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181 Reviews
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422 of 429 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Works great, but like all tools can be misused.
I bought both this and the Swedish Firesteel (Army model) because I like to compare inexpensive tools I will depend on to save my life. I prefer this tool to the Firesteel because it will ignite tinder easier due to the magnesium shavings (but the Firesteel would be a rugged alternative in areas where you could easily get tinder - see my review on that tool)...
Published on July 22, 2007 by B. Beach

versus
107 of 115 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This is not government issue, it is a lesser quality knockoff
((The following info inside the double parenthesis was added March 28, 2011 in response to a recent comment this review received. This was my first product review on Amazon, and I didn't realize that my review would show up on product listings from other sellers in addition to the seller my item was purchased from, and for that I apologize. My fire starter was purchased...
Published on January 20, 2011 by Jeremy


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422 of 429 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Works great, but like all tools can be misused., July 22, 2007
By 
B. Beach (Telluride, CO United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Genuine Issue Magnesium Survival Firestarter
I bought both this and the Swedish Firesteel (Army model) because I like to compare inexpensive tools I will depend on to save my life. I prefer this tool to the Firesteel because it will ignite tinder easier due to the magnesium shavings (but the Firesteel would be a rugged alternative in areas where you could easily get tinder - see my review on that tool). Regardless, I had immediate success with both tools.

I believe other reviewers that gave this less than five stars were using this tool incorrectly. These are points of use I believe important:
1. You do not need (or want to use) a sharp knife. I use a basic metal jigsaw blade attached to a cord I put on this starter instead of the little chain. A short or broken Sawzall blade may be even better because it has a hole you can thread a cord through.
2. SCRAPE the magnesium into a pile, don't CARVE it. I bet the people who try to carve the magnesium (to make the pile of shavings) were butchering their knives.
3. You do NOT need to scrape it for ten minutes to make a pile (unless you are using a wet sponge for tinder :(). With good tinder and a piece of paper I made a pile smaller than a dime and got a fire going in under a minute. In fact, I bet with really good tinder you could just use the flint and start a fire. Experiment at home to see how little a pile you can make of magnesium and still start a fire. The key is to keep the pile together so you must obviously have some shelter from the wind. I do not recommend making a fire in very high wind unless you have the means to put out a forest fire (dig a pit or camp dark or FIND SHELTER!!!). It really helps to have something to collect the shavings on like a piece of plastic or paper, then you can funnel them into a little pile on a piece of bark or rock. If you keep scattering the shavings try not to rest the end of the magnesium bar on the paper/plastic/coat/whatever or get a bigger piece and let them scatter then funnel them into a pile. EXPERIMENT!
4. SCRAPE the flint rod, don't WHACK it like they do in the movies with older means (like in Jeremiah Johnson). It's a little rod and if you give it to kids without instruction they will probably whack it and break the rod.
5. As per the instructions given with the tool hold it steady and scrape shavings of magnesium or sparks from flint. You could probably hold the scraper still and move the magnesium, but this seems silly (although I will try it). Slow steady pressure scraping the flint seems to work well. Note that when you are trying to ignite the magnesium shavings you shouldn't place the end of magnesium bar on the surface holding the shavings as the vibrations will scatter them. You must hold it firm and steady and near the shavings. Practice a little, it shouldn't be too tough.

I wrote this long thing because I was confused by all the negative reviews before I bought and tried this. It seems for every product there is at least one bad review. Remember there are also bad reviewers. This is a very good basic tool that is easy to use if you take the short time to learn how to use it correctly. It is meant as a backup survival option to matches/lighter (which are your normal means for firestarting). Also carry good tinder (I like cotton mushed with vaseline - cheap and effective).
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205 of 206 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When you're really buggered, this will work., December 26, 2006
By 
This review is from: Genuine Issue Magnesium Survival Firestarter
Even mountain biking, where you plan to be in the woods for only a few hours, things happen. You break a leg or taco a wheel and you're stranded miles and miles from the closest food and shelter. Sometimes you just get spun around or bonk and the best thing to do is lay down, call for help if you can and weren't so dumb as to not bring a cell phone, and do your best to keep comfortable until help arrives. And of course, this is all more so the truth when you're hiking, camping, or even taking a little day trip in an national forest area.

If you have a knife, some kind of water container, and this fire starter, you're set to make it through all but an absolute catastrophe--and even then you're better off than you would be without it. Fire is the first and foremost feature of civilization, which is where you ultimately want to be.

Magnesium lights up at roughly 1000 F, so this will start a fire on the first attempt if you've got the shavings in a nice little pile amongst some kindling. If you mess it up, no problem; you've still got a few hundred chances worth more of magnesium to fumble with. This is also a product that's been on the market likely longer than you've been alive, so don't think you got the last one they'll ever make.

