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Featured Item | PXL WH

Fällkniven PXL WH

$179.99 Canadian Funds
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Another illustrious Swedish name in the long and well known line up of Scandinavian knife-making companies. Fallkniven AB is a relatively young, family operated firm located in the town of Boden, Norrbotten province in the north of Sweden. Founded in 1984 by Peter Hjortberger, they started to develop their own brand of knives in 1987 and today they are one of the most highly regarded knife-making companies in the world. They use high quality, advanced materials and their designs are based on practical experiences and the time proven demands of real outdoor fieldwork. Fallkniven manufactures folders, fixed blades and even a couple of chef's knives. They also sell knife blades ready to handle and knife sharpeners as well.

All their knives are very popular and sought after, especially in the outdoor/bushcraft/survival fraternities. Their F1 model for instance, is the official, standard issue survival knife of the Swedish Air Force since 1995. (On a side note... the Swedish word “fallkniv” means folding knife...)

But, let's see the subject of this review, the new PXL Work Horse folder.

PXL Work Horse

This model is the third and a more affordable version of the PXL line, which currently has two more, different models (ivory and maroon micarta) with laminated 3G blades.

Specifications:

Steel: Stainless Laminate Cobalt Special (CoS) @ 60HRC
Length, open: 199mm (7.83”)
Length, closed: 111mm (4.37”)
Blade length: 88mm (3.46”)
Blade width: 26mm (1.02”)
Blade thickness: 3.5mm (0.14”)
Weight: 170g (6 oz)

About the steel:

According to braking tests (carried out by The Division of Solid Mechanics at Lulea University of Technology in
 cooperation with Fallkniven), everything else is being equal, laminated steel is about 20% stronger than the non laminated, standard version. This laminated blade consists of a hard CoS steel core “sandwiched” between two layers of softer 420J2 stainless steel. The new, cobalt special stainless steel is made in Japan by the Takefu company. Its edge holding ability puts this alloy somewhere between the 3G and VG-10 steels in performance. But because it is not powder-steel (like the 3G), the manufacturing process is less expensive and thus blades in this cobalt steel are more affordable. On the end, its performance is close to 3G and the price is closer to VG-10!

Here are the components of the new CoS steel alloy: 
Carbon - 1.1
Chromium - 16
Wolfram - 0.3
Molybdenum - 1.5
Cobalt - 2.5
Vanadium - 0.3

Overall impressions:

The folder comes in a simple, white cardboard box (the usual from Fallkniven) with everything (description, warranty, sharpening guide, etc...) written on the sides of the box. No unnecessary packaging here...

The knife has a simple but elegant look to it and eye pleasing, harmonious lines. The fit and finish is excellent. Every grind is even and uniform. No burrs or gaps anywhere, no blade play at all in any direction. It locks up perfectly and the blade is centred.

Centred Blade

It is not a lightweight knife per se, but not a heavyweight either. Very much suitable for EDC use. It is a well built, strong and robust, medium sized folder. It has an open pillar construction with four steel spacers and hidden, full steel liners.

This open construction makes cleaning the folder a breeze and also helps to avoid possible locking mechanism failure due to pocket lint or other debris collecting inside. A strong liner-lock makes sure the blade stays open when it is needed. There is a “ball” detent in the liner-lock to keep the blade in the closed position and prevent accidental opening of the blade. It clicks in place like clockwork... The liner-lock itself is 1.5mm thick and gives a very solid lock up in the open position and also lines up perfectly with the butt of the blade. The first steel spacer also acts as a blade stopper. There is a groove or “nest” on the butt of the blade, which matches up with the spacer in the open position giving better support and a more secure lock-up to the blade. There is another, similar “nest” with the same purpose for the closed position as well.

One handed opening is achieved by utilizing the thumb stud, although lefties would have a hard time with this. Disengaging the liner lock and closing the knife is easily done by one hand as well (for right handed people...) I had to adjust and lubricate the pivot screw, because the factory setting was a bit too tight for my liking (but your mileage may vary...). After that, the blade opened smoothly and locked up with a nice authoritative click.

On this particular folder model not only the blade steel is new, but the handle material as well. This new, man-made substance named Grilon is the latest and one of the most reliable among the other synthetic fibre reinforced nylon materials. It is similar to Zytel. The black coloured handle panels are held in place by two small (T6) Torx screws. Only these two screws (plus the pivot screw, of course...) and the company logo are visible on the handle. The other fasteners holding the knife together are hidden under the scales and out of sight. This design gives a clean and classy look to the “Work Horse”. Also there is a hole provided for a lanyard or fob in the upper rear corner of the handle. These panels have a 3 dimensional diamond texture on most of their surface (not unlike gun-stock checkering). I find this texture almost a bit too sharp for comfort when working longer periods of time without gloves, but luckily the edges of the handle are smooth, so it is still manageable. The shape and the size of the handle is good and provides a secure grip even when wet.

