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During a backcountry emergency, you may stake your life on your firemaking tools. Here is a system worth considering.

by Leon Pantenburg

It has been well over 12 years, and thousands of fires, since I used anything but traditional flint, steel and charcloth to start a campfire in the wilderness: I enjoy practicing survival skills.

The Lightning-Strike is compact, portable and contains a complete firemaking system.

image1As a Boy Scout and community volunteer, I have done extensive research on what survival firemaking tools and techniques work best. In the past 12 years, I have helped teach well over 12,000 scouts, students, outdoorspeople and others the flint and steel technique. In 2007, I received a Boy Scouts Fremont District Award of Merit for the survival firemaking teaching program I designed and helped implement.

The point of this bragging is that I can claim some expertise in survival firemaking. Typically, SurvivalCommonSense doesn’t do fire tool reviews, because, many of the “new” products are nothing but re-organized and re-packaged versions of the same old techniques and tools. And it would be really, really hard to improve upon my go-to survival firestarting standard of cotton balls infused with petroleum jelly, ignited with a ferrocerium rod.

So Darrell Holland, inventor of the Lightning-Strike Fire Starter, had a sales job before I would agree to review the product. The product came into existence after Holland and his son, an Eagle Scout decided to come up with a new and improved firestarting tool.
The Lightning-Strike contains firestarter in the handel, and disassembles to allow the ferrocerium rod to be used with the striker.

Here are the advantages of the Lightning-Strike, according to Holland.

image2Completely self-contained: A Lightning-Strike is light (about 8 ounces) compact and easy to pack. It provides everything you need to start an emergency fire.

Waterproof: The Lightning-Strike Tinder is kept in a waterproof container that also serves as the handle.

Hotter sparks: The sparks produced by the ferrocerium rod in the unit are between 4,000 and 5,000 degrees, according to the company, and the focused stream makes for better and faster ignition.

Works in any environmental situation.

No sale so far. Many of these attributes could be found many firestarting methods, I thought. But the clincher for me was that Holland claimed the Lightning-Strike could be used one-handed, and that it was completely self-contained, with ample firestarter for about a dozen fire starts.

If all that was true, then this method did have something new and different.

In my experience, a common problem with survival firestarting is making the transition from ignition to smaller twigs. Generally, most people can light a match or lighter to produce the initial flame. Where they fail is lack of transition time, which would allow the flame to light the twigs or other tinder.

A match may be good for a few seconds of flame, and a lighter for longer. But during nasty, rainy weather, if the wood is wet or damp, that may not be enough time. I always carry emergency firestarter along just because of that. In a survival situation where hypothermia is a possibility, time is critical.

My first impression of the Lightning-Strike out of the box is that it shows quality materials and workmanship. About the size of a mini-maglite, it doesn’t take up much room. The ferrocerium rod throws showers of sparks, and it is positioned in a tube that concentrates them. This makes for a much hotter ignition.

The ferro rod readily ignites the firestarter that is stored in the hollow handle.


I was amazed – my old reliable ferro rod that I have been carrying for a couple years only appeared to be about half as bright as the Lightning-Strike. I’m assuming this means the Lightning-Strike produces about twice the heat.

A special firestarter comes with the Lightning-Strike, and it is designed to fit in the handle. The material appears to be some sort of petroleum product, that is infused into a cotton (?) pad. The firestarter can be ordered from the company. My thought is to continue carrying a separate container of cotton balls and petroleum jelly, and use that first.

And the system can be used one-handed. All you do is remove the firestarter from the handle, and position it at the end of the tube. Stand on the end of the Lightning-Strike to hold it in place, and scrape the ferro rod with the striker. Fire.

All in all, I really like the Lightning-Strike. It seems eminently practical, and it produces a hot spark stream that lights tinders quite well. The quality workmanship means the product should be reliable, and pretty much foolproof. A Lightning-Strike could be a valuable addition to a bug out bag, daypack or any other emergency/survival kit. This product is a keeper.





The Lightning Strike Fire Starter Review

by Prep for SHTF

Most of you understand the absolute need for fire in a survival situation, and most of you come to the party prepared. You may have matches, lighters, Ferro rods and magnesium sticks, and you may even have a flint and steel. You also may carry dry tinder and other fire starting aids such as cotton balls, petroleum jelly, alcohol wipes and even alcohol based hand sanitizer.

Imagine for one minute however, that you can carry one item, one self-contained tool that has all you need to start a fire in virtually any environment, under any weather conditions. Well the Lighting Strike Fire Starter is that one tool.