With this, you just take your knife (the back works as well as the blade really) scrap off some magnesium in a little pile, put your little wads of bark or other hairy kindling (or pine cones, bits of cloth, or whatever you can scrap up as you can anywhere) along with your regular kindling, strike the flint side of the fire starter with the back of your blade or anything made of steel, and make sure to look away when it starts because the light is bright white like a halogen lamp on full.

If I had to compare it to anything, it's like setting off a flare.

The sparks from the magenesium catching fire don't go flying, so no worries about one shooting up into your face, but also don't be under the impression that you or your friend can hold the magesium and kindling while shooting sparks at it so that you can immediately blow on it. When it lights, it lights instantly, and it's so hot that it will burn right through to the bone if you light it on skin. If you've ever seen sugar on fire, this is far more serious, but it's safe so long as you don't do anything stupid.

Bottom Line: It's so small it can go on your keychain or be thrown in your backpack as one of those things you always have just in case, but forget about until you really need it. Its of negligible weight for you weight weenies out there. And it's so just plain cool that you'll find yourself using it not just for that moment when you're in trouble and panicking about the fact that everything they taught you in Boy Scouts was entirely wrong, but when you're 'out there' and there's absolutely nothing wrong.

If nothing else, it's a neat bit of science (kids go crazy for this stuff) that just might end up saving your caboose some day. It's small, cheap, light, and effective--which is something we can rarely say about anything truly useful these days.
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193 of 198 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great tool for camping and survival situations, April 20, 2006
By 
Jon M. Hager (Grand Prairie, Texas United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Genuine Issue Magnesium Survival Firestarter
This is one of the best fire starters you can carry. Another reviewer indicated it wasn't much good unless you have a sharp knife. Not only is a sharp knife not required, it's a very bad idea to use one. Shaving the magnesium then scraping the metal match insert with your knife will certainly work, but it will also dull your knife in short order. It is a much better idea to attach a piece of a hacksaw blade to it for this purpose. It works as well and lets you save your knife for its intended purpose - cutting. Even if you have no or hacksaw blade (or knife), a sharp piece of broken glass will let you shower sparks from the insert. That alone will get your fire started (though if your tinder is damp it's easier when you can also use magnesium scrapings). A cotton ball smeared with petroleum jelly makes excellent tinder to use with this device. A dry cotton ball also works; it just doesn't burn as long. Put several into an old film container then drop in it your pack with the magnesium fire starter. The bottom line is this tool is small, light weight, inexpensive, reliable and easy to use. These attributes make it an excellent tool and an outstanding value.
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107 of 115 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This is not government issue, it is a lesser quality knockoff, January 20, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Genuine Issue Magnesium Survival Firestarter
((The following info inside the double parenthesis was added March 28, 2011 in response to a recent comment this review received. This was my first product review on Amazon, and I didn't realize that my review would show up on product listings from other sellers in addition to the seller my item was purchased from, and for that I apologize. My fire starter was purchased from Hobbytoolsupply. It appears that at least one other seller is selling the correctly advertised item, so the review shown below should only apply to the fire starters sold by Hobbytoolsupply. I added two pictures of the item I received to the main listing (pics added by Jeremy) so you can see the difference between what I received and the genuine item. I have not modified anything outside these double parenthesis since my original review))

I bought this fire starter because I needed one that would serve as a secondary emergency backup for me in the woods if my other multiple redundant fire starting options had failed me in some way. What I needed was a very durable high quality tool that was unaffected by rain or immersion in water, and after searching and reading reviews online I found that would be a government issue (Doan's) fire starter.

Doan's is in fact the brand that the government issues, and a Doan's fire starter is what is pictured in this listing, but that is not what I received. What I received was an unknown fake that was in a package that looked in every way like the Doan's package except the package didn't say "Doan's Machinery and Equipment Company, Made in the U.S.A." along the bottom of the front like it is supposed to. In fact the box said nothing about where the fire starter was made, what company made it, etc. The fire starter itself was obviously not the one in the listing picture, because the writing on the fire starter was just written on the magnesium instead of stamped into it like with a Doan's. The real one has a NSN number (NATO Stock Number) on it to identify it as a true government issued product. This one has a different number written just like an NSN number but when I looked the number up on a NATO Stock Number search engine it was an invalid number. The real one also has "Doan's Mach. & Equip. Co." stamped in the magnesium and this one does not. The real Doan's also has a P.O. Box address stamped in the magnesium. This one has a P.O. Box that is located in the same city, but it is a different P.O. number. It might not seem like a big deal that this is not actually a genuine military issued item (as advertised) or a real Doan's fire starter (as pictured), but it is a big deal in my opinion and it is offensive to me as well.

The Doan's fire starter (pictured in this listing) has been made and used for over 30 years and is the only one of this type that does not (at least occasionally) have problems with the glue failing causing the ferro (flint) rod to separate from the magnesium block under stressful, cold, wet, etc. conditions. If the ferro rod falls off and becomes lost the tool becomes useless for starting fires. That is not good if you are counting on this tool to actually save your life someday.

