Fällkniven U4 Bear Claw - Good Things Come in Small Packages

For six months now Fällkniven's small lock back folder U4 Bear Claw have been my everyday companion. The knife has become a good friend and has yet not let me down. A knife like this is suitable when a big folder or a fixed blade is inappropriate. But just because I choose to go lighter I don't necessary want to lower my standards when it comes to functionality and durability. The U4 is a good example of this.

The U4 Bear Claw has a 53 mm long, 16,5 mm wide and 2,2 mm thick blade of a discreet clip point shape (almost drop point). The Super Gold Powder Steel (SGPS) has been given a brushed finish and the convex edge is 5,5 mm long. The edge feels convex but when I look closer I can see a slight bevel. One nail nick on each side of the blade is appreciated from bout right and left handed users. The U4's older sibling the U2 was actually the worlds first serial manufactured folder using the laminated powder steel SGPS.

Steel Analysis of the Super Gold Powder Steel (SGPS)
C - 1.40
Si - 0.50
Mn - 0.40
P - 0.030
Cr - 15.00
Mo - 2.80
S - 0.030
V - 2.00

The U4's 10 mm thick black zytel handle is molded in one piece and a torx blade pivot pin attaches the blade to the handle. The folder's lock back leaver is placed on the middle of the handle and is as smooth and well fitted as the rest of the U4's moving components.

Model: Fällkniven U4 Bear Claw
Blade Material: Laminated powder steel, Super Gold Powder Steel (SGPS), 62 HRC
Blade Length: 53 mm
Blade Thickness: 2,2 mm
Knife Length: 72 mm / 125 mm
Handle Material: Black zytel
Handle Thickness: 10 mm
Knife Weight: 26 g
Price: 824 SEK (Sweden 2014)

Here you can see the U4 together with a couple of  friends from the same knife segment.
From the top; Fällkniven U4 Bear Claw, Buck 55 and Opinel No. 6.

A God Candidate for The Ultimate EDC
When talking about small EDC folders I think the U4 is one of the best. The knife design is simple yet tasteful and offers a practical tool. The low weight and compact measures makes the U4 fit in any pocket, and can even be mounted on the key chain if so desired.
Although the folder is small and light it feels robust and competent and besides the obvious downsides of a small knife my only objection is the sharp edge on the back of the blade neck when folded. This sharp angle may damage the inside of a pocket or other objects kept in the same pocket. But so far I haven't really had any problems from this.

I've been using this knife a lot but have yet not needed to sharpen the edge. Have to get back to you regarding the maintenance of this knife. The U4 Bear Claw is no bling bling folder if you're out to impress your company. But this is also the strength of this knife in my opinion; to always be at hand in a discreet way.

På Svenska

Axe vs. Machete - Is it Really a Competition?

"Shall I choose to bring an axe or a machete on my trip?" This is a dear question among many of my bushcraft friends.
Personally throughout the years I've gone from favoring large knives to smaller knives, and from axes to folding saws and back to axes again. Perhaps it's time to give the very large blade; the Machete another chance?

As always learning by doing is the best way to reflect on what tools are the most proper ones for a task. Therefore I pile up my favorite axes and machetes for a evaluation session out in the woods to confront my old habits and prejudices.

Chopping Tools
Of course you can use the edge of both an axe and a machete to perform smaller handy tasks like carving and dressing game, but a small and thin blade is always my first pick when it comes to precision work. Therefore I define axes and machetes as tools for chopping. So I grab some steel and chop away on both bush and timber...

When it comes to clearing a path in a thick section of the woods the machete is the way to go as the axe is less efficient cutting the flexing twigs around finger size in thickness. Also you have the safety aspect to consider when a heavy axe's short edge misses a small tree. The long thin edge of the high velocity machete also enables to take down several small stems in one single blow when the bush is getting really thick.

But when it comes to chopping and splitting larger wood the axe is your best friend. The weight of the axe in combination with the wedge shaped head takes away bigger ships from a log than the lighter and thinner blade of the machete does. A right size axe work through a arm size and up thick tree faster than a machete does, even though the machete eventually also gets the job done.

