The Best Overlanding Survival Knife?

Overlanding, by definition, does not take the path of least resistance. Instead, that very resistance is what provides the joy of overlanding. So the gear you carry and use must also meet the demands of your adventures. And one knife stands out among them all, the Fällkniven A1x Survival Knife. At the moment, there is no better built, better performing, sharper, stronger or more durable knife on the planet. However the Fällkniven A1x Survival Knife is far from the most expensive, and in fact is even lower priced than other Fällkniven survival knives.

The Fällkniven A1x Survival Knife is a beautiful beast of steel and polymer. The massively thick slab of laminated cobalt steel comes in both a polished version and one with a new tungsten carbide coating that might just be the hardest, most durable blade coating in the world measuring around 83 on the Rockwell hardness scale. While not flat black like other survival knives, instead the tungsten carbide coated A1x blade has an absolutely stunning and beautiful dark iridescent luster giveing the steel a space age look. Whether or not the darker blade looks more tactical or scary is in the eye of the beholder. But either way, you have never seen a blade that looks like this. And now I would never pass up the opportunity to get a cobalt coated blade after working with this one. It’s that good and that beautiful.

The lamented cobalt steel or Lam. CoS is the epitome of knife steel evolution. It’s a combination of steels providing durable stainless steel faces sandwiching an optimum cutting edge steel. Normally a single steel blade can either have a premium edge with regard to intense sharpness, edge retention, and resharpenability, but not so much in overall durability and rust resistance. Or the steel could be a durable stainless mixture but lacking in edge retention and difficulty in sharpening. Brittleness causing chipping is also a problem with hard stainlesses.

What Fällkniven has done is worked with the finest Japanese steel makers in the world to forge a laminated or layered steel where a premium edge steel is combined with stainless walls giving not only the best of both worlds, but also a property of laminates where the overall strength of the blade is well beyond anything that can be created by a single layer blade steel. If a failure of the laminated blade were to happen, it would take forces so extreme that any other single steel would have snapped in half or bent in a horseshoe long ago. We’re in the 21st century so we might as well use it.

Fällkniven A1x Full Tang

The Fällkniven A1x Survival Knife is cleaver-thick and built to stay that way. Often the steel on a full tang knife has been skeletonized to reduce weight. Not the Fällkniven A1x Survival Knife. This beast has only four small holes, three for the Thermorun scale retention screws and one lanyard hole at the most northern latitude. The rest of the handle is solid steel which helps explain the over 13 ounces of heft when in your hand. But the balance point lands perfectly on your index finger when holding it.

Fällkniven A1x Scales

The flow from grip scales to blade steel and back to grip and your palm closes around the handle of the Fällkniven A1x Survival Knife is shockingly comfortable. Unlike many other survival knives with full tang scale designs, the angles on the circumference of the Fällkniven A1x Survival Knife are perfect making the material transitions undetectable when using the knife.

The forward-thinking design of the grip scales on the Fällkniven A1x Survival Knife also opens the door for many aftermarket options. Something Fällkniven aficionados have been exploring for years but with considerably more effort and risk. Now, just a few twists with a Torx screwdriver, and the world is your oyster, so to speak. The eleven and a quarter inches of overall length provides a six and a half inch blade crowned with Fällkniven’s innovative take on the drop point. The sharp side is a modified convex edge meaning that there is a graceful slope towards the absolute edge leaving as much steel as possible where it matters. The result is a blindingly sharp, absurdly strong edge design that is not near as easy to make as a flat grind, but far superior.

At well over a quarter-inch thick, the Fällkniven A1x Survival Knife has the strength and character to tackle all overlanding chores from batoning firewood to slicing reinforced fuel lines to gutting trout. It carries easily on the belt, and gives the impression of strength and seriousness when in the hand rather than overkill as one might expect reading the specifications.

Fällkniven A1x Sheath

No less than three different sheath offerings are available for the Fällkniven A1x Survival Knife (and the S1x and F1x as well) from Fällkniven itself. The main sheath is a solid but high tech Zytel plastic container for the Fällkniven A1x Survival Knife that includes several innovative features beyond its apparent minimalist design. While taking up just slightly more volume than the knife itself, the sheath has an integrated retention and locking mechanism that not only works well, but is both simple and robust meaning it will work for years unlike most other sheaths with moving parts. The finger guard on the knife latches into a semi-passive lock that is activated upon sheathing the knife, but only removable (under normal conditions) by rocking the knife forward in the sheath releasing the grab the sheath’s tab has on the knife. For a rocksolid bombproof retention, or what Fällkniven calls “transport lock,” there is a rotatable switch that normally rides in the up position for standard retention, or “working safety,” but can be rotated down into a position that locks into the sheath so tightly that sheath material would literally have to break in order for the blade to come loose.

The standard sheath the Fällkniven A1x Survival Knife comes with is the one described above and has a standard nylon webbing loop for belt attachment. That same Zytel sheath design is also available as a point-of-purchase option with a dangling steel belt clip that allows quick on-off of a belt or strap providing more options for carry on more packs, pants and belts.

A third sheath is also sold by Fallknivien for the A1x as well as the S1x and F1x. It is a leather masterpiece taking cues from the sheath developed for the Fällkniven A2 and the Fällkniven Modern Bowie. It’s a thick sheath made from thick double-stitched leather layers. A single reversible snap holds the knife in the sheath beyond the snug friction fit. The black leather sheath is angular but symmetrical allowing for reversible carry. A leather belt loop is attached in a dangler fashion connected to the sheath proper with a stainless steel ring. Two grommets anchor the lower corners and two screw rivets lock the upper to allow for future creative carry options.

Fällkniven A1x vs S1x vs F1x

The Fällkniven A1x Survival Knife is the largest of Fallkniiven’s X-knives and essential in my overlanding carryout. The Fällkniven S1x and F1x offer two more smaller choices, each with their own advantages. Stay tuned for more on those blades.