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7 Marine-Tested Survival Tools You Should Own

Image source: Official Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Mark Fayloga

Image source: Official Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Mark Fayloga

I have never been a huge car guy. I can do the very basics of turning a wrench, and with some guidance I changed an alternator once upon a time. I’ve dabbled in carpentry over the summers, so I can swing a hammer. I feel quite confident with my hands, and I have a fair amount of tools in my shed. But in this article I want to focus on a few tools I believe every survivalist and prepper should own – tools that even Marines use.

I honestly believe that tools can be as important as firearms, and more than likely they will be used more than your AR-15. I also believe a little skill or know-how is needed. This is often a bit more difficult than going to the range and sharpening your shooting skills. So if you simply do not know these skills, I recommend purchasing several guidebooks.

The usefulness that comes with tools cannot be understated. Imagine surviving a bad hurricane or tornado. The wait time for a contractor will be astronomical, and the supplies will dry up fast. Simply put, it’s hard to board up windows without nails and a hammer. That is just one set of tools, but what about survival tools in general? A hammer may not get you that far in the woods.

You already should have basic tools for home use. Here, I want to discuss tools for the bush, tools that can help man conquer nature.

1. Entrenching Tools (E-Tools)

Oh, e-tools, how I loathe thee. During my service in the Marines I have used e-tools to dig more holes and fill more sand bags than I care to remember. That goes along with digging latrines, burying trash, and even as an improvised axe for small brush. E-tools are immensely handy for survivalists in the wild, and can be used for anything from digging the aforementioned latrines, burying the waste from taking game, and disguising campsites.

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My favorite E-tool goes to the model I actually replaced my issued e-tool with. My issued e-tool was okay, but after digging my umpteenth machine gun fighting position I decided I wanted something new and improved. I purchased the SOG e-tool and never looked back. The SOG is a meaty tool, made from solid metal. This includes the handle and hinges. It features a nice set of teeth, too, that can chomp and chew roots like their butter.

This tool is hefty, though, and more subject to rust than models with fiberglass and polymer parts. It is tough, dependable and capable of doing heavy work. I suggest sharpening one of the edges for any hacking work that needs to be done. Keep the hinges cleaned and oiled, too. If you do not take the time to clean the hinges, mud can dry and make it difficult to open and close the tool.

2. Machete

Image source: gerbergear.com

Image source: gerbergear.com

Machetes are a very handy tool that can be used for a wide variety of different applications. A machete is typically very lightweight and takes up very little room, so it’s honestly foolish not to have one. When it comes time to clear brush, make a path, or clear a campground, a machete is necessary. A machete can be used to cut away underbrush, split nuts, chop compost and even harvest agriculture goods. Let’s not forget that a machete can be used for self-defense. For example, what’s a better way to deal with a venomous snake, and do so silently?

3. Gerber Gator

The first time I used a Gerber Gator, it wasn’t mine. I had borrowed one from my dad to clear some overhead branches from around a pond in which I was fishing. The first time I used it, I didn’t think much about it; it was easy cutting. Well, the fish weren’t biting, so I went exploring. I ended up mindlessly chopping brush and debris and realized how comfortable the handle was. It was large and just insanely comfortable.

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I purchased my own, and it’s been a constant companion in my truck. These days I work and live in the woods, so I use a machete for a variety of reasons. The Gator’s 22-inch blade is easy to sharpen, and stays sharp even after heavy use. The blade effortlessly clears brush, and has become a favorite among my co-workers. The opposite side of the blade has a fully serrated edge that makes for a heck of a saw. The Gator has lasted now for a solid year and a half of use, and show no signs of stopping.

4. Axe

The terms “axe,” “hatchet” and “tomahawk” get thrown out quite a bit. Many people don’t know what one is. Many modern companies have designed and released their own tomahawks, causing a resurgence. Tomahawks, though, are traditionally weapons, but I’m not including them on my list for that reason. An axe is an axe and everyone knows that, and a hatchet is a small axe. Oftentimes an axe is too large to carry, and a hatchet too puny to work. So a compromise is in order …

5. Nemesis NK-9

Nemesis NK-9

Nemesis NK-9

The Nemesis NK-9 is a medium-sized axe, with a length of just under 15 inches. I guess it could be considered an axe, hatchet or tomahawk. Overall, though, in my opinion it works as an excellent axe. It’s hearty enough to cut wood, but maybe not strong enough to take down a full-sized tree. The Nemesis NK-9 is built like a tank. I have cleared limbs, broken apart the earth, cut roots, and split wood with it. The axe has a lightweight design, but it does not compromise the integrity of the tool. The blade has not chipped, bent or broken in any way.

6. Fixed-Blade Knife

I could list the reasons to own a knife for survival all day long. In fact, if you are only going to have one tool, make it a knife. For everyday carry I do use a folding blade; it’s obviously much more convenient than a fixed blade. A good fixed blade is typically much stronger and capable than a folding knife. The blade is often bigger, and the design much stronger. A fixed blade is also much better in a fight should things get real rough.

7. Ka Bar

Maybe I am biased about this. The Ka Bar knife is synonymous with the Marine Corps, and to this day we still use them. I have more experience with a Ka Bar than I do any tool on this list. A standard Ka Bar uses a partially serrated or straight 7-inch blade, a leather handle, and a handguard with a clip-point blade. The Ka Bar is a knife made for the apocalypse. It does not break easy. I’ve used the knife to pry, to dig, to cut, to lash and even the butt cap to hammer in tent poles. The blade is wonderfully sharp, and keeps a good, strong edge. The knife was made to serve in wars, and has successfully done so since World War II.

These tools will serve you well in a survival situation, a zombie apocalypse, a time of bad weather, or just a camping trip. I actually suggest giving every tool a good, solid workout before trusting them. Give them a trial by fire, and if they can’t pass the test, chuck them.

Which tools would you add to the list? Share your suggestions in the section below:

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7 comments

  1. Another tool I would think of are the ones used for fire ( such as a fire steel, BIC lighter, magnifying lens etc.,etc., as well as some form of already-made tender(s), and so on.) that can be used for a variety of uses that I don’t have to spell out here. These next few suggestions are as follows; TARPS, CORDAGE, CONTAINER(S), a POCKET KNIFE (a classic type. not necessarily a TACTICOOL sort of knife-such as a “trapper”, a “stockman” or other such of a “classic” pocket knife.) Well, I think that that is just a few for starters, I bet that there are many more suggestions that will come down the track in due time. THANK YOU for posting this.

    • For tinder, keep the cotton out of pill bottles. Its not sanitary enough to use for a wound, its a shame to waste, and mixed with a tick of vaseline makes great tinder. Waste not want not.

  2. Did you check to see if Gerber’s stuff was full tange?

  3. How do you figure this list has 7 things on it?

    The eTool, machete, axe, and fixed bladed knife are all good suggestions, but the Gerber Gator is just a subset of machetes, the Nemesis is a fancy axe, and the Kabar is your fixed bladed knife…

  4. I think Greg finished off the list there.

    eTool, Machete, axe, fixed bladed knife, tarp, cordage, containers, pocketknife, fire starters.

  5. how effective are those all in one survival kits sold in amazon or ebay?

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