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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.

Cocoon Grid-It

A friend of mine passed me a link to the Cocoon Grid-It organizers and I was extremely impressed by the clever design. It is sold as an organizer for laptop bags, messenger bags, briefcases, luggage, and the like, however I think it would make a great organizer for an EDC bag. I could even see it holding magazines for a truck gun in a Bug Out Bag. There are several sizes available and the prices seem pretty reasonable to me.

Global Tactical Thunder Bolt

Global Tactical has been selling an excellent bolt carrier group (BCG) called the Super Duty Bolt for years now. I have been very pleased with the one that I have in my range/training rifle. It is in excellent bolt that meets or exceeds mil-spec. The Super Duty Bolts were basically hand built by Global Tactical. Now Global Tactical has found a manufacturer who will make BCGs to their specs. This will help keep costs down which is good news for consumers.

The new BCG is called the Thunder Bolt. Check it out at Global Tactical.

Lancer L15 Lower Receiver

Lancer, the folks who make the excellent Lancer L5 magazines, are now bringing to market a new lower receiver for the AR-15 family of weapons. It has a pretty unique feature – interchangeable magazine wells.

The modular magazine wells will allow the user to tailor the size of the magazine opening to their preference. There will be three sizes: Competition (largest), Tactical (medium), and Standard (similar to standard lower). The lowers will be sold in various package deals ranging from stripped to premium with high ends stocks, grips, and triggers.

It will be interesting to see if these take off considering that they are not inexpensive and the functionality may be over-kill for most users. Still, it is exciting to see innovative manufacturers like Lancer continuing to press the limits of the AR-15 platform.

Check out the L15 at Lancer’s website.

Battle Arms Development Ambi Safety Selector

This is a pretty clever new take on the AR-15 safety selector. The Battle Arms Development, Inc. Ambi Safety Selector is an ambi selector that allows the user to choose between several different sizes and shapes of selector lever on both sides of the rifle.

Click to enlarge.

There are good reasons to have an ambi selector even if you are a right handed. For instance, you may have to switch to your weak side in order to clear a corner or you may lose full or partial use of your strong hand. The nice thing about this lever is that you could put a short or slim lever on the side that you do not typically use so that it is out of your way or you could put a larger lever on your weak side to make it easier for your weak hand to manipulate.

If I were to install one of these, I would give the screws a good dose of Loc-Tite and I would suggest that you do as well. Screws always make me nervous and they certainly could be a downside to gear like this. Shooters should always weigh the pros and cons carefully if they ever choose to replace a simple part with a more complicated one.

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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