Sunday, 3 April 2011

Fallkniven H1, Helle Viking and SOG Field Pup Reviews

My grandfather used to say a man without a knife and a good pair of shoes is no man at all. I tend to agree. I love folding knives but nothing beats the practicality of a good quality fixed blade. The first decent fixed blade I received was on my 14th birthday. I remember my brother throwing it onto my bed with a simple, "happy birthday". Pulling it out of the sheath, I saw a lovely Buck General, later to be immortalised in the Scream movies. Unfortunately, an ex-friend of mine stole it because apparently, buying drugs with the money he sold it for was more important than us remaining friends. Live and learn I guess.

I went through that time where Rambo knives were the rage, and, given the chance I would have probably bought one. As I have grown older, I like to think I have matured and gotten a little wiser. I am living by the philosophy that less is often more and a little is often more than we need. As such, my taste in knives has changed somewhat. I tend to prefer blades no longer than 4 inches, knife and sheath combos that are light, and the dangler sheath design. If you ask me what I prefer, carbon or stainless, I will probably just shrug. I don't really care as long as it takes an edge and holds it. I am not really a steel snob so if I think I'll be anywhere near water, I'll choose the stainless low maintenance option every time.

Fallkniven H1 Review

So lets look at the line up:

Starting with the left we have the Fallkniven H1. It is made of the impressive 3G steel, laminated between 2 slices of VG10. Here are the specs according to Fallkniven:

I have found the handle to be extremely comfortable on this knife and the shape of the blade to be very functional. Maybe it's the soft spot I have for Scandinavian knives seeing that I live in Norway, but I really appreciate both the ability of this shape and the aesthetics.

The blade is quite thick at 5mm and this amounts to a substancial 180grams. This doesn't seem like that much for folks used to carrying big knives, but to me, I don't want to notice the knife on my belt until I need to use it. This is about as heavy a knife as I would wear and for the most part, I don't need this much knife. When processing game, I use the H1 as it keeps such a good edge that when I am done, it only needs a strop to return it to shaving sharp. The edge comes convexed as standard and is very strong. The only thing is that it may be a little too obtuse to do fine carving. Most bushcrafters are obsessed with carving feather sticks for some reason, so if this is your cross to bear as well, this may be the wrong knife for you.

For some reason, Fallkniven make great knives, but their sheaths suck like a chest wound. Shortly after purchasing the knife, a very gracious gentleman on the Fallkniven sub forum of Knife Forums:

sent me a new sheath free of charge. I much prefer the new sheath as it holds the knife much more securely and also houses a fire steel.

Overall, it's a great knife. Typical of wonder steels, it holds a great edge but is more difficult to sharpen than your tool steels and simpler stainless steels. Just keep the edge maintained and you should not have any major problems though. If your a hunter or outdoor enthusiast, this knife will do everything you ask of it.

Helle Viking Review
On one of my many trips to the forest to pick blueberries, I happened to find this knife. My wife makes an awesome blueberry jam, so this was just icing on the cake for me!

At first I thought it was a hand made knife by a local Smith, but when I asked my friend Mr Gaustad that makes my blades, he said it looked production. It was in a bad way when I found it as the blade was rusted to the point of locking the blade in the sheath. I worked it loose but in the process stretched the sheath considerably so that it is a bit loose now. Even still, it is a very capable, general purpose knife. It was designed as a reproduction of a Viking era knife and as such is very "no-frills". No bolster, a rough finish and minimal styling on the handle. I found the grind to be a little un-even but hey, it has worked for Norwegians for the last 1000 years, so I am sure this isn't a big deal in the grand scheme of things. If your looking for a beautiful show knife, this isn't it. It's a work horse that will keep a good edge and that's about it.

If we take a close look at the pommel, we see that the blade has been peened to the handle. This is probably the strongest way of making a stick tang / rat tang knife. I am part of the local knife making club and all the makers produce stick tang or rat tang knives. Stick tangs are tradition here and are plenty strong enough if you use an axe for the heavy stuff, and a knife for the fine cutting. I have made a few stick tang knives and to date have not broke a single knife. Of course I don't batton with my knives so that might have a lot to do with it. In fact, here in Norway I have not seen or heard of a single person who does.

I found the handle to be long enough for my ham sized hands and comfortable in extended use. You can often find them at Ragweed Forge for $85, which I think is reasonable.

I personally like this knife but it really comes down to a matter of taste and user style. I know Ross didn't think too highly of it but I guess that is the beauty of differing tastes.

I have used it to clean game and fish and found it to be a decent knife that would suit someone not fussed with showy knives.

SOG Field Pup Review
I am always careful when loaning out my knives. I mean, I even shudder when giving a knife to my wife. Enter the SOG Field Pup. This knife is a no nonsense knife. It has a plastic handle, AUS 8 stainless blade, and a balistic nylon sheath tough enough to choke a shark. It's not the prettiest knife but it will get the job done.

I have used this knife for general camp chores and food prep and was impressed at the quality of the steel. SOG have done a good job with the blade because it hold an edge really well. The handle is very grippy, although some could find it uncomfortable due to the rough texture. I don't mind, after using it for a while I am sure the hands will toughen up and adapt. The shape of the handle is very ergonomic and the muscles don't want to tire while using this knife. If I lost my hand made fixed blade, I'd happily use this knife as a replacement.

I think the thing that puts most people off this knife is this:

I prefer my knives not to be Far East products but hey, if you only have $36 USD to spend on a knife, I can't see a problem with it. I mean, comparing this to a Mora, I would choose this knife in a heart beat. It seems well made and the most important things like steel and handle material are more than adequate. Here is some more info from SOG:

The hollow ground profile of this blade just begs to be put through meat. Using this knife to clean game was a pleasant experience. When I was done, I just put it in the dishwasher and all the fat that gets stuck in the handle is washed away without scrubbing. I know I am not alone when I say this knife will handle camp chores as this review found on Ol' Jimbo's blog line's up with my thoughts:

This knife would suit a beginner or someone who wants a low maintenance knife. It's light on the hip and great for processing game.

All the knives I have are pretty basic really. I mean yes, the Fallkniven is approaching the expensive side but they are all pretty simple. I don't care for saw backs or serrations. I don't even care for leather sheaths or natural materials. I want a knife that fits my hand, holds an edge and isn't too heavy. The knives reviewed see little use now that I have made my own.

This knife fits my hand like a glove, has a great laminated carbon steel blade (made by Mr Gaustad of the Tinn knife making club) and uses local materials. Even the aluminium was sourced from the local refinery before it closed it's doors. I had made this knife for a competition run on the Bushcraft USA forum and happened to get 3rd place. Not bad for a first knife. It may not be a combat knife that could take the head off a zebra with a single swipe, but it does everything I need it to. If I need more knife, then I use an axe. I hope you enjoyed the read, good camping and stay safe.

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