Thursday, March 5, 2015

Setting your survival mindset

The subject of survival mindset is often  misrepresented lately.  Some people think that a survival mindset is to simply have the will to survive in an adverse situation.  While this is true, it is also a very incomplete statement.  Many people fail to understand that a mindset is a constant.  It is with you when things are not so adverse as well, but this type of mindset has to be developed constantly. Now I am not talking about survival skills here.  The skills certainly play a huge part in your success during a wilderness crisis but your mindset may be able to get you through a situation that you do not necessarily have the skills for.  I am going to list a few of the daily habits that help, in my opinion, a person to develop these skills and keep them tuned up and essentially "setting the mindset."

AWARENESS:  It is a very import survival skill to have situational awareness at all times. Recognizing a threat and removing yourself from a situation is survival.  If  getting out is not an option then at least being able to position yourself to the least danger and highest tactical advantage is an asset.  In order to develop situational awareness all you have to to do is pay attention.  Watch the world around you and learn its language.  By language I mean the patterns, the ebb and flow of the environment. This is called developing a baseline.  We do this naturally anyway but now you have to simply take mental notes of those baselines and it will soon become apparent when they are out of balance.  Of course I am over simplifying this.  It actually takes a lifetime to get the hang of, and at first can be mentally taxing.  Believe it or not you already do this but you may not understand what is going on.  As you walk down the street you are observing the other foot traffic and constantly making small adjustments to keep from running into people or stepping into other hazards.  Conversely, the person walking and texting slams right into people, garbage cans and even parked cars.  They have effectively turned off all situational awareness. 

LEARN PEOPLE HABITS:  This may not seem like a survival skill but it is amazing how much more clear the world is when you understand the people that surround you.   As a species we are all individuals but time and nature have conditioned the race of humans to respond a certain way to certain stimuli.  If you can pick up and read these patterns you are ahead of almost everyone around you.  My kids like it when we are driving in town and I go through a series of predictions about the vehicle in front of me.  By reading the patterns and measuring them against what I know to be true and a few educated assumptions I can predict what the driver ahead of me is going to do.  Because of this and a keen awareness I have never been in a car or motorcycle accident when I was behind the wheel.  Granted I have a lot of life left in me but I have avoided more accidents than I care to remember.   Last year I was out for a motorcycle ride with some friends and we were stopped at a gas station.  This old pickup truck pulled in just loaded down with firewood and I looked at my brothers and said "we don't want to be behind that guy,  that load is all wrong."  So we waited a while after he left.  Eventually we caught up to him on the highway and I signaled the others to pass him quickly. Just as we got beside him a couple rounds fell off and exploded on the highway.  That fool didn't even notice.  Had we not paid attention and been prepared that would have downed at least three of us at 70 mph on the highway.  Now rather than a funeral, we have a good close call story to laugh at. 

PLAY MIND GAMES:  Play with games like logic puzzles and mechanical process puzzles. These toys condition the mind to play out certain actions and predict the outcome.  It is a fact that this kind of play makes us more productive but it also makes our lives better.  It conditions us to see a problem and solve it.  To many people in this day and age see a problem and avoid it, only attempting to solve problems that they cannot avoid.  I approach everything as a puzzle and because of this almost everything that I own has been modified in some form or fashion.  I cant just buy something and assume that the person who developed it had all the answers.  I assume that they had a good start but there is always room for improvement.  So when I find a better way to use something or a way to modify it and make it better I just do it.  An example of how this helped me recently.  Yesterday when I finished my last Blog post I went out to change the transmission fluid in my truck.  This particular vehicle has no easily accessible fill port or dipstick for the transmission. It turned out that the fill plug is under the vehicle next to the drain plug which means that you have to pump the fluid up into the port rather than letting gravity do all the work.  So I grabbed some parts to try and make a pump.  It is a long way to town so I am not going just to get a fluid pump.  I modified an airbrush to do all the work automatically but it was very slow so I eventually modified a spray bottle with a piece of rubber fuel line, a drill and a bit of RTV.  It got the job done.  Granted, its not rocket science but I used what I had and modified it to make what I needed...that is in every way, the essence of survival and bush craft.    

