Peter Hjortberger and his family established a knife retail business in Boden Sweden in 1984. With an eye to fullfilling the Swedish Air Force requirement for a pilot’s survival knife, they established a separate company Fallkniven in 1987. While Sweden has a long history of steelworking and knife making, the type of knife that was sought could not be fulfilled with the local craftsmen. For this reason Fallkniven contracted originally with Linder of Solingen Germany to make the F-1 model using ATS-34, after the original F1 prototypes were made in Japan.
(Photo: Linder ATS-34 F1, Hattori solid VG10 F1, Hattori VG10 laminate F1, Linder Super Edge I.)
In time Fallkniven sought other makers in Europe and the U.S. who could manufacture knives with their preferred materials and to their strict standards at a cost that would allow bringing it to market. Only Hattori Seki stepped up and suggested a new steel heretofore not widely used; Takefu Specialty Steel’s VG10. In mid 1997 Hattori started making the F1s which were solid VG10. Later the VG10 core with 420j2 side laminate was introduced, and Fallkniven claims a 20% increase in strength over the solid VG10 blade with well over 200 lbs of lateral strength as tested by Lulea University, Sweden.
The larger A1 was introduced following the F1 and similarly, it too was originally introduced with a solid VG10 blade.
Apart from the blade marking, the grind line at the ricasso differed from the current A1s. Additionally, the Country of Origin was stamped as well.
In 1995 the Swedish Air Force after much testing adopted the Fallkniven F1 as the pilot survival knife.
In 2000 the F1,S1 and A1 models were tested by the US Naval Air Warfare Center in Patuexent River Maryland. The F1 and S1 were accepted for use by USMC and USN aircrews. The A1 passed all tests but was too large for the aircrews’ survival vests. However the A1 is known to be in use by Special Forces units of the U.S. and other nations as well.
In late 2015 Fallkniven introduced three new models, the F1 Pro, S1 Pro and A1 Pro. While based on the F1 and A1, these new models offered a Laminated Cobalt steel blade and a stainless steel guard. These models with slightly different grinds and thicker blades are even more rugged than the original series, which remain in production. The Pro series come with an improved sheath which allows for connections, a DC3/DC4 sharpening stone all in a waterproof carry case.
And in 2017 a new large Bowie with a 10 inch LamCos blade was introduced as the “Modern Bowie”
While Fallkniven truly got off the ground with a “hard use- no frills”military application in mind, in 2002 they introduced the Northern Lights series aimed at the civilian market with a traditional guard, stacked leather handle and pommel.
Fallkniven’s success may be attributed to their philosophy which differs from that of many major knife companies. Their emphasis on design, the best materials, the best manufacturing skills and extensive product testing results in a product that inevitably costs more than their competitors. But to many buyers the difference in final quality and performance justifies the price. Fallkniven is perhaps the only knife company that openly discloses that all of their fixed blades are made by Ichiro Hattori. Furthermore, Fallkniven actively supports the development and use of the top grade steels beyond the VG10 laminates such as SGPS (Special Gold Powder Steel) as a core with 420j2 sides laminate, 3G (SGPS core with VG5 laminate- VG5/SGPS/VG5, ie; “3G”), Laminated Cobalt Steel and Cowry-X that Hattori advocates, as well as his favored “Hamaguri-ba” (convex blade grind) in their product line. The end result is a knife brand which may very well be the best production knife available today.
TK1 3G Mahagony
TK1 3G Cocobolo
TK3 3G Cocobolo
Micarta F1 VG10 full tang
F1 Micarta 3G Limited Edition
Northern Lights NL5 Idun Cowry-X Damascus
Special thanks to Mikael Wallin, Sweden.
The Fallkniven Story – 30 Years
By Peter Hjortberger, Founder, Fallkniven A.B.