Alternate fire starting methods

Posted by: Taurus

Alternate fire starting methods - 01/08/08 07:18 PM

While in the field yesterday I decided to play around with this idea and test to see if it would work. This is not something that I would do unless I had no other means at hand. I always have plenty of quality fire starting material while in the field but I like to plan for the worst and hope for the best. As we all know, despite our best efforts it seems that if it can go wrong then it usually will. (Like the possibility of being separated from your gear) For this reason I try to have a plan B, C and the flexibility to make a plan D on the fly while in the field. When not in the field at work, I hunt quite a bit. As such most of my survival training revolves around the situations I will likely face and for me at least, I usually find myself in the field with a gun. If caught in a really bad way with only a gun and some ammo, and assuming the worst case that all other gear including sparking tools etc has been lost, this is how a fire can be made.
If using a rifle:
a. Scrape a small trench in the ground and fill it with dry tinder, place a piece of cloth or other combustible material in the trench and lay it flat.
b. Carefully remove a bullet from the cartridge case with a multi-tool or by pressing sideways on the tip to loosen it. Sprinkle the powder along the cloth and then roll the material in a loose cigar shape. Ensure a small amount of powder spills from one end of the cloth tube.
[img][IMG]http://i252.photobucket.com/albums/hh19/zazabu531/Firestart003.jpg[/img][/img]

c. Place a piece of wood over one half of the cloth tube and surround the tube with dry grass, leaves etc. Have all other materials for the fire close at hand.
[img][IMG]http://i252.photobucket.com/albums/hh19/zazabu531/Firestart005.jpg[/img][/img]
d. Place the cartridge case with the live primer back into your gun. Place the tip of the barrel flush with the end of the cloth tube where the powder spills out. When the trigger is pulled the flash from the primer should ignite the powder and then the cloth. Quickly pile more grass etc on top of the burning cloth. If the cloth is smoldering then do not lean forward to blow on the embers as the powder will flare up very intensely for a second or two. Note that I used a .30-06 and the rounds use large rifle primers. Even by itself the primer has enough power to put a flash 1-2 inches from the muzzle. I do not know how this will work with a smaller type of primer/cartridge.
[img][IMG]http://i252.photobucket.com/albums/hh19/zazabu531/Firestart006.jpg[/img][/img]
If using a shot gun:
a. Prepare a large pile of tinder such as grass. Cut the end off of a shell carefully, and then remove the shot cup/wads exposing the powder. Roll a piece of cloth cigar like and then fold the tube in half. Stuff the cloth in this shape(exposed ends down) inside the shell ensuring the cloth is in contact with the powder
[img][IMG]http://i252.photobucket.com/albums/hh19/zazabu531/Firestart001.jpg[/img][/img]
b. Load the cartridge into the gun fire it pointed down towards the ground near your pile of grass. The cloth will be smoldering and may or may not catch fire. Gently blow on the cloth and it should catch.
[img][IMG]http://i252.photobucket.com/albums/hh19/zazabu531/Firestart002.jpg[/img][/img]
c. As soon as you have flames slowly add the grass to build the fire, be careful not to smother the flame.
I used the cloth from an LMG pouch which catches fire easily and burns well. Although not tested I am sure that paper towel or a section cut from other material would be adequate (as long as it isnít fire retardant). As well using the rifle method the powder could be wrapped in leaves etc. Some small points for the rifle method: the powder will not explode but it will burn very hot and flash up a half foot or so. If you do not place a stick etc on the roll of material the power from the primers muzzle blast will scatter the powder everywhere rather than lighting it. For the shot gun method, keep the cloth small but in tight contact with the plastic sides of the shotgun shells hull. This will prevent the hot burning gas from escaping past the cloth when the trigger is pulled. The cloth most likely will smolder and need to be fanned or blown gently into a flame. Have the tinder ready and try to shoot the cloth as close to it as possible.

Like said before, the purpose of doing this was simply to see if it would work. I carry my mini PSK and thus a way to start a fire on my person to lessen the chance of being separated from it. My larger PSK held in my back pack is made up of smaller pouches that will easily fit into coat pockets if there is a chance I may become separated from my pack(like crossing ice) and it contains even more fire starting stuff. These methods would be only a last resort but it is nice to know that they will work if push comes to shove. Even if all I had was gunpowder for a source of tinder I would only use the rifle primer method if there was NO other way to ignite the power (sparking tool would work a lot better)
Anyone else have any last ditch methods for starting fires?? I have read articles on polishing the bottoms of drink cans with chocolate or even using clear ice etc to make lenses for the purpose but I remain skeptical. Even though I always travel with quality fire starting gear it is always in the back of my mind that WHAT IF?? For me at least, almost every operation or hunting trip I have ever been on Murphy has decided to tag along with me.

