Sunday, January 12, 2014

Review: Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife [Fixed Blade Knife]

Mora and Light My Fire are two Swedish companies synonymous with quality, and both have an almost cult
following. So it's not surprising that they would collaborate to produce a hybrid of their two flagship products: the Mora Companion and the Light My Fire FireSteel. Both of these companies are known for their field-proven products. These aren't products you would buy for decoration.
Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife: Product Link
Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife Product Link

Honestly, I wasn't sure what interest I had in this knife since I already own both products separately. But everyone knows what type of gifts to give me, and a family member who is an avid backpacker gave this to me as a gift. I think she bought it at Sierra Trading Post, but I would normally get this from Amazon. They've had it on sale on and off. They had it for 20 bucks on black Friday.

Product Description


This is basically a Mora Companion with an extra bevel on the tip of the blade, and a FireSteel in the handle. It comes in several bright colors, and I have the black/gray one. The person who gave me it to me bought the orange one for herself. Being a Swedish knife, it has the typical Scandinavian grind on the blade-- the so-called "Scandi Grind."  The plastic sheath is identical to the Mora Clipper, so it has typical features like the drain hole and the integrated belt clip.

The FireSteel is a Scout model integrated into the handle of the knife. A quick clockwise twist frees the FireSteel from the knife, at which point you just drag the spine of the blade (not the edge) across it to get lots of sparks.The manufacturer claims 3,000 strikes, and I believe them.

Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife: Split View In Sheath
Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife: Split View Out Of Sheath
Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife: FireSteel Removed
Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife: Blade First View
Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife: Handle First View
Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife: View Of Mora Logo

Official Specs (From Amazon)


  • Mora of Sweden makes this flexible and sturdy blade of Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel.
  • Scandinavian grind.
  • High-friction, TPE rubber handle.
  • An original Swedish FireSteel® Scout, with approximately 3,000 strikes, twist locks into the handle for lighting campfires, gas stoves, and barbecues.
  • Swedish FireSteel firestarter works equally well when wet, performs at all altitudes, and produces a 3,000°C (5,400°F) spark.


Initial Impressions


As I opened this "goodies box" of gifts, this knife was the first thing I noticed. At first glance it looks like a regular Mora with part of the handle cut away, but it quickly sunk in what I was holding. The giver of the gift immediately seized it out of my hand and said "here, let me show you how to take the FireSteel out" which was good because it's not immediately obvious. You have to twist it clockwise before you pull it straight out. That way it doesn't just fall out. 

One of the first things I noticed was the Light My Fire branding all over the knife and sheath. There's a big flame pattern carved into the sheath and pommel as well. Other than all the branding, it's pretty obvious that it's a Mora at heart. 

Drawing the blade from the sheath, I noticed that funky looking extra bevel on the blade. Speculating about it on the Internet didn't yield anything specific. It looks cool, and it's probably a better skinner because of it. Maybe it would be useful for certain kinds of food prep. If you're an ultralight backpacker, I guess that extra bevel shaves however many milligrams off the weight. In fact, it didn't take long for it to hit me that this is probably the perfect backpacking knife.

Fit And Finish


The blade on my sample has several serious scuff marks. I originally thought they were scratches and so did the missus, but from looking at the photos closely, they look like just scuff marks. Either way it's not something that affects the functionality of the knife.

Other than that, the fit and finish on my review sample is good. The rough, unfinished look that Mora is known for having is not present on my sample. The spine of the blade on mine is smooth and polished. The blade has a good edge as you'd expect from a Mora. There's a little bit of roughness on the edge of handle where it meets the spine of the blade, but it's only noticeable in the photos. The FireSteel looks good and fits the handle snugly.

Overall the fit and finish as above and beyond the other Moras I've owned and handled. This is a work knife anyway, so the fit and finish is just academic. 

Blade


The blade is the heart of any knife, and this one beats strong. The steel on this one is a little different from the Carbon steels normally found on most Moras. It's Sandvik 12C27 stainless-- very nice. Now, some people don't like the Carbon steels because they can rust and corrode easily, but I've always seen it as a badge of honor. So having stainless steel is something I can take or leave. It's probably a plus for a disaster bag, aka "bugout bag" since it may go a long time without being used/inspected.

Other than the extra bevel, the blade is the standard Scandinavian grind you will find on pretty much every Swedish made knife. One thing of note is that this model doesn't have the unfinished spine of the blade common to Moras. It's never really bothered me, but I always found it odd. The spine on my sample has a smooth finish to the blade. 

Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife: View Of Blade Spine
Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife: Closeup Of Blade 1
Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife: Closeup Of Blade 2
Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife: Closeup Of Blade Tip
Notice the pretty good scuff mark near the tip

Handle


Other than having a FireSteel jammed in it and part of the handle cut away, this is the same handle found on most of the other Moras. It's made of a grippy, rubberized plastic that has a good feel to it. The handle almost looks uncomfortable to hold just by looking at the photos, but in practice it has the same basic feel as the other Moras. Which is a relief, because a handle that's uncomfortable or isn't ergonomic is a deal breaker for me.