Parang and Kukri
Although we right now focus on axes and machetes I want to also mention the big blade tools falling into the category of Parangs and Kukris. These are nice chopping tools I would say is something in between an axe and a machete. I would even say a really large Bowie knife would fit into this category. The blade is often shorter and thicker than the machete's and the weight and balance is closer to an axe. In my opinion a long,  thin, flexible and light machete is best suited for chopping bushes all day long trailing the jungle. The shorter and stiffer blade of the parang or kukri is not as energy efficient when it comes to this task. But as I touched on earlier; whenever the material meant cutting don't flex back on impact, the heavier and stiffer blades and axes chunk away real good. Perhaps these "hybrid tools" is the right pick for you if you for some reason only can bring one edge tool on your trip.

The Answer to the Question
My conclusion of today's session out in the beautiful Swedish forest is that the answer to the initial question is; "It depends on what kind of vegetation you will travel through". When in a tropical environment; the thick bush and the vines demands a machete to be able to advance in the terrain. Here in the Scandinavian outdoors focus often is on building shelter and gather fire wood rather than clearing paths. Then the axe is superior to the machete when it comes to efficiency.

It's All in the Hands
But bear in mind that the most important variables in most comparisons is the skills and techniques of the craftsman; the more experienced you are in handling a tool the more efficiently the work will get done (this also include taking care of the tool, like for instance sharpening). So my advise to you is to try out for yourself; which tool is the way to go for me, when operating in this area, doing these tasks.

My Pick
In situations when space and weight is not an issue I'd pick a larger axe for fixing firewood and more robust carpentry and a thin flexible machete for moving off trail in thick vegetation. As I said; in thick jungles the machete is you best friend moving about. It's really not a competition between axes and machetes, it all depends on the task you are about to perform. These two tools complement each other very well and fits inside or outside most large backpacks.
But of course as a Northerner the axe always will lay a bit closer to my heart than the machete.

Keep on cutting and be safe.

På Svenska

Buck 110 Folding Hunter

When I say the word "folding knife" the picture that pops up in your head is probably the one of the Buck 110 Folding Hunter. In 1963 Buck creates a robust lock back folder of a design that made it the classic it is today. Together with it's siblings the 110 has become one of the world's most bought folders. This year the Buck 110 Folding Hunter celebrates it's 50 year anniversary and this I want to salute by writing this article.

Although it's these folders from the 60's that are Buck's most well known products the history of the company goes back to 1899 when the founder Hoyt H. Buck as a 10 year old becomes a blacksmith apprentice in Kansas USA. In 1902 the young Mr. Buck invents his own method of forging his knife blades giving them a more durable edge making his knife making bloom. In 1949 the talented knife maker Hoyt passes away leaving the business to his son Al Buck that continues the knife making until 1991. Since then Al's son Chuck Buck and his son CJ Buck have passed on the family legacy together with Paul Bos that is Buck's current CEO.

On April 18th 1963 Buck's Board decides on developing a robust lock back folder for hunting use. The year after that the company introduces the knife model 110 Folding Hunter and the success is a fact. There had been robust folders on the market prior to the 110 but Buck was the first to refine the design of the knife and also add a leather holster for convenient carry. The knife attracted not only hunters, also farmers and other craftsmen started to carry this elegant and practical tool in their every day hard work. Initially the 110 was equipped with a 440C stainless steel but in 1981 this steel was replaced by the 425M and since 1991 Buck has used the well known stainless steel 440HC as their standard blade steel. Of course this year's 50 year anniversary is celebrated with an anniversary model.

Soon the siblings of the 110 started turning up. First out was the Buck 112 Ranger in 1969; a more compact version with a shorter blade The Buck 55 can be described as a miniature of the 110. If you're more into drop point blades I can recommend you take a look at the Buck 500 series. The 110 and 112 is also offered with a finger grooved handle (FG). Also a light weight version of the 110 and the 112 called EcoLite was in production between 2010-2013.