P.S
I apologize for the size of the pics as I am having trouble making them smaller for posting. I couldn't hold the gun and the camera at the same time so I hope the pics are good enough to get the idea across.
Posted by: Chris Kavanaugh

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/08/08 07:28 PM

Firearm method B. take the classic english Westley and Richards I just picked up at a garage sale for a song (seller- lousy brit rifle has this strange cartridge I thought was an ought six when I bought it.) Flip open buttplate trapdoor he didn't know about and extract two vintage cartridges. Replace one with a small tube of firemaking kit and close trapdoor. Call old western Scrounger for cartridges. Hit self in nose with 26" barrel walking into apartment.
Posted by: Taurus

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/08/08 07:44 PM

I thought of this stock/trapdoor idea after watching Les Stroud do it in Labrador with a .22 cal. Although an awesome idea all my stocks are molded honeycombed synthetic and cannot be opened without cutting through the plastic which I havenít had the courage to attempt yet in fear of doing something I cannot undo. Some stocks you can purchase with compartments just to store items but they are a bit on the pricy side. My own guns aside, The Army really gets mad at me when I try and alter my service rifle for any reason so that is not an option at work.(lol) Besides, the idea of lighting a fire this way is an ABSOLUTE last resort when all else may fail. It was really fun to try though......
Posted by: JIM

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/08/08 07:49 PM

I can recall a thread about this method of fire-starting several years ago.. You only have to put half the gun-powder on the tinder, and keep the other half in the cartridge, but YMMV

(how do I seem to remember all those 'forgotten' posts on ETS, while I can't remember what I had for breakfast this morning...hmmm blush )
Posted by: Susan

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/09/08 02:53 AM

"(how do I seem to remember all those 'forgotten' posts on ETS, while I can't remember what I had for breakfast this morning..."

That's because your brain only remembers the IMPORTANT stuff!

Sue
Posted by: CANOEDOGS

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/09/08 03:25 AM



NICE!!!--i have see these methods in 1950's "tips for outdoor's men" magazines but never a real life demo..
Posted by: Stretch

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/09/08 03:51 AM

That was a great write-up! Pretty good pics too... they were as big as they needed to be.
Posted by: Raspy

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/09/08 03:53 AM

Just saw a movie. Pierce Brosnan was ambushed while trapping in the high mountains with snow everywhere. Ended up rolling down the mountain loosing his rifle.

A little later he desperately needed to start a fire. Part of the lost gear was his flint and steel. He had just started a fire before the ambush. Explaining the loss.

He still had his cartridge belt and some ammo. Being set shortly after the civil war they were obiviously black powder.

Using his bowie he pried out the the bullet. Then somehow wedged the casing facing his tinder. I didn't really catch how. Then with his bowie and smacking the handle. He used the point as a firing pin to set off the cartridge.

Thus igniting the tinder.

Yes I know most of it was movie magic. Setting off the primer this way would be a real pita. But it might be another way to get a fire going. If you are desprate and have noting else available.
Posted by: Taurus

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/09/08 02:24 PM

Nice. I don't have the guts to try this method yet.....
Posted by: Ian

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/09/08 02:47 PM

I tried the rifle method and just blew my nicely piled tinder and cloth all over the place.

As a modification, remove bullet head, screw cloth into case over powder edges to powder as shown in the shotgun method above, load and fire into the air, when the cloth comes down pick up, fan/blow and light tinder.


Posted by: Taurus

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/09/08 03:39 PM

I had to pack a fair bit of wood on the cloth and then press the barrel close to the exposed powder but it worked, the first attempt resulted the same way with stuff flying around but not igniting. I will have to try this way to see if it works better.
Posted by: Taurus

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/10/08 02:05 PM

No. A lead slug easily or plastic sabot easily travels down the barrel so a piece of cloth is no problem. The round was a drag stabilized bean bag round.(actually a small pouch with cloth tails filled with #9 lead shot) We use these at work for riot/crowd control training. When done I take all the empty hulls home and re-load them with....well..um...Buckshot.
Posted by: OldBaldGuy

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/11/08 01:32 AM

All I got were little boxes with red X's in them, no pics. But I can visualize what is going on. I have seen other writeups suggesting pulling the bullet, stuffing a rag into the case, and shooting that straight up, then grabbing the flaming/glowing rag after it comes down and using that to start your fire. Seems kind of dangerous to me, forest fires are a bummer...
Posted by: OldBaldGuy

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/11/08 01:37 AM

"...I can't remember what I had for breakfast this morning..."