I hope you enjoyed that little piece.  It is a long road to travel when you finally decide to let the gridlocked social systems stagnate without you.  Once you start to gain some momentum never let it go.  Develop it, streamline it and refine it.  Before you even realize it you will be living an independent life and nothing will be able to hold you back.  

As always, leave me a comment, join the conversation and share your stories in comments below.  I would also appreciate it if you subscribed to this blog by email and shared a link back here.  Thanks for stopping by and entertaining my muse.    

Be Well,

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Water,Water Everywhere...Part 2

So yesterday I discussed water filtration and some of the facts and myths that surround that topic. Today I will finish this section with water collection, treatment and sterilization.  Perhaps there are some myths here that I can tackle as well.

So for starters, I guess that we need to gather water before we can treat it so assuming that there is no lake, stream river or other readily available water source, how do you find it? Being that water is priority the first, you should be making some effort to find a sustainable water source.  However, covering exactly how to do this is a topic for another article.  I will cover a few incidental water sources that you can exploit when on the move or when looking for a more reliable resource. 

Incidental water  can help to stretch the water that you have and supplement it occasionally but it is far from reliable.  The first is dew.  Dew collects on surfaces in the cooler evening hours and will be gone soon after the sun rises.  You can towel this up and wring it into a container or tie rags around your ankles and stroll around until they are saturated.  Once wet, you can wring them into a suitable container  and  continue until the dew is gone or evaporates.  Dew will be easier to collect from smooth surfaces like cars, windows and large rocks.  It will also collect on large flat leaves or other similar surfaces.  Never collect the dew from the surface of poison plants as some of the toxins may be present on the surface and will contaminate your water.  With a  trash bag you can collect large amounts of water by tying it over a dew covered branch and shaking the limb.  If left in place the heat of the sun will evaporate water from the plants leaves so it can condense in the bag.  Again, do not use this method with plants that contain toxins.

The second Incidental water is rainfall.  Rain is not always a reliable source but it does allow you to collect massive amounts if you are prepared for it and have the ability to start collecting it quickly. Some times the rain starts and stops very quickly so you have to have a plan and put it into action at the first sign of precipitation.  One of the best ways to collect rain in a survival situation is with a tarp, poncho, or space blanket.  Everyone heading out doors should have one of these options with them at all times in the wilderness.  If not then you can resort to laying out any and all pieces of plastic that you can find such as trash bags and potato chip bags.  They are not ideal but in the game of water collection every drop counts. 

The third incidental water is snow and ice.  I don't have any lab data for snow and ice so ill just leave it at that.  Most pathogens cannot survive snow and ice and when melted it is usually considered safe to drink but if you have the means, it would definitely benefit from some form of additional treatment.  So what do you do after you have collected this golden nectar?  Do you drink it or treat it?  Lets look at the lab data again.  

For this section of the test the Norwegian School of Winter Warfare collected incidental water from rain fall and tested it against the sample collected earlier.  The water may not be from the same source but testing like this gives a margin of comparison for the two untreated samples.  Results were surprising in that they still contained some of the same contaminants as the sample water.  How?  I do not know as I fully expected this rain water to be good to drink.  Perhaps the contaminants are too low to do a body any harm or perhaps not. In any event, incidental water could certainly benefit from further treatment. 

So armed with this data and the information from the previous post, it would seem to me, that any and all water collected in an emergency would benefit from some form of treatment.  So I will quit talking about collection and talk about treatment and ways to make that water, wherever you collect it, safe to drink.  

Water contains many contaminates such as pathogens, toxins and even minerals, many of these contaminates can be harmful if consumed by humans in large capacity.  Pathogens are the main source of concern in a wilderness survival situation and toxins are a major concern in an urban survival situation.  That is not to say that one is not present in the other environment, they certainly are but they are not the primary threat. I will focus mostly on the wilderness environment.

Pathogens are further divided into virus, cysts, bacteria, and parasites.  Many pathogens are microscopic and therefore can fit through tiny surfaces such as fabric and even poorly constructed water filters.  such as the tripod filter (pictured below).  Pathogens can soak into the fabric layer and essentially bypass the filter media all together.  It would be much more effective if the three layers were made of plastic bag or tarp and buckets or soda bottles would be the best option.  Many pathogens are also resistant to chemicals and can survive in extremely cold temperatures but are not usually present in snow and ice.  

