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The F1 in the field

Jun 29, 1999
I had a chance to use the F1 extensively on a six day float trip down the Prophet River in northern British Columbia in mid-September. Weather ranged from hot in late afternoon (read: blackflies) to cold (rain, snow, sleet). We drifted in a six-man inflatable raft (my partner) and me in a West Coast driftboat. Both draw very little water, handle rapids handily (with caution) and can carry a considerable amount of gear, which included a kitchen sink (by Coleman).
The northern BC landscape at this time of year is in its glory, green spruce and golden aspen by day, diamond bright stars and northern lights by night. There was plentiful game, elk, moose, black bear (of which, more anon) and caribou. The elk seem to have developed a survival strategy of presenting only their butts while keeping any collectable (i.e., antlered) heads obscured in the thick bush. The sole moose we spotted was a cow, and the caribou were only to be seen on the highway up to the put-in site, where, alas, shooting is prohibited for 250 metres on either side of the centre line. Bagging one with the vehicle was deemed inadvisable by my partner, who was driving his venerable Isuzu Trooper and the trailer pulling the driftboat.
I carried the F1 in a Concealex sheath by Normark, a.k.a. Eric Noeldechen of Ontario. It fit handily and very securely in a high inside the belt carry, tucked against my right kidney. However, it was not readily accessible when covered by sweater, wool jacket and rain jacket. That was easily remedied by moving it around to left of the belt buckle when using it when doing kitchen duties, or by taking it off the belt. The belt clip holds it securely yet it is easy to unhook to shift it. Normark's design makes it easy to unsheathe one-handed, yet holds the knife securely. I had the original dangler (leather) sheath along that the F1 came with, thinking it might be handy for neck carry by affixing a leather thong, but never used it in that mode. I think I'm going to order Normark's hunting style Concealex sheath, so I can carry it on the belt just behind the right hip. It will be a tad more accessible there when wearing lots of clothing. The standard Concealex will continue to be perfect for unobtrusive civilian carry.
The F1 is a terrific utility knife. This is a very stout blade, but the thickness does not hamper its use when doing food preparation, cutting tomatoes, potatoes, fruit, sausage, cheese, opening packages, not to mention cutting rope, splitting and whittling kindling and all the other tasks which comprise 80-90% of camp use. It held its edge magnificently throughout the trip; three to five minutes at the end of day was enough to restore it to popping hair sharp on a DMT combination diamond hone (red/medium on one side, green/ultra fine on the other). A short stiff leather strop impregnated with chromium dioxide compound slicked the edge up perfectly.
I got a chance to use the F1 on game when a mature black bear, a boar weighing perhaps 200 lb., made the fatal mistake of swimming the river ahead of us in order to check out a recent moose kill on the shore. We slung the bear onto the raft and hung and skinned it that night. It was no stranger to gunfire; after peeling its hide we discovered shotgun pellets embedded in the thick fat layer outside its ribs.
My partner used the excellent CS North American Hunter I'd given him a year or two ago, a flat grind in Carbon V steel, a very efficient cutter. Its handle is moose antler from an earlier (and more successful) trip on the Dease River, replacing the original wooden grips. It was honed to a hair-popping edge.
My partner's skinning technique is different than mine; he used the Carbon V blade to make the initial cuts from the outside so did cut a bit of fur, which is guaranteed to take the edge off just about anything, fast. I prefer to use a drop-point to open game from inside-out, making the opening cut with the tip, then sliding it along edge-up, which saves wear and tear on the edge. We skinned the bear together, half and half.
I re-sharpened the Cold Steel blade twice during the process. One of the great things about Carbon V is that it re-sharpens really easily. It took only a dozen strokes on the DMT medium hone, followed by another half dozen on the fine side to bring the edge back.
I skinned my half of the bear with the F1 without re-sharpening, with no problem. It still shaved hair when the bear was skinned, and three minutes on the hone restored its hair-popping edge. The VG-10 is a bit more difficult to re-sharpen than Carbon V blade, but not much, at least on a diamond hone which is way harder than either steel. Although the difference in skinning technique may account for the Carbon V blade going dull faster, the VG-10 held its edge as well or better than the Carbon V. I don't think AUS8 would have held an edge as long as the VG-10, judging from my CS Voyagers.
All of the carbon steel blades we used along the trip developed minor rust spots, though nothing serious. My little Marble's Fieldcraft, carried in a daypack survival kit, sprouted a few minor rust spots even in its sheath, despite being protected by a light coating of petroleum jelly.
I am highly impressed by the F1 design and the VG-10 steel. I would not be surprised to see VG-10 supplanting other stainless cutlery steels. The F1's Thermorun grip is not as tacky as Kraton but still gives a good grip even when coated with blood and animal fat. It was also easy to clean after messy tasks along with the rest of the kitchen utensils, with dish soap and boiling water. The blade now proudly bears scratches (from sand) and other evidence of use, which does not affect its utility in the least. This one's a keeper.
The late James Mattis had high praise for this knife. He was right.
Sounds like a great trip. Great review. Thanks for sharing

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."
George Orwell
"Those who hold the thin blue line keep order, and insure that anarchy and chaos will not prevail." Chad (1992)
"He who lives by the sword dies by the sword. He who dies by the sword did not train hard enough" -Chad (1999)
Hey Ed...

So you made it back Eh !!

Glad you had a Great trip...

Ed,, instead of buying an entirely new sheath,, why don't you try a horizontal clip for the FI sheath....

Wear it like a belt buckle,,,or off just to one side...

All of my small blades are carried belt buckle fashion pointed slightly downward...
This makes for a Very comfortable carry and Extremely Easy access to the blade at all times...

Shoot me you e-mail address and I'll send you one....

Don't bother buying a new sheath,,if this one does what you want it to...
Once you've worn it this way,,you won't go back to wearing on your side...

Thanks for the kind words..

ttyle Eric...

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