Helle Knives currently manufactures over 40 different styles of knives for a variety of functions. Stainless Steel is one of the most common blade materials. The handles are made from a variety of different wood and materials like birch, oak, kiaat, staghorn, leather, and antler, to name a few. They even have several full-tang knives and traditional rat-tail tang.
They are considered best used for campsites, carving, food prep, and wooden tool making. From small, short blades to long, hefty blades there is a nice produced for everything an outdoorsman/woman will encounter. Even their sheaths are made in a traditional style which holds tightly, are lightweight, and also go through a quality process.
Understanding Their Steel Choice:
One reason many outdoorsman/woman overlook Helle Knives is because of their steel choice. All the blades are made from a Stainless Steel. In reality, their high-alloy stainless steel is unique to them and of superior quality than common 440C. Often this steel is triple laminated for their blades.
Why is isn’t an issue for most ‘Nordic’ users is the type of wood they would encounter in the wild. Most of the forests near the arctic circle consist of softer wood species. Birch, Spruce, Pine, Cherry, Elm, hazel, and Oak are some of the most common tree species but the forests consist mainly of evergreens and conifers. This means a high carbon steel is not a necessity. The true reality is that stainless steel can perform the necessary tasks required of a knife with little hesitation but need to be sharpened in a specific manner.
The Arv is one of the newest knives from Helle. It’s a beautiful wooden, staghorn, and leather handle in a rat-tail tang. It was designed in 2016 and saw moderate success through 2016 and 2017. The blade itself is only .102 inches (2.6mm) thick, 3.4 inches (87mm) blade length, and an overall length of 4.09 inches (104mm). It comes with a beautiful triple laminated, Scandi-grind stainless steel blade in a high polish finish.
When I first picked up the Arv I was surprised by the weight. It felt incredibly light. 3.104 ounces total weight and the sheath itself was only an additional .77 ounces (22 grams). It was surprising with a handle that was this big around. While not overly large for me it may be large for someone with smaller hands. For me, this was as large of a handle as I would want.
Since the handle material is of staghorn, birch, and leather I wasn’t expecting a heavy handle. But based on the weight alone the handle seemed as if it might be fragile. Gripping the handle extremely tightly revealed no movement in the handle whatsoever. The lightweight materials were of a strong and superior quality.
The Scandi grind on any knife is not meant to be abused and especially not in a stainless-steel material. Carving, food prep, and light camp work are where this knife shines. It comes razor sharp from the factory and was perfectly suited for making a ‘try stick.’ While it was raining heavily I found a small diameter dowel in the house and got to work on the try stick.
Each cut was clean, smooth, and cut with little effort. Being this was the first scandi grind in this kind of quality I had used I was impressed. Granted, I prefer high carbon blades, but the Arv is more than sufficient. Each cut made small, thin slices of wood both in fresh and dry wood. Maple, Oak, and ‘processed’ wood was made easy work of.
In the camp my excitement on this knife grew. Using the blade for refining and prepping smaller pieces of wood and sticks for a weaved wall, the knife held up without any difficulties. There was no catching in the branches of cutting to deeply. Wherever I wanted the blade to go, it went. The handle also was looked at with a new respect as it seemed to fit my hand even better when being used for heavier tasks.
Moving forward, I needed to test the ability to make feather sticks for fire making. What I loved about the knife was despite a somewhat short scandi grind it was well defined on the thin blade. Holding it level to get thin slices of plant material was simple. The curls moved freely and smoothly on a variety of different wood types.
The Blade Wear:
Stainless Steel is softer than other steels used for bushcraft or survival. The reason being, many of the other knives are meant to handle abuse that the Arv is not designed for. IT would not be advisable to batton with the Arv for many reasons. Rat-tang, softer steel, and the lack of dense handle materials all make the Arv a more fragile knife to batton with. It will, however, perform every other task flawlessly. Battoning should be left to larger pieces of steel or an axe.
The steel quickly showed its marks. The beautiful mirror finish faded with minor scratches and addition of sticky substances. The reality is that no knife will look as good as it does when you first get it. If it continues to look brand new it’s not being used properly. With strong use the blade of the Arv will begin to lose its original luster but the stainless steel will allow it to polish up quickly and clean off easily.
Sharpening the blade is of concern for an individual who doesn’t sharpen their knives often or properly. The scandi grind is meant to allow a sharp edge for a long period of time but the Arv – and all other Helle Knives – require a fine, wet stone to be sharpened. Anything other than a fine, wet stone may ruin the steel tempering making the knife blade extremely fragile.
While I was a bit surprised by the lightweight feel and softer steel the Arv itself has proven a reliable and noteworthy knife. The blade length was perfect for a large amount of camp tasks. Any longer and it may have been cumbersome to handle, any shorter and large camp tasks would not be possible. In addition, this length makes it possible to also wear the Arv as a neck knife. It may be a bit large for a neck knife, but it still will sit comfortably. I find this a great option for light hikes or keeping the knife away from prying eyes by hiding it under layers of clothing or inside a jacket.
For a medium to heavy duty camp knife the Arv performs every task with excellence. Light enough and just short enough to be a belt or a neck knife means it can serve a dual purpose and variety of needs depending on the user. The Arv can be found for about $160 USD. Their warranty is vague which is a concern. All knives need to be returned to Sport Hansa for review of improper use or accidental damage but is guaranteed for life against defects.
For the price, it would be a good idea to have one to try. The design is unique and very few companies can make a scandi grind knife with as much care and attention to detail as Helle. Even today they are crafted as if they are a custom knife and you’d be hard pressed to find a custom knife for the same price that can perform just as well as the Helle Arv. I’m looking forward to seeing what Helle has in store for the future.