There are a few means of treating water for both commercial and emergency uses.  I will list them but I am not going to go into much detail on all of them.  Many of these terms are used incorrectly on the web so I thought that I would clear the air and get us all on the same page before discussing some of these methods in detail.  

Desalination- Removes the salt from sea water
Reverse osmosis- Evaporates and re-condenses water leaving the contaminants behind.
Filtration- Passes water through a filter media to strain or otherwise remove contaminants.
Disinfection-Removes or destroys harmful bacteria and microorganisms 
Sterilization- Sterilizes harmful bacteria and microorganisms so they cannot reproduce in your body.

I am only going to discuss the last three focusing on the last two because I discussed filtration in part one of this post with some good detail.  Commercial filters are rated in microns, A micron as it relates to filters, is the size of the opening that the contaminate can pass through.  A 5 micron filter has smaller holes than a 10 micron filter etc.  The accepted standard for an emergency filter is 0.2 microns.  These contaminants vary is size, length, and width, but 0.2 is small enough to catch most if not all of them.  There is a good, more detailed explanation here if you want more information.  

Disinfection kills the harmful microorganisms but usually leaves them present albeit dead, in the water and this will not hurt you.  There are two accepted forms of disinfection and they are heat and chemicals.

Heat is probably the most effective way to treat water, it is easy to do and very effective.  Heat does not remove any suspended solids so muddy dirty water will remain muddy and dirty unless they are also passed through a filter of some sort.  Even filtering through a t-shirt will make the water much more palatable.  But even if you don't filter will be dead and safe to drink even if it tastes like crap as long as there are not any non-organic contaminants in the water.  Non organic contaminant cannot always be removed but reverse osmosis is the most reliable method in those circumstances. 

On the topic of heat, there are many misconceptions about how much heat to use, So lets put those rumors and bad info to rest once and for all.  Bringing water to a boil will kill 99.9%  of all organic pathogens.  Giardia cyst will die at 60 deg C (140 F) and Cryptosporidium dies at 65 deg C (149 F).  Water will boil at 14,000 ft at 86 Deg C (186 F) and at 10,000 ft at 90 deg C (194 F).  At sea level water boils at 100 deg C (212 F). So even at 30,000 ft water will boil at 71.1 deg C (160 F) which will still do the trick...RUMOR SMASHED!  These are not my assumptions, it is just science. Furthermore the manual for Naval Preventative Medicine (P-5010) states that you must bring water to a rolling boil before it is considered safe for human consumption.  In short, like they taught us at the NSWW, "big bubbles no troubles."  So for all those that say you have to boil the water for 1-5-10 minutes, that is not required.  I always bring mine to "Big Bubbles" and have never had a problem and I have drank from some pretty suspect water sources.

It is worth mentioning that you do not need a container to boil water.  In the picture below we simply dug a bowl shaped hole, lined it with plastic and then put in some grass, moss or leaves to keep the hot rocks from burning the plastic.  Hot rocks will boil water in a matter of seconds.  Here also, are the lab results from water boiled with rocks against our control sample.  I think that you will find the results most impressive.

Another method of disinfection is chemical treatment of your water.  Again this method does not remove anything it just kills whatever is living there.  So again this is ineffective for toxins that are are usually present in water after disasters and floods.  You have been duly warned.  

Some common chemicals are crystalline iodine and iodine tablets , chlorine dioxide tablets , as well as liquid iodine solution, liquid betadine solution, and liquid chlorine bleach. I wont get into how to use these methods, there is plenty of information available for that.  What I will say is that these products put chemicals into the body that are not normally meant for human consumption so prolonged use could have adverse affects.  Use sparingly in an emergency,  you do not have to practice with these these methods either, just follow the directions on the bottle.  Also keep in mind that the temperature of the water will have an effect on the time it takes to thoroughly treat your water. Some directions have you double the dose to drink the water in half the time.  Remember that these are chemicals so less is best in my opinion.  

