Does The Quality Of Your Ferro Rod Really Matter?
The answer to this question is a simple one, YES.
Sure you can get some sparks from a cheap and nasty ferro rod and in the right hands they can consistently get fires going, but there is a vast difference between Swedish or American made Ferro rods and the cheap Chinese made rods, although some Chinese rods are definitely better than others.
The main difference you will notice is the volume and intensity of the sparks produced and this has a significant impact on how difficult it will be for you to produce an ember and a flame with your rod. The reason there is such a large variance between brands comes down to a combination of design and quality control.
Ferrocerium is an alloy of various metals such as:
The ratios in which these metals are included can determine how hard/soft the alloy is and in turn how much force is required to produce enough hot sparks to ignite your tinder.
There are a range of other factors which should be considered when selecting the right ferro rod for your needs. These include:
Handle size and material
- Ensure the handle for your fire starter is large enough to hold onto comfortably whilst you are striking it.
- Make sure your rod is securely attached to the handle to make sure you don’t lose it. This is done very well by companies like “ExoTac” and “Light My Fire” by using extremely strong epoxy resins to glue the rods in place or in the case of ExoTac some models like the NanoStriker XL and the FireRod use threaded rods which screw right into the handle.
- Handle material is another factor you might consider if you like all your gear to match a certain theme, for example a traditional bush crafter might prefer a wooden or deer antler handle whereas a modern operator might prefer the CNC machined style of the ExoTac range.
Striker Design & Quality
- A good quality striker is just as important as the rod itself and can sometimes be the thing that makes or break a product, you can get an average rod with a poor quality striker that is very difficult to use and just by replacing the striker it will become a reliable fire starting device.
- Some knives have the spine intentionally squared off to allow them to be used as a striker, this is great if you have incorporated a ferro rod holder on your knife sheath.
- A ferro rod with the striker attached to the handle with some paracord is ideal as you are much less likely to lose your striker out in the field.
I have tried many different rods over the years and have overwhelmingly found that American and Swedish made rods are superior to most others. I will list a few of my favourites below for you to check out. Remember that if you can afford one of the high end rods then even a cheaper rod with a decent quality striker can get the job done when used correctly.
The Exotac NanoStriker XL is an over-engineered marvel of design that is compact enough to fit into most survival kits and produces a huge burst of molten hot sparks that will get a fire going fast. You can buy replacement rods which are threaded to screw right into the existing handle meaning this can last you for a lifetime. You get up to 3000 Strikes from a single rod and the tungsten carbide striker is as good as it gets.
The Light My Fire Swedish Firesteel comes in 2 models, the “Scout” and the “Army” model. The only difference is the size with both of them producing plenty of sparks to light your fire in almost any conditions. If you have the space then the Army model is worth paying a bit extra but the scout model can easily hold its own with the big boys.
Another great option which sees a lot of use in my kit is the Light My Fire Swedish Fireknife which incorporates a scout ferro rod into the handle of a knife with a blade made by Mora knives. This is great when you are preparing food with your knife and you need to light your gas stove or fire.