Since the launch of the 110 almost every knife maker has at least one folder in there catalogue inspired by the legendary Buck 110. Here you see some examples, from the left hand side; Chinese folderanonymous copyCold Steel Mackinac HunterValor Super SportBuck The 55Buck 112 Ranger EcoLiteBuck 112 Ranger and Buck 110 Folding Hunter.

The Classic Design of the 110
Most of the knife's weight is situated in the brass handle equipped with stainless steel details and handle scales made of wood. Since 1994 the scales is made of laminated birch (Dymondwood) dyed to give the look of the wood used on the older knives; Makassar Ebony. The shape of the blade and the nail nick makes it easy to open the knife and the lock back mechanism locks the blade nice and tight when opened. The 94 mm long and 20,5 mm wide beautiful clip point blade is delivered with an excellent edge straight out of the box and it's a joy to let the knife work trough all kinds of material. When it comes to field dressing my game I personally prefer the shorter blade of the 112 Ranger, but when I need a good all round folder I gladly carry the 110 on my belt. As the Buck 110 Folding Hunter is a pretty heavy folder the well made 2,8 mm thick leather holster is perfect for carry. The black holster of my newest 110 has a 25 mm wide loop for the belt, but looking at my older holsters I notice that the loop is 5 mm wider.

Blade Material: Stainless steel 420HC, HRC 58
Blade Length: 94 mm
Blade Thickness: 3 mm
Knife Length: 125 mm / 218 mm
Handle Material: Brass, Stainless steel and birch
Handle Thickness: 15,4 mm
Knife Weight: 210 g
Holster Material: Leather
Total Weight: 269 g (knife and holster)
Price: 610 SEK (Sweden 2013)

Childhood Dream and Faithful Life Partner
The genuine history of the 110 and the reasonable price in combination with the knife's potential makes it no surprise that this often is the first own knife of many youngsters with adventurous dreams. For me I can admit that the 110 was the first folder able to convince me to "just" bring a folder to a big game hunt. And the range of Buck's old lock back models makes it easy to find a knife for each occasion.

Jonas Vildmark hereby gratefully wish the Buck 110 Folding Hunter Congratulations and a Happy 50 year anniversary! May you join me on my adventures for at least another 50 years.

På Svenska

Karesuandokniven Hunter Damask 8

The Karesuandokniven Hunter Damask 8 (3570) is delivered in a beautiful gift box that I eagerly open on this peaceful day out at the cabin. This is my first knife with a hand made Damascus steel blade and therefore I respectfully sit down by the fire to get acquaintance with this beauty.

Karesuandokniven is very service mind and are offering most of their knife models in five different blade materials; stainless, carbon, graphite, Damasc Rose and Damasc Twist. So far I only have used Karesuandokniven's stainless steel knives and now after some time spent with their Damascus steel I truly understand the knife's different price tags. The Hunter Damask has a razor sharp edge and has an amazingly beautiful Damascus pattern to the blade. My knife bears the Twist pattern which is created by the steel being turned over for up to 160 times by the blacksmith (160 layers). The steel is a powder Damascus steel patented by the little forge Damasteel located in Söderfors Sweden. They have a history of blacksmiths going back to 1676. Their Damascus steel is based on the well known RWL34 but the great thing with Damasteel's process is that it produces stainless blades trough it's hardening method handling the steel in temperatures over +1922°F (+1050°C). Most other Damascus steels are made of carbon steels less stainless. This means that the blades from Damasteel and Karesuandokniven can handle more abuse than other when it comes to corrosion. So my advice to you is to use these knives with full joy and sharpen them when needed. Howerver sharpening makes the Damascus pattern fade. The cure for this is to put the blade in acid for about 40-50 minutes and then the pattern starts to show again. But remenber to always use protection when handeling acid and rinse the blade carefully in water after the treatment.

Before I got the knife in my hand I thought that I would want a longer blade. But the Hunter Damask 8 has a perfect design. I like the rather long and bulky handle made of curly birch, reindeer antler and brass. The 23,8 mm wide and chubby drop point blade is easy maneuvered in a safe and comfortable way. The brass finger guard is protruding on the edge side in a efficient way but just as much as it's OK to let your hand slide down over the blade when you wish so. The brown leather sheath is nicely crafted and fits perfect on my belt. However; I'm thinking of making a custom sheath of a more traditional Scandinavian style with a longer leather loop so the knife hangs lover, not being in the way when carrying a backpack with a conveyor belt.

