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Reviews > Knives > Fixed Blade > Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife > Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes
Light My Fire - Swedish FireKnife
Test series by Coy Starnes
Initial Report: May 6, 2012
Field Report: July 24, 2012
Long Term Report: September 17, 2012
Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife
I live in Northeast Alabama. I enjoy biking, hunting, fishing, canoeing/kayaking and most other outdoor activities, but backpacking is my favorite pastime. I enjoy hiking with friends and family or solo. I hike throughout the year and actually hike less in the hot humid months of summer. My style is slow and steady and my gear is light. However, I will sacrifice weight for comfort and durability. A typical 3-season load for me is around 20 lb (9 kg) not counting food or water.
Product Features (from website)
Material: (from website)
The Swedish FireKnife is really two very important survival tools combined into a small, easy to carry unit. The knife itself is made by Mora of Sweden. The blade length is 3.75 in (10 cm) and seems very sharp. The overall knife length is 8.5 in (21.5 cm). The blade is a straight edge (no serration) and is made of Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel. It looks to be plenty big for most outdoor cutting chores that a knife is normally used for and that might arise on a camping trip or even in a survival situation. The blade is also pretty stiff, which might not be ideal for filleting a fish, but is pretty typical for a sheath knife. Here is a closeup of the blade.
The handle of this knife is also used to store a magnesium fire rod, but more on that in a minute. The handle is made of high-friction, TPE rubber. I was not sure exactly what this was. However, I did research it a little and found that TPE stands for thermoplastic elastomers, which is made by blending plastic and rubber. Different blends give different results but I have to admit, the handle feels a little like plastic but with a hint of give in it like rubber would have. I also read that TPE rubber has poor chemical and heat resistance so I will be careful not to get any gas on the handle or place it too close to a hot surface or heat source. Here is a closeup of the handle. The finely textured grip is fairly visible. This is also the side with two holes and shows the locking side of the fire rod. It is not as neat looking on this side but everything still lines up perfectly so I really don't notice the small gap.
The fire rod portion of the knife comes from Light My Fire, which also happens to be another Swedish company. And, while they did not invent the magnesium fire rod they certainly have come up with some good products. The fire rod used in the FireKnife is pretty much identical to the Scout model which is also rated for 3000 strikes. The grip portion is different since it is designed to store into the handle of the knife. This is accomplished by inserting it into the butt end of the knife handle and twisting it to lock it in place. Removing it is simply a reverse motion of the same twist. The grip on the fire rod is formed by indentations on each side of the handle, one for the thumb and one for the index finger. It also features a small lanyard cord to help keep up with the rod when it is not stored in the handle of the knife.
And last is the sheath. It is made of polypropylene, which is a kind of plastic often used in making food containers. It has a higher melting point than most plastics and is dishwasher safe, not that I expect to need to clean my sheath in the dishwasher... When the knife is inserted into the sheath I can hear a slight clicking noise as it seats and it really does lock the knife into place. Not super firm, but secure enough that the knife will stay in the sheath even when turned upside down and shaken pretty vigorously. It also features a molded in belt clip. Here is the FireKnife stored in the sheath.
The package as a whole seems rather well thought out. After viewing the Swedish FireKnife on the website and now after holding it in my hands, the knife is rather small. However, I wasn't expecting a large knife considering the listed weight was only 3.4 oz (94 g). The blade on the knife does look a little small in relation to the handle but I'd rather it be a little small as too big. However, the handle fits in my hand just about perfectly. However, what stands out the most is how well the fire rod is integrated into the handle. If not for the holes in the side of the handle which show the fire rod, and, if I did not know it was supposed to be pulled out of the end of the handle, I might not even notice it. As further proof of how well the fire rod fits into the handle, with it off the knife, the knife does not feel nearly as comfortable to hold.
I'm not sure how to classify this knife. The website just calls it a colorful outdoor knife. It has the one feature many survival knives boast and that would be a way to start a fire. However, with the FireKnife, I won't be limited to a few matches I could store in the handle, and, I won't have to worry about getting the knife (and fire rod) wet since it works wet or dry.
The website offers specific instructions on how to use the knife and fire rod but it basically boils down to having some easily lit material on hand. Dryer lint or cotton balls are just a couple of examples. Take the fire rod out of the knife and place the rod end down close to the combustible material. Turn the knife over and use the spine (back side, not the blade). Force it slowly down the rod to produce a spark. The first time I tried I think I went too slow because I didn't get much of a spark. However, after a few tries, I got the speed and angle right and it was producing large quantities of sparks. I stopped after a couple of good results because I don't want to use up my 3000 strikes just fooling around with the knife. However, I do plan to practice building a fire with the knife even when I may not need a fire because I feel having confidence and familiarity with how to use equipment is important with something as essential as fire making.
Test Locations and Conditions
I have been using the FifeKnife here in Northeast Alabama. It was hot and dry early during the testing but this gave way to very hot and humid conditions with several soaking rains. We had 3 inches (8 cm) of rain during one 24 hour period and 5 inches (13 cm) over a 2 day period a few weeks later. There were several thunderstorms that produced quite a bit of rain in between these 2 major rain events, enough to make fire starting a little more work than when it was so dry. I have used the knife in temperatures ranging from the low 70s (22 C) to around 100 F (38 C). Due to the hot weather I have only managed one overnight camping trip so far but did use the knife several times while out day hiking.
I carried the knife on all my exercise hikes and practiced building a quick fire several times. So far I have used dryer lint for my initial spark catcher/fire starting material. I had mixed results. For example, I went hiking the day following a 3 inch rain in early June and was not able to get a fire going. I did manage to light my dryer lint but the tinder I was using was just too wet for my fire building skill level. On the other hand, I was able to get a fire going easily on several other occasions. I found the blade suitable for most typical cutting duties. The handle on the knife is well designed and provided me with a good grip on the knife even when I was hot and sweaty.