The last option that I will cover is sterilization.  Usually this method is accomplished with some form of UV radiation.  This UV radiation  from either a clear container in the sun or from a UV sterilizer pen
simply make the pathogen unable to reproduce.  I have heard that this is desired because it allows your immune system an opportunity to develop antibodies much like a vaccination.  I have seen no medical or scientific data that supports this claim so I wouldn't bet on it.  However, this is a very fast and effective way to make water drinkable but there are so many variables that it is not something that I will fully trust if I have any other options.  The biggest variable is suspended solids.  These organic contaminants can attach themselves to microscopic solids in the water and essentially hide in the shadows from the UV radiation.  This renders the light useless.  If you filter the water first than you can minimize the risk but it would take a commercial filter of 0.2 micron to eliminate the risk altogether.  I have used this method and I have never gotten sick as a result.  I think that is worth mentioning.  They do run on batteries which is not desirable but in an emergency they could certainly save your bacon.   

There is also a school of thought that says you can expose your water to bright sunlight and the UV radiation will do the same thing.  Just remember that the UV light is not as focused and the time allotted for this method is so variable that it would be almost impossible to gauge how long, is long enough. I have not personally used this method because I have not had too.  I suppose that its a good tool to keep in your mental tool box but is also carries a lot of risk and I would not recommend it.

With that said I will conclude this series on water but I want to thank again, the Norwegian School of Winter Warfare for the pictures and the training that I received there.  And I want to thank the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, Mountain Survival Course for making their references public like the winter survival manual from 2002 that I used as a reference throughout this series.  

For a very thorough article on water purification my good friend Robert Munilla at has a great series that you should go check out HERE. He discusses many of the methods listed here and some insightful information that goes well beyond the scope of this article.

As always, please leave me a comment, let me know if you want to see more articles like this and please subscribe to this blog.  You can subscribe via RSS feed in the email box at the top and have all my posts conveniently sent to your email in-box.    

Thanks and be well, Norseman 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Water, water, everywhere! But not a drop to drink!

It is time to talk about water, consumption, treatment, storage and perhaps destroy some of the myths that surround this nectar of life.  I think that I would find little argument that water is the most important ingredient to sustain life.  So why then do so many survivalists misunderstand how harmful it can be if not treated properly?  It seems that every time I turn on the TV I see some self proclaimed expert drinking urine or other suspect source of hydration.  Whats worse, is when I later see folks referencing those errors in judgement, as some reputable source.  Believe it or not, there is actually a good reason for this.

When the body is deprived of water for an extended period of time, say a day or two, it begins to go through some changes.  Everyone seems to simply state it as Dehydration but few actually go into what that means.  For starters "Thirst is not an indicator to drink water" if you are thirsty you are already somewhat dehydrated.  Thirst is your bodies way to let you know that you are about 5% dehydrated and need to satisfy that NEED as soon as possible.  Soon to follow that thirst, is irritability, and weakness.  Most people attribute this to starvation but that is not the case at all.  Additionally nausea is also soon to follow.  Nausea is the early stages of your body experiencing shock.  It doesn't know what is going on and is trying to reset the system, so to speak. At this point your judgement is getting clouded and you start to rationalize any and all reasons to drink.  You say things like "I will only drink enough to stay alive" or "It will save my life so I can get out of here and get treatment later".  Those are both rationalizations made under duress and could prove deadly.  

If you mange to gut it out and not drink suspect water then this is what you can expect.  At 10% dehydration you will experience dizziness, headache, trouble getting up or walking and an overall body weakness, pain and even tingling in the extremities.  You will also notice that your fine motor skills are fleeting and your brain is losing control of reality.  At this stage you will go back through any rationalizations to drink suspect water again.  It is getting harder to refuse these urges at this point.  Now for the sake of argument let us assume that you are strong willed, and continue to gut it out through this level of dehydration.

Next comes the 15% dehydrated mark.  At this point your vision starts to get a little fuzzy and your body is again going through a reset.  You may drift in and out of conciseness and if you have to urinate it will be painful.  Your hearing will start to fade and your skin will become numb.  You will at this point feel a small sense of panic down in your stomach  that makes you want to just run away, but you don't have the strength to move very far.   You may cry out for help but your tongue is swollen, and sticky, your throat is too dry to even swallow the very small amount of saliva that you can call up.  Your head is pounding in pain to every slow beat of your heart and then you die.  

