[*P]REVIEW | Ferrum Forge: Falcon

A Preview/Review of the Massdrop/Ferrum Forge Falcon

Preface

First things first… the elephant in the room.

This is the first and only post on this blog site…  No, I am not a bot, robot, or any other form of sentient AI.  No, Massdrop did not make this site to review their products.  They didn’t ask me to make it either.  There’s no ads on this page, this isn’t for me to make money.  This website is just a separate way for me to post my thoughts on an item that Massdrop sent to me with some extra formatting tools.

I was not paid to write this review.  I was not asked to give this product any favoritism for the opportunity to try it out early.

It’s very important to me to know those two bits before I read anything resembling a review so I make sure to disclose that up front.

If my review leads you to choose to buy one of these knives, please consider supporting me by using this link to register for Massdrop before you buy it: https://www.massdrop.com/r/QF2W6H

This is a link to the drop for the Falcon: https://www.massdrop.com/buy/massdrop-x-ferrum-forge-falcon

Background

Me (Joe)

Who am I?  Am I even qualified to give my opinion?  Well, maybe it would be easier to say up front, I’m not an expert.  I don’t know everything about knives, steel, titanium, manufacturing, etc.  That said, I am obsessive about learning as much as I can. I do not have everything mastered and I do not claim to be the end-all authority on what you should do with your money.  With knives, I typically buy fixed blade knives but I do own a few Spyderco, CRKT, Buck, Swiss Army and Gerber folders.

Massdrop

Massdrop is a marketplace where you buy products with a group of other people at a negotiated price that is usually lower than what the item will sell for elsewhere.  The main draw to a site like this over an Amazon or similar marketplace is the niche communities that it hosts.  Some times you can buy an item for a little less and sometimes you can get a monster deal on a product.  The sales are called “drops” and typically they only last a few days.  More recently, Massdrop has been working with manufacturers to offer Massdrop-branded items which seem to be clones of what is already sold by the manufacturer.  These “re-branded items” are the deals that seem to have the best value.  The headphone category on their site has had some amazing prices for high-end headphones.  This knife seems to be one what will be many knives at an amazing value.

Ferrum Forge

If you want a custom knife that is American-made this is arguably one of the best companies to do it.  I can’t say I own any of their custom knives.  They usually retail for a LOT more than I would typically spend on a knife that folds.  Massdrop posted the transcript of an interview with the company that you can find here.  Additionally, you can see some of their past work here.

WE Knife

Chinese manufacturing has a lot of stigma associated with it.  That is not always the case.  The folks over at Massdrop wrote up a nice piece about the company and it can be found here.  WE Knife has an impressive gallery of past work that can be found here.

Specifications

The specs listed below are a combination of what I was able to determine about the Falcon based on questions to Massdrop, the drop page, and other Ferrum Forge and WE Knife products for sale.  I had a VERY limited time with the knife and I was not allowed to test it to breaking because other people needed to have a shot.

I requested the ability to sharpen and polish the cutting edge but it was determined that for the sake of the other people who would review the knife, we should make sure to leave the blade as it will arrive to the people who buy it.  If I am able to obtain another to sharpen/polish before November, I will post an update here with pictures and an obligatory paper cutting video.

  • Sale Information
  • Overall Specs
    • Overall weight: 103 grams.  This is 1 gram more than the stated amount from Massdrop but this is clearly either a variance with production or a calibration issue with my scale.  1 gram is nothing to balk at but it is worth noting that I did a calibration with some reference weights to try to ensure my scale was spot on.
    • Overall open length: 6.8″
    • Overall closed length: 3.9″
    • Overall thickness: .45″
    • Warranty: Lifetime on materials and workmanship (guarantee via Massdrop)
  • Blade Specs
    • Blade length: 2.9″
    • Blade thickness: 0.158″
    • Material: CPM S35VN Stainless Steel
    • Temper info was not provided but most WE Knife blades are between 59-61 HRC.
    • Profile: Spear Point
    • Features:
      • Thumb hole
      • Flipper tab
      • Finger choil
      • Jimping
  • Handle Specs
    • Handle length: 3.9″
    • Material: 6AL4V Titanium Alloy
    • Screws and pivots stainless steel. (Source)
    • Features:
      • Flat clip
  • Included Accessories
    • Soft case
    • Polishing Cleaning Cloth

Impressions

When the Falcon arrived to me, it was in a plain white box so I can’t speak to the quality of the case it will be bundled with.  Upon opening it, my first reaction was “That’s a dense hunk of steel”.  I proceeded to look it over and play around with it while looking for any issues with tolerances and found nothing wrong.  The first thing I will say about this knife is that the blade is thick and heavy.  I thought at first I wouldn’t like how heavy it is but it actually grew on me a bit.  As far as the action of opening and closing is concerned, the mass of steel makes for a very definite and positive motion.  The flip of the blade is satisfying with a perfect “click” at the end.

My Opinions

This would probably be best handled by me giving my thoughts and opinions on the design, components, and construction of the Falcon.  Keep in mind that this is just the opinion of an EDC guy with no real background in knife development.  These observations and opinions are merely my

The Blade Profile

This blade would be a spear point and luckily for me there is enough flat surface for me to be able to clamp onto it nicely with my Wicked Edge sharpener.  The primary grind is flat even though from some of the reference pictures it does look like a hollow grind.  When you get down to the choil section below, there is a good picture to show the grind on the blade.

This is a matter of personal preference… but I like an aggressive shape for my EDC blade.  The blade isn’t boring and bland, it has personality.  The thumb hole is over-sized and is easy to manipulate with your thumb.  The detent on the blade that holds the ceramic ball and keeps the knife shut is secure and smooth.  There is no wiggle or play in the blade.

