In its simplest form, a folding knife is light, comfortable in the hand, and easy to open. Everything else, from a lock to a flipper, is really an add-on.
This Platonic ideal of a folder is seen in the Fallkniven U2, a mid-size blade from the Swedish knife maker. When equipped with SGPS (Super Gold Powder Steel, also known as SG2, a high-end Japanese powder steel) the U2 is a delightful and restrained pocket knife.
Fallkniven is best known for its fixed blades, beefy, massive blades with names like Thor (and built for the likes of Thor). But its folders are equally nice, though many are comparative featherweights, the U2 especially.
Like many Fallkniven products, the U2 is a tested design polished by experience. Don’t look for a flashy framelock or a snappy flipper. There is none of that here. Instead you get a two-handed opening knife with FRN handles. It doesn’t sound like much, but when it comes to performance, little can challenge this unassuming blade.
First, Fallkniven grinds the U2’s ultra-hard steel to a wafer thin edge, actually taking advantage of the super steel’s hardness (it’s baffling to see ultra hard steels left super thick on the cutting edge — why bother with the increased hardness?).
Second, the handle is rounded like a river rock, and thanks to minimal scalloping it affords a variety of uses and grips.
The missing elements present on most modern knives–one handed opening and a pocket clip–were things I thought I could not do without, until I tried the U2.
The light weight of the knife and its small dimensions meant that it carried well even as a true pocket clip. And while I’d prefer one handed opening, I don’t really need it, especially when the cutting performance is as good as it is here.
I used and carried the U2 for about two months and in that time nothing I did could prompt me to sharpen it. The SGPS is as good a steel as there is on the market, running with the big dogs like ZDP-189, S90V, M4, and M390.
Odd Japanese export laws and traditions makes it very hard to find one outside of Japan, but its performance convinces me it is worth tracking down. Right now, the steel is available in the production world only on Fallkniven knives.
The U2 is a simple, excellent blade with superb steel and a weight and form factor that even an ultralight backpacker would love, though Fallkniven makes an even lighter weight knife, the U4, for those folks looking to skim every gram.