You too huh???
Posted by: SwampDonkey

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/11/08 03:53 AM

On this angle; I have seen the patching out of a muzzleloader start a forest fire as well as marine signal flares that landed on the shore still lit.

Mike
Posted by: hamilton

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/11/08 03:02 PM

I went back to look over the images,and they seem to have disappeared. Anyone else experiencing this?
Posted by: OldBaldGuy

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/11/08 04:04 PM

I never got them in the first place, just little red x's in boxes. %^&*()&^%^&* computers!!!
Posted by: OldBaldGuy

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/11/08 04:05 PM

Saw some SEALs start a brush fire with .50 cal tracer once...
Posted by: Taurus

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/11/08 04:09 PM

I will fool around and try to re-post them tonight if you want. Maybe that will work.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/11/08 05:25 PM

Do you think a similar trick would work with a 12ga. flare gun?
Posted by: Taurus

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/11/08 05:41 PM

I guess if you have 12 gauge flares you could simply build a pile of tinder/kindling and carefully fire the flare into the pile. If that don't start a fire then nothing will.
Posted by: OldBaldGuy

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/11/08 08:19 PM

I've gotta think that firing a flare into the ground close by would be a huge mistake...
Posted by: Taurus

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/11/08 09:24 PM

If you were attempting it I guess it would be because of an emergency and you had no other choice, otherwise it would be best not to try it. I play around trying to light fires in different ways at this time of year as the risk of forest fire is non existent due to all the dammed snow. Summer would be a whole new ball game so I wouldn't risk it. Besides, if the risk of forest fire is that great then it shouldn't be that cold to begin with and rather than risk burning down half of Alberta I would just break out my blast match and make fuzz sticks. I carry a pen flare and although I haven't tried it If I had no other way I know I could make it work. Some way to prevent the flare from skipping off the ground would be needed......a hole maybe.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/11/08 09:30 PM

I've never been a big fan of carrying flares.

I went hiking with a buddy once. He'd picked up a new package of flares, bear bangers, and screamers. On the way home he decided that he'd shoot a few off for fun once we got back within eyeshot of the highway. ALL the bangers were duds, ALL the screamers were duds and the first flare was a dud.
Posted by: Taurus

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/11/08 10:26 PM

Funny you should say that because I was considering taking my pen flare out of my kit. I honestly only carried it because it was a gift from someone and I didnít want to hurt their feelings every time they asked if I liked my new pen flare. We use a similar type at work and the small flare only burns for a couple of seconds and doesnít fly very high. You would have to almost rely on luck for someone to be looking right in that direction before it burned out to be seen. I am going to replace the pen flare with a 15 min road flare. If using it to signal I will have 15 minutes to wave it around like a mad man in the hopes someone will see it. At night someone in a plane or chopper or on the ground looking for you should look in your direction hopefully at least once in the span of 15 minutes. Better than the 2 second window offered by a pen flare. Even though I carry a signal mirror I bet it could be seen over some distance by day as well. As an emergency fire starter to be used in the Alberta cold or when pouring down rain it should work wonders. If you cant start a fire with a 15 minute road flare then you deserve to freeze to death. grin
Posted by: SwampDonkey

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/12/08 04:55 AM

Hey,

According to the packaging some bear bangers and screamers are also hot enough to start a forest fire, because of this the ones I shot off were in a sand pit. I have seen 12ga. flares light the bush on fire.

Mike
Posted by: Taurus

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/13/08 07:11 PM

Well hacksaw my friend. While I was out and about in the beautiful Alberta weather this weekend I decided to at least partially answer this question. I donít have a 12 ga flare gun, so I used a pen flare launcher instead.
First of all, before anyone gets the wrong idea. I am not posting this to see IF it would work because we all know a flare will ignite stuff. Rather I wanted to see just HOW HARD the process would be. I recently removed the pen flare from my hunting survival kit and had a bunch of flares to play with so why not start fires with them? grin

The weather was as good as it gets in Alberta this time of year. Sunny, maybe -10 deg cel with only a soft breeze. While snowshoeing I actually had to stow my jacket and hat in my pack and just wear my thermal long sleeve shirt due to sweating. Only when the sun started to drop last night or when stopped for any length of time did I need to dig the jacket out again. In regards to the flare fire, here is how it went:

This is the only tinder I could find naturally. Even in the deepest snow there is tall grass growing above in some places. As no trees were nearby (this would be a marshy area in summer) I cut a whole pile and carried it in my pack till I got to the next tree line.
[img][IMG]http://i252.photobucket.com/albums/hh19/zazabu531/outdoors1001.jpg[/img][/img]


When Carried under the wet weather cover of my pack it kept the grass dry as possible.

