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I’ve always been a big fan of the Mora. I have owned numerous Nordic-Scandinavian style knives in various permutation, since I was a child–everything from your basic, bare-bones, $8 Mora to scandi-grind customs that cost me several hundred dollars I didn’t really have.
I’ve loved them all, but I always end up going back to the various knives made by Mora of Sweden. They’re, light, inexpensive (even the “expensive” models), high quality, and although I shudder to use this Larry the Cable Guy reference, they just git ‘r done.
Which brings me to the newest offering from the folks at Mora of Sweden and Light My Fire. It’s called the Swedish Fireknife. What is it? Well, you know that old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercial from the ’80s? The one where the two people come together in a fit of clumsy serendipity to make something better than the sum of its parts? That’s the Swedish Fireknife (MSRP $39.99). It’s a Mora, but with one of Light My Fire’s always-awesome firesteels built into the handle.
First the particulars: the knife itself has a 3-3/4″ long, .078″ thick modified scandi-grind blade of Sandvik 12c27 stainless steel, the same excellent steel that many other Mora models come in. The blade is approximately 11/16 inch wide, with a profile grind extending from the tip back about an inch or so. The handle is made of what they call “high friction rubber” and I can attest that it is high friction, indeed. Your bloody, offal-coated hands will not slip on this handle. It’s tacky, in the good way. The handle, like most of the non-traditional polymer handled Moras I own, is sized just right for average to large-sized hands and is as ergonomic as you can expect a knife to be. It’s comfortable, in other words, with a variety of grips.
But it’s the base of the handle that sets the Fireknife apart from its more pedestrian Mora brethern. In the butt of the handle is a 1-1/2″ long Light My Fire firesteel. To extract it, you simply turn the butt about a 1/4 inch to the right and pull it out. If you’re not familiar with Light My Fire’s firesteels, then you should be. I literally don’t go anywhere in the woods without one of them. I’m not alone in that regard. As it happens, I also almost never go out in the woods without a Mora. Again, I’m not alone in that regard. Thousands of hikers, backpackers, hunters, anglers, woodsbums, bushcrafters and others use both firesteels and Moras, so the melding of the two makes eminent sense.
The whole thing is encased in a purely functional plastic sheath equipped with a belt clip. Mine came in lose-proof blaze orange, but you can get the Fireknife in a variety of colors.
So how does it work? Is it any good? Well, I’ve been pounding on mine for the past couple of months, and here are my impressions. Take them for what they’re worth. After hard use, my two biggest initial concerns about the knife have been put to rest.
One, the design and durability of the firesteel locking mechanism. I was worried that, with use, the butt-section of the handle would eventually fall off and get lost. Thus far, however, it hasn’t. It’s still pretty much as tight as the day I got it, and I can’t see any circumstances short of pounding it with a hammer where it would fall out. I even tried some light batoning with the knife, and the handle stayed put.
Second, I had concerns about the size and performance of the firesteel itself. I’m not a big fan of small firesteels. They just don’t seem to throw very many or very hot sparks. But I have to say, this one has no trouble throwing off a shower of sparks and molten metal. That’s partly due to the fact that Light My Fire makes a quality product, but also because the spine of the knife has been machined to take a really good bite off the the steel, which is crucial to producing a good spark from a ferro rod.
As for the cutting performance of the knife itself, well, it’s a Mora. It’s just gonna work. Sandvik 12c27 is a great steel, tough and easy to sharpen, and even an incompetent like me can put a good edge on a scandi-grind blade. I’ve used the Fireknife in the kitchen as a paring and utility knife, and I’ve made it a habit to throw it in my tackle bag when I go fishing, my backpack when I go hunting, and my training bag when I take the dogs to the field. With it I’ve made feathersticks, cleaned early-season squirrels, and used the machined spine of the blade for scaling panfish. It cuts bait and rope with equal aplomb. Like all Moras, it’s a tough, functional jack-of-all-trades with an absolutely insane price-to-performance ratio.
It’s not perfect. I don’t like the openings in the handle and wish it were solid without any cut-outs. I’m not sure why they’re there, other than looks, but I can say that they collect shad guts like crazy. A solid handle would be much easier to keep clean. I’d also like the blade to be just a tad longer and perhaps just a smidgen wider. But I can certainly live with it, as is.
Is it a beautiful knife? Well, no. But everyone who has used one falls in live with its performance and economical utility. I’ve been giving these things away over on the MBF blog for a couple months, and everyone loves them. Even more telling, I recently made the mistake of giving mine to my son, and it has supplanted his Bear Grylls Gerber as his favorite knife. So I guess I’ll be buying another one, which is about the strongest kind of endorsement I can give.