What Is It and What Can It Do

Some call it a Ferro rod on steroids. The Lightening Strike is about the size of a Mini-Mag flashlight. The housing is anodized machined aluminum, with a waterproof storage handle that comes loaded with a fire starting tinder kit and the Ferro rod is replaceable by the way.

A Ferro rod or Ferrocerium rod is a manufactured metallic material that gives off sparks at temperatures up to 3,000 ᵒF (1,650 ᵒC).

The rod is encased in the Lightening Strike using a setscrew so it can be replaced or rotated when one side becomes worn. The barrel design directs the sparks so they are concentrated at your tinder, so no more sparks flying everywhere. They are directed through the barrel, “shot gunned” if you will. A channel or groove allows you to slide the striker along the Ferro rod.

The storage handle is ingenious, because it has an insert cap with a tether attached and an easy to remove waterproof cover. The cap is placed inside the storage handle (at the bottom) with a tether or “pull cord” exposed so it can be grasped. You simply place the tinder into the storage handle (resting on the cap) and when you need tinder simply pull the tether to raise the cap and tinder.

No groping with a pocketknife or stick trying to get at the tinder to extract it’s the little things, or not so little things, like this that make all the difference in the world when you find yourself in a survival situation.

The Lightening Strike Fire Starter is available in Blue, Red or Green and refills of the Lightening Strike Fire Tinder are always available. Pick up extra tinder at the time of purchase because you simply cannot have too much. The handle will hold enough tinder to start about 12 fires.

The need to start a fire is not exclusive to those that venture outdoors. Any adult and even children aged seven and older can benefit from knowing how to create fire in a survival situation, and they need the tools to do it, safe and effective tools.

Natural disasters can strike any community leaving you literally in the dark and out in the cold if you cannot create a fire. Carry one in your wilderness survival pack, car emergency kit and have one in your home’s emergency supply kit as well.

We Are Just Getting Started

The striker when not in use inserts into the barrel for storage and held in place with a shock cord (Bungee Cord) attached so once you remove the striker it stays with the Lighting Striker. Can you imagine the wind is blowing, it is snowing or raining and it is below freezing and you drop your traditional striker in the snow or a pile of leaves and you cannot find it?

Accidents like this cost lives. Well now, no need to worry when you carry the Lightening Strike Fire Starter, because the striker is always attached using the shock cord.

The barrel has a slot for the striker to glide along the Ferro rod. Because of the design, it takes no effort at all to create a spark and the best thing is you can create a fire one handed if a hand becomes injured.

To use one-handed grasp the Lightening strike between your knees and remove the waterproof cap to get at the tinder with your good hand. Once you have the tinder out put the cap back on and then remove the striker. Next fluff the tinder as much as you can one handed and then place your foot on the storage handle end and place the barrel on the ground directed at the tinder with the channel in the barrel up. Then slide the striker along the channel making solid contact with the Ferro rod. Sparks will shoot out the end igniting your tinder.

Lightning Strike Fire Starter One Handed

The Lightening Strike Fire Starter Is a Lifetime Tool

You can replace the Ferro rod when it is worn so you will always have the uniquely designed tool that allows you to direct sparks onto your tinder once you have replaced the Ferro rod. You will always have the waterproof storage compartment in the handle filled with fire tinder as well. There is absolutely no reason not to have a Lightening Strike Fire Starter in your survival pack, car kit and one in your homes’ emergency supply kit, and make sure you always have extra tinder available.

If you use up all the tinder stored in the handle, replace immediately, because you never know when you might need to create a fire.

My immediate thoughts were “this is the Cadillac of fire starters”. How many of you have broken a typical Ferro rod when striking it. The rods glued into a plastic handle will break eventually or simply fall apart and always at the wrong time. They are difficult to grip and forget about it when wearing gloves or your hands are cold.

The Lightening Strike handle is big enough so you can grip it with gloves on and still drag it along the encased Ferro rod.

The Lightening Strike Fire Starter can be used with gloves on or when your hands are cold and gripping is difficult, because the people that designed it actually use their products. They know why fire is needed and when, so they designed it so it can be used effectively in any survival situation by anyone in any weather condition period.

Final Thoughts

This is without a doubt the best fire starter I have used to date. You might think the price is steep, I know I did, but after using it and seeing what it can do I’m very impressed with this product. The way I see it is your paying for a lifetime ferro rod handle that supercharges your average ferro rod on top of giving you the ability to start fire with one hand if need be.

Not only was I able to start a fire one handed but it also lit a wet fire tinder still wrapped in the plastic wrapping, pretty impressive if you ask me. You can purchase a Lightning Strike Fire Starter for $60.00 at


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