I give this tool one star only because it does still work to start fires, but after looking into it I don't trust it for woods carry, so instead of being in one of my packs it will be in a ziploc bag in the emergency kit in the trunk of one of my cars. In a ziploc in the trunk I don't have to worry about losing the ferro rod and it costing me my life.

After receiving it in the mail, this tool is not worth sending back for a refund, because the shipping cost would be almost the price of the product to begin with. I figured that instead of trying to get a refund on this product, that same amount of time would be better spent writing this review and by telling others that they had better look elsewhere if they want a real government issue Doan's fire starter instead of this one, especially if they need a fire starter that they can truly depend on. A real one also costs about the same amount as this one.

I am a private citizen that bought this product after careful research into fire starting methods and brands, because I believe that things you are going to possibly use one day to save your life need to be made well enough to be trusted to do so. I apologize if this review sounds harsh, but to me this is very serious and blatant fraud and copy of a great product done in a way that could cost someone their life just to save a few bucks by deceiving the consumer. I am also bothered by the fact that this product is clearly misrepresenting what it is and is marketed in a way that takes income away from the company that does make a great product and should be getting the reward for their effort. I have no problem with competition in the marketplace, but I don't like being told I am getting one thing and then actually receive a different much lesser item.

I should say that I am a private consumer and in no way affiliated with any company that makes or distributes anything to do with survival, camping, or hiking. My preference for a real Doan's fire starter comes solely from the many personal and independent reviews found online that praise its' durability and reliability, and the many problems that other similar brands have with the ferro rod falling off or becoming lost due to weak glue. Don't take my word for it, those reviews can be found by anyone reading this with a simple Google search just as I did. There, I feel like I did my part and my conscience feels clear now, have a nice day everyone. -Jeremy
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost idiot proof, March 14, 2007
This review is from: Genuine Issue Magnesium Survival Firestarter
Works great. You just gently scrape the sides until you have a small pile then strike the flint. My only bit of advice is to make sure you use it in a location out of the wind and on a stable surface.

No Hacksaw blade needed, no broken/dull knives necessary, you only have to be smarter than a chunk of magnesium.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FIRE!, June 16, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Genuine Issue Magnesium Survival Firestarter
Listen...not much to say here...This works as it has for over 50 years.

Scratch one side for the magnesium

Scratch the other for the flint

*poof*

fire...

for $10, having instant fire that is waterproof and lightweight is priceless. Every human that has an adventurous side needs this!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Handy, but not easy, November 17, 2007
By 
P. Edwards (Fairbanks, AK United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Genuine Issue Magnesium Survival Firestarter
For the weight, there is no reason not to carry this. It is effective and it does work. It also takes more magnesium scrapings than the unitiated will expect and the flint can and does break. Proper use is the key. I agree that I do not want to buy a tool and then add another piece to get it to work (hacksaw, router blade, etc). The back of a pocket knife works to scrape the magesium (so will your car keys) AND to use as a "striker" for the flint. Keys to success: SCRAPE the magnesium, do not cut into the magnesium. The smaller the scrapings the easier to light with the sparks. "Striker" is a bad term to use with this flint. It is small and can be broken. Hold the back of your knife blade (keep it closed) at an angle that puts the corner of the metal against the flint and press down while scraping toward the magnesium scrapings. It will take a little practice to get striking down, but it will work. After one or two uses you will be proficient in using this tool and more confident in yourself.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for backup or using as a main way to light fires., January 1, 2007
This review is from: Genuine Issue Magnesium Survival Firestarter
I've been using my Magnesium/Flint bar for about 15 yrs. You do not need a sharp knife or even a knife at all. You just need something with a good solid hard edge. I always use mine by using the back of my knife to scrape the magnesium into a pile for semi-damp tinder. I use the back of my knife as well to spark the flint onto the tinder. I highly suggest getting one of these, and I also like my "Swedish Firesteel" as well for lighting camp fires.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Fire Starter, August 3, 2007
By 
Mark Ahn "-M" (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Genuine Issue Magnesium Survival Firestarter
It's not as easy as others make it out to be, but once you figure it out, it works very well. You have to understand that one side (the top side in the picture - black color) is the flint, and the whole silver looking thing is magnesium. You have to shave off a good amount of magnesium onto your target (a piece of towl or tissue works awesome), and then you strike the flint side (which makes the sparks) onto the magnesium, which is on the twigs or tissue which catches the fire. To strike the flint, I've tried rocks and some back sides of knives with little success. I've noticed that if you use the back of a knife, it has to be a somewhat sharp corned dull side. What I end up using is the descaler on a pocket knife. This item would be nice if they sold it with a striker, like the swedish models do.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Magnesium Fire starter, June 23, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Genuine Issue Magnesium Survival Firestarter
A Chinese Made Fire starter was substituted for the genuine GI issue I had ordered. The product was totally inferior and didn't work. However....the company was quick to refund my money when I notified them. Customer service was VERY good.
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Genuine Issue Magnesium Survival Firestarter
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