Blade Material: Martensitic stainless powder steel, 120-160 layers, HRC 58-59
Blade Length: 84 mm
Blade Thickness: 3,2 mm
Knife Length: 195 mm
Handle Material: Curly birch, reindeer antler and brass
Handle Thickness: 20 mm
Knife Weight: 90 g
Sheath Material: Leather
Total Weight: 154 g (knife and sheath)
Total Length: 220 mm (knife in sheath)
Price: 3100 SEK (Sweden 2013)

I Got a Crush on This Knife
Now I have had the time to try out this knife and I like it alot. The Hunter Damask 8 works really nicely in all kinds of material, not only when butchering game. And the blade is still holding an excellent edge. I also used the back of the blade on my fire steels and it works fine, however the Damascus steel seem to take a beat from the sparks. Karesuandokniven's Hunter Damask 8 got to be a very nice first acquaintance of Damascus steel and I want more! Looking forward to my next Karesuando Damasteel knife.

På Svenska

Buck 112 Ranger

After Buck's success with the 110 Folding Hunter back in 1964 it didn't take long it's siblings turner up. First out was the Buck 112 Ranger in 1969; a more compact version with a about 20 mm shorter blade and a updated shape of the front brass bolster. This particular knife is from 1994 and ended up in my hands after some help from a nice Danish couple.

The chubby clip point blade of the 112 is made of Buck's well known stainless steel 420HC; a nice all round steel that has been the company's standard steel since 1993. I especially like the blade length that allows me to put my finger on the tip of the blade not to damage any intestine when field dressing my game.

The famous Buck lock back mechanism locks the blade nice and tight when opened. 1994 was the first year Buck started using laminated birch in their handle scales. The wood is colored darker to imitate the previous scale material used; Makassar Ebony. The handle scales is nicely fitted into the robust brass frame.

As this is a pretty heavy folder it comes with a black 2,8 mm thick leather holster with a 30 mm wide loop for attaching to the belt. A more pocket friendly version of the 112 you can find in the EcoLite version produced between the years 2010-2013. If you want a Ranger with finger grooves you should check out the Finger Grooved (FG) 112.

Blade Material: Stainless steel 420HC, HRC 58
Blade Length: 75 mm
Blade Thickness: 3 mm
Knife Length: 109 mm / 184 mm
Handle Material: Brass, stainless steel and birch
Handle Thickness: 15,6 mm
Knife Weight: 175 g
Holster Material: Leather
Total Weight: 237 g (knife and holster)
Price: 590 SEK (Sweden 2013)

Out Hunting
This particular knife was actually the first folder that made me to "only" bring a folder to a big game hunt. The fact that the Buck 112 Ranger is a price worthy and robust folder in combination with Buck's genuine history makes this a ultimate hunting folder according to me. At this moment the fluffy snow is slowly falling outside my cabin window and I'm looking forward to this weekends Hare hunt. And of course then my 112 Ranger get to tag along.

På Svenska

Cold Steel Pendleton Lite Hunter

I remember when living in the States I went from hardware store to sport shops looking for something equivalent to a good old Swedish Mora Knife regarding functionality and price. Then I realized how spoiled us Swedes are having a Mora in each drawer. I wanted something simple to fix my apartment and tool shed. I wish I then had stumbled upon a Cold Steel Pendleton Lite Hunter.

In a collaboration between Cold Steel and the legendary knife maker Lloyd Pendleton a series of knifes was created. This Lite is the budget kid of the family. A clean stainless steel drop point blade fixed in a black Thermoplastic handle made of Polypropylene. This gives a light yet robust knife with a hygienic hunting charisma. But I like to add that this knife is ideal in the kitchen, bushcraft bag, tactical gear and tool box as well as in the hunters belt.
The shape of the handle is interesting. At first I din't like it so much, but after some use I'm starting to realize that there has been some thinking put into the design. The handle is suitable for different kinds of grips and techniques.
A simple knife of course comes with a simple sheath. The sheath of the Pendleton Lite Hunter is more practical than beautiful. I'm guessing that this knife will be popular among bushcraft enthusiasts that will replace the standard nylon sheath with a custom made sheath.

