Ferrocerium is a metallic material that produces a shower of hot sparks when scraped. This ability to produce sparks without the need for fuel and in spite of environmental conditions is what makes ferrocerium rods (ferro rods) so popular as survival fire starters. However, even the most effective survival items are useless if you don’t have them with you when you need them. The best survival tools are not only effective but are also easy to carry daily.

The nanoSTRIKER from EXOTAC is a ferrocerium based fire starter that is both easy to carry and easy to use. It features a modular design that allows it to be carried in a smaller, self-contained collapsed form and then reassembled into a ferro rod with a full sized handle and an included scraper. The modular design is the genius of the nanoSTRIKER.

Part of the Whole

The nanoSTRIKER consists of 4 main parts: the ferro rod, the rod holder, the cover/handle, and the striker. The ferro rod is made from ferrocerium and threads into the rod holder. The rod holder and cover/handle are made from anodized 6061 aluminum. The cover/handle can be threaded into either side of the rod holder so that it can act as a cover for the ferro rod or a large handle when the nanoSTRIKER is in use. The striker can threaded into the rod holder when the nanoSTRIKER is collapsed. It sounds complicated, but it is extremely simple to assemble.

Modular Design

The modular design offers 4 main advantages. It makes the nanoSTRIKER compact enough to carry every day, large enough to use comfortably in all conditions, is user serviceable, and protects the ferro rod from environmental factors.

The benefits of being compact enough to carry every day are obvious. If something is small enough and convenient enough to carry all the time, then you will have it when you need it. The nanoSTRIKER is less than 3 1/2″ long when collapsed. It about the same diameter as a typical ball point pen. It comes with a small split ring that makes it very easy to attach to your key chain. In fact, it is very similar in size to keychain lights that take AAA batteries. The best survival tool in the world is of no use to you if it is sitting at home on a shelf when you need it. The nanoSTRIKER is compact enough to leave you without excuse for not carrying a fire starter every day.

Small tools are often a compromise. You accept a tool that is harder to use in order to have a tool that is easier to carry. Small handles are difficult to grip when your hands are cold and wet but the nanoSTRIKER, when fully assembled, has a large gripping surface. The same piece that serves as a cover when collapsed can be reinstalled on the opposite side of the rod holder as a handle. The handle is large enough to be useful in just about any condition. The bit holder also has deep groove around its circumference that is a natural pinch point for your thumb and forefinger. The nanoSTRIKER is easy to hold and easy to use.

If you were to misplace any part of the nanoSTRIKER, you could easily replace the missing part. Most ferro rods must be discarded when they are completely used. However, the nanoSTRIKER’s modular design allows the user to replace components like the ferro rod or striker very inexpensively.

Ferrocerium is a metallic material it will corrode when exposed to the elements. The rods are typically coated to protect them, but once the rod has been scraped, the exposed material is vulnerable. Over time, an unprotected ferro rod can become difficult or even impossible to use due to this corrosion. The nanoSTRIKER protects the rod from the elements by sealing it air and water tight inside the handle. The threaded junctions of the nanoSTRIKER are o-ring sealed (spare o-rings are provided). When you need it, the nanoSTRIKER will be ready.

Working Parts

The two working pieces (ferro rod and striker) of the nanoSTRIKER are just as impressive as the modular design. The ferro rod component is of very high quality. It throws an impressive volume of sparks. It is very easy to determine the quality of a ferro rod once struck. Lesser quality rods produce lower volumes of sparks. The nanoSTRIKER produces plenty of spark. I had no trouble lighting fatwood shavings, cotton balls, dried grass, and jute twine. The ferrocerium material used in this rod is of excellent quality.

The striker is one of my favorite things about the nanoSTRIKER. It features a small handle with a lanyard hole. There is a short section of para-cord included in the box that can be affixed to the lanyard hole. This is my one disappointment with the nanoSTRIKER. EXOTAC designed the rod portion so well to be large and easy to use but then provided such a small handle on the striker. This is a small issue however because the lanyard helps with grip. The part of the striker that actually does the scraping is shaped like an I-beam which gives it 4 striking surfaces. If one begins to dull, you simply rotate the tool to use one of the other surfaces. Then, when you have a chance, the striker can be sharpened so that all 4 points will be usable again. It is a very clever design.


The EXOTAC nanoSTRIKER is an example of how modular design can really improve a product. The modular design allows the same object to be both compact and full sized which is pretty amazing if you think about it. The ferrocerium material used in the rod is of excellent quality and the striker design is ingenious even though the striker’s handle is a bit small. Overall, this is an amazing tool that you are very likely to actually have with you when you need it.

Check out the different color options and the titanium version of the nanoSTRIKER on the EXOTAC website.

Thank you EXOTAC for providing the nanoSTRIKER for review.

2 Responses to Review: EXOTAC nanoSTRIKER

  1. frank d April 20, 2011 at 16:46 #

    good review, great item! I would like to know how to keep ferro rods from turning to dust, and if certain ones/kinds/brands are less likey to do this. Usually it is the DOAN Machining brand magnesium bar/with ferro rod striker that are most prone to leterally CRUMBLE INTO DUST! The U.S. Mil, seem to be better, had one for15 years without any trouble. Could you help m?

    • Matt April 20, 2011 at 17:03 #

      I have never had one turn to dust but I have had them form layers of oxidization that make it very heard to strike the ferro rod. All of them will do this unless they are kept sealed from the elements after they have been used (using them removes the protective finish that they come with).

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