You body's requirements for water will be increased even farther if you are running a fever.   Fear and anxiety associated with any survival situation also increase your need for water.  If you are working hard and sweating you are just dumping water from your system and will require more to replace it.  If your clothing is not proper for the environment it can also lead to faster dehydration.

Sounds romantic, does it not?   I didn't think so, so why then are people so callous about water purification and treatment?  Consider adding to all that misery with uncontrollable diarrhea or cramps and vomiting from an intestinal parasite.   I have at some point or another been through all but the worst of those stages of dehydration and ill tell you that there is nothing fun or exciting about it. Now that we have fully defined what dehydration is,  let us look at a few options to avoid it.  

For this reason it is essential to always have a plan for water. For starters you can carry much more water in your body than in your pack so make it a habit to over-drink water constantly, everyday.  If you end up in a survival situation at least you wont start out dehydrated.  The next thing to do is have a plan to get water...ALWAYS.  There are many published methods to purify or treat water but many of them are not always viable options.  Some of them are down right wrong, and completely useless.  

Water filters are usually a good option but many of them make unrealistic claims especially if you buy the cheap, made in china copy of the more reputable ones like MSR or Clearly Filtered and of course there are many more reputable manufactures of water filters that you can chose from.  These don't weigh much and you can usually find a good one in the weight class that you are looking for.  Don't forget that it is always a good plan to have a backup, just in case.  But how well do theses things really work?  Fortunately I have an answer for you.

The Norwegian School of Winter Warfare put many water myths and methods to the test, and checked them in an independent lab and I have those results just for you.  The test sample was gathered from a running stream that dumped into a marshland.  This test water was put through the various filter methods listed.  

So now let us look at the data for the test sample.  The sample was only tested for a few common pathogens but we can see from the results just how effective these methods would be for other known contaminants.  They tested ((1)Bacterial count at >391 ppm), ((2)Coliform bacteria>200 ppm) and ((3)E.Coli=95ppm).  So how did the MSR FILTER measure up they showed an improvement of  97% across all fields.  (1) 11 ppm (2) 6 ppm (3) 2ppm.  That is not bad considering the source water.  

Another method was the MASH WELL, Seep well, Indian well, Apache well etc.  Essentially it is digging a hole a few meters from the water source and allowing it to seep full from the water absorbed into the ground medium.  In all three areas this produced 0% improvement over the test water. I have seen this method used by some experts and all I can say is the lab results don't lie.  Luck was on their side if they didn't get sick from it.  

SAND FILTER, Which was just a bucket of sand with a drain hole in the bottom suspended above another container to collect the sample filtered water.  There was also a thin piece of cloth over the drain hole to prevent the sand from running out.   Results (1) 161 ppm 58% (2) 145 ppm 28% (3) 78  ppm 18%.  Not too good for a "proven" method of filtration.

TRIPOD FILTER, Which consisted of a three tier progressive filter of various media starting with grass and moss, dripping into sand, dripping into charcoal, and lastly into the container for the sample.  The result (1) 253 ppm 35% (2) 118 ppm 41% (3) 0 ppm 100%.  That was unexpected.  It appears that charcoal is very effective against  E.coli.

That was it for the filters but next time I will talk about other purification and sterilization methods to make that life giving water safe to consume in an emergency.  Remember to comment below and add your suggestions and experiences.

For a very thorough article on water purification my good friend Robert Munilla at has a great series that you should go check out HERE. He discusses many of the methods listed here and some insightful information that goes well beyond the scope of this article.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST:  Big thanks and shout out, to the Norwegian School of Winter Warfare, NATO SERE Instructors Course Cadre.  The most professionally run school that I have ever attended.  Big thanks for the photos and the training, the good times and the horrific.  

Be Well, Norseman

Monday, March 2, 2015

Tops Knives HOG 4.5

I know that I have mentioned a couple of times that I have a blade out with Tops Knives.  I have never put it up here because quite frankly, I have been too busy using it.  I thought that I would take the opportunity to show you what I have been talking about...

