge holding (maybe great), tough, stain resistant). The MH is flat ground to a finer edge than the F1 (at least mine is). My F1 has a distinct and very precise secondary bevel; should be a very strong edge. As for equivalencies, Steven Dick, editor of Tactical Knives in a recent issue commented that a 7" Sandvik stainless blade from Frost outlasted his tried and true 6" 1095 carbon steel filleting knife. However, that was working over salt water.
Then there are the sheaths. The MH came with a crummy Cordura/leather multi-strapped affair which I quickly replaced with my own leather sheath (like all my CS fixed blades). It’s still a bit bulky for carrying. Once I get over the ticket shock of an upcoming wedding I’ll send my MH to Normark for a Concealex sheath. The F1 came with a much higher quality all leather sheath which is perfectly satisfactory in this northern climate. Normark’s Concealex has an even slimmer profile which makes it the ticket for civilian carry.
The F1 is more finely finished than the MH. It’s a little handier than the MH and more, uh, discreet. It would also be better for wet climates if you’re not going to have time to wipe down the blade (although that’s never been a problem for me).
However, if you’re having trouble justifying another knife, I just saw an ad for the new Fallkniven H1... Looks like a puukko on steroids...tempting, very tempting



[This message has been edited by Alberta Ed (edited 06-11-2000).]
 
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