Coghlans Ferro Rod
5/16" x 2 3/4" Rod
These are the best cheap rods I can find.
The scraper is junk so throw it away.
Use the flat side of a cheap carbon hacksaw blade or a flat ground spine on a knife as a scraper. These are not quite as nice as the LMF rods but work very well with the right scraper, enough that I recommend them.
Great for scouts or outfitting kids or groups on the cheap.
Posted by Adam on 27th Jan 2014
Since I generally find I can only really get a few dozen fires out of a firesteel (because I often use coarse tinders like feathersticks or tinder bundles made of grapevine bark) I am definitely attracted to the ratio of size to price here. I went ahead and ordered three to keep me supplied for a while. I don't regret it.
The quality of the material they use isn't ideal- it's not LMF, certainly- but so long as your striker is very sharp, it's only slightly harder to create a sufficient shower of sparks. The striker these come with is practically useless- might be fun to see if people come up with anything else to do with them. Same goes for the advice on the package- it's remarkable how the people who manufacture firesteels almost invariably seem to have no idea how to use them. "Using the supplied striker or knife blade (!) ... sparks easily ignite tinder such as pine needles, leaves or dry grass"
Well, in short, don't use your knife blade on your firesteel if you actually plan on cutting anything with it (it doesn't create great sparks anyway), and a pile of coarse leaves, pine needles or grass stems is going to be more or less impossible to get going. I had a survival instructor in high school who thought one used the blade of a folding knife (we weren't allowed to have fixed blades, for some reason). Suffice it to say a lot of very nice knives got some very big chips on the winter survival course that year. I should really get to explaining that to him since I staff that class now. So yeah, use a file or coarse sharpening stone to flatten down the back of your knife to a very sharp 90 degree edge. One problem this does have that an LMF doesn't is that it seems to dull the back of the knife over the course of a few hours of use. The edge can be replaced in seconds, but it does make it slightly frustrating to use when you suddenly find you can barely get the thing to create any sparks.
In the few days since I got a few sent to me, I've lit dozens of things with them with relative ease. So much so I found myself feeling a bit silly practicing lighting twig bundles with matches when I knew I would have a much easier time with the firesteel. For less than half the price of an LMF half the size (and thus much harder to use and much shorter lived) at the local EMS, it is definitely the better purchase. The comparably sized LMF would be a good choice as well, but if you don't feel like spending the money, these will do just fine.