Hultafors OK1 & OK4
Hultafors is a Swedish company whose roots date back to 1883 and to the invention of the folding ruler. They produced mostly wooden measuring tools for a long period of time. But since the early 1990s when they bought and merged with other companies, they manufacture hand tools, including pry-bars, hammers, axes and knives. Some of these acquired companies go back a long time in history, such as the Hults Bruk reaching back all the way to 1697. Today the company known as the Hultafors Group, which includes three main sections, namely Snickers (workwear), Wibe (ladders) and Hultafors (hand tools). Generally speaking the company is better known in Europe, than in North America.
The following two knife models are designed and manufactured with the outdoor/bushcraft fraternity in mind, but they both still belong to the Craftsman's line of the company.
About the Steel:
SK-5 is very close to be the Japanese equivalent of American 1080. A water hardening, high carbon steel with carbon content between 0.75%-0.90%. Used for springs, knives, other cutting instruments and tools.
Components of the Japanese SK5 carbon steel:
C – 0.8-0.9
Cr – 0.0-0.3
Ni – 0.0-0.25
Mn – 0.1-0.5
Si – 0.1-0.35
Cu – 0.0- 0.25
P – 0.03
S – 0.03
The OK1 is almost identical to the company's older GK model, except this new one has blade coating, different handle color and a tiny secondary bevel (as opposed to the well defined secondary bevel on the GK).
The OK4 looks like it is a hybrid of the GK blade and HVK/HVK GH handle.
These two knives are very similar to each other and the only visible difference I can see is in the handle, thus size and weight are not identical.
On both models, the cutting edge has a Scandi grind with a micro secondary bevel for superior sharpness and also for easy resharpening. There is a protective “electrophoretic deposition coating” (EPD) on the blades for better rust protection. The spine is ground for easy use of a ferro-cerium rod and a scale is engraved on both sides of the blade. Although these knives do not have a full tang construction a long tang makes them very durable.
Both handles are made from super-durable polypropylene (PP) plastic, but the OK4 version is fitted with an additional Santoprene overmold friction grip.
They both provide a very secure and comfortable grip as the following photos can illustrate this for us in the most common handholds.
..and a couple of shots with the gloves on.
The sheaths are made out of polypropylene and their new elastic textile belt loop/frog is capable to take up to 80mm wide belts and sports a fire-steel loop as well. It is also detachable if you want to attach the holster to the button on your work clothes, which is a popular way to carry knives in Northern Europe. The sheaths have a large drainage hole at the bottom and a thumb rest at the mouth to facilitate one handed draw.
I have been using these knives for over three months now, so I can share some practical experiences and observations here, arranged by field of use. Also, I tried to work both models equally in each area of use.
As usual in this part of my test regime, I have tried to get as many different kind of materials for cutting subjects as possible in order to get a better idea of the capabilities of these two blades (in this case).
First up is the rubbery materials, such as this thick walled rubber tube...
...and fiber reinforced, double walled pneumatic air-hose.
Next is a variety of fibrous mediums, like polypropylene rope...
..another, thicker kernmantle type.
This is a piece of very strong 55mm wide polypropylene construction safety anchor.
We can put leather with the fibrous group as well.
For plastic type stuff I have used 3/16 inch inner diameter PVC tubing.
And of course, we can not leave out some paper products... Which, in this case was part of a Lee Valley catalog... sliced to shreds.
Woodwork and Field Use:
Woodwork is where the Scandi grind really shines. As we all know, it works best with wood, whittling and carving. The following pictures can attest to this. A point on a stick..
...separating nice and thin chips from dry wood...
...and a couple of notches in the same dry stick.
Nice, clean and even surfaces on these cuts. These dry branches were sliced with only one powerful motion.
Also, I was able to produce nice long and curly feather-sticks using both blades.
I mentioned earlier that the spine of the blade is ground square in order to be used as a scraper...
...and to work well as a good striker with a ferro-cerium rod.
But these blades are not afraid of some heavier tasks either. Despite not being full tang knives they are still capable of doing plenty. Even splitting wood or batoning is not a problem as long as we stay within reason and do not go overboard. Here are some shots of doing just that...splitting wood (if we must).
The tip of the blade was tested in a big, dry log looking for punk wood to be charred.
Both knives performed well in the woods. I had no difficulties, problems, whatsoever with any of these duties.
I had no surprises in this field.
The relatively short blades and pronounced finger-guards proved to be a slight limiting factor here.
Also, there is a tendency with most Scandi grind knife blades to split, rather than slice the harder food items, like vegetables...
… carrots and green bell peppers...
This tendency to split is not present in softer foods, such as bread, meat, etc...
Even chopping cabbage was more of a slicing affair than splitting.
Here is one more shot on the food preparation subject... halving a Bosc pear in the field.
These blades can do the job, but kitchen service is not really their strong suit.
The OK1 and OK4 models both performed very well in my test regime. The blades have decent edge retention while still easy to sharpen and they take a keen edge. The blade coating proved to be surprisingly tough and durable. Both of these knives can handle some rough treatment well (within reason of course...). They have suffered no damages during my usage, other than some small and normal surface scratches in the aforementioned blade coating.
Personally, I prefer the OK4 model slightly over the OK1, just because the handle feels and fits better for me. People with large hands or anyone using gloves most of the time would probably choose the larger handle of the OK1. But at the end of the day, both of these handles are comfortable and secure, I did not find or feel any hotspots at any time.
The sheaths do an adequate job and in my opinion the new textile frogs make a nice upgrade over the older style sheaths.
I think both of these knives are tremendous value for the money. I can wholeheartedly recommend them to everybody.
Thanks for reading!