Survival Gear: The SOG SH03 Fire Starter and Knife Sharpener

A dull knife in the field can be more of a liability than you might imagine. As you push harder with a dull knife, think about the consequences if you slip and that extra force goes astray. You really need to keep your knives sharp. What if you needed a fire while you're out there too, and your normal fire-starting equipment is missing or broken? It's a good thing SOG has you covered with their SH03 Firestarter/Sharpener.

The SH03 is a multipurpose tool that has a flat pad for sharpening regular blades; a ceramic rod for touching up serrated knives; and a ferrocerium rod for fire starting. I'm all about multi-use gear, and this sounded like a great design. After putting it to task, here's what I found out.

The Sharpening Test
With the flat diamond-sharpening pad, I sharpened a very dull knife to the point where I could shave the hair on my arm. Honestly, I wish the tool was a little bigger; it would be easier to handle while sharpening. But then it wouldn't be such a good fit on my keychain.

The cylindrical ceramic sharpener on the tool is used for sharpening knife serrations, and it worked well, too. Obviously, it can't sharpen all sizes of serrations, but it's a great fit for SOG knives and many others.

The Fire Starting Test
Can this little guy make a fire? He sure can, with sparks to spare. The sparks are hot and plentiful, reminding me of the quality of Light My Fire's Swedish Firesteel. It scraped well with a knife edge (good thing there's a sharpener nearby). The sparks flew when scraped with either a blade or the square edge on the back of a knife. I even scraped sparks off with a sharp chunk of quartz rock. All you need is some good tinder and you're well on your way to a roaring fire.