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Author Archive | Matt

Jute Twine – Para-Cord’s Old School, All Natural Cousin

Cordage is an important part of any Tactical Handyman’s EDC (every day carry) or survival kit. The cordage of choice in these types of kits is often para-cord due to its compact size, decent tensile strength, multiple uses, and relatively low price. I carry para-cord whenever I am in the woods just because it has come in handy so many times, but, recently, I have found myself using jute twine just as often.

Jute twine can be used for many of the same survival applications as para-cord.

Jute Twine is useful for many of the same tasks that you would typically use para-cord like lashing branches when building shelter, or stringing up a tarp or poncho. In fact, I have found that it stretches less than para-cord under load. I actually prefer it for keeping the lines on a tarp shelter taught even though I might have to double up the lines to keep them from breaking on windy days. It weighs less than para-cord and costs less too.

Jute Twine’s versatility comes from the fact that is an excellent fire making aid. It can be shredded easily with a knife or sharp rock. Once the jute twine is sufficiently frayed it can be lightly folded into a bundle that will readily catch fire when it catches a spark. You can also add small wood chips, twigs, fatwood, pine resin, shredded bark, or other tinder to the  jute twine to make a tinder bundle. A few feet of jute twine and a ferro rod make an excellent fire starting combination.

Cut a short section of jute twine.

Shred the twine by mincing, scraping, and slicing with your knife.

Roll the shredded twine into a bundle. You can add other tinder to the bundle if you wish. This bundle will readily catch a spark like those from a ferro rod.

Sadly, jute twine is not perfect. It is not as strong as para-cord and it can begin to rot in just a few days, especially if it gets wet. The ends can also fray very easily and can not be melted to control the fraying like para-card. However, given its versatility as both cordage and a very efficient fire making aid, there is definitely room for several feet of jute twine in anyone’s kit.

Review: NukoTools GBi

The NukoTools GBi (or Grin and Beat It) is a discreet impact tool that will make you smile right before it bloodies your face. At first glance, it appears to be a cute,  stylized skull but further investigation reveals that it is actually an effective set of 2 finger “knuckles”.

The GBi is hand made from G10 which is an extremely durable, non-metallic material. It is very compact at about 2 1/4″ in diameter and 3/8″ thick. The edges of the GBi that will be in contact with the user’s hands are carefully radiused for comfort while the impact area of the tool is kept sharp to maximize discomfort. The surface of the GBi is hand ground in a shallow random pattern that gives an attractive textured look and serves to create sharp random edges on the teeth. The texture is very subtle, very clever, and very effective.

The GBi is easy and intuitive to use. You simply slip two fingers through the “eyes” of the skull so that the teeth are facing out from your hand. The index and middle fingers or the middle and ring fingers both work well. Once the GBi is slipped into place the top of the skull should press into the palm to support the 2 fingers at impact. It can be used to punch, scrape, gouge, and even deliver pain by grabbing and squeezing the wrist, arm, etc. of the person you are defending yourself from.

Unfortunately, the GBi doesn’t really fit my hand well. Even though the finger holes are the same size as the excellent NukoTools Punch Ring, the extra thickness of the GBi makes it very difficult to put on and take off my fingers. The size of the GBi will not accommodate larger finger holes so oblong finger holes might be the only way to give more clearance for users with larger hands. Oval or oblong finger holes are a good idea on knuckle type impact tools anyway. Also, the GBi is just a little too small to fully reach my palm. This leaves the finger unsupported at impact. Norman at NukoTools told me that he may bring a slightly larger version of the GBi to market. I hope that he does because that would make this tool even better.

NukoTools has more information about the GBi and all their other discreet impact tools on their blog.

If you want to learn more about the effective use of tools like this, I highly recommend reading and attending training from Modern Combative Systems.

Familiarize yourself with the legality of such tools in your area before purchasing.

New from Insight Technology: WL1 AA Powered Weapon Light

It was only a matter of time before someone made a dedicated weapon light that was powered on AA batteries. The someone is Insight Technology and the light is the WL1.

Insight Technology claims that the WL1 is the first tactical light to run on AA batteries. It features a quick-release rail grabber interface, 90 minute runtime, 150+ lumen output, momentary activation, strobe function, and an optional visible red laser. These lights also feature Insight’s split rocker switch which I am very familiar with from the Insight Technology Procyon and WX-150. It is a very nice system that allows the switch to function identically with both left and right hand manipulations.

While this light will run on alkaline AA batteries, lithium AA batteries will be the smart choice. Lithiums have a longer shelf life and can handle a wider temperature range. Lithiums batteries will be ideal but it is very attractive to have a light that can be run on grocery store AA batteries in a pinch.

I have been using Insight Technology products since the original M3. I have owned the M3, the M3X, the SSL-1, the Procyon, and the WX-150. If the new WL1 works as well as those lights did, it will be a very popular light.

It appears that there is some limited information about the WL1 on Insight Technology’s website. Hopefully, more information will be available soon.

New IR Lasers Available for Commercial Sales

Laser Devices Inc. and Tactical Night Vision Company (TNVC) have announced a new class of IR pointers that are legal for commercial sales. These Class I IR lasers will have reduced range versus their Military/LE only counterparts, but they will still offer solid 75-100 meter performance for night vision users.

One of the biggest road blocks to non-military/LE night vision users has been the difficulty in purchasing a quality IR laser system. Now these systems have been made available to everybody, though in a somewhat neutered format. This should be an exciting development for night vision users.

TNVC is already taking orders for the following models:

  • DBAL-I2 ($966.00) – Dual Beam – Vis. Red Pointer/IR Pointer
  • EOLAD-1I ($1440.00)
  • ITAL-Classic ($678.00)
  • OTAL-Classic ($678.00)

You can read more in TNVC’s product announcement on AR15.com, on the TNVC website, and the Laser Devices Inc. website.

60 and 100 Round AR-15 Magazines from Surefire

One way to reduce the time spent reloading is to do away with the reload all together. Surefire’s new high capacity AR-15 magazines seek to do just that.

The new magazines come in 60 or 100 round capacities. The magazines use an ingenious follower that allows them to hold and feed ammo in 4 columns. The 60 round magazine will fit in many standard double magazine pouches which makes them relatively easy to carry. The 1o0 round magazine is a bit unwieldy, but military users may find that the extra capacity is well worth the ease of handling trade-off.

Everyone that I have talked to who have put hands on these have been impressed with the build quality. Surefire is well known for their no compromise approach to quality and function so I expect these magazines will be well made and reliable.

You can read more about these magazines on the Surefire website.

Magpul Dynamics Strikes Again… From Far, Far Away

Magpul Dynamics has announced that the next installment in their DVD training series will be Art of the Precision Rifle. This DVD looks to have great production value, a heavy dose of cutting edge tech, and some techniques that are sure to go against the status quo – in other words, just what we have come to expect from Magpul Dynamics.

B.G. Leatherworks Tomahawk and Axe Sheaths

I recently came across B.G. Leatherworks while looking for a bit cover for an axe and tomahawk. I was having a difficult time finding something that fit my needs. Most axes, hatchets, and tomahawks come with poorly fitted sheaths, if they come with a sheath at all. There are off-the-shelf type sheaths available but these suffer from the same poor fit due to their one size fits all approach.

The only useful cutting tool is a sharp cutting tool, so it is vitally important to have a reliable way of covering the cutting edge of your axes. It is not uncommon for an axe to be sharp enough to shave hair, so the last thing you want is for that edge to come in contact with your pack or, worse, your skin.

B.G. Leatherworks makes very attractive sheaths for axes and tomahawks (among other things). Every sheath is custom made and there are several options to choose from. The prices seem very reasonable. You can view more of their work on the B.G. Leatherworks website.

