> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Battle of the Firestarters: Strikeforce vs Blast Match (Review)

10/27/11

Battle of the Firestarters: Strikeforce vs Blast Match (Review)

Strikeforce, the defending champ, takes on the Blast Match.
A few weeks ago, I did a head-to-head showdown between the Strikeforce and the similar Bear Grylls fire starter, with the Strikeforce coming out on top. At the time, I received a few requests do a comparison with the  Blast Match, another fire starter from Ultimate Survival Technologies.

The Blast Match is a fairly unique fire starter design, unlike the traditional ferro rod and scraper. The Blast Match works with a spring and internal scraper. To get sparks, you apply pressure on the scraper and jam the ferro rod into the ground. The ferro rod hits the ground and is forced back up into the handle, the scraper bites in and kicks off sparks.

Once you get the finish scraped off the ferro rod's surface and get a bit of practice, it is easy to do and requires next to no dexterity to do so. My two and a half year old was able to successfully get sparks from the Blast Match, which should tell you something about its ease of use.

The ability to use the Blast Match one handed is really how it has differentiated itself from other fire starters and ferro rods on the market. If you're in a survival situation and bust your arm, how would you start a fire with a conventional two-piece design? I'll get into this a bit more later.

Onto the comparisons. I like doing head-to-heads because it gives you a benchmark to measure a product against. The Strikeforce is my preferred ferro rod at the time--it throws great sparks and has a built in tinder storage compartment. Unlike previous "battles" the Strikeforce and Blast Match are fairly different products, so I won't be able to compare them on a feature-by-feature basis.
Size & Weight: Both fire starters are made with a similar plastic and have similar sized ferro rods. Both come in at similar weights. When closed, the Blast Match is about 3/4 the size of the Strikeforce. The Blast Match is rounded and carries a bit more comfortably than the boxy Strike force, but it's not a dramatic difference. Tie.

Ruggedness: The Blast Match feels cheaper and fragile. The plastic is thinner. The "cap" part feels wobbly and especially weak--it feels like it will break sooner or later. The Blast Match's reliance on a squishy, not particularly strong spring also does not lend increased confidence. In comparison, the Strikeforce feels basically bomb-proof, with thicker plastic and a sturdy, fixed ferro rod. Winner: Strikeforce.

Extra: Between the two, you're making the choice between having the spring-loaded mechanism or having the fixed ferro rod and the built in tinder compartment. To me, the spring mechanism is little more than a gimmick. Yes, you can use the Blast Match one handed, but the Strikeforce can be used one handed almost as easily. By simply pinning the ferro rod portion under a knee or foot, you can use the scraper one-handed to throw sparks. The Strikeforce's onboard tinder is much more useful in keeping your ass alive. Both come packaged with one cube of WetFire tinder. Winner: Strikeforce.

The Strike Force can easily be used one-handed by holding the ferro rod portion under a foot or knee.
Fire Starting: With what look to be identical ferro rods and scraper material, both tools throw a generous amount of sparks. I get good sparks more reliably and consistently with the Strikeforce--the Blast Match is a bit more finicky, especially when it's new out of the box. For actual fire starting purposes, the Strikeforce works better. You don't throw sparks with the Blast Match, you jam them down into the tinder. If you're starting a fire in an established fire pit, that means you'll be jamming it down into the soot and ashes. Also, if you're not successful on the first jam, you tend to knock the tinder all over the place. With the Strikeforce, you can throw the shower of sparks from a distance, not needing to jam down into ashes or mash your tinder all over the place. The ability to really press down on the Strikeforce's scraper and kick off a huge shower of sparks, every time, really helps, too. The Blast Match works--don't get me wrong--but the Strikeforce and its traditional ferro rod/striker design works much better. Winner: Strikeforce.

Verdict: The Strikeforce wins, hands down. In comparison, the Blast Match seems gimmicky and fragile--the spring mechanism is unnecessary and impacts its overall usability. Practice using the Strikeforce one handed and you'll be equally or better prepared for fire starting in case of arm disabling injury.

Ultimate Survival Strikeforce Fire Starter >

Ultimate Survival Technologies BlastMatch Fire Starter >

On a side note, if anyone wants to trade another ferro rod or fire starting product for the Blast Match, drop me a line.

8 comments :

  1. Ugly Rooster here,

    I have an extra ferro rod-magnesium rod combo, all set in antler. It isn't one of my handmade ones, but works well. Willing to trade. Love your site, read you tomorrow! Henceforth I shall be The Ugly Rooster, muahaha!

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  2. Very cool. Diggin the fire starter throwdowns as I really know little about them. I have to agree, just by reading your review that the Blast Match seems a little gimicy. I like the idea of being able to use the fire starter w/ a carbon steel blade if necessary. To me the Strikeforce seems much more practical.

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  3. Hmmm. I don't like the idea of pressing the Blastmatch into the tinder, either. I had been under the impression that it could be worked, one handed, away from the tinder. I have enough of a bad time knocking my tinder around with a traditional ferro rod, and will certainly stike a Blastmatch off my to-get list.

    Thanks.

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  4. Before I bought the Blast Match, I thought for some reason that you somehow "released" the ferro rod and the spring popped it out and generate sparks. That's not the case - you definitely need to press it into the ground. Here's a YouTube video that shows it in action.

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  5. What if you bust both your arms?

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  6. I can use a ferro rod with my toes, can't you?

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  7. Ya I got a Blast Match a while back and was quite disappointed--wished I had got a Strikeforce. X-mas is coming I suppose. I too imagine the Blast Match releasing the ferro rod with a push of a button and spraying sparks all over the place. Not the case at all. Another thing, what if sturdy ground isn't available? Might sound silly but what if your in deep snow or a swamp/muddy area? Or even what if it just rained and the ground is a little soft? With traditional methods you can get your tinder off the ground a bit and just spray sparks onto it. Blast Match requires a sometimes very awkward angle to use. In my book Blast Match gets a big thumbs down. If you really insist on it just scrap the rod with a knife like a traditional ferro rod. Doubt I'll ever use mine again. Giant paperweight.

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  8. Yall fail, I have rocked the blastmatch for awhile now. One handed without pushing into the ground is simple, with thumb press down on the striker, and with index finger plunge the ferro rod in. This results in true one handed, non grounded, blast of sparks just as aimable as any other setup. Fully one handed from pocket, deployed, sparks where I want (w/o disturbing tinder) closed up and back in pocket, all while drinkin a beer with the other =D

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