Here are a few in hand photos.

Hand Photo 1Hand Photo 2Hand Photo 3Hand Photo 4

 The satin finished, drop point blade is saber ground with a secondary “V” bevel and has an unsharpened false edge on the spine, going back just over half the length of the blade. This provides a more acute point and improves penetration.  The lamination line is clearly visible above the secondary grind and also along the “swedge”.

'Swedge'

This blade was hair-shaving sharp right out of the box and by sharp I mean, extremely sharp. As a matter of fact, it was so sharp I could easily “feather” human hair with it. (Talk about hairsplitting...) But unfortunately, I find it rather disappointing to have to get this folder without either a pocket clip or a pouch for belt carry... Personally, I would prefer the pouch for this knife.

Practical use:

I carry and use this knife every day and everywhere, since I got it (and I will do so in the foreseeable future). As usual, my observations and opinions are grouped by field of use, as opposed to chronological order.

Woodwork:

This knife is an excellent EDC blade, but also very much usable in some bushcraft assignments. To illustrate this, I took the knife to the woods and gave it a little workout. To make feather-sticks and shavings is very easy with this blade.

Shavings 1Shavings 2Shavings 3 

Also, it handled whittling well. Very acute point here on this stick...

Whittling

...and a square tip here.

Some more whittling, notches and such.

Whittling and Notches

Drilling a hole with the tip of the blade is not a problem either.

Drill a hole

Another type of notch.

Notch

One swipe, snap-cut of some free standing, thick and very fibrous kind of plant. Just look at the smooth and even surface of a power slice on this stick. The spine of the blade is sharp enough to remove bark and make fine scrapings. It will work with a ferrocerium rod, as well. The PXL did good with all these tasks. It was easy to control and direct the blade. I like the fact, that the cutting edge starts very close to the handle, therefore it is easier to make powerful cuts and get in close for fine work.

Cutting, slicing:

For these tests I used different kind of materials in order to get a better idea about the abilities and potential of the blade. Here are some photographs of the knife in these actions.

Fibrous materials, such as rope...

Cut rope

...webbing...

Cut webbing

...and leather.

Cut leather

Some “rubbery” stuff, like pneumatic air-hose...

Cut rubber

...bicycle inner tube...

Cut bicycle inner tube

...and old car tire. Excellent penetration here as well.

Cut a tire

More materials, such as plastic plumbing pipe...

Cut plumbing pipe

...PVC cord used for welding linoleum flooring.

Cut pvc cord

Finally some paper products in the form of newsprint...

Cut newsprint

...and then this big cardboard box (you can see the size in inches on the box)...

Cut cardboard

...got reduced to this, in no time.

Cut cardboard 2

Corrugated cardboard is notorious to dull knife edges in a hurry. On top of that, this particular test was the very last one in my scheduled line of assignments. By the end of it all, the blade lost its shaving sharpness, but still retained a good working edge. Restoring the original sharpness took about eight swipes per side on the fine Sharpmaker rods. So, edge retention and ease of sharpening is excellent.

Food preparation:

The PXL performed very well in the kitchen. The only noticeable limitation here was due to the short blade. I was able to cut off very thin slices from even the harder vegetables, like radish. The blade was slicing and not splitting, as one might expected. Some photos of kitchen duty. You can literally see through some of those radish and salami slices...

Slice onionsSlice pepperoni

More kitchen chore shots...

Spread butter on breadSlice cheeseSlice baconSlice bread 

Conclusions:

The knife did not suffer any damage, whatsoever, during these trials. The only visible sign of use were some very minor scratches on the blade surface, which you can only see if the light hits them just right. So, on the end... If you are on the market for a well built, high performance and reliable locking folder, that even looks good to boot... Then, do not forget to check out this, specific model. The uncommon blade steel is outstanding and tough, it has very good edge retention and it is easy to sharpen. I have to say, that I am impressed by the performance of this new blade material. The handle did not give hotspots during any of these sessions and I found it to be comfortable. Cleaning and maintenance do not demand anything special, this workhorse is not particular. The knife has every capacity to be an excellent EDC knife or a good complement to a larger blade in the bush. In my opinion there are two things to improve on this PXL version. Perhaps skeletonising the steel liners a bit to shave off some weight and I would like to see a pouch or a pocket clip to go with this product.

Thanks for reading!
Switchblade



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