Survivalist knife folks, a question.

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Houlahound, Nov 9, 2020.

  1. Houlahound

    Houlahound Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 2, 2017
    My brand new CS Bushman Bowie arrived and it has a fire starter attached to the sheath.

    I have been camping my entire life but have always used a cigarette lighter to start a camp fire.

    I tried getting sparks to fly but nothing at all.

    What's the trick here, do I need to scrape the coating off the blade?
  2. jideta

    jideta Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 8, 2020
    scrape off the black stuff
    Houlahound likes this.
  3. MolokaiRider

    MolokaiRider Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 13, 2017
    Probably just needs a more acute edge on the spine. Ferro rods work best with a sharp 90 degree.
  4. Mikel_24


    Sep 19, 2007
    Or you could leave the coating alone and use the edge of the knife right away... Ferro rod is soft, you are not going to chip the edge doing that.

    I had to look it up because I didn't know that the Cold Steel Bushman came with a Ferro Rod of any kind. Doesn't look bad.

    While I am no expert with ferro rods, I have a few of them and at the time I enjoyed playing with those things.

    The Survivalist Handbook states that you are supposed to carry at the very least half a docen ways to make fire with you. If you are willing to carry the full docen, the better. And if they are fail-proof, indestructible, etc... the better.

    BIC lighters are the first choice. Unless you smash it they don't run out of fuel over time (like Zippos, well known for the evaporating fuel). If you can get a hold on CLIPPERS gas ligthers, the better. They are like the BICs but on steroids if you ask me, and have a better shape for holding on to them with cold hands. Ligthing anything with an open flame is pretty straight forward, keep the flame on it untill it catches fire and you are done.

    With ferro rods (or any other system that produces sparks) you don't have to worry about fuel because there isn't any. They work well even when wet. The problem is that you need to make sure to have (or produce) dry fluffly material for the sparks to catch. So you either gather it, or carry it. Some guys decide to carry PJ soaked cotton balls in a separate container, or use fire starting tablets, etc. Unless you can get a just made feather stick to catch on fire, I think this system is not so reliable as people think it is. By the time you add up the tinder, the ferro rod, the scraper (a piece of hacksaw so you don't have to use your big ass blade to scrape it), etc... you would be much better off carrying four extra butane ligthers scattered arround your pockets, backpak and gear.

    Somehow I got wildly sidetracked with the original question. I suggest you get a piece of hacksaw and file/grind the back of it to get two nice 90º angles to scrape the ferro rod. If the hacksaw is not worn out, you can even use the teeth to scrape dry material for tinder. You can also use the teeth on the ferro rod, but you will use it up much faster.

    bigsurbob, Scott J. and Houlahound like this.
  5. Houlahound

    Houlahound Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 2, 2017
    Thanks replies, yep bic lighterss scattered everywhere is all I have ever used.

    Gonna mount a few on the sheath somehow.

    Still be fun using the rod.
  6. Mikel_24


    Sep 19, 2007
    Super easy. Cut a section of inner bicycle tube and slip it over the sheath. You can use talk powder to avoid it sticking to it during the process of "sleeving" the sheath. Then you can slide small items between the rubber and the sheath and they will stay put forever.

    Some guys make their own kydex sheaths and bend some pockets or rings for the ligthers but I guess that defeats the purpose of buying a budget knife (sheath and accesories would cost much more than the Busman Bowie you just bought)

    Houlahound likes this.
  7. Alberta Ed

    Alberta Ed

    Jun 29, 1999
    A BiC or two, an ancient 35 mm. film container (dating myself:rolleyes:) with strike-anywhere matches and a striking pad (just in case) and a couple book matches in a ziplock live in my daypack, along with a handful of cube firestarters. Making a fire under cold/wet conditions with a ferro rod is nearly impossible.
    Smaug, Wurger190, Lee D and 1 other person like this.
  8. Lee D

    Lee D Basic Member Basic Member

    May 27, 2013
    This lol
    Making a fire with a ferro rod under perfect conditions is an achievement :D
    CVamberbonehead, Smaug and Wurger190 like this.
  9. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    PJ cotton balls in the 35mm can are handy and don't take up much space for woods fire starting. Yeah, I still have saved a few of them. Pill containers work too but they are not water tight. I generally carry two methods of starting fires when I am in the woods. You never know when you might loose something or get soaked if the material is not stored in a dry place.
    MolokaiRider and Lee D like this.


    Jan 10, 2012
    Paper egg cartons cut into single ones keep top and bottom together. Add dryer lint to the carton stuff it full. Melt candle wax and dip them in it totally
    submerging them let harden. You now have a complete dry source of tinder and the wax to help keep the fire going.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2020
  11. Ben Dover

    Ben Dover Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 2, 2006
    In addition to a Bic, I carry 2 road flares. They will quickly start a roaring fire in wood that is soaking wet.
    Deinos, Alberta Ed, Scott J. and 4 others like this.
  12. studio


    Jan 14, 2007
    So, did you get your sparks sorted?

