I have been a knife guy for a very long time. Since I was a teenager my father used to give knives as birthday gifts. I have a few Böker ones he has brought back from his UN Peacekeeping missions and since then I have acquired a few on my own too.
Recently as a side product of belonging to several great Facebook groups I have been infected by a dangerous condition. The want for high end knives. There are several manufacturers I constantly follow and whose knives I pine after. Terrain 365, Anso, Giant Mouse, Jimmy Pie… for some reason I have never been a fan of Chris Reeves, and I know this will enrage many of you knife people reading this, but that’s a fact.
I was more than delighted to find Audacious Concepts, a Finnish manufacturer of very distinct and high quality knives. And when their first larger production knife, the Backcountry Scalpel, was published, I immediately jumped to the chance!
As I mentioned above, Audacious Concept (or AuCon) is a Finnish manufacturer from the Eastern Finland. AuCon is a one man operation, Ruslan Sarychev is the guy behind all the amazing designs. He tells he is a knife and gear enthusiast that can be clearly seen in all the small and large EDC items as well as his knives.
So far he has put out only a handful of knife designs. One of his early knife concepts was called the Ectopic, which seems to be a kind of a “rougher-around-the-edges” predecessor to the Backcountry Scalpel, that came out last year (2018). And soon after one of my all time favourite brands, Prometheus Design Werx published their own Special Projects Division x AuCon version of the Scalpel! I had just picked up the regular version so I had to pass on it with long teeth (at least for now).
But the collaboration in itself tells about the quality and reputation of Ruslan’s craftsmanship. This small Finnish brand has not gone unnoticed abroad either and quite rightly so! You can find his knives and other items on his own website here or from the Finnish knife shop Lamnia here.
The Backcountry Scalpel is a fixed blade made of S35VN steel. It comes together with a kydex neck sheath (paracord included) and a certificate of authenticity.
It’s overall length is 14 cm (5,5 inch) of which the cutting edge is 4 cm long (1,6 inch). The thickness of the blade is 3,5mm (0,138 inch) and all this weights only 50g (2.0 Oz), so we are talking about quite a small knife. As is expected of a scalpel of course.
The blade is a wharncliffe type with a hollow grind. There is a fuller on the back of the blade and full jimping for excellent control. There is also a small choil in the blade and ½ swedging along the blade.
And what is a blade without proper serial number and AuCon owl logo. This is a first and limited run of the blade, made in both stonewash and blackwash finish (although I still covet that “black and white” they had photoshopped for their IG feed to show the difference between the colours, THAT version would be awesome!).
The Backcountry Scalpel costs 125€ and you can still buy one for yourself from AuCon website here.
As I said I am a knife guy. Although I do not really know a lot about knives and the finer details, materials etc. I can appreciate the quality and craftsmanship. And those are absolutely the first things that are apparent when you unsheathe the Backcountry Scalpel.
I admire the design still every time when I use the little blade. The sectioned handle brings to mind the wing construction of some old aeroplanes and the detailed work of the blade itself (the jimping, fuller and wedging) are incredible. And I think the blackwash finish is extremely stylish and it is clearly not easily worn off.
I have paracorded the handle and added a small cog bead on the end (more of that later). The blade would look better and lighter without it, but it adds a little grip and comfort to the use of it.
The sheath that is provided with the blade is well made and works great. Although I think the Scalpel is a bit long for a neck carry knife, at least for me. So I ordered a second sheath from Vegvisir Creations with a Ulti-Clip so I can have it in pocket etc. Both sheaths will no doubt be in my rotation with the blade for different uses and situations.
The Backcountry Scalpel is a really small knife and so it raises the question of what it can actually be used for? Scalpels are usually used for medical applications, right? Can the Backcountry be used for that?
I wish I could answer that last one, but unfortunately I cannot. I have used the blade only for light work like sharpening pencils, opening boxes and so on. I have EDC’d the Scalpel extensively, but a true situation to put it to the test have not presented itself… and I am not sure I would dare to.
You see the hollow grind makes the blade seem a bit petite and even brittle. This gives me a little pause every time I take it out. It is my first “better” knife and so I do not want to overuse it, or God forbid break it. But so far I have not been able to break or damage it and I am quite sure I would not be able to even if I tried.
Summa summarum: I do not think the Backcountry Scalpel is made for hard duty work, like splitting logs and cutting strong ropes. But that the “Backcountry” in the name rightfully suggests it will be a great tool for smaller, more precise work even around a campsite, like preparing sticks for cooking and making wood shavings for fires. You might pull those off with a larger, bruter knife, but why would you if can do it with style?
A Few Notions beyond the Knife
There are few things I wanted to write about, that are not exactly about the knife at hand, but are closely related.
I wanted to tell you about the bead that I have there on the end of the blade. It is a limited run of signature Cog Beads made by Ru Titley for Pack Config. And what is especially special and limited about this one is that it is made of a Panavia Tornado turbine! How cool is that? I have a few of Ru’s beads bought from Pack Config and they still have a large collection on sale, so if you want one for your blade, go check them out here. The Star Wars ones are absolutely the coolest!
Vegvisir Creations and AuCon are old buddies and have collaborated before and so I felt good about getting an “aftermarket” sheath from Janne for my Scalpel. The Tigerstripe kydex was a must and the Ulti-Clip is a new thing for me. I still have not quite gotten used to it, but it is a lot smaller and handier than a larger molle compatible clip. The pull from the sheath is a bit tricky, the man told me that making a small sheath like this was not the easiest thing, but in the end he pulled it off really well. If you get a Backcountry Scalpel and are thinking of a second sheath, I strongly recommend Vegvisir Creations.
And the a word about the SPD Scalpel. I was thrilled to see PDW and AuCon doing a collaboration again and that the Scalpel would be part of the Kraken Krew line of products. But I have to confess that I like the wharncliffe blade more than the spear point of the SPD Scalpel. Still it is a very cool blade and that Kraken there makes it very appealing!
The Backcountry Scalpel is a small and delicate looking knife, but the quality craftsmanship and work makes it a very prominent tool for all tasks you might find for a blade like this. It gets my all my points for the details and style it has, which really makes it a lot larger package than it seems to be.
The price is not a lot in my opinion when you get so much in such a compact package. And it is Finnish design made in Finland and locally produced goods are thing these days so it is a win-win situation all around!
There is already a larger fixed blade coming shortly out of the AuCon workshop and I am on the shortlist to get one, so stay tuned if you want learn more of this Finnish manufacturer of quality goods! (I also have their Knife Tool v3.0 on the trigger, so bye bye paycheque.)
Likes / Dislikes
Quality of the materials, craftsmanship and finish
Made and designed in Finland, PRKL!
Slightly delicate feeling makes you fear of breaking it
I received these products via my own funds. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.