The Blade Material: CPM S35VN

There can be a lot of debate on what steel is the best to use in a folding knife.  The fact of the matter is that blades and their steel should be paired to compliment each other.  This is a very thick blade and the obvious compliment to that is a tough stainless steel.  On the spectrum of steels, this is a reliable blade material.  It will hold a nice edge and can take a lot of abuse.  Here is a datasheet on S35VN.

The Jibbing

 

A close-up shot like this starts to show just how thick this blade is.  One of the benefits of such a thick blade is that features like jibbing are far more effective and comfortable than on a thinner/lighter blade.  The edges weren’t too sharp or uncomfortable.

 Cutting Edge

I was not the first person to handle the knife, it didn’t any have signs of abuse or wear from the previous user/reviewer who handled it.  The cutting edge was sharpened with up to what I am guessing is an 800 grit.  Frankly speaking, the edge isn’t what I would have chosen for this knife, but this is where I might differ from some other users.  In my opinion, a blade this thick is best suited with a convex edge.  I use a belt grinder to maintain my convex edged fixed blades, but not everyone is comfortable using one.  As stated earlier in this review, I wasn’t permitted to re-profile the edge or even polish it as it would change the appearance and not accurately represent the product that people would be buying.  That said, I would like to try to make my mind up on which grind I am going to be changing my knife to when it arrives.  (Spoiler alert, I am buying this knife)  Given the thickness of the blade and the durability of the handle, it would make a nice heavy chore knife… however, the blade is a bit short for any real tasks that would require that amount of force and if I keep a beveled edge I can choose to polish it to a mirror as a vanity statement.

Some people have reservations about sharpening S35VN and I am not sure why.  I’ve never had any real issues with it, it might take a bit longer to sharpen… but then again, if I’m working a chip out of any blade I will take the time to make sure it is perfect again.  In my experience, you can only quickly throw a low quality toothy-edge on a knife… anything that is better will take some time.

Bottom line… The edge out of the box is good, if you want it to be amazing, you will need to do some work to it.

The Choil

This is where the first minor complaint comes from me.  I am fully-aware that a folding knife should always be used in the open/locked position.  That said, as a minor detail, the choil would look better and be a bit more functional if it were a bit deeper.  The jibbing on the top is effective at holding your thumb in place, but my finger was pretty much sitting on the sharp corner of the blade.  A bit deeper and the edge of my finger wouldn’t have been pushing against it.  Also, if the choil were a bit deeper it would make some pleasant symmetry with the handle, rather than being slightly off as you can see in the picture above.

The Handle

The handle is a solid titanium alloy.  Interestingly, this is the same alloy they use in surgical implants.  Since the knife I received was a sample, I didn’t want to test the scratch-ability of the handle, nor did I want to see if it is affected by any chemicals… so I will have to defer to datasheets that already exist on it:

Here, here, and here…. just to name a few… it says in so many words that Ti 6AL4V is an alloy made of a very strong, heat-resistant, non-magnetic, and lightweight combination.  Ti 6AL4V is prepared most commonly by either annealing the metal or by a bath in a solution to harden it a bit more.  Either way, this stuff isn’t very high on the rockwell hardness scale.  At best you will find annealing will get the titanium to a low 30’s for hardness and an STA treatment will get you to the low 40’s.  This handle WILL scratch.  I’m ok with that.  If you aren’t… don’t put your keys in the pocket with it.

As for the size of the handle, I have big hands and this felt just fine in mine.  (The circumference of my palm is 9.75″ which means I use XL gloves most of the time.)

All of the hardware (bolts) that holds the handle together is made of stainless steel so you won’t have to worry about rust.

The bearings….  the opening is smooth and you can really feel the weight of the blade behind it when you flick it open.  As a bit of humor I made a ticking timer from recording myself opening the knife to the left and right.  If you listen to it closely you can really hear the difference between this heavy blade and then try it yourself with your own folding knife… hopefully that can give you an idea of what it’s like.

The Clip

The clip is low profile.  There’s no flare outward to scratch anything you may bump up against.  It’s rigid and there’s a secure hold when it was clipped to my pocket.  The clip can be reversed if you choose to make it less pronounced.  I can’t think of much more to say than “it’s just fine”.

I would also like to point out that the color of the handle is darker than what it looks like in the pictures provided by Massdrop.  I did my best to replicate the color with my pictures but when everyone uses a different monitor and they may have the temp set warmer or cooler or brighter… ya just can’t do anything about it.  Hopefully you can see the difference.

The Accessories

This criticism is more of a personal taste.  I will never use that case.  I will, unfortunately/probably, just throw this out.  This knife will be in my pocket or in my nightstand.  If I travel by air, it won’t come with, I have no need that I can think of to store this knife in a case… could that have saved me even more money on this purchase???  Maybe.  The case and cloth can’t have much cost so my best guess is that they are being thrown in as value-added items and I am OK with that.  Out of respect to the environment, it would have been nice to be able to politely decline the case… but who knows, maybe if I post “FREE KNIFE CASE” on my Facebook account there may be someone who will want it.

Value

To me, this seems like a no-brainer.  This is a great knife and with premium materials at an amazing price.  I brought the Knife into my office one of the days that I had it and after holding it once, a co-worker decided to buy it.  This is just one of those deals that I couldn’t pass on.  You better hurry, today is April 21st, 2017… there’s already 967 people who joined this drop… it’s not going to be live until May.