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Last Updated: September 22, 2018
When I was a child I had the experience of packing up and shipping off half way around the world. The destination was Sweden, and I couldn’t have been more than 5 years old. My family stayed in Stockholm for 3 months in the summer as part of my father’s work. I don’t remember much. Gray clouds, a day that never ended, red horses, the churning belly of an old wooden sailboat, blue and yellow. Three months of existence now just fleeting memories of a time and place.
Buy the Fallkniven A1 at BladeHQ
It would be unfair to pretend like I really know anything about this country yet old experiences still rise to the surface like a whale cresting on the Norwegian sea. But, deep down I feel like I have some connection to this country. Some shared history.
In many ways the Fallkniven A1 typifies what this Yankee would view as the ultimate Swedish survival knife. Hefting this thing I can just imagine gently padding along Sweden’s forest floors. You can immediately tell that this knife was meant to be used, and it was meant to be used hard. And then there is that Scandinavian design. It’s charming in it’s simplicity, yet the knife has real weight to it. The Fallkniven A1 is definitely a knife where style and substance go hand in hand.
General Dimensions and Blade Details
The A1 has an overall length of 11″ (280mm), a 6.3″ (160mm) blade, and it weighs 12 ounces (305g). As I mentioned earlier, there is a real feeling of heft here. When I compare the A1 with my Cold Steel SRK there really is no comparison – the SRK feels like a toy. Fallkniven describes the knife as “semi-large” and I’d say that works well enough for me.
This is a medium size survival knife. It would work fine around a campsite or taken along on hikes or excursions. Of course it would be at home in a survival situation or bug out style scenario as well. My review protocol mostly involved screwing around with the A1 in my back yard.
The blade is a modified drop point design with a generous sweeping belly and swedge for improved tip strength and penetrating capability. The 6mm thick stock is partially flat ground and terminates in a convex ground edge. It’s really worth making a point to say that the cutting performance of this knife is extremely impressive. I have not had much experience with convex edges up until this point so I wasn’t sure how much I would really like it. The A1 came exceptionally sharp out of box working through a sheet of paper as if it didn’t exist.
This knife reminds me of an NFL linebacker. It’s heavy, but it can move when it needs to. It wasn’t long after the A1 arrived that I was in my back yard working through a large felled branch. I’d love to say I took this knife up into the mountains for an extended trip, but the truth is I’m currently trapped in a Florida suburb where retirees flock for the mild winters and early bird specials. So instead of temperate hardwoods I worked with native sea grape, palm fronds, and even treated lumber. The A1 took devastating chunks out of anything I put it too. The cutting performance is frankly unlike anything I have previously evaluated and truly needs to be experienced to be fully appreciated.
The knife doesn’t quite have the forward heavy weight of a true chopper like the Ka-Bar Kukri Machete, but the knife could definitely get some chopping done and batoned like an absolute champ. The wedge like geometry of this blade pounds through wood with ease. If batoning matters at all to you I think you will be extremely pleased with the A1’s performance.
At this point I want to talk about the steel. Fallkniven uses a laminated steel for many of their fixed blade outdoor knives. Their laminate features a 420J outer cladding with a VG10 core. The VG10 is hardened to 59 HRc and I had my concerns as the steel sometimes has the reputation for being brittle, especially when compared with a high carbon like 1095 with a much softer heat treat. The geometry of the knife makes all the difference and VG10 held up phenomenally under use. I had no issues with chipping whatsoever, although I made a concerted effort to not chop or baton into sand or rock. The knife stayed extremely sharp throughout my testing. When the edge finally dulled on some heavy cardboard I found that gently stropping worked well for me. The edge is easily restored to factory sharpness, which was great to see.
A benefit of selecting a stainless steel is that the knife will hold up in wet and snowy conditions. It’s an interesting departure from many of the outdoor knives I have previously tested, but I was extremely impressed by every aspect of this knife’s performance. I found my arm tiring well before the edge did and feel that the performance of this knife is a testament to the extremely smart design. To get a blade this stout that cuts this well is really pretty amazing.
Handle and Ergonomics
The handle on the A1 is constructed of kraton, a semi-rubbery high density polymer. The A1 is a full tang knife and the thick laminated stock pokes out through the handle. Overall, handle design and construction is simple, with a single forward guard and a lanyard tube inset near the pommel.
In practice I found the handle of the A1 to be extremely comfortable. I had no issues with slipping or hot spots after extended use. Kraton has a nice tackiness to it (very important for chopping) and the grip has been accentuated by some fine diamond-pattern texturing. The handle is thick and provides plenty of support, while the rubbery Kraton absorbs some of the shock from hard pounding.
This particular model of the A1, is technically the A1z. The “z” is used to designate the Zytel (polymer) sheath that the knife shipped with. Fallkniven also offers the A1 with leather (A1L) and lefty sheath configurations. The sheath is simple and lightweight. Next to the knife itself it feels a little flimsy, but those who are weight conscious will probably appreciate it. I went for the polymer sheath because I feel it has several advantages: they are easier to clean, and won’t react adversely to water or freezing temperatures. I like that the sheath holds the knife in securely, has a drain hole, and allows, for easy one hand insertion and removal. It has a simple belt loop and hangs easily and freely. It’s simple, but it gets the job done.