When Tops first unveiled this blade at the shot show Mike Fuller asked me to write up a little piece on the creation of the blade design and how it came to be.  The write up ended being longer than expected but then, so did the development of the blade.  I don't believe that there is such a thing as a "perfect" survival knife.  Everybody has their preference and that is the way it should be.  This is designed for my preference and the ways that I use a knife.  Not everyone will agree with that, but I have not heard any complaints and this blade has been on the market for some time.  I have put a link to a review of it on YouTube because it doesn't make much sense for me to review my own knife design.  That just seems a little biased and egotistical to me.  

HOG 4.5 Designed by: Gunnery Sergeant David "Norseman" Williams

The History of the TOPS HOG 4.5 
HOG is a name earned by a certified US Marine Scout Sniper. HOG means Hunter Of Gunmen, because we hunt men with guns. We HOGs are a force multiplier for any commander that chooses to employ us. 

The design for this blade started somewhere in my history that I cannot fully trace. It began in the early years of my career as a young Marine Infantryman. After spending days or weeks at a time in a field environment it seemed that my hands would always ache. I eventually traced this pain back to the blades that I was carrying and using. The Tacti-cool handles on those blades all had rough edges and sharp corners. Sure they were mean to look at and gripped like a gator but they didn’t have the comfort that I needed for sustained field use. After this realization I set out to design the best knife handle that I could in my limited experience. Little did I know at the time, this would take the better part of my career to complete.  

I started with a piece of wooden closet rod and carved in the features that I most liked in many of the knives that I have used. I kept this in my pack for a long time and modified it with a piece of sandpaper as I discovered new ways to use a knife. Whenever one of my field knives earned me a hot spot I grabbed that little handle mock up and made a subtle change so that it did not irritate that hot spot. This went on for many years and many times this piece was over worked and restarted new. Eventually I had the handle shape that worked wonderful in my hand. So I looked to buy a knife that had a handle close to the one that I had designed. I found one and set out on the next phase of simply using the blade as much as possible while making subtle changes to the handle. This also led to my developing a greater understanding of how to use a knife to accomplish field tasks while also conserving energy. With the handle done I realized that there was another problem brewing. 

The blade designs were just not up to the task that I needed them for.  Some of the better shapes were too thick and some too flimsy. Some had bad edge geometry that would just not hold the keen edge needed for a good field knife. This continued through out many years and on to my instructor position at the 1st Marine Division Scout Sniper School. I was fortunate in that I was the primary instructor for survival, fieldcraft and combat tracking. This gave me the opportunity to sample many, many knives that my students had in their kit. Believe me, Snipers love knives like coyotes love meat. In doing this I developed an attraction to wide blades with keen edge geometry. The problem was that there were not any available that I could find that would meet both my blade and handle requirement. Not that I was the expert but I knew what I needed and that was good enough for me. So now, I was armed with this Ideal field knife that does not exist. So I set out to make this knife exist. 

 I made a wooden knife from start to finish and carried that in my pack everywhere so every time that I had an issue with whatever knife I was carrying, I could sand my wooden blank to remedy it. Some Marines thought that I was crazy being a Marine Sniper in the field with a wooden knife in my pack. I just claimed that I was doing research and development, that usually quieted the cries of wanna-be and mall ninja. Never the less I continued to refine the design. Occasionally I would over work the handle and have to start again with a fresh model. Fast forward a few deployments and I landed a job at the Mountain Warfare Training Center as the SNCOIC of Mountain Survival and Mountain Scout Sniper Courses. Of course that meant lots of field time.

 In order to be a qualified red hat you have to complete winter and summer mountain leader courses and that means practically living on the mountain. I continued to refine the design until I could think of no more refinements. Then, one time on the mountain while skinning a rabbit I set my knife in the snow and the knife disappeared. Already half starved there was no way that I was going to dig down and retrieve it so I went back to the drawing board with my knife design. I wanted a way to retain my blade and not have to have six feet of dummy cord attached to it. That is when the hole was born.  I made the hole big enough to handle a standard issue carabineer so that it could be clipped to my gear rather than set on the ground when working. It is a bad ideal to put a bloody blade back in the case while skinning game, if you do, you will only do it once after you learn that lesson. This worked well and eventually I discovered many uses for that hole. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself here.  

