Dicerox is a small company out of Sweden, founded by 3 friends. 2 from the automotive industry, as well as a PhD material scientist. Their first three products are the Fenrir Axe, and the Kalina and Lagertha fixed blade knives. The company is proud of its Nordic heritage, and this is reflected in the design (and names) of their wares. Fans of the Vikings tv show will recognize the name Lagertha.
Lagertha was a Viking shield-maiden and ruler of what is now Norway, and the one-time wife of the famous Viking Ragnar Lodbrok. According to modern scholarship, it is likely that Lagertha was not a real historical figure, but a reflection of tales about Viking warrior women or about the Norse deity Thorgerd. Her name as recorded by Saxo, Lathgertha, is likely a Latinisation of the Old Norse Hlaðgerðr
They sent us one of each knife. The larger, the Lagertha, will be the subject of the primary review, but I will have a few words to say about the smaller Kalina as well. According to Dicerox, their inspiration was the legendary Nordic seax, most noteably with the “brokeback” angle of the wharncliffe blade.
The knife is made from Vanax powder steel. From Zvisoft Knife Steel Guide:
Vanax SuperClean is highly corrosion resistant, also has very decent wear resistance of both types, adhesive and abrasive. Nitrogen steels tend to be very fine grained, no reason to think Vanax SuperClean is any different in that regard. As for the composition I have for now, it seems to be more of a specific batch sample than the official spec. I did find Vanax SuperClean document form Bohler-Uddeholm, which lists precise composition values, not ranges, which is atypical, exact value to tenth of the percentile are rather difficult to maintain consistently, if not impossible, but that’s what they list, safe to assume those values are targets, and some tolerances are allowed.
Length: 235mm | Blade Length: 119.50mm | Blade height: 32.50mm | Width: 4mm
Length: 195mm | Blade Length: 79.50mm | Blade height: 32.50mm | Width: 4mm
The examples which were sent to us are early samples. Since this time, Dicerox has swapped out the screws holding the Nordic oak scales in place, in favor of permanent pins. The sheaths they sent are also not the production version, so I will refrain from commenting on their performance for the most part. A better sheath is not a luxury ask, but a minimum requirement for knives in this price range.
Ergonomically, the two knives have the same handle, which fills my medium sized hand comfortably. No hot spots were noted throughout testing. There is aggressive jimping on the raised portion of the spine, which really grips your thumb, some might say too aggressively but I didn’t mind.
I ran the Lagertha through my standard battery of tests. The factory edge was not where I wanted it to start, but this was easily corrected with a 5 minute session with a Spyderco Sharpmaker. Before long it was shaving newsprint as well as can be expected of a scandi-ground knife.
From there I tested the edge durability with crosscut cardboard. I cannot say it is my favorite knife for the task, due to the thickness of the blade and the short scandi-ground edge. Every now and again my technique was imperfect, and the cardboard accordioned, but the edge itself held up remarkably well. Even at the 75′ mark, it was not tearing the cardboard, and the cuts were still fairly clean. I threw in the towel because my hand was getting tired, and I was accordioning much more often, relatively speaking. All in all if one were to edc the smaller Kalina knife, the edge’s piercing ability and comfortable, full sized handle would make it a reasonable choice if you have to break down boxes at work or such. Slicing 75’+ of cardboard isn’t something one would often do in the bush, but with the Lagertha you could.
A couple of swipes over the Sharpmaker’s ceramic rods, and the knife was ready to move on.
The Lagertha did not excel at slicing 3/4 manila rope, not that one would expect a relatively plain edge with no belly to do so. It took 10 swipes when folded over but only 4 when the rope was taught with one end in a vice. Thinner nylon rope was no issue.
The Lagertha will not be one’s first choice for a camp kitchen. Scandi-grinds wander in soft materials, as is demonstrated by this onion.
That said, the cuts themselves were clean, if crooked. If you had to use the Lagertha for food prep, the edge is capable of some surprisingly delicate cuts.
It should come as little surprise that this is where the Lagertha truly excels. Scandi-grinds are a bushcraft favorite for a reason.
They can shave delicate fuzz sticks…
Or baton their way through a log.
Because of the seax/Wharncliffe tip, the striking surface is suboptimal. and makes the Lagertha more suited for splitting medium stock into kindling than busting larger pieces into primary fuel.
The sharp tip makes an excellent drill, and I created a fire platform for a bow-drill.
I didn’t use it to start a fire. I am only so-so at the technique. I would rather use the Lagertha’s crisp 90 degree spine and scrape a ferro rod.
During my 20 year career as a flyfishing guide, I had a simple requirement for my knife. I needed to be able to take down a couple of saplings to make a shelter or pole-drag to help an injured client.
I could do so easily with the Lagertha, though it is a little light for dedicated chopping.
I had much better results tap-batoning my cut.
Finally, I made a tent stake. The legendary Ethan Becker has said that he can tell all he needs to know about a knife by making a tent stake, and I believe this to be true as well.
The Lagertha passed this test with flying colors.
The Not So Great: (Update – But getting better)
Editor’s note…It speaks volumes about a company when they respond to feedback from reviewers. Based on this review, and similar feedback from a review in GearJunkie (link), Dicerox has lowered the price on both knives:
This is still a substantial price, but more in lines with Dicerox’s competition in the premium production niche. When you factor in the startup costs for a new company including lack of “economy of scale” in their manufacturing runs, current increases in materials cost, production costs associated with making the knives in Sweden as opposed to Asia, etc., this price begins to make sense.
I am keeping the original text below:
I hope that I have demonstrated that the Lagertha is a really good knife, that owns its lane, and can hold its own outside of it. However, there is one issue that I cannot fully reconcile and that is the MSRP.
The Dicerox Lagertha lists at 380 Euros, which at the time of this writing equates to about $418US.(see above update). This puts it beyond the price point of many really good factory and small production house offerings, and into the range of scores upon scores of highly regarded custom makers.
Not that the knife doesn’t perform as well as many a custom, it is just that one really needs to connect with the design of the Lagertha or Kalina on a personal level to justify the expense.
By way of comparison, a Wilmont Knife of similar size made from CPM-CruWear, every bit as premium of a steel as Vanax, will set you back about $275. For $400 or a bit less, you could buy a hand-crafted knife from more than 2/3 of the makers who set up a table at Blade Show.
In the end as they say, “everything is worth what its purchaser will pay for it”. If you purchase a Lagertha, you will be getting a good tool. I am quite comfortable staking my reputation on that. I will leave the economics to the buyer and seller of these high-quality knives.
Some notes on the Kalina:
The smaller Kalina knife is more suited for EDC or around camp use. I edc’d it for about a week, and it was a useful addition to my kit. The strong, sharp tip was excellent at piercing blister packs and cutting open shipping packages.
The ergonomics are good, which isn’t surprising given the handle is exactly the same between the two knives.
Because the Kalina’s blade is essentially a cut down version of the Lagertha, the balance point is further back, making the Kalina more nimble in the hand. This is what you want for a more EDC oriented knife.
The sheath provided is not the final production version, but I liked how it more completely enclosed the Kalina. This deep pocket arrangement is what you typically find on Scandinavian knives like the Finnish puukko. It provided a comfortable amount of retention for EDC. The fully exposed handle on the Lagertha allowed the knife to slip loose in the sheath.
I would have preferred a longer belt loop, which would better allow the sheath to slide up your hip as you it down in a car. It isn’t the best EDC driving arrangement. But functional enough.
Like its larger sibling, the Kalina is a well built and highly functional knife. It might be a bit overbuilt for ECD use, but your mileage may vary.