Blade Material: German 4116 stainless steel
Blade Length: 93 mm
Blade Thickness: 2,9 mm
Knife Length: 214 mm
Handle Material: Thermoplastic (Polypropylene)
Handle Thickness: 19,2 mm
Knife Weight: 76 g
Sheath Material: Cod-Ex (Cordura)
Total Weight: 107 g (knife and sheath)
Total Length: 225 mm (knife in sheath)
Price: 150 SEK (Sweden 2013)

A Price worthy and Growing Knife
I think this is a very nice and price worthy all round knife. The Pendleton Lite Hunter has three more expensive siblings in the Pendleton Hunter, the Pendleton Mini Hunter and the Custom Pendleton Hunter. But I often find myself falling for the budget version of these family concepts. I'm guessing it's because of the fact that the cheapest sibling is often put hardest to use as we are afraid of braking an expensive knife. To be honest the Pendleton Lite had passed me by without notice until I stumbled upon one in the store on my way out for some spontaneous outdoor adventuring. But now I notice that the Lite Hunter is really starting to grow on me. This knife is right now stuffed inside my farmer pants ready for upcoming tasks.

På Svenska

Buck 55

The 55 is one of Buck's smallest folders. The 55 is a family member of the famous lock back knife series from the 60's. After the hit of the Buck 110 Folding Hunter back in 1964 it didn't take long before it's siblings turned up. The 55:an is a mini version of the 110 but with a different shape of the wooden handle scales. This little folder fits most pockets and are a great gentlemen's EDC. This knife actually served as my Christmas Knife this year.

Buck 110 Folding Hunter and Buck The 55

The 55:an weigh only a quarter of it's big brother the 110 and has about a 30 mm shorter blade that locks in with Buck's famous lock back mechanism. My earlier 110's and 112's all lock in nice and tight when opened, therefore I got a bit puzzled that this 55 wasn't as tight strait out of the box. But after been in contact with Buck they kindly offered me a new knife trough their lifetime warranty.

The nice and sharp clip point blade of the 55 is made of the stainless steel 420HC that Buck has been using as their standard steel since 1993. The handle is made of brass, stainless steel details and scales of laminated birch dyed to imitate Ebony.

Blade Material: Stainless steel 420HC, HRC 58
Blade Length: 59 mm
Blade Thickness: 2 mm
Knife Length: 87 mm / 146 mm
Handle Material: Brass, stainless steel and birch
Handle Thickness: 8,3 mm
Knife Weight: 55 g
Price: 530 SEK (Sweden 2013)

A Every Day Faithful Companion
The 55 is a very nice little folder which fits in the category I like to call the Little Jeans Pocket (LJP); knives small enough to fit in that small pocket just above the big right hand jeans pocket. If you're interested in a drop point version of the 55; I recommend you to check out the Buck 500 series.

I can recommend you a visit to Lamnia to check out more Buck and other stuff.

På Svenska

Karesuandokniven Double Knife Jägaren

I see more an more of my hunting buddies carrying a gut opener in their belt. A natural development as this tool really makes the field dressing of the game easier. A regular blade tip might damage the internal organs when opening the stomach of for instance a Deer. A gutter's special shaped blade with a rounded tip is also an excellent tool when doing the initial cuts to the games legs when skinning it. One of the most popular knives with a gutting function here in Sweden right now is the EKA Swingblade; a folder with a two function turnable blade. An alternative to these modern multi function knives is to carry two different fixed blades in your belt. My choice right now is to use the Double Knife Jägaren 3595 from Karesuandokniven. In this package you get a double sheath holding one Boar Exclusive 3509 and one Gut Opener 3525.

