The striker that comes with most ferro fire starters is really terrible. This can make it difficult to get sparks, even with a high-quality ferro rod and the right technique.
On top of that, the metal strikers can annoyingly clang against your ferro rod as you walk. So, you might want to consider one of these alternative striker options instead.
Also Read: The Best Ferro Rod Fire Starters
1. Square Unfinished Knife Spine
The spine of your knife can work well as a striker for your ferro fire starter. For it to work, though, the spine needs to be squared off.
Ideally, it is also unfinished, so you get more friction as you strike. You can take a file to the knife spine to rough it up and get better results.
Is it a good idea to use your knife spine as a ferro rod striker?
While it will work for fire-starting, it isn’t always a good idea to use your knife spine as your primary striker.
- You may prefer a rounded spine: A rounded spine is more comfortable if you need to put your finger on the spine, such as when carving.
- Could injure yourself: When using a fixed-blade knife spine as a fire striker, it’s possible to injure yourself (see this picture!). I would NOT recommend using your knife spine until you’ve at least gotten your technique down. Even then, it’s impossible to be careful 100% of the time, so using a different striker might be a better option.
- Will need to retouch the spine: Striking the spine will cause wear. You’ll eventually need to resharpen and reshape the spine edge.
- It might damage the temper: When you strike the spine, it produces sparks that can burn at 6000 degrees F. The heat could damage the temper of your knife. Stainless steel knives can become brittle and chip. Carbon knives can become softer.
2. Hacksaw Blade
After a knife spine, this is the most popular alternative striker option. It is because they are usually made of carbon steel and have sharp 90-degree edges – features important for getting sparks from your ferro rod. Reciprocating saw blades also work well.
You simply cut the hacksaw blade to size with metal snips. Or clamp it securely into a vice and carefully snap it to size.
Some people grind off the teeth side of the hacksaw to make it easier to carry around. In that case, the teeth side of the blade is better to use because it’s harder. Don’t de-burr it, as the burr makes an excellent edge for striking!
Hacksaw blades are cheap (and you can easily find them secondhand), and one blade will give you lots of strikers.
3. Carbide Sharpeners
A carbide sharpener, such as this one by Corona, works wickedly well as a striker. It’s cheap and has a nice long handle, so you can get a good grip even with gloves.
4. Lathe Bits
I haven’t tried these myself, but a few bushcraft experts recommended them as strikers. Compared to the cheap strikers you’ll get with your ferro rod, lathe bits are tough and keep their edge well. You also can choose different sizes based on how much grip you need.
5. Some Multi-Tools
Your EDC multi-tool might have something that will work well as a striker. For example, the awl on Victorinox Pioneer multi-tools works well as a striker. The nail files on most multi-tools also will work well.
I’d only use tools you don’t regularly use since striking will wear them down.
6. Large Steel Washers
If you have a grinder, you can flatten one side of a steel washer. Because the washer has a hole in the middle, it’s easy to carry around as part of your EDC.