816 of 870 people found the following review helpful
Good item with proper tinder - but the mag is easier,
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Lanyard is plenty long and it makes lots of sparks (after a couple of scrapes to remove the paint). If lanyard was not long enough one could exercise ingenuity and put on a longer cord.
It would easily light propane, but if you try to ignite a piece of sheet paper you will have trouble. Sheet paper is not fine enough and is not proper tinder (though you could shred and rumple it to make good tinder). You need a finer tinder bundle. Paper towel was also unsuccessful. I had easy success with toilet paper and dryer lint. It sparks more if you slow down and increase pressure a little. If the woods are wet and you can find no dry tinder you are in trouble, which is why most people carry tinder or fire starter or pick it up on the trail when they can.
I think it is easier to use the magnesium fire starter with a basic metal jigsaw blade as the magnesium shavings will ignite paper towel easily, and can also ignite paper if you make a dime sized pile of shavings (when igniting paper don't set the end of the magnesium fire starter on the paper as when you scrape the flint the vibrations will jiggle the shavings all around). Even better than a jigsaw blade may be a short hacksaw blade because it has a good hole you can put the cord through.
In summary: if you carry or can find/make good tinder the Swedish firesteel is tough, simple, and a good product. For normal people who want a firestarter that is somewhat easier to use carry the magnesium. That is what I will carry, in addition to good tinder (cotton balls with vaseline mushed in), and a very good lighter (more lights/space than matches).
P.S. Just watched Bear G. in Man vs. Wild (Discovery channel) use this after a major rainstorm starting a fire on the first strike BECAUSE he had previously harvested and protected some very good tinder. He did not use a magnesium firestarter. It does produce a 5,500°F spark, but it needs a purchase (tinder). Also I want to repeat that the lanyard I got was plenty long, but hey it's just a piece of cord that you can cut. Live bold. Also the first time I tried to make sparks I made plenty. I do not see how someone could not (unless they had the metal striker upside down - read the directions!).
P.P.S. Watched Bear G. in Ecuador (?) NOT be able to start a fire with grass using this because everything was wet and darkness came in not enabling him to search for better (dry) tinder. With typical Bear pluck he stuffed his shirt with the grass for insulation and kept his chin up. I bet the mag would have started a fire.
P.P.P.S. Watched 'Survivorman' take a mag starter out into the desert and easily start a fire, but he used the edge of his knife to make shavings and strike the flint. I don't reccomend dulling a knife like this, use the back or anything else. Also he CARVED off magnesium and I have found just SCRAPING works well. Finally on the magnesium starter the flint is a small rod on the side and you don't whack it like in Jeremiah Johnson, but you just scrape it. I think I read one reviewer that broke his flint and I bet he was whacking it, just like in the movies.
This is a long review because this is a survival tool and you should have confidence in it's capabilities.
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Showing 1-10 of 46 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 8, 2008 1:41:39 PM PDT
Good to have some advice for all the people that want to buy a flint but have no idea how to use one. Definitely a good piece of equipment to have when you need to be sure to get a fire going to keep you warm, purify some water, signal for help, or maybe just warm your food.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 6, 2009 7:39:33 PM PST
Austin Barlow says:
Don't use the content of Survivor Man or Man Vs. Wild as the basis for your understanding of wilderness survival. Enjoy the TV show, but understand that a lot of what the two of them do is for entertainment first (ratings are very important) and education second. You'll hear responses like mine from almost any Wilderness Survival Enthusiast (and aspiring expert). Again, I'm a fan of them myself when nothing is on TV, but a lot of things on their shows might work where they wouldn't in real life. Magnesium is great, it's very sufficient and requires less high quality tinder than the Swiss Firesteel, but I can vouch for the quality of these firesteels. I have a high success rate with using them to start fires with the proper resources, but an amateur should by no means take either this or a magnesium firestarter into the wild and expect to stay warm over night. Both tools require practice.
Best of luck,
Posted on Apr 2, 2009 4:03:12 PM PDT
J. Sirninger says:
Hi. Understand that I am not trying to be a smartass here, but how is this product better at making fire than a 50 cent lighter? I see that it makes very hot sparks, but wouldn't actual fire work equally well on good dry tinder? Thanks for any info.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 9, 2009 7:16:57 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 9, 2009 7:17:56 PM PDT
You do have a point. The value of the firesteel is often illustrated when you open the survival kit you packed last year and find your lighter empty of fluid (slow leaks seem to develop in some through a years worth of heating and cooling...think car temperatures, cold at night and baking when sitting in the sun during the day). I suppose it could be argued that lighters have moving parts, wear out, get wet and break (though admittedly not very often). I have had lighters fail, usually the flint wears out or the striker wheel somehow comes off and the flint gets launched by the spring, but they are easy to dry, cheap, light, and through judicious use can last for many fires. I pack a firesteel, but I also pack a few lighters in different pockets/packs.
Posted on Apr 15, 2009 1:57:25 PM PDT
"... one reviewer that broke his flint and I bet he was whacking it, just like in the movies."
Posted on Jan 28, 2010 6:38:16 AM PST
John L. Beebe says:
I bought one of these for my son and I and we tested in the backyard first. No luck. then we read the directions boom, we had a fire. My son also has a lighter, several tampons (SAS manual recommends these), cotton balls. You get the picture. I know this sounds like overkill, but as a scout he said "be prepared dad". The back of his knife produced more sparks btw.
Posted on Jan 28, 2010 10:44:44 AM PST
Solid review and the first I have seen explaining how to make a pile of scrapings to ignite. This was my first firesteel and I had to learn the hard way how it works. A few cheap lighters are always first choice but knowing how to use this steel (just in case) is vital. You are right about the practice for sure and even though he has many haters.... you gotta love Bear!
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 7, 2010 9:23:14 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Sep 7, 2010 9:24:21 PM PDT]
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 7, 2010 9:25:28 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 8, 2010 10:54:45 AM PDT
Jake McCoy says:
I prefer carrying a variety of fire starters at one time. I carry a Firesteel, a lighter, waterproof matches, and tinder. I'll carry whatever works and is relatively small. I'd say the Firesteel and magnesium tinder is about the most rugged and reliable. In contrast, if my gear gets wet, I expect the lighter and the matches to stop working.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 16, 2010 7:41:13 PM PDT
The simple answer to your question is that a 50 cent lighter doesn't burn as hot as firesteel or magnesium. About once a year, I spend 7-10 days in the bush. Because fire is so important to survival, I carry 3 or 4 methods of fire starting - magnesium, firesteel, matches, and a Bic lighter. Of the 4, if I could choose only one it would be the magnesium. The reason is that because it burns so hot, your tinder doesn't have to be bone dry. If everything is pretty dry, then the lighter works just fine. Magnesium and the firesteel will allow you to have less than perfect tinder. Another reason I don't like the lighter is because you can easily run out of fuel if the plunger gets pressed down in your backpack or your pocket. That has happened to me twice. Most people I know that spend a lot of time in the bush usually prefer the magnesium bar.