Top positive review
Another winner from The Friendly Swede
27 August 2015
I previously reviewed one of the blocks provided with these kits but in a pack with a single block plus a paracord lanyard and a serrated washer striker. That worked extremely well but I have just bought another of the 3 block packs and since strikers can make a lot of difference to the performance of these fire starters and this one has a different striker to those on both the single block and my last 3 pack, I thought another review was appropriate.
The blocks from the new 3 pack look identical to the one I recently tested from the single block on paracord and there is no reason they would differ in the materials used but it is good practice to test things as they come so I used one of the new ones. I don’t like waste and I get through enough of these things before they deteriorate – which most will over several years after you remove the protective coating – but if you rarely use yours then that is something to bear in mind. I haven’t yet been using the items from The Friendly Swede for enough years to check their full longevity but I’ve seen plenty of previous makes fall apart so I’m watchful of it.
The chains that come with these blocks are serviceable. They are not long enough for most people to wear comfortably as a neck chain with the block and striker under their shirt or jacket but plenty long enough to allow you to link the block and striker and use them effectively while still connected.
The strikers are flat metal with a concave indentation at one end. This indentation is ridged but the straight edges of the striker bar are flat. I’m not sure of the purpose of the indentation because both the instructions and the associated pictures recommend using the flat edge of the bar for removing the protective coatings, scraping shavings of tinder from the block and striking sparks from the bar. That worked far better for me than trying to use the serrated indent so …? There is a lanyard hole, a bottle opener, a 50mm ruler on one side, and a 5km measurer for 1.100,000 scale maps on the other. Use that as 2mm or 2 divisions per 100m for 6 figure readings on our standard 1.50,000 OS maps.
I started by using the edge of the provided striker to remove the coating from both the block and sparker rod and then for both building a pile of flash tinder and for making sparks to ignite it. Much as I liked the washer provided with the single block kit, and its serrated edge is great for making feather sticks, I must admit that the striker bar with these kits is faster for creating the pile of magnesium scrapings and it strikes bigger sparks. On my 3, the mm scale edge of the strikers is distinctly sharper than the other side, probably due to the way the steel pressing is formed.
I don’t know why some reviewers found they needed to use a knife for any of those tasks or that it took them a long time; I had a bigger-than-recommended pile of scrapings in 3 minutes (timed), out of doors on a damp and blustery day, and it only took 2 strokes of the sparker bar to have them alight. Yes, I had positioned myself and the other tinder and fuel to keep the wind from the clay pigeon I was using to collect the scrapings, but that is basic fire-lighting technique when using any spark and tinder method. Pay attention to what you are doing and practise plenty before you need to do this in a bad situation and you will be fine. The magnesium burned fast and hot, as always, and quickly ignited the dry moss and dead sticks I was using for tinder and kindling.
In conclusion then: imo this is another winner from The Friendly Swede. The 3 blocks in the pack give you enough for a couple of kits and 1 to practise with, at a very reasonable price.