Archive | Preparedness

Cold Steel Spetsnaz Trench Shovel

I am a big fan of the Cold Steel Special Forces Shovel, so I was excited to see that they are bringing out a new shovel for 2020. The original Special Forces Shovel is compact enough to be carried on a pack for backcountry camping and many people use them in their vehicle kits. However, when it comes to vehicle kits, there is often room for a larger, more efficient shovel. That is where the new Spetsnaz Trench Shovel comes in.

The Spetsnaz Trench Shovel is very much like the original Special Forces Shovel but it is larger in a few key dimensions. It has a slightly larger head and a handle that is around 10″ longer. Other than that, it keeps all the other features that make the original great like the steel spade-shaped head, sharpened working edges, and durable construction.

ColdSteel.com

SEREPICK Holiday Bundle

Ever wonder how Santa really gets into all those homes and escapes capture in the few instances when he is caught? The secret is out… SEREPICK Holiday Bundle.

This bundle is a great deal just in time for Christmas. It includes the following:

  • OSS Toolset
  • Delta Handcuff Key
  • 6’ 188lb Test Kevlar
  • Polymer Lapel Dagger
  • 2-PK Split Pawl Handcuff Shims
  • 2-PK EZ Decoder
  • 2-PK Quick Sticks

On top of that, SEREPICK will throw in a surprise candy treat. This is a solid value at $65 and would make a great gift or multiple stocking stuffers.

SEREPICK.com

PackAFlame Ammo Can Stove

As if we needed more proof of how useful USGI ammo cans are…

PackAFlame’s Ammo Can Stove is a wood-burning, stove for use in camp or a hot tent that is made from an ammo can with the addition of several laser-cut steel pieces. The standard, pre-made version makes use of a 50 caliber can but it is also available in a DIY kit form so it can be adapted to other sizes of ammo can.

PackAFlame.com

$20 Folding Saw Shootout

I consider a lightweight folding saw to be baseline gear. In my area of the world, we can see overnight temps in the low 50s Fahrenheit in the summer and with temps dipping even lower in the mountains. Those kinds of conditions are a recipe for disaster for the unprepared. A good saw and a sturdy fixed blade knife will go a long way toward making tasks like emergency fire prep and shelter building easier.

There are a lot of saws on the market but I have zeroed in on what I consider the 3 main contenders: the Bahco Laplander, Corona RazorTOOTH 7″, and the Silky F180. All three of these saws have a lot in common like a price tag around $20, similar weights and sizes, and a solid track record.

Top to bottom: Bahco Laplander, Silky F180 (Large Tooth), Corona RazorTOOTH

Which one is best for you? I’m not sure there is an easy answer to that as I can’t even really decide myself but I aim to lay out some information that might make your choice easier.

Comparison Table

F180LaplanderRazorTOOTH
Locks ClosedNoYesYes
Locks OpenYes (2 positions)YesYes
Blade Length7″7.5″7″
Length Closed8.75″8.75″8.75″
Cutting StrokePullPush and pullPull
Price$21.25$21.50$17.39
HandlePlastic w/
Rubber Accent
Plastic w/
Rubber Accent
Plastic w/
Rubber Accent
Metal ReinforcedPivot areaMinimalPivot Area
Teeth Per Inch6.576
Weight6.3 oz6.6 oz6.8 oz
SteelSK4 w/ Chrome“Swedish” w/
Coating
SK5 w/ Chrome
Made inJapanSwedenMexico

Cutting Performance

If you are going to major on cutting performance, the Silky F180 is the winner with the Corona RazorTOOTH as a close second. The Laplander is a distant third place. While the Laplander does cut on the push and pull stroke, it’s smaller 7 TPI cutters seem to clog more quickly and just do not cut as fast as the other saws. However, the Laplander is no slouch especially if you don’t have context for what a good hand saw can do.

The following image shows three cutting strokes from each saw. The kerf on the left is 1 pull stroke, 1 push stroke, and 1 pull stroke from the Bahco. It is the shallowest cut. The bark tear out makes the kerf look deeper than it is – pay attention to the square bottom of the kerf. The center kerf is 3 pull strokes from the Corona. It is the second deepest cut. The kerf on the right is the Silky. It likely could have been through the branch in 4 more strokes. It clearly outclasses the other saws.

Left to right: Bahco, Corona, Silky

Comfort and Ergonomics

The winner is not as clear here but the Silky F180 is clearly the loser. The F180 has wide finger grooves that won’t really fit anyone. It gets some points for the two-position lock that allows you to lock the blade in a position that is more appropriate for cutting on the ground but it still isn’t the best in hand. It isn’t uncomfortable to use but it isn’t as comfortable as the others.

The Bahco has a very neutral handle that is grippy and feels good in several positions. The Corona is probably the nicest to use over a long period of time thanks to the more vertical hand position provided by the pistol grip shape. I’ll give the win to the Corona.

Durability

This is going to be a fly in the ointment for some, especially the rabid Silky fanboys. In spite of the fact that the Laplander has very little metal reinforcement in the handle, it has a reputation as the most durable and I am inclined to agree. Bahco has clearly favored flexibility over hardness in the heat treatment of their steel. You would have to be the sloppiest saw user on the planet to break one of these blades as they can typically be bent to 90 degrees or more without snapping.

The Silk7 F180, on the other hand, seems to go all-in on cutting performance. The blade is hard and they have a reputation for snapping when misused. I’ve snapped one before and I know many others who have as well. There is a technique to using a pull cut saw. Avoid putting to much pressure on the saw during the push stroke, especially if you are cutting a round large enough that the tip is buried in the diameter of said round. The chrome-plated blade adds points here as these saws tend to be extremely rust-resistant.

The Corona RazorTOOTH seems to split the difference on blade durability but there have been some reports of the handle being a little more brittle. The chrome-plated blade does ad some points here but Corona’s blade are not as rust-resistant as Silky’s in my experience.

Price and Availability

The Corona wins on both price and availability. You can often find these in home improvement or farm supply stores so there is a good chance you can pick one up locally. It is usually going to be the most affordable of all three options.

If you have an arborist supply store near you, there is a chance you could find Silky saws in stock but expect to pay a premium in shops like this. I’ve never seen the Bahco Laplander in a brick and mortar store.

Overall Impression of Quality

The Silky wins here. The plastic used in the handle feels solid. The rubber over-mold is clearly the best quality. The finishing on the blade is notably better. It doesn’t flex, bind on opening/closing, or creak like the others.

The Bahco and Corona are both well-made, premium saws that are definitely in a class above big box store saws. They just don’t show the same attention to detail shown by Silky saws.

How to Choose

If you need the most efficient cutter and you can be somewhat careful with your tools, the Silky F180 is the top choice. If you need the most durable saw because you are going to throw it an emergency kit and forget about it, you are probably looking at the Bahco Laplander. If you want a saw that seems to do everything well, the Corona RazorTOOTH seems to split the difference nicely.

If you stop me on the trail, you will likely find the Corona or Silky in my pack. However, if it is really cold, you are more likely to find a larger bow saw.

Where to Buy

I have purchased all of these saws on Amazon except the Corona which I purchased at a local farm store (Amazon would have been cheaper). You might consider watching the prices on Amazon before you buy as the Silky, for instance, has been as low as $15 recently. The following URLs are all affiliate links that support JTT.

Bahco Laplander

Silky F180

Corona RazorTOOTH

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