[img][IMG]http://i252.photobucket.com/albums/hh19/zazabu531/outdoors1002.jpg[/img][/img]

This is the pen flare/flares. Not sure of the brand as it was a gift. As a note, it was very hard to thread the dammed flare to the launcher even in this relative mild (didnít need gloves) and took several minutes of trying to get the plastic threads on the flare to bind with the metal threads on the launcher. In a real emergency this would have been a real pain in the f#$%^$# a#$. The only other option would be to carry the flare loaded which isnít really a good idea. I had visions of me being lost and a chopper flying over head while I was cursing and fumbling trying to thread on this stupid flare. In the real Alberta cold, when it drops to -35 and below I can just imagine how much fun it would be.


I decided on a log cabin type fire. I folded large handfuls of the grass into a u shape and then stuffed the grass with the u down to form a sort of basket to catch the flare.
[img][IMG]http://i252.photobucket.com/albums/hh19/zazabu531/outdoors1013.jpg[/img][/img]

While Standing, I simply fired the flare strait down into the log cabin basket.
[img][IMG]http://i252.photobucket.com/albums/hh19/zazabu531/outdoors1014.jpg[/img][/img]
The first try was a misfire. I pulled the handle back and tried a second time. This time it worked like a charm. The flare immediately caught the grass(notice the red glow of the flare)

This is the empty hull of the fired flare with the fire now burning well. I ended up cooking lunch over it even though my stove was in my pack (sometime it just tastes better over a fire grin)


The verdict?? Damn, what can I say? I think this was the easiest fire I have ever lit in the woods, and I do it quite a bit. Itís too bad that the flare is almost worthless as a signal as designed. It is almost worth taking on my next trip just to start a fire with (lol) So.......For those who carry pen flares I am not saying they are bad. The one I have just isnít very good. I am sure they have good and bad ones like all other types of survival gear, but in a pinch they light one hell of an easy fire.

Once again, I apologize for the quality of the pics, but I had no one else to hold the camera.
Posted by: sodak

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/13/08 08:59 PM

I can see using modern smokeless gunpowder, but if you carry black powder, you might want to pass on this. Black powder is a low explosive, and it will flash, not burn. It might work, but you might lose your eyebrows (and eyes). Be careful.
Posted by: SwampDonkey

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/13/08 09:39 PM

Nice Post and Photos Taurus.

I have a pen flare kit in my snowmobile and a few small marine flares scattered in other kits.

You are correct that they are a very short lived signal but they did really help a co-worker of mine a few years ago.

He was snowmobiling down a lake with a partner and he spotted something unusual on the ice so he went to investigate. It turned out to be an ice auger so he drove his snowmobile over to get it, that is when his machine broke through the ice and sank! He managed to get out of the water (floater suit and ice picks really help) but was very wet and cold. His partner stopped at the landing and waited as it was getting dark but he could not see his friends light out on the ice.

My friend then fired off a small marine flare that he had in his coat pocket and his partner realized he was in trouble. My friend walked over to the thicker ice and his partner picked him up; they rode double to a nearby occupied cottage where my friend was able to get warm and dried off.

So if you know that someone will be looking, a flare really gets the message across that you need help.

And they are really neat for lighting fires as Taurus proved!

Mike
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/13/08 09:48 PM

Originally Posted By: Buckshot
Now THIS is a good post. Good to see someone does more than sit at home and talk about what they might/could/should do when outdoors. Nice pics. but whats up with all the realtree hardwoods. You some kind of redneck? I guess alberta is the "texas" of Canada after all.


Why do you post here? You do not contribute anything useful and it is impossible to escape the impression that your only purpose in life and here on this forum, is attempting to ridicule people and make unfavorable comments such as the above and noted here.

It is one thing to offer constructive criticism, but you are below that and it is not appreciated by many here...
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/13/08 10:00 PM

Awesome! I don't own a flare launcher but it's good to know none the less.
Posted by: JCWohlschlag

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/13/08 11:51 PM

Originally Posted By: Taurus
I am going to replace the pen flare with a 15 min road flare. If using it to signal I will have 15 minutes to wave it around like a mad man in the hopes someone will see it. At night someone in a plane or chopper or on the ground looking for you should look in your direction hopefully at least once in the span of 15 minutes.

Just be careful about waving flares around. Some of them like to drop red-hot, plasma-of-death, burning liquid all over the place.

Although the resulting screaming and cussing that happens after you get some of that stuff on you might get the rescuersí attention, too. whistle

Excellent documentary post of using the pen flares, as well!
Posted by: Taurus

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/14/08 02:06 AM

Originally Posted By: Buckshot
whats up with all the realtree hardwoods. You some kind of redneck? I guess alberta is the "texas" of Canada after all.


As you may have noticed if you have been following this forum, