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Archive | Survival

The ESEE RAT Pack

ESEE Knives (formerly RAT Cutlery) maintains a forum on BladeForums that is an excellent source for survival information, product information, and fellowship with good people from across the world. Mike and Jeff (the owners of ESEE) formed the “RAT Pack” to encourage people to contribute meaningful content to the forum. RAT Pack members must have 25 meaningful posts in the forum and are eligible to take part in the many giveaways that are offered on the forum. Recently, my RAT Pack number was drawn in a random giveaway and I am now the proud owner of a brand new RC-3MIL!

Readers of Jerking the Trigger will know that I mention ESEE Knives fairly regularly on this blog. It is just this sort of generosity, community, and access to the owners that draws me to ESEE. They make straight forward, hard working knives that are functional and backed by the best warranty in the business (many claim this, but in ESEE’s case it is true).

Read more about ESEE on Jerking the Trigger.

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BSA Hot Spark – Ultimate Keychain Fire Starter

Many of you are familiar with ferrocerium rods (aka ferro rods and firesteels). It is basically a rod made of a special alloy that creates a shower of hot sparks when scraped. The advantage of something like this over a lighter is that it never runs out of fuel. These have become very popular with outdoorsmen everywhere.

The Boy Scouts of America Hot Spark is essentially just a scaled down ferro rod. It is small enough to keep on your keychain but still large enough to be very functional. If you are practiced at recognizing and using natural and improvised tinders, you will have no problem starting a fire with a Hot Spark.

I have used these for years and they never let me down. I would definitely rather use a larger fire steel, but you can’t beat the convenient size of the Hot Spark. I keep one on my key chain, in my laptop case, and stashed just about everywhere else. You will never know it is there until you need it. I have also used a ranger band (just a piece of bicycle tire inner tube) to lash these to my knife sheath.

At $2.99 these are an amazing bargain. Add one to your keychain soon!

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Good Stuff From Other Blogs

The Machete: To Lanyard, Or Not to Lanyard – Armed & Christian – On the occasions that I do use a lanyard, this is how I do it.

Protecting Against Home Invasions – ITS Tactical – ITS Tactical has done a lot to tear down the illusion of security that many people have by showing how easy it is to pick locks, escape handcuffs, etc. Now they are offering some no nonsense tips for protecting your home.

Negligent Discharges vs. Accidental Discharges – Vuurwapen Blog – All too often these two terms are used incorrectly. It is time we started calling a spade, a spade. 99.99999% of the time you hear a news story about an accidental discharge, they are actually talking about a negligent discharge.

Bayonets for NAA Mini Revolvers – The Firearm Blog – Check your calender. Mine must be wrong. Is it April 1st?

A-TACS Nylon Cordura Fabric, Webbing and Hook and Loop Now Available – Soldier SystemsThe components needed to build gear with the interesting new A-TACs camo scheme are now available.

Bargain Knives

This will be not an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination, nor is it a list of cheap knives. My intention is to make a list of knives that I have owned/tested that are a good value. For the purposes of this article, value will be defined as “delivering a lot of function for a fair price.” Some knives might be a bargain at $10 and others might cost over $100 but still be a great value.

In the first installment of this series we will cover fixed blades. We will cover folders at a later date.

Fixed Blades:

Becker Knife and Tool (BK&T) – The entire BK&T line is an excellent value. These knives are made from tough carbon steel, have utility based designs, and are priced very attractively.

Mora Knives – Moras are well known in the knife community. They are available in a multitude of configurations in stainless or carbon steel. They feature a “scandi” grind which may take some getting used to for some users. This particular grind excells at working wood which is why they are popular as “bushcraft”/survival knives. Most Moras cost $8-15.

Ka-bar TDI Line – The TDI line represents an excellent value in the self defense/back up knife role. You may want to look into a custom sheath since the factory sheath may not be ideal.

Emerson Perrin La Griffe – The Perrin La Griffe is a timeless classic in the self defense/back up knife role. It offers compact size and excellent retention. It also comes with a well made and versatile kydex sheath. These can sometimes be picked up for as little as $65.

Fallkniven F1 – The Fallkniven F1 is a classic all around field knife. It has a well deserved reputation for being bull strong thanks to the use of a VG-10 laminate steel. It features a convex edge that cuts very well. It is also available with a number of decent sheath choices. If you shop around these can be picked up for around $100.

Condor Knife and Tool – Condor makes a wide variety or machetes, knives, and other tools. They are all well made and all reasonably priced even though they are some of the most expensive production machetes you will find. They are some of the few machetes that actually come ready to use (great handles that don’t need fitting and polished convex edges). Their knives are less known but they are excellent utilitarian designs. Most of the knife designs can be had for less than $20. These are an amazing value.

Pick of the Litter…

ESEE Knives/RAT Cutlery – These knives offer an excellent value. They are not the least expensive option on the list but, in my opinion, they offer the most function for the dollar. I am not aware of a warranty that is the equal of ESEE’s warranty. It is the best warranty in the business. You will not find knives with better sheaths out of the box. On top of all of that Mike Perrin and Jeff Randall are great folks.

Review: Bogota Entry Tool Set

The Bogota Entry Tool Set is one of the coolest (and most useful) gadgets that I have come across in a long time. It is basically a lock pick set that has been reduced down to its most essential parts, seemingly without loss of function. The set is a marvel of functional and ergonomic design.

Bogota Entry Tools with key for scale.

The set consists of two items: a Bogota rake and a feeler pick. Both the rake and pick are bent and designed to function as tension devices. When you are using the rake, you can use the pick as your tension device and vice versa. The pick and rake are designed to nest together which makes an already compact pick set, even easier to carry. They can be held together using the spring from a click-able pen and pinned in a bag or clothing using a safety pin. The set is available in spring steel, stainless steel, and titanium. All three models are hand made and are highly polished which allows that to move effortlessly in the lock. The particular set that I have is the stainless model that I purchased from the good folks at ITS Tactical.

Bogota Entry Tools nest together and can be held in place with the spring from a pen.

I am not an all-star lock pick. I have only been practicing in my free time over several days. Yet, even I have had great results with this set – especially with the rake. Raking is not quite as refined as traditional picking but it works and the Bogota rake works especially well. When raking you must learn the most effective ways to move the rake, you must gain a practiced feel for how to tension the lock, and you need a well designed rake. So, while I said it was not as refined, it is certainly something that must be learned and practiced. I must admit though, that once you learn to rake, it will be harder to put the time into learning to pick since raking is so effective. The simplicity and effectiveness of the set make it perfect for a novice like me.

On the other hand, the spartan and compact nature of the set will also make it attractive t0 experienced pickers who need a simple, light weight, and effective set to keep on their person. They will appreciate the shape of the handles and how it lends itself to the motion required to rake a lock and to excellent feedback. The experienced picker will also appreciate the delicate nature of the pick and rake’s design. The rake is especially ingenious in the way it spans a 5 pin lock.

The tail end of both tools in the Bogota Entry Tool set can be used as a tension device.

Typically when you pick a lock, you set some light tension with a tension wrench and then manipulate each pin individually to the shear line. However, when raking a lock, all the pins are manipulated at the same time. You set light tension and insert the rake, then shake the rake in and out/up and down. Once you have a practiced hand this technique can be used to bypass locks very quickly.

The bottom line is that this set is compact, easy to carry, well made, ingeniously designed, and they work extremely well. Once you get the raking motion and a feel for tension, you should be able to bypass nearly any pin and tumbler lock with just these two tools. If you know nothing about lock picking, this set won’t make you a lock picking superman. However, with practice, it is very effective.

Like the stainless Bogotas? Check out our review of the Bogota Titanium Entry Set.

Purchase your own set at ITS Tactical or SerePick.

DisclaimerJerking the Trigger does not advocate using these for anything illegal. Never pick a lock that the owner has not given permission for you to pick. Check your local laws before carrying these tools.

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TOOOL Credit Card Pickset

Lock picking can be a very useful skill to have. It requires practice, finesse, practice, the right tools, and more practice. You can’t buy practice or finesse but you can buy tools. TOOOL has designed a particularly clever set of lock picking tools called the TOOOL Credit Card Pickset.

This clever credit card sized piece of metal contains an entire pickset complete with picks, rakes, and tension wrenches (the frame). There are two versions which are both available at the link. V2.0 looks like the pick of the liter.

DisclaimerJerking the Trigger does not advocate using these for anything illegal. Never pick a lock that the owner has not given permission for you to pick. Check your local laws before carrying these tools.

Tactical Handyman – PJ Cotton Ball Fire Starters

Starting a fire when conditions are less than favorable can be a real challenge. Successful fire starting starts with training but a having the right gear certainly helps. What ever gear you choose should give you a high likelihood of being able to start a fire across a broad spectrum of conditions. One such piece of gear is Petroleum Jelly Soaked Cotton Balls (PJCB).

PJ Cotton Balls work like a candle. When they are lit, the flame will consume all of the petroleum jelly before it consumes the cotton. The cotton is acting as a wick and, conveniently, it also happens to light very easily. The PJCB will continue to burn for several minutes which will hopefully give you enough time to build a sustainable fire. As a bonus, you will find that the petroleum jelly has other uses like moisturizing cracked hands or lubricating stuck sections of a fishing rod.

Materials:

  • Cotton balls (raid the wife’s make up drawer, there are probably tons of them in there)
  • Petroleum jelly (AKA Vaseline)
  • Storage container (film canisters work well)

How to Make PJCBs:

  1. Locate a small container that seals securely. The container should be small enough to fit in your survival/EDC kit. It must seal securely because PJCBs can be a bit messy.
  2. Rub the cotton balls in the container of petroleum jelly until the outside is coated thickly. Some people like to warm the petroleum jelly so it permeates the cotton ball but I prefer to leave the inside of the cotton ball somewhat dry. More on this later.
  3. Place as many cotton balls as you can in the container. It is that easy.

How to Use PJCBs:

  1. Do all fire prep before you light anything! Gather tinder, kindling, and fuel sized pieces of burnable material. Have them sorted and ready. You may even want to make some fuzz sticks (feather sticks) with your knife.
  2. Rip open a PJCB. This will expose the dry inner fibers of cotton. The dry fibers can easily be lit with a spark (such as from a ferro rod/fire steel) or a flame. They can sometimes even be light by focusing light on them with a magnifying glass. You may not need to use an entire PJCB.
  3. Light the PJCB using your preferred method. I like to use a ferro rod.
  4. Add your flammable material starting with tinder, then kindling, then fuel. Be careful not to add the material too quickly or you will smother the flame.

Be sure you practice these techniques before you actually need them. This is a VERY easy way to start a fire if everything is done correctly. You can light several fires from just one film canister full of PJCBs. The Tactical Handyman is always ready!

Bogota Entry Tools Available Now at ITS Tactical

I have been waiting for these ever since I saw the review on ITS Tactical. The Bogota Entry Tools are available now. For $30-35 you get an innovative, quality, handmade entry tool set and you support a great blog – it’s a win-win.

Bogota Entry Tools on ITS Tactical

Condor 14" and 18" El Salvador Machete in Carbon Steel

Condor Knife and Tool is Imacasa’s premium line that is made for the US market. Most machetes come with no sheath, a rough handle that requires some fitting, and an unsharpened edge. Condor machetes come with a leather sheath or have one available for purchase, fitted handles, and an amazing polished convex edge. They are the Cadillac of machetes.

My favorite machete in the Condor line is the El Salvador. It is a great all around machete largely due to its shape and thickness. It has a nearly straight spine with a slight upsweep, plenty of belly on the cutting edge, a great handle, and it is thick enough to the harder woods that are found in the northern USA while still remaining somewhat light and flexible. This is an exceedingly tough machete. Last year, Condor introduced the El Salvador machete in carbon steel, which made a tough machete even tougher (previously it was available in their excellent 420HC steel, which is the perfect stainless steel for a machete). I purchased a carbon steel version immediately and have loved it ever since.

This year they introduced a 14″ version which I love even more. For most of what I do when I am hiking or camping, I do not need the 18″ version. A shorter, handier machete packs lighter and is more than sufficient for fire prep, shelter building, and other tasks. The 14″ version has a bit more upsweep at the spine which gives it a very “weight forward” feel in the hand. This also really helps its chopping performance. However, the extra upsweep does preclude the use of the excellent plastic GI sheaths that I prefer. I may ground just a little of the point off the machete off so that it will work with my sheaths.

MacheteSpecialists.com is my preferred machete source and they are the only source of the 14″ version. You may also want to watch for an upcoming version of the El Salvador machete with a carbon steel blade and a micarta handle. If you are looking for a machete that is versatile, reasonably priced, and ready to use right out of the box, then check out the Condor El Salvador Machete.

Buyer Beware: Fake C.A.T. Tourniquets

87GN over at Vuurwapen Blog posted recently about the fake CAT Tourniquets that are finding their way to the market. These are very convincing fakes of a very popular tourniquet. If you have purchased a CAT tourniquet recently, I suggest that you check it against the PDF that is linked at Vuurwapen Blog.

It is vitally important that you avoid these knock offs at all costs (and all knock off products for that matter). It is not simply a matter of saving a few bucks. These literally do not work. The windlass is too flexible and will not provide sufficient leverage to tighten the tourniquet. They can not be used to stop extremity hemorrhaging. These have the potential to get someone killed.

Check your CAT tourniquets and tell your friends to check theirs.

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