I carried the FireKnife on an overnight hiking trip down in the holler (hollow) behind my house on June 14. I hiked about 4 miles (6 km) total and this was during a dry spell and somewhat milder conditions. The high was 86 F (30 C) and the low was 68 F (20 C) but I still sweated a lot as the humidity was high. I used the FireKnife for starting a small smudge fire that evening to help ward off mosquitoes and then for a small cooking fire the next morning. The woods had dried out considerably but I still noticed a lot of the dead wood on the ground was pretty wet. I found enough suspended sticks to get my fire going well enough so that the wetter wood then burned fine. I also used the knife with a baton to split some wood for the fire. My breakfast fire the next morning used much less wood than I expected. Below is a series of photos of the FireKnife use during this trip.
Using the Swedish FireKnife to split some wood
I used less than half this wood for breakfast
fire going good, ready to start cooking
first the bacon
and then the eggs in bacon grease
I did find one other great use for the FireKnife. I planted okra in my garden and always use a knife to pick it. I found the FireKnife particularly handy because I usually carried a 5 gallon (19 L) bucket and would have a mixture of okra, tomatoes, peppers etc to pick and did not need the knife except for the okra. I found it easy to keep the FireKnife in the sheath on whatever shorts I happened to be wearing while I piked other things besides the okra. I also used it to cut one watermelon and slice several tomatoes and other garden produce. The blade was a little short for the watermelon but by cutting all the way around I managed to get it sliced.
Summary thus far
The knife has remained sharp despite using to to whittle several fire-sticks, split a few small sticks and cut vegetables etc. I am also impressed that I was able to build a fire so easily most of the time but disappointed that I had trouble on a few occasions. However, the failures were weather related and also due to my limited fire building skill. I have no complaints about the blade part of the knife. It seems well suited for most outdoor duties and the sheath works well to carry the knife on a variety of clothes, both with and without a belt. This concludes my Field Report. Please check back in approximately two months for my Long Term Report to see how the Swedish FireKnife continues to perform.
Test Locations and Field Conditions
I carried the Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife to Mississippi for a 3-day 3-night paddling trip on Black Creek in the De Soto National Forest. The weather was just about perfect during the trip with no rain, highs in the lower 90s F (around 33 C) and lows around 70 F (21 C) each night. I have also continued to carry it on day-hikes in the holler behind my house, and again, temperatures have been cooler than back in the hottest part of summer, but still warm enough to make me avoid the mid afternoon part of the day.
Long Term Test Results
Most of my recent use was during the canoeing trip in Mississippi. I used it the first morning to light my MSR Pocket Rocket while preparing breakfast. The stove lit on the first strike. I later warmed a little more water to wash up breakfast dishes and it took 3 strikes this time. I take this as just an indication of how the sparks need to be carefully aimed as there were good sparks on all three tries.
My next use was an attempt to build a fire later that evening. I forgot to bring any dryer lint and so I had to depend on finding dry tinder in the woods. This did not work out too well. I think my material was just a little too damp. I gathered a few of the driest leaves and some dried up pine needles. I then carved off several nice slivers from some fatwood (resin rich pine knot). I placed a mixture of this on a nice piece of bark. I worked at least 30 minutes and must have struck the fire rod a hundred times but never did manage to get the fire going. I did get a brief flame one time and lots of smoke several more times. I tried blowing on the material when it looked like it was smoking enough but apparently I still need to work on my fire making skills. One of the guys finally did manage to get the fire lit with his fire rod but his had a side that allowed you to scrape off some magnesium fines from which he then managed to coax a flame. Before resorting to his emergency fire kit he tried to light the fire with my FireKnife fire rod using his pocket knife but the slightly rounded back edge did not produce nearly as many sparks as the squared off rear edge of the Mora FireKnife did. This image captures the amount of sparks the FireKnife produces nicely.
The next morning we cooked breakfast using a gas stove with electronic ignition and that night the fire was built by my camping partners while I was using my FireKnife to clear out around our hammock sites. I was also using a machete on the bigger stuff but used the FireKnife to cut some of the briers and vines. I did use it for supper that night cutting my steak. The next morning we used the same gas stove again but I used the FireKnife to light a fire to burn some of our burnable trash. I used the paper towel that was used to oil the wok we had just cooked bacon and eggs in. It did take several tries to ignite the paper towel but nothing like the attempt that failed 2 nights earlier.
I have not seen any rust on the blade so far. I usually dried it after getting it wet but on the canoeing trip I did not always have a rag handy and my clothes were often damp from swimming or sweat. And for the record, I did not wear the knife constantly on the trip but I had it handy at all times and used it several times a day. I did notice it was getting a little dull after the trip. I sharpened it with my DMT diamond sharpener in red which is a general purpose sharpener. It only took a few minutes to get the blade back to shaving with light pressure.
The Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife proved to be an easy way to light a fire as long as I remember to bring a little dryer lint. It also works fine for lighting my Pocket Rocket stove. The knife itself is nice and comfortable to use but is light enough for backpacking purposes. I was so impressed with the sparks this unit produces that I bought a Swedish Firesteel Army model.
This concludes my testing of the Industrial Revolution - Swedish FireKnife. I would like to thank Industrial Revolution and BackpackGearTest.org for this opportunity.
Read more reviews of Light My Fire gear
Read more gear reviews by Coy Ray Starnes
Reviews > Knives > Fixed Blade > Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife > Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes
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