I'm not sure why the handle has the cutaway. Yeah, it's got a FireSteel in it. I can see that, thanks. Seems like exposing part of the Magnesium rod to the elements wouldn't be a good thing. I guess it cuts down on weight, though, and that's a good thing.

Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife: Closeup Of Handle 1

Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife: Closeup Of Handle With FireSteel Cutaway

Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife: Closeup Of Handle 2


The handle also comes with an attached lanyard. The little plastic piece at the end has a flame pattern found a few other places on the sheath and pommel as well. It's like playing Where's Waldo finding all the branding.

Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife: Closeup Of Lanyard Doodad

Sheath


This is the same basic Mora sheath as the Clipper that I gave away. It's more pointed than the snub-nosed sheath on my Companion. So it's the basic Mora sheath with some of Light My Fire branding. It also features a flame pattern etched into the plastic on the sheath. And being a Mora sheath, it has the same drain hole and belt clip. Some people make custom sheaths for their Moras, but I've always liked the stock sheaths.

Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife: Closeup Of Sheath (Front)
Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife: Closeup Of Sheath (Back)


FireSteel


The defining feature of this model is the FireSteel which is integrated into the knife's handle. This is the Light My Fire Scout model. It's basically just a Magnesium rod, which make a good spark when struck against the spine of the blade. Maybe that's why the blade spine is more finished than on other Moras.

The manufacturer claims 3,000 strikes on the FireSteel, which seems plenty reasonable given the quality of it and the company's reputation. If it fails before then, it'll most likely be due to the plastic tab falling off the Magnesium rod. It's a survival tool, so be kind to it.

NOTE: The person who gave this knife to me said "yeah, it sparks really good when you drag it across the blade" to which I replied "noooooo, please don't do that." So it's worth mentioning that dragging the FireSteel  across the spine is plenty fine. In fact, if it ever gets separated from the blade, dragging it across pretty much anything made of steel is going to give you sparks. 

Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife: Closeup Of FireSteel 1

Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife: Closeup Of FireSteel Cutaway
Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife: Closeup Of FireSteel Itself

Usability


The Moras have always been good for backpacking, as camp knives and for emergency bags. As a collector, I always take a bunch of knives with me camping, and it always turns out to be the Mora I grab for first. I know some ultralight backpackers and preppers who also swear by them. My disaster bag has a Ka-Bar Kukri, a Ka-Bar Becker BK-14 and a Mora Companion in it. I couldn't imagine a disaster bag without a Mora in it.

It's the dead of winter as I type this, so it'll be a while before this knife sees any field use. But that's the glory of combing two products with this reputation. Because both products are so field tested, I have no reservations singing the usability praises of a product I haven't used. Below is a photo with the FireKnife next to the Companion, and you can see the level of use and abuse it has taken. While the Companion is carbon steel versus the stainless steel found on the FireKnife, it's a very high quality steel, and I would expect it to stand up to abuse just as well or better than the carbon steel found on other Moras.

The few strike tests I performed were successful, not that there were any doubts. The FireSteel gave me a bunch of nice, healthy sparks which my dogs found disconcerting. Put some good quality tinder under this thing, and you'll have a nice fire.

Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife: Held In Hand
video


Conclusions

They did a great job with this melding of two great products. The FireKnife is well designed and well implemented.


Backpacking: This is probably the ultimate knife for ultralight backpacking, due to its light weight and combining two essential tools of high quality.

Camping: The FireKnife should make an excellent camp knife, though for car camping I don't often use a FireSteel to start my camp fires. I do know hardcore outdoorsmen who do, but for me it's more of a last resort kind of thing. The extra bevel on the blade is intriguing, so it will probably get taken on a camping trip or two just to see if that bevel on the tip does anything to the usability, good or bad. I do have a couple concerns about dirt or debris getting into that cutaway part of the handle. At this point still see my old faithful Companion in that role.

Disaster Bag: This knife is definitely going in my disaster bag, where I think it is a very good choice. I already had a Mora knife and a FireSteel in my disaster bag, so this isn't really giving me any new capabilities, but it does give me a backup FireSteel with pretty much zero weight cost. I also like the idea of a stainless steel Mora that might go years without being checked on. The carbon steel seems to corrode just from looking at it, so I like the thought of this in my bag.

Gallery


Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife: Shown With Spyderco Native Pocket Knife and Sunwayman D40A FlashlightLight My Fire Swedish FireKnife: Shown In Sheath With Mora Companion and Hultafors GK

Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife: Shown With Mora Companion and Hultafors GK


Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife: Shown On Scale
Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife: Shown Next To Ruler

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