When I thought that I had the design about as good as I could make it I sent it, and a larger version of it, to my good friend and mentor Ron Hood. I had asked for his opinion on the overall design, and I asked him if he could find any obvious flaws in the design that I may have overlooked. Ron never got back to me as he was busy with his new magazine and all the other projects that he had going on. So I let the issue rest. At first I figured that Ron must not have liked it, but then I realized that if he didn’t then he would say so. I have never known Ron Hood to sugar coat anything, perhaps that’s why we got along so well, it is comforting to know people that can handle the truth. 

Well much to my surprise I soon received a package in the mail. The package was from Ron and it contained two complete knives of my design, rendered exactly as I had designed them. I immediately called Ron to thank him and scold him for such a wonderful gift. He told me that since I designed theses knives over many years for how I use a knife then his opinion was irrelevant. So he had them made by Luke Swenson so I could take them to the International SERE Instructors course winter portion in Elverum Norway. So I did just that. 

For three weeks in that portion of the course I traveled all over the Norwegian country side, on skiis and homemade snowshoes. The knives provided me with shelter, fire, water, food, and the ability to craft practically anything that I needed to survive. Most importantly, they did not create hot spots or blisters on my overworked hands. My instructors and fellow students admired the blade and my ability to use it effectively for survival tasks. Back home on the mountain it served me well for the remainder of my tour. It is still to this day my favorite blade and you will rarely ever find me without some version of it on my belt.  

The beautiful lines of this knife were an unintended quality that verifies the saying “form follows function.” Another important feature that I build into the knife is that the tip of the blade is lined directly in the center of the handle. This is important because it provides the user with tip awareness similar to an ice pick. For some reason the brain seems to be able to calculate exactly where that tip is, even when working blind inside of an animal carcass. This tip awareness is valuable in any combatants’ kit because you never know when you may have to transition between opening an MRE and ventilating insurgents. 

The carabineer hole in the back was never intended to be a gimmick and I don’t believe that it is. It was born out of necessity and has proved many times over that it is well worth the small patch of real estate that it occupies in the handle. I discovered many uses for that little hole over the years. It makes a great lever for almost any task requiring a little more leverage, like braking up kindling and fire straightening expedient arrow shafts when they are hot. I have broken the bones of small game to expose the marrow for soups. I have used it to strip small branches clear of twigs and even as a gauge to make a split piece of wood round enough to use for a bow drill. A carabineer clipped in the hole makes a stout handle extension to aid in the blades chopping power when used in conjunction with a rear pinch grip. I have used it as a pot lifter and even to pull stuck tent stakes from the frozen ground. The truth is that the hole is limitless in its possibilities and the more you carry and use this blade the more uses that you will find for it. It is, much like the Marine Scout Sniper, a force multiplier and you will be glad to have it by your side when it matters.

So there it is, love it or hate it.

Be well, Norseman

Sunday, March 1, 2015

What do you want?

Granted, I don't write as much as I should here, there is a reason for that.  The things I do from day to day don't seem very interesting to me, it is just my life.  However, there are very few days that I just sit around and do nothing.  From working on my truck to riding my quad, gardening, hunting, hiking, camping and just generally doing stuff outdoors.  Not to mention the ever present, KNIFE MAKING.  Seems I spend a lot more time in the Survival Hardware shop than outdoors any more.  The question is, What do you want me to write about?  Gear reviews?  Projects? Knife making? Survival Science?  I am trying to expand the blog to cover all sorts of interesting things but I don't know what my readers find interesting because I don't get much feedback.  So I am asking you "the reader"  to chime in and sound off.  let me know what you want and I will do my best to give it to you. Also remember that I have written for every single issue of Survival Quarterly Magazine.  There is a wealth of knowledge between those covers so check them out as well.  You can also get some of my products here like TOPS S.N.A.P. Kit
 and my TOPS Hog 4.5
 Don't forget to leave me a comment below!

UPDATE: Click on the post title to open its own page to enable the comments box.

Be Well,