I had the same problem as Al, got mine and it had two big cracks in the head filled (rather poorly) with wood filler. I was really disappointed, sent it back and asked for one of better quality (without cracks). Got another one and it had the same problem (cracks in the top filled with wood filler). I called Cold Steel CS and the rep I spoke with said all their shillelagh's are like that! Really, really, really poor product. I sent it back and exchanged it for a Bush Ranger knife (which is an ok camp knife). My advice would be to NOT GET ONE OF COLD STEEL's SHILLELAGH'S. If you're looking for a quality Irish heirloom piece, this ain't it. And if you're looking for a "beating stick", this ain't it. Get a solid billy club or something. IMHO all you have to do is strike that shillelagh head wrong and it will crack even further/break off. I'm still looking for a "old-fashioned", good quality shillelagh and would be interested if anyone knows where to get one. The Cold Steel ones have got to be shillelagh's that were rejected in Ireland as junk!