It wasn’t until I wore the Fallkniven Jarl on my belt for a while that I realized that the majority of the art we will have with us during a bug out will be the art of our equipment. Now while I find the Glock as sexy as any other gun, I do have a personal affinity for fixed blade knives since they represent thousands if not tens of thousands of years of human evolution. In other words the Glock is a memory from my senior year of high school while the long knife is part of my genetic code.
Old World Craftsmanship for the Future Old World
The Fallkniven Jarl draws upon the craftsmanship and technology of Fallkniven we come to love and turned up the volume on while turning down the tactical implications. The Fallkniven Jarl is not a survival knife in the traditional sense, nor is it a massive blade with which you could hack and slash your way out of a world WROL. Instead, the Jarl is a precision instrument of impeccable quality, refined fit, and unusually high performance steel. In other words, the Fallkniven Jarl is cutting edge art for the bleeding edge of survival.
High Tech for Light and Dark Times
From the oil-treated curly birch handle, to the nickle-silver fittings to the unbelievably sharp blade. As much as I’m drawn towards tactical knives for their utilitarian design, I am confident that the finer points of humanity will backfill the tactical aspects of survival. While a Gerber LMF might be the one to grab when you race out the door into the fight, the Fallkniven Jarl is the one to grab when you want to represent what made dignified society in the first place.
Unfortunately the Walking Dead and its kin have taught the public that true survival will be with a blunt instrument. Regardless of the Gerber product placement and its run of zombie tools (not to be confused with the truly deadly Zombie Tools made right here in my neck of the woods).
What we have now is a failure to communicate the finer points of cutlery when it comes to the survival genre. Those in the mature hunting stage of life have plenty of fine cutting accoutrements to grace their belts and kits, but the younger set is still infatuated with mean looking knives regardless of their contribution to the collective finer points of life. And the onslaught of Chinese blades, whether knockoffs or one-offs, has left us with a confusing array of steel edges that do more then cut; they represent what we think of ourselves.
Survive or Thrive?
It might be controversial to say, but survival is more than surviving, it is thriving. And to thrive means excitement about the tools we wrap our hands around every day. I learned long ago that half the fun of pushing the limits outdoors is trusting your equipment to be a full partner in the adventure. So now imagine that your choice in gear today must last you the rest of your life. I know the price of this blade can put it out of reach. At a flat 300 Washingtons (current Amazon listing), make you ask if this really is the edge you need. However, when compared to custom builds, three bills is a steal. Some of my new favorite customs have base models more than this and the good ones exceed five Benjis just to play.
Don’t Hurt Yourself
The Fallkniven Jarl is a medium sized 3.8” clip point blade of 3G steel. The name Jarl is Swedish for Duke or Earl, or in other words, the right hand man to the King… going back a thousand years that is. The Jarl is the middle child of three brothers, one smaller, one larger. An inch shorter in blade length is the Fallkniven Juni, and the older, bigger bro is the Fallkniven Krut. Not quite a fancy mythical name, but it does have a 6.2 inch blade. From what I can tell, krut means gunpowder. Interesting moniker for a knife.
The 3G steel of the Jarl’s convex ground blade is hardened to a Rockwell of 62. In some circles, this number would be on the high side for a field knife, perhaps too high. But that kind of thinking works better with lesser steels or for other knife purposes. There is a perpetual tradeoff between edge holding hardness and sharpening hardness so when one overlays the duties of hunting onto this blade, it make perfect sense to have a very strong ultra sharp edge that may require more attention than most when in need of a bath and a shave. I’d suggest that carriers of 3G blades extend the same courtesy they do as with their gas tanks. In other words just as you keep your tank above half full and top it off whenever the wind changes direction, keep your 3G blades sharp by giving them a touch-up whenever the edge moves out of perfection. If you wait until you knife needs to be towed to the shop, the amount of bench time needed to find edge perfection will be plenty. So to compare steel hardness it is important to weigh all the variables in the equation and not just the Rockwell number.