That said, it would have been nice to see a few more frills with this sheath. The belt loop requires you to remove your belt to put the sheath on or take it off your belt – there is no quick release with velcro and/or snap closures. There are no options for horizontal carry and no integration with a tek lock. To be completely honest I am fine with the way the sheath is, but a couple more options would have been nice. As it stands the sheath earns passing marks.
Fallkniven A1 Review – Final Thoughts
The A1 is a knife that needs to be experienced to be fully appreciated. The sleek and simple look belies a true performer. It’s all in the convex grind and meaty slab of steel and the knife just cuts. You can tell the folks at Fallkniven know their way around a knife as the A1 feels so “right” in the hand. Sometimes I find knives can get in the way of themselves, or really need good technique to be effective. The A1 is not one of those knives (although technique is always important). If you haven’t experienced a knife of this size with a convex grind, you are in for a serious treat.
As for the potential negatives, well, if the A1 had a weak link in my book it would be the sheath. The sheath totally works and calling it a “weak link” isn’t entirely fair, but it is relatively flimsy and spartan on options. It is nice and lightweight however. It has also held up well in my use, and easily gets the knife from A to B. It’s a high performance sheath, but I wouldn’t turn down a more heavily built option with additional bells and whistles. Maybe that is where my feature-obsessed American nature clashes with the elegance and restraint of Scandinavian design.
All things considered I am thoroughly impressed with the Fallkniven A1 and highly recommend it. It’s a beautiful knife and it cuts exceedingly well – what more could this Yankee ask for?
- Blade material: lam. Vg10
- Blade length: 160 mm
- Total length: 280 mm
- Zytel sheath included
I recommend purchasing the Fallkniven A1 at Amazon or BladeHQ. Purchasing anything through any of the links on this site helps support BladeReviews, and keeps this review train running. As always, any and all support is greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.
Earl Sweatpants says
I’ve wanted one of these for the longest time, by all accounts they’re built like tanks and ready for anything you can throw at them. (Sigh)…someday.
Not a huge fan of those plastic-type sheaths either. Functionally they’re OK, sure, but i don’t know, they’re sort of “clangy” for my tastes. What’s the leather one like, similar?
I have the F1 with the leather sheath and it’s actually really nice. Very thick leather that is both stitched and riveted. If the A1’s leather sheath is anything like the F1’s leather sheath it’s quite nice.
Fallkniven makes really nice stuff. I know the review was pretty glowing but I stand by it – the A1 performs like anything else I have tested yet.
As always, thanks for stopping by and commenting – I wish you and your family a Happy Holidays! 🙂
While I’m more of an F1-guy all knives in Fällknivens service-line are quite simply awesome. Everything you need – nothing you don’t. I paracord-wraped my sheath to make it prettier (and to prevent it banging against my gear), many of the guys in my platoon (motorised infantry) put some bicycle inner-tube on it and add a firesteel. The sharp 90 degree shoulder on the Fällknivens provide excellent sparks without the need to use the edge.
All in all Fk is a great company from the town where I did my first year of duty – Boden. It’s a family business whose members are very friendly and give nice discounts to the poor soldiers of the garrison. I’d recommend their products to anyone, you can’t go wrong and with the A1, S1, F1 you really get what you pay and more.
Oh yeah, and here’s a picture of the sheath (my work but not my pattern), IMO an elegant solution to the simple and minimalist design.
Thanks for sharing man – I agree it looks great!
Your sheath with paracord looks great. I really like it and I want to do it on my own sheath so if you have some tutorial pics or video how to do it please share it. Thanks
Thanks for stopping by Lew! Great to hear a from someone who has had first hand experience with the company. I like the paracord wrap idea and the bicycle tire idea. The sheath is simple but it it’s lightweight and works. The knife is extremely impressive.
“As for the potential negatives, well, clearly the focus is on the knife here.”
I think you mean sheath.
Thanks for pointing that out. I did mean that the focus was on the knife (and less attention was paid to the sheath) but the entire sentence is awkward and vague. I’ll rework it. Thanks again,
Great review, Dan! I’ve wanted one of these for a while, but man the cost is just a bit much for my wants at the moment. I do have a Fallkniven G-1 Garm. One of the nicest boot sized daggers around.
What you might not know, is that the A1 is actually based on the SRK. Both are made in Japan you know. The word is that Fallkniven was a Swedish distributor for Cold Steel, but then decided to get into the manufacturing business too. They took the SRK’s basic design, which itself is based on old designs, and put out a higher end version. Also, VG1 and VG10 both come from Takefu Special Steels.
There is a real possibilty that some of the shops that make Fallkniven blades also make the blades for Cold Steel. I’d love to know for certain.
