Review of Hultafors knives
by John Fenna

I have recently had the opportunity to try out some of the new “Craftman’s” range of knives from the Swedish “Hultafors” company, more famous in bushcraft circles for their forged axes.

380010hvkThe Craftman’s range comprises 11 knives, but I have been looking at the four models I think will have the greatest appeal to bushcrafters: The Craftman’s Knife HVK, the Craftman’s Knife HVK GH, the Safety Knife SK and the Heavy Duty Knife GK, all in carbon steel, hardened to 58-60 HRC.

The Craftman’s Knife HVK is a good basic knife of a familiar Scandinavian styling, which features a blade measuring approx 3.752 (93mm) x .75” (18mm) wide and 2.5mm thick, with a Scandi grind and secondary micro-bevel. The blade has a drop point and the edge continues right up to the handle with no recasso or choil.

The 4.5” long handle is a comfortably and traditionally shaped unit made from “PP” plastic that has a light texturing to the surface for a secure grip and a substantial guard moulded in.

In use the Craftman’s Knife did everything you could want or expect from this kind of knife, proving excellent over the normal range of tasks from food preparation to battoning through seasoned oak! Although I have been unable to ascertain exactly how long the tang is, there was no hint of weakness during any of these tasks. The back of the blade struck massive sparks off a firesteel and could also spark off natural flint. The knife came razor sharp, held its edge pretty well and was straightforward to re-hone once it had dulled with use.

The 4.5” long handle is a comfortably and traditionally shaped unit made from “PP” plastic that has a light texturing to the surface for a secure grip and a substantial guard moulded in.

safe-cutting-battoning-across-the-grainIn use the Craftman’s Knife did everything you could want or expect from this kind of knife, proving excellent over the normal range of tasks from food preparation to battoning through seasoned oak! Although I have been unable to ascertain exactly how long the tang is, there was no hint of weakness during any of these tasks. The back of the blade struck massive sparks off a firesteel and could also spark off natural flint. The knife came razor sharp, held its edge pretty well and was straightforward to re-hone once it had dulled with use.

The sheath is a moulded PP plastic item, into which the knife fits with a secure push fit, and has a couple of interesting features. As well as a drain hole in the tip, the sheath has a moulded loop by its “throat”, which can be used to attach a lanyard of baldric for a neck or armpit carry, while the belt loop is – to my knowledge – unique.

Instead of sliding a belt through a fixed loop moulded into the sheath, you have a clip system which folds around your belt with the “open” side away from your body. Two clip arms then push into cut-outs in the back of the unit and your sheath is fixed securely to your belt and, thanks to a moulded lug, is unable to slide around. If your belt is too thick for the clip to close around, then cutting off this lug will give more room. I have tried belts up to 3.5mm thick and 1.5” wide and have not needed to cut the lug off.

In the back of the clip there is a cut-out which allows you to securely fit the sheath to a button, a versatile method of carrying a knife (and a favourite Scandinavian way) as long as you have buttons, not press-studs or Velcro closings on your clothing!

Overall, I have found the Craftman’s Knife an excellent budget bushcrafting tool, the only features jarring a little being (in order of dislike):

  1. The guard is big enough to be irritating, getting in the way of fine work, although this also adds security – no way is your hand going to slip onto the blade!
  2. The hinge on the belt/button clip looks quite fragile compared to the rest of the knife and sheath, although I have not yet managed to induce failure here by over-flexing (trust me – I tried!)
  3. This model is only available in neon orange – a great safety colour that will obviate any risk of putting the knife down and not seeing it again – but not one of my favourite colours!
  4. I find the back of the knife is “unfinished” and looks messy.

The Craftman’s Knife retails at around £9.50 so is a very affordable tool, ideal as a daily user, for those starting out in knife work, and for learning how to sharpen a blade – mess it up, spoil the grind, snap the tip and you have not lost a lot of money!

hultafors-knives

The second knife I looked at is the Craftman’s Knife HVK GH, substantially the same as the previous knife and sheath, the only difference being that the handle has a ribbed covering of black
The orange/black handle is still highly visible, but not as much as the plain neon orange of the previous model, and it even looks a little “Bear Grylls-ish” – a plus or minus point depending on your views!

The Craftman’s Knife HVK GH will not be available until sometime in 2011 – details to follow.

The Safety Knife SK is identical to the Craftman’s Knife HVK, but with a neon yellow handle, not orange, and the tip of the blade is blunted to help prevent “sticking” injuries. Some will see this as making it a good “learner’s” or “children’s” knife, but it will also appeal to those wanting a safety knife for use around inflatable canoes and rafts. The Safety Knife SK costs around £9.50

The final model I looked at is the Heavy Duty Knife GK which has an overall chunkier feel to it.

The blade is approx 95mm (just under 3.75”) long 23mm wide and of 3mm thick carbon steel hardened to 58-60 HRC, again with a Scandi grind and secondary micro-bevel and while the handle is of the same style as below, it is scaled up to 5” (12.75cm) long. Equally, the sheath is of the same design as the others, but scaled to fit the chunkier knife.

The Heavy Duty Knife GK is more at home with the more “brutal” camp chores rather than fine carving or slicing root vegetables, and is a very robust unit. The green handle is less visible than the neon colours of the other knives and its extra length could suit those with larger hands or when wearing gloves.

The Heady-Duty Knife GK costs around £12.00.

All the knives have proved their worth in the field and the prices are very attractive, making me certain that these budget knives will prove popular with bushcrafters of all ages, experience and ability.

The review samples were kindly provided by Casstrom and the knives should be widely available.
www.casstrom.co.uk

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