Another consideration is how you will use the knife. Imaging you slip the Jarl from its warm sheath in order provide to an exit for the guts of your deer. If the blade only contacts organic material, then great. However, if your critter happend to give up the ghost in the mud or sand, your knife may encounter small but formidable obstacles that will do more than dull the edge. It might actually chip it. 3G steel has a great reputation for durability in such environments, but getting the dings out of 3G will make anyone want an electric belt sander like the Work Sharp.
One in the Hand
If you were to grab a cylinder of clay and squeeze it like you would a knife handle, you would end up with a knife handle in almost the same shape as the Fallkniven Jarl’s knife handle. A slightly barrel-shaped grip swollen in the middle but just the right amount of constriction at the ends. To ensure a the smooth handle doesn’t end abruptly with your fingers continuing onto the blade, a subtle nickel-silver guard stops your hand mid-slide keeping it firmly where it should be.
The curly birch wood handle is about as far from textured as naturally possible. While some knives advertise their grips as grippy or their scales as scaley, the Fallkniven Jarl is just the opposite, at least when dry. While it could be argued that a silky smooth handle is not the most desirable of knife traits, especially with a fairly directional clip point blade, the feel and hand rotations of the Fallkniven Jarl’s grip is nothing short of magical. But when a little sweat, blood or water enters the mix, the grip gets a little grippier.
One of the qualities of wooden knife handles is that wood has low temperature conduction. Unlike dense handle materials, the wood warms quickly to the comforting embrace of palm and fingers. And like other hand tools, there is just something primally attractive about wood compared to modern synthetics. But primal does mean care which is why many modern designs have evolved beyond natural fibers.
The clip point blade has an otherworldly sheen that proves that Fallkniven has been busy making this knife more than special. Normally clip points better serve the hunter crowd over the bushcraft folks. In this case, Jarl’s belly is full of life and will process wood better than most. The sharp point can pose a snagging problem in lightly trained fingers, but the cost of this blade should prevent it from landing in the wrong hands.
The spine of the blade has a sharp 90 degree edge that combined with the steel hardness easily scratches the hell out of any ferrocerium rod it contacts. The unsharpened swedge that occupies about half of the upper side of the blade leaves a smaller length of spine compared to traditional bushcraft-specific rides.
Like all other Fallkniven knives, the Jarl arrived more than shaving sharp. The build quality is exceptional and sheath was free of even minor imperfections. That didn’t last long however as the few days of hard forest wear challenged the leather’s self-healing properties.
The minimalist sheath for the Jarl is a piece of fine leather artwork complete with dangler. The highly consuming friction fit of the sheath confines the knife in all positions except an inverted heavy blow. Extracting the Jarl from its home is done with thumb-forefinger grip either all the way, or until enough of the grip is exposed to slide down the birch for a firmer grip. The Jarl can be dropped into the sheath for temporary holding, or pushed down into its upright and locked position for serious carry.
For those uninitiated to carrying danglers, they are reminiscent of Deputy Rick’s Python carry in The Walking Dead TV show. The sheath, or holster in Rick’s case, swings freely on a D ring that allows a fairly large amount of movement compared to the common belt-loop variety. Danglers are a throwback to a simpler time when carrying a knife and gun was part of normal life. They ride lower. They swing freely. They don’t hide at all. What dangler sheaths do well is provide excellent service when sitting as well as standing. And danglers also provide an easy deployment and resheathing depending on the particular design. For riding horses, driving cars, and even sitting on a stump around a campfire, the dangler is a fine choice. Maybe the best choice. No thigh straps needed.
Normally survival situations have little room for creature comforts. But that is only if the features providing the comfort come at a cost. In the case of the Fallkniven Jarl, the only cost is upfront. So when you have to rely on your gear as much as your pulse, don’t forget the finer points of life. Those points that remind us all why we will hang on and fight towards the future. There is no turning back when the downhill slide begins, so how you prep your kits now is what you will have then. Me? I have some useful and deadly things that remind me of just how good we once had it. And the Fallkniven Jarl is one of them.