Very interesting RK! The similarities between the SRK and A1 are undeniable, although I sort of feel like it’s a pretty generic design and like you said, they both stem from other designs. I would be curious to know if they are made in the same shop. The build quality on a lot of CS’s stuff is pretty good so I wouldn’t be surprised.
Thanks for stopping by man. Always a pleasure.
PS – I will be reviewing the SRK. Not next, but likely the knife after.
Fällkniven (FK) started out as the Swedish destributor of Cold Steel back in the day when CS really was the name of the game for larger fixed-blade utility knives. Many Swedish soldiers bought SRKs for use during the early missions to Yugoslavia and later Bosnia, my friends who were there still carry theirs and love them to bit.
What then happened is that the world moved on to better things while CS decided to keep the SRK the same way it was. Steels evolved, ergonomics became more advanced. Fällkniven was also going through a generational change with the sons of the founder taking over the business, they are the one’s who decided to start designing knives with modern techniques for Scandinavian customers. The city of Boden where FK is located is north of all that’s holy and cold as hell, if a knife will break it’s up there hacking through frozen wood.
Calling the A1 an upmarket SRK is not doing any of them justice. They’re different knives at different price points designed by different people for different things. I’ve never owned an SRK (that large Ricasso [and Lynn Thompson] is a turn-off) but I don’t think you could hold the two in your hand and not tell the difference. I know I can’t.
Thanks for the information Lew, greatly appreciated and very interesting.
I own both and I can say with utmost confidence that they are entirely different animals. The A1 is the superior tool – no doubt about it. That is readily apparent from the moment you pick one up. I really like the A1 a lot and have not handled a production knife in it’s class that can touch it (yet).
That said the SRK has it’s place too, especially at it’s price point.
I would say that their similarities are only skin deep and comparing an A1 with a SRK is very much an apples to oranges comparison. No harm in talking about it though – that’s half the fun of reviewing knives. 😉
All Fallkniven fixed blades are made by Ichiro Hattori in Seki Japan. Mr Hattori is considered the top fixed blade maker in Japan. Fallkniven folders are made by Moki, also in Japan. Hattori also makes the large Sanmai knives for Cold Steel USA Corp. But the smaller sanmais like the SRK and Master Hunter are made by Kinryu Corp of Seki. These days you can guess which are Hattoris by the price tag.
Thank you for sharing the information – very interesting!
There are rumors that Hattori will no longer be making laminated designs because the owner of the company is/was experiencing health problems due to aging, hence CSs drop off in San Mai production. The knives are skyrocketing in price and on the collector market as well. I don’t know how this will affect Fallkniven but I can’t imagine a positive outcome for either company on this front. That is trly a shame IMHO
Scott DeMonte says
Buy one. Well, buy any knife you can afford from them. I own 2, the A1 and a U2 with future orders in the works. They are not cheap, but you get what you pay for. I don’t mind the sheath at all, but to each their own. I own a bunch of knives, SOG which are OK, Ontario, Cold Steel and Kabar, but love the Swedish knife the best… sorry my American friends. Of course, I always will add more of the above mentioned names, but definitely on a Fallkniven kick for right now and probably forever. They just feel right, as the author said, its funny, it just feels like it belongs. If you can’t swing the price by all means buy the lower cost ones or even the folders. Just my opinion…
Thanks for the comment, Scott. I am really impressed with both the A1 and the F1 in my collection. Great high performance tools. Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Dan
Есть А1 чёрный в кожаных ножнах. Отличный нож, удобные ножны. Рабочий нож. Интересная заточка, держится хорошо. Из ножен достаётся быстро, особо, если они закреплены на бедре. Рубить более предпочтительно, чем резать. В руку берёшь и понимаешь – вещь! Лежит в руке удобно, вес ощущается, но не тянет. Переживаю, что чёрное покрытие быстро износится. Кто-то про стойкость покрытия может сказать?
спасибо за комментарий, Andrey! (Thank you for commenting, Andrey!) I don’t have any experience with Fallkniven’s black coating so unfortunately I can’t comment on that aspect.
Unfortunatly the Fällkniven black coating is notoriously bad for wear and flaking. It really isn’t worth it.
Fallkniven’s knives are arguably the best quality production knives you can buy. The reason among others, is that they are made by arguably the best knifemaker in Seki Japan –
I am new to Fallkniven (having learned about them through a knife review on Youtube) and bought my first, a U2, a couple of months ago. My thinking was that if I didn’t like it I wasn’t out much money. Well, I liked the U2 so much I went for an A1 and am really glad I did. It feels great in my hand and is well balanced. I have not had a chance to put it through its paces, but from the feel of it I don’t think it will have many problems. Thanks for building a great knife!
On massdrop.com As of July 1 2017 you have 3 days to get an Fallkniven a1 pro for $320.99 ($394 on amazon) or s1 pro for 269 (330 amazon)
Very well written. Very sane. I’m currently pondering the knife and appreciated this review.
Dan Jackson says
Thanks, Brad! Glad you enjoyed it. I appreciate the kind comment.