When I look for a knife to carry out in the field with me I am looking for an all purpose tool that could potentially take on the duties of a hatchet or saw (if I feel like travelling light) for wood preparation, also to be useful for cooking, harvesting tinder or wild edibles, and general camp use. A solid, trustworthy knife can make life outdoors much easier, the right survival or bushcraft knife should be capable to carry out any task that I ask of it (and sometimes in challenging conditions). Robust construction is of utmost importance, and when I choose a knife for my kit, I want a knife for life!
With that in mind, I am really excited to have the opportunity to try out one of Fällkniven’s new A1 Pro Survival Knives, the largest knife from their new “Pro Series” and coming with a number of improvements to the materials and design of its predecessors (A1, F1 and S1). As soon as it arrived (after marvelling at it’s beauty for a while), I didn’t want to waste any time at all in getting this knife on my belt and out into the forest where I could give it some abuse to see how good it really was.
Out of the box
The Fällkniven A1 Pro comes in a waterproof case, sealed with an O-ring and foam lined. The box itself could be useful for stowing items like food rations, electronics, tinder, or other survival items. Inside the box is the A1 Pro knife and Zytel sheath and a DC4 sharpening stone. The DC4 includes a diamond whetstone and a ceramic stone, a tried and tested favourite for field sharpening. Also in the box were some Fällkniven branded sticky plasters (nice touch!) – The blade was indeed “shaving sharp” out of the box and ready to get to work.
The knife itself is 283mm long (just over 11 inches) and weighs a hefty 366 grams. All in black and cold stainless steel the knife looks pretty damn gnarly and looks as though it could teach me a thing or two about survival…
Click on images to ENLARGE ….
A1 Pro Blade
This knife has a beautifully made blade that immediately catches the eye, measuring 160mm (approximately 6.2 inches) with a full length convex grind from the half way line (great for splitting and carving). Dividing the blade from the handle is a stainless steel bolster finger guard, which is permanently attached to the tang.
The spine of the blade is a meaty 7mm thick which gives the knife an immediate feeling of substance in the hand. The A1 Pro has a full length tapering tang (described as “broad, protruding” by Fällkniven) which is exposed at the end and very nice for hammering. Being heavier towards the tip, it makes the A1 Pro feel like it really wants to get to work, which I really love in a knife.
The extra thickness of the spine also allows you to get your thumb or other hand against the back of the blade to get some great control and pressure behind it for heavier tasks. I also found that the extra thickness was great for use with a baton whilst splitting deadfall or limbing branches with no fear of damaging the blade.
The end of the A1 Pro blade has quite a short swedge profile running down to a drop point. Given the 7mm thickness of the spine I really like the way they have profiled the top edge down so quickly to the point which keeps a lot of strength in the point and along the spine (which makes this knife so good for heavy duty work). I tend not to bother carrying an axe on shorter trips when I don’t intend on building a timber shelter, and the A1 Pro can easily handle timber for a small fire or building animal traps.
The A1 Pro has a convex grind, as also seen in it’s predecessor the A1 but has been improved somewhat on the Pro version to improve the cutting properties. I would have expected a Scandi grind on such a knfe, but I am guessing that Fällkniven decided to make the best of the blade thickness and give the A1 Pro some proper chopping power behind it. The convex edge runs right along the length from the tip up to a small choil right in front of the crossguard. The A1 Pro came out of the box shaving sharp, and after some good hard use in the forest over a few days, didn’t seem to have dulled the edge much at all (nothing a few strokes from the DC4 couldn’t fix in a few seconds). The convex grind on the A1 Pro showed it’s true colours whilst chopping and carving timber, and made easy work of making stakes to hold my tarp, cutting cross grain or through knots with no issues whatsoever. The larger weighted blade gives you much more swing for chopping and cuts with far more force over a smaller knife.
The blade is made from Cobalt laminate steel (lam CoS), which has a very fine grain, and means that the knife will retain an excellent edge. LaM CoS is extremely hard (up to 60 on the Rockwell scale) and resists well against abrasion, with excellent torsional strength. Overall it is a really great steel for a survival & outdoors knife and an improvement over the laminated VG10 A1 knife. Read more about Fällkniven steel here.
