Tuesday, December 24, 2013

New Blog Title

I have decided to change the name of my blog to something that better fits what I do. The address will stay the same. Thanks for visiting!

Semper Paratus

Old-School Tool of the Day - Stanley Utility Knife


This is another of my most-used tools which I  had mentioned in a previous post. This old Stanley Utility Knife (model #10-099) has served me well for over twenty years. A lot of simple consumer goods, like this one, made from about 1990 and earlier, were made in the USA. After 1990, just about all of it is imported and there is a noticeable difference in quality.

What can I say about a utility knife? A couple of things, I guess. It has a three-position retractable blade and can store up to five blades inside the handle. A screwdriver isn't necessary to open it; pretty much any coin will work. It cuts stuff and opens boxes. But it's cheap (I didn't pay for this one) and it does the job well. I don't actually carry this every day, but I use it very often and keep it within easy reach. no home should be without one. A similar version can be found here.

Semper Paratus

Every Day Preparedness Shopping

Over the last few years, Survivalism, "Doomsday" prepping and the Zombie Apocalypse have become very popular. And with the Zombie craze, the amount of cool tools, weapons and equipment has virtually exploded. I love these topics and spend a good deal of time studying them. However, for my daily needs, a lot of it seems a bit unrealistic.

My thing is Every Day Preparedness. I want to have everything I need for any type of situation, emergency or otherwise, that might pop up without warning. And whereas supplies related to the above topics can be really cool and useful, they might also be expensive and require shopping at specialty stores or online. I want to know where I can find anything I need at just about any time, so I am constantly looking for emergency preparedness-type items everywhere I shop. I am often very surprised at what I find when I start really looking. For example; I looked all over for some camo printed duct tape and finally found it at my local Price Chopper.

Besides the obvious (food, water, etc.), your local supermarket carries a TON of useful items, and they are not necessarily more expensive than big box stores. I was shopping this morning and this is what I found:

Pretty much every supermarket has a section like this one. Sometimes it's also next to the automotive supplies.

In this tiny section I found gloves, dust masks, duct tape, super glue, rope, twine, sandpaper, zip ties, all kinds of hand tools - including pliers, screwdrivers and utility knives, and lots of different fasteners. Just to the right I also found sewing kits and lighter fluid.


Here is a similar section at a different Price Chopper:

Hobby Lobby has a good selection of 550 cord. It's good quality cord, made in USA. They have 16 foot hanks for $1.99 and 100 foot hanks for $8.99. That's a good deal for 100 feet. They have a good selection of colors including Coyote Brown, OD and Black, plus hi-viz colors like Neon Green and Neon Orange:

Sorry for the crappy iPhone pics, but you should get the idea. Shopping for preparedness items doesn't have to mean running all over town. You can pick up a couple of things at a time while you are grocery shopping. And don't forget the "travel-size" aisle - lots of packable hygiene items can be found there. Other places to keep your eyes open are; drug stores, convenience stores, hardware stores, auto parts stores and so on. The point is to develop a preparedness mindset and an eye for useful resources.  And have fun!

Semper Paratus

Sunday, December 22, 2013

1 Pint G.I. Pilot's Flask

Sometimes I want to carry a small amount of water and a full size canteen, Nalgene bottle or Camelbak is too much. This 1 pint pilot's flask is perfect. It's small and low-profile. It's about 6.5" x 4" x 1.75". I've carried it in an inside chest pocket with my backpack straps over it and I barely noticed it at all. I got this one on eBay for about $5 shipped.

Semper Paratus

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Snap-on Ratcheting Screwdriver

I have lived a minimal lifestyle all of my adult life. I have learned to do things with a minimum of tools, equipment and space. As a part of that, I have acquired some tools which have served me very well over the years. I would like to share a few of them here. Most are more than ten years old and were made in the USA.

I want to start with this Snap-on ratcheting screwdriver. I got it many years ago as a Christmas present. Other than my utility knife and tape measure, I use this more than any tool I own. It will accept any standard quarter-inch screwdriver bit, which is held in by a magnet. It ratchets left or right or locks with the switch in the middle position. the handle is hollow for storage of bits, but feels thick and substantial. It seals up tight with an o-ring seal. This tool has never failed me. Highly recommended.

Semper Paratus

Friday, December 20, 2013

Cold Steel Survival Edge

I am a sucker for survival knives and secret compartments and the Cold Steel Survival Edge is both. I was a little skeptical when I first got it, because it is so lightweight that it feels insubstantial. I was pleasantly surprised.

In the box you get what's pictured in the top photo (stock photo); the knife, a ferrocerium striking rod and a molded plastic sheath. It goes for about $30 - $40 retail.

First, the sheath. It's awful. I don't like it at all. The only thing it has going for it is that it covers the blade without touching it. It has a molded-in belt clip which can be hung on a belt or a lanyard around your neck. that's it for mounting options. The only other possible choice is to just stuff it directly in your pack. The clip is, however, wide enough to attach to ALICE webbing and fits pretty snugly behind the tunneled pocket of a medium ALICE pack. I prefer a nylon sheath like this one from Spec Ops Brand.

There's not much to say about the striking rod except that it works well. Striking it with the back of the knife blade produces a huge, hot spark. It takes very little effort to light a pile of dry tinder.

The knife is what surprised me. It's very light weight and has a hollow handle, which means that the blade has a short tang. Given that, I was really wary about the strength of the bond between the handle and the blade. It turns out that it feels really strong and solid, though a little unbalanced.


I carved this hard stick and the knife performed flawlessly. It bit in hard and felt solid and sure. The blade seems to hold its edge quite well. I like how the round handle allowed me to "roll" the blade around. This plus the striking rod gives it a thumbs-up for fire starting.

I gave it a brief go at cooking and it did an OK job. Not great, but it would be sufficient for use in the field. The crossguard prevents the blade from being brought all the way down, so the last part of every cut has to be drawn. still, I cut this potato into quarter-inch slices with no trouble. I then cut them into tiny cubes just as easily. It didn't work quite as well with an onion. It took a bit of concentration to slice all the way through. Small stuff like jalapenos are a breeze. This knife is also good for cooking because getting it wet won't hurt it. (That's why I don't use wood-handled kitchen knives).

The hollow handle is part of the reason I bought this knife. I've always loved hidden pockets and secret compartments and stuff like that. The space inside the handle is about three inches deep and a little less than an inch in diameter. That would be a good place for a small survival or fire-starting kit except for one thing; it's not waterproof. I read one review which claimed that his knife was waterproof, but mine is not. I tested it twice by putting a small piece of toilet paper inside and submerging it in a pitcher of water and the paper came out soaked both times. There are five O-rings around it which help the grip, but don't help the seal. Also, the handle floats, but not well enough to keep from losing it if you dropped in a lake or whatever. It would just sink point-down. Maybe the orange handle would help you find it.
 Among the drawbacks previously mentioned, it's just a bit too small. The video on the product page demonstrates the knife being used for batoning (splitting) wood, but it's not big enough to chop with. It doesn't feel substantial enough for heavy work.  
Overall, I would give this knife a 3 out of 5 stars. I like it and it would make a good backup, but I wouldn't choose it as my primary knife.
Semper Paratus