Image provided by B.G. Leatherworks


Ferrocerium fire starters, or ferro rods, are nothing new. I have been using them for years as a reliable source of hot sparks to use for fire starting. Recently, a friend sent me information on a relatively new ferro rod made by a company called EXOTAC called the nanoSTRIKER.

Most ferro rods consist of a ferrocerium bar attached to a handle and a separate scraper/striker. This configuration works, but it has some downsides. First, a ferro rod will degrade and oxidize once it has been scraped. Any exposure to moisture can accelerate this process. This reduces the performance of the rod and can actually weaken it. Second, the separate striker is often poorly made and easily lost so many in the know woodsmen just use the spine of their knife to scrape the ferro rod. The spine of a knife works great as long as it is very square which is not true of all knives.

The nanoSTRIKER is obviously the result of some critical thought being applied to how something as simple as a ferro rod could be improved. It addresses the two issues with traditional ferro rods that I mentioned above through its modular design. The entire ferro rod component can be enclosed in the aluminum handle of the nanoSTRIKER. This effectively protects the ferro rod from the environmental factors that can degrade it. The striker is actually threaded to the handle and is made from hardened 440C. This makes it hard to misplace and extremely effective at scraping. This is the only ferro rod that I know of that comes standard with a striker made from actual cutlery grade steel and can be resharpened to ensure top performance.

The modular design also means that every component of the nanoSTRIKER can be replaced in the event of loss of breakage. The parts are available directly from EXOTAC. Most ferro rods are considered consumables. When you wear it out, you just throw away the handle and buy a new one. The nanoSTRIKER actually lets you just thread on a new ferrocerium bar which is considerably less expensive than a whole new striker.

The modular design also makes for a very compact tool to carry but a full size tool to use. Smaller tools are easy to carry. That is common sense. However, smaller tools can also be frustrating to use and hard on your hands, especially in the cold. The nanoSTRIKER is compact enough to carry on a keychain when it is collapsed but large enough to offer a decent grip when it is in the opened position. This means that you will have it when you need it and that you will be more likely to be physically able to use it regardless of conditions.

This is one very clever ferro rod. I think I am going to have to order one to try in person. When I do, I will be sure to post a full review.

Check the nanoSTRIKER out for youself on EXOTAC’s website.

Pictures courtesy of EXOTAC.


ESEE has several new items at the SHOT Show this year including a bolt-on MOLLE webbing panel for the Junglas and the ESEE-3. However, it is two fixed blades that have stolen the show so far.

The first is the Laser Strike. This is a re-issue of a early RAT design that was made by TOPS Knives. The new version will be made by Rowen MFG like other current ESEE knives. The Laser Strike is a designed to be a full size, general use woods knife with some interesting fire making features. There is a bow drill divot milled into the micarta handle scales and a slot under the handle scales that will store a magnesium fire starter.

A prototype of the ESEE-4 Stainless was also on hand. It is made from 440C with a really attractive stonewash finish. 440C is the perfect choice for a knife like the ESEE-4 since it takes a great edge, it is relatively tough, and it is relatively easy to resharpen in the field. I think that there will be stainless versions of many of the ESEE knives eventually.

Join the discussion about ESEE’s new products on BladeForums or check out the ESEE website.

Photos provided by Katie Beckett of ESEE Knives.

New Ruger 22/45 Threaded Barrel Rimfire Pistol

Ruger has been making some really interesting moves lately. They have introduced several firearms that really show a dedication toward tactical, self-defense, and concealed carry markets with products like the suppressor ready 10/22s, the LCP, LCR, and the new LC9. These are markets that they never would have targeted while Bill Ruger Sr. was at the helm.

Now they have announced a new version of their 22/45 that features threaded 4.5″ barrel and a Picatinny rail mounted beneath the barrel. It is available with fixed sights or a receiver mounted Picatinny optics mounting rail. This new 22/45 would be an absolute blast with a micro Aimpoint mounted on top and suppressor mounted on the muzzle.

Read more at Ruger.com.

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