A1 Pro Handle
Being a “hard use” knife I fully expected a well constructed handle to the A1 Pro – Well in fact I couldn’t have asked for more and it’s clear as soon as you take a hold of the knife that optimal grip and leverage were at the top of the list when they designed this knife. The shape of the handle has a substantial bulge that sits perfectly in the centre of your palm and then tapers down towards the pommel allowing perfect grip across the whole palm with all four fingers. The ability to also take grip with my little finger greatly increases my control of the knife.
The handle kicks out towards the pommel which further increases your confidence in the grip, and your fingers are well guarded at the top by the stainless steel crossguard. There is also a small lanyard hole through the handle at the bottom (drilled through the steel tang).
Like most people, I do love a nice wooden handle, but I’m not a purist like that and I was more than happy to give the A1 Pro handle a try. The handle itself is made from Thermorun, a strong and durable material that is temperature stable and not susceptible to cracking under impact, or to decay from prolonged exposure to water (and I cant argue with the logic behind that). No scales or rivets are used, meaning potentially less to break and Fällkniven also used a really nice embossed grip texture on the surface of the handle, which works really well under light or heavy grip – even with wet hands.
After getting used to the size and weight of the A1 Pro, I was able to perform a number delicate tasks with reasonable ease, my control of the knife allowed precision tasks like removing layers of Birth bark from a small branch, feathering sticks and cutting a small hollow in a King Alfred Cake to hold some shavings from my Ferro rod (also struck alight using the back of the knife). The size of the A1 Pro means it will never be as nimble as smaller knives, but it is certainly a strong and versatile tool which can execute a large range of tasks in the field (which is exactly in line with my hopes and expectations).
A1 Pro Zytel Sheath
If you haven’t already seen one of the Fällkniven Zytel sheaths before, on first appearances it does look as though the sheath was a bit of an after thought – actually no, it is nothing short of brilliant! – As you sheath the knife, and think about the outdoor conditions that the knife and sheath will have to endure, you quickly realise that the sheath is perfectly designed, and made from the best selection of materials for the field.
The sheath is made from a strong durable and reinforced plastic, which has a drainage hole at the bottom. Any water is going to drain and dry away quickly with nothing to hold moisture causing rot. The nylon belt strap and knife holder strap has a strong popper on the strap to secure the knife, and feels really secure. As you push the knife into the sheath you can feel a nice positive click as it find its place. The knife fits really well in the sheath and is held tightly in place. If you shake it, there is no give at all, and no rattling. I wouldn’t be concerned about the A1 Pro ever falling out
The sheath also has lashing points on the sides and on the bottom to hold straps, in case you want to attach it to a MOLLE system which I might do on long hikes, but I really like the way the sheath sits on my belt. It kind of hangs really low using the nylon strap at the top and allows easy access to the knife whilst being conformable to carry. If you bend forward, the top of the knife doesn’t dig into your belly (as with some other types of sheath).
The A1 Pro is a remarkable knife, I absolutely love it!. It’s big, beefy, very thoughtfully designed and virtually bomb proof. It is also incredibly versatile and when you get over the initial awe of feeling it in your hand for the first time, you realise that the grip and control of a knife of this size is impressive, the efficient and pragmatic design performs well at everything I ask of it. The knife costs around £300 GBP, which is higher than average for a bushcraft knife, but I’m a great believer in the phrase “Buy once, buy well” – and Fällkniven knives are constructed to spec for the armed forces and outdoor professionals.
Fällkniven offer a lifetime guarantee on the materials and workmanship of their Pro series, and to me that’s a great testament to their confidence in their products. The fit and finish of the knife is excellent, and I can’t imagine that my day-to-day bushcraft activities could ever do any damage to this knife. It’s highly likely that this knife will serve me for many years – I reckon it could well be a “knife for life”
- Total length (mm) – 283
- Blade length (mm) – 160
- Blade thickness (mm) – 7
- Blade profile – Convex
- Tang – Broad, protruding
- Weight (knife) – 363g
- Steel – Lam.CoS
- Hardness (HRC) – 60
- Handle material – Thermorun
- Sheath – Zytel
A Big Thanks to:
A big thanks to Peter Hjortberger and the guys at Fällkniven for the opportunity to try out the A1 Pro Survival Knife.
Units 4/5 Windmill Industrial Estate
Wimborne Road, Barry
Vale of Glamorgan
CF63 3DH, UK
Phone: 033 0300 0400
Fax: 033 0300 0401