    And a BTW, if you leave the ferro rod stored for a long time, coat it with something. Moisture will erode the ferro rod.
  13. Quiet

    Quiet "That guy" Gold Member

    Oct 11, 2013
    I wouldn't say impossible. The impossible (for me) part is making a fire with a ferro rod if you don't have dry tinder to catch the sparks. I've used a ferro rod in the pouring rain before (GA summers) and gotten many a fire going....but I always had dry tinder to use those times. Was it easy? Not at all, but I was teaching a wilderness survival course to some senior Scouts at the time, and didn't want to take the easy way.

    Also, pro-tip, you can use a BIC lighter even after the fuel has all been used up, if the spark wheel still works! Started fires using that method as well.

    Edited to add, I am one of those folks who carries many methods of firemaking with him when he camps. Some days, you just want to get it going so you can make dinner and the sun's already going down, or you want to thaw out cold hands or wet feet.
    Alberta Ed, Ben Dover and Eli Chaps like this.
  14. Billy The Blade

    Billy The Blade

    Jul 30, 2014
    ...Just to add 'specifically' that the Black (protective) coating on a New ferro rod / firesteel will have to be scraped a number of times with a striker / 90° knife spine, etc, in order to start getting sparks from it. * Once you start to make scratch lines on the ferro rod, you will be exposing the silver material underneath the black coating which is what needs to be scraped to produce the Hi-Temp.sparks.
    -You can then experiment with different methods of either holding the ferro rod in a 'fixed' position & scrape toward your tinder bundle with your striker of choice, -or- holding the striker 'fixed' & pull the firesteel back toward you. The latter method and/or preference would be to not inadvertently hit your tinder pile & scatter it.
    Give it a whirl...:thumbsup:
    BTB :cool:
    Mikel_24 and Lee D like this.
  15. Lee D

    Lee D Basic Member Basic Member

    May 27, 2013
    I put cotton balls, and pack drier lint in pill bottles, and then put the bottles in ziplock bags.
    And of course 4 or 5 Bics ;)
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2020
    Quiet and MolokaiRider like this.
  16. Houlahound

    Houlahound Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 2, 2017
    I scraped the fero across the blade and it threw sparks. Kept me amused for 30 minutes throwing sparks all over the place.

    Will probs never use it again. Humankind has progressed from spark sticks, it was fun for the 30 minutes.

    Thanks tips, will use the bike tube for Bic.
    studio and Dav(id)03 like this.
  17. MtnHawk1

    MtnHawk1 Basic Member Basic Member

    May 22, 2019
    Strikers make a big difference and I understand carbide steel is the best material for these. I've seen small ferro rod strikers made of this.
  18. kjd2121


    Jun 17, 2008
    I was told to never use your blade to scrape the ferro. It is super hot and messes with the heat treat. Also cotton balls mixed with vaseline is waterproof and make great firestarter.
  19. Barman1

    Barman1 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 21, 2013
    I buy 5oz tins of Nevr-Dull for a variety of reasons and use it for tinder, just dries out eventually otherwise.
    Just drop a few pinches into a small Ziploc and good to go.
    That and my trusty Bic electric lighters (work when wet) weigh next to nothing.
    And yes, I also have a ferro rod or two kicking around in the pack as well, just in case, but they've never been used lol.
  20. afishhunter

    afishhunter Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 21, 2014
    Tied for First Choice*: Lighter; Zippo or Bic type, and Strike Anywhere water proof matches.

    Second Choice*: Vintage style Flint and Steel "kit", like the settlers, "mountain men", fur trade era trappers/hunters, and natives used. (available at T.O.W., and DGW, among others, with steel or copper, or brass, or German Silver carry tin. Some kits include 1200's~1800's H.A./P.C. kindling.)

    Third Choice: Magnesium "Forever" match.
    9,191,999,999th Choice: Tie: beating two pieces wet limestone or sandstone together for a spark.

    Not worth the carry weight/time/effort/expense: Ferro Rod. IMHO if you have enough ferro rods in a bag, they might work as an anchor for your float tube. Other than that, their only purpose is to get some folk to spend money for something that don't light a fire if there is drizzle, light snow flurries, or when the humidity is above 0.01%, or the moisture content of the kindling is in excess of 0.000000000001%.

    *I keep a 8 ounce bottle of Zippo lighter fluid in my pack, to assist lighting the kindling as required. Mixing a small amount of FFFFg black powder in your milkweed silk, or dry moss kindling ... say 5 grains ... also works well. :D
    (note: "imitation" black powder such as Pyrodex, or 777, et-al, don't ignite as easy as genuine black powder, and are thus not recommended for the priming of, nor for the main charge of flintlock arms, or assisting starting the camp fire.)
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2020

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