The Boar Exclusive is a really nice medium fixed blade with a drop point blade made of Sandvik stainless steel. The 24 mm wide blade works great when skinning and taking care of game. The comfortable handle is made of curly birch, reindeer antler and brass. The smaller gut opener is fitted in a separate pocket just on top/outside of the bigger knife's pocket in the brown leather sheath. Only the big knife's pocket has a drain hole on the bottom of the sheath. But I haven't noticed any problem with the undrained gut opener pocket yet. The double sheath has a nice and practical design making it comfortable to carry the two knives.
The gut opener also has a fixed blade and the handle is made of the same material as the big knife, except for the reindeer antler inlay. Perhaps the handle of the gut opener could be a bit bigger, but on the other hand the small handle makes the Double Knife less bulky to carry.

Blade Material: Sandvik stainless steel 12C27, HRC 57
Blade Length: 99 mm / 78 mm
Blade Thickness: 3,3 mm
Knife Length: 213 mm / 174 mm
Handle Material: Curly birch, reindeer antler and brass
Handle Thickness: 18,7 mm / 18,1 mm
Knife Weight: 100 g / 71 g
Total Weight: 281 g (knives and sheath)
Total Length: 244 mm (knives in sheath)
Price: 1970 SEK (Sweden 2013)

A Nice Hunting Partner
I've now been hunting Roe Deer and Moose together with the Karesuandokniven Double Knife Jägaren for about a year and I'm very satisfied. Of course I've needed to sharpen the blades several times, but not more than reasonable. The big knife is perfect for any initial sticking of the game and later skinning and taking care of it. The gut opener makes the gutting real easy and as I mentioned earlier it's an excellent tool when doing the initial cuts when skinning and also separating knee joints.
I'll gladly continue to bring the Double Knife Jägaren (the Hunter) in my belt or my backpack on future hunting adventures.

På Svenska

Buck 112 Ranger EcoLite

EcoLite is the name of Buck's more modern versions of the classics from the 60's; 110 Folding Hunter and 112 Ranger. The EcoLite knive's handles are made of the light weight material PaperStone instead of brass and wood. EcoLite was offered in two colors; Grass Green and Plum Red, and was in production between the years 2010-2013. My knife is a red Buck 112 Ranger EcoLite from 2011. After falling in love with my 1994 classic Buck 112 Ranger I got curious and ordered it's light weight sibling. I wanted a more pocket friendly folder than the heavy classic and the EcoLite turned out to be a perfect full-size EDC.

The 112's chubby clip point blade is made of Buck's well known stainless steel 420HC that has been their standard steel since 1993. I think the weight balance between handle and blade is a bit better on the EcoLite version than on the classic 112 that has a almost twice as heavy handle than the EcoLite. The chape of the handle is a bit updated on the EcoLite and a Buck logo is added to the handles left side.
The knife's lock back mechanism is nice and tight and works smoothly.

Just as the classic 112 the EcoLite comes with a sheath. But instead of the black leather sheath the EcoLite is delivered with a stuffed black Cordura sheath that can be attached to the belt either horizontal or vertical. One advantage of the EcoLite version compared to the heavier classic is that it's more comfortable to carry in the pocket without a sheath. I like this especially when I'm also moving in urban environments.

Blade Material: Stainless steel 420HC HRC 58
Blade Length: 75 mm
Blade Thickness: 3 mm
Knife Length: 109 mm / 183 mm
Handle Material: PaperStone and stainless steel
Handle Thickness: 15,3 mm
Knife Weight: 94 g
Holster Material: Stuffed Cordura (synthetic)
Total Weight: 115 g (knife with sheath)
Price: 450 SEK (Sweden 2013)

A Favorite
I'd like to categorize the classic brass 112 as a ultimate hunting folder. Of course the EcoLite 112 also is excellent when taking care of game, but for me this is a ultimate full size EDC for days outside the woods when I need a some what bigger folder. I recognize that the green version seems to be the most popular, but I prefer this red less tactical looking color to my EDC. The Buck 112 Ranger EcoLite is a no fuzz practical and good looking folder delivering high quality at a good price.

På Svenska