Next-generation ‘rustproof’ steel, a bulletproof design, and legitimate (literal) chops: The Dicerox Lagertha commands a lot of respect — and a healthy price tag.
It’s not every day that you catch a glimpse of the future. Even rarer are the times when, just for a moment, you feel like you’re on the edge of something great. But when such things take the form of a chunk of high-tech steel bearing the name of a mythical Viking queen — well, you’re in for an interesting time.
For me, this journey started with an email from Dicerox — a small, Swedish knifemaker offering just three products. Its Fenrir axe and Kalina EDC blade piqued my interest, but it was the Lagertha, a full-sized bruiser of a bushcraft knife, that grabbed my attention like a band of raiders.
According to Dicerox, the blade draws its namesake from (the probably fictitious) Lagertha, “shield-maiden and ruler of what is now Norway, and the one-time wife of the famous Viking Ragnar Lodbrok.”
Historically accurate or not, the character of Lagertha is also a mainstay on the hit History Channel show “Vikings.” If the namesake blade is half as tough as her character on TV, I knew I was in for a treat.
In short: The Dicerox Lagertha is a rugged, utilitarian design weighed down by some quality control issues and a heavy price tag. While the knife itself is a blast to use in the field and truly adept in the backcountry, it struggles to live up to the luxury standards commanded by its price point.
Overall, it’s a fun, capable blade that I’d like to see with more affordable materials. The company is experiencing growing pains out of the gate, but it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on.
I put the Lagertha through the paces so you can see if this blade’s pros outweigh its cons. Read on!
Dicerox Lagertha: Review
Out of the Box
Upon first inspection, the rustic nature of the Lagertha is immediately apparent. At 9.25 inches (235 mm) from stem to stern, the knife weighs in at a respectable 6.24 ounces (177g). The blade itself runs some 4.7 inches in length (119.5 mm), with a spine width of 0.16 inches (4 mm).
A quick trip to the cutting board confirmed that yes, it’s a little wide to be slicing onions. But while food prep may not be its forte, the kitchen holds little danger for the blade.
This is due to the Lagertha’s medium of choice. Dicerox crafted this blade from VANAX steel, a nitrogen-based marvel of technology. When compared to popular steels like M390, VANAX offers superior hardness and wear resistance.
And because of its high nitrogen content, this alloy surpasses the rank of “stainless” and tiptoes into the neighborhood of “rustproof.”
There is a downside, however. Unlike softer steels, users will find VANAX more difficult to sharpen once it finally starts to dull. And where a material like 1095 will warp if pressed beyond its capabilities, harder steels are more likely to shatter outright.
It’s a tradeoff of newer materials versus the old tried-and-true, but for many, the rustproofing alone may seal the deal.
In the Field
The Largertha moves through wood the way that its namesake parted enemy lines. The thick, wedge-like blade spreads the material as it cuts, and the broad shoulders provide a perfect target for the baton.
As good as the knife’s spine is for aiming and scraping, it’s slightly less suited to generating sparks. Still, a few swipes with the firesteel (and a cotton ball soaked in petroleum jelly) was all that it took to create a roaring flame.
This is, without doubt, a user knife. Some fancy blades come in perfect sheaths, with perfect edges and polishes so bright that you can see every pore on your face reflected in their surface.
The Lagertha, on the other hand, is decidedly utilitarian. It’s one piece of clipped and beveled miracle steel, with an edge as straight as a highway. At no point did I feel that it was lacking reach, weight, or durability.
So, the Lagertha is fun. It fits nicely in the hand, demolishes tough tasks, and was generally a pleasure to goof around with. Here’s where I get stuck: According to the maker’s website, this knife retails for $425. That’s a lot of money for a piece of metal with two chunks of wood screwed into its sides.
I’m not saying that the Lagertha isn’t capable; quite the opposite (as the testing photos show).
And its VANAX pedigree commands a lot of weight. But at this price range, you’re not just competing against the Fallknivens A1s of the world, you’ve left them in the financial dust.
If you’re going to inhabit that kind of luxury-tool space, you’d better come correct.
And, unfortunately, my tester kind of didn’t. It arrived with a fairly dull edge, though I was able to touch it up on my own. But then there’s the grind, which showed signs of uneven finishing.
The handle screws, likewise, weren’t quite flush with the surface of the wood. Then there’s the sheath. While the ride comfort and quality of its materials are there, the stitching is a little rough.
All of these are relatively minor issues on a work-forward knife. But when we’re talking about a $400-plus blade, they’re the kind of details that matter.
The Maker’s Response
Before completing the review, I reached out to the folks at Dicerox, letting them know of the issues above.
As to the blade’s dullness, the company confirmed that my tester was hand-finished using whetstones. They have a professional Tormek sharpening system inbound, which should address the issue.
As to their choice of steel, here’s what they had to say: “We have found that the price of Vanax is very high and will put some people off the knife, but we wanted to start with a premium steel. We will also be producing Elmax versions and we are also looking at Sleipner steel for coming runs.”
As to the handles, there are a few changes in the works. The plan is to swap out the screws for pins, with the possible offering of aluminum or carbon fiber scales in place of the aforementioned wood. “We are also,” they said, “introducing other handle materials such as carbon fiber and aluminum.”
I’ll admit it: This one has me twisted. On the one hand, the Lagertha represents an interesting idea. I love the design and its straightforward implementation. VANAX is certainly an outside-the-box choice, and its edge retention and corrosion resistance definitely give it a leg up in the field.
But, at some point, you have to consider the cost. How much is a rustproof knife worth to you? And are you willing to put up with some fit and finish issues along the way?
For me, I’d like to see Dicerox offer the Lagertha in a slightly more accessible steel. This would give potential buyers the chance to experience the design at a more affordable point of entry. And frankly, until the QA/QC catches up to the price point, I think these knives belong at a lower tier.
But, damn, Dicerox is close to something really interesting here. And if nothing else, it seems like they have a plan to address the issues I experienced. If they can get to a point where their production matches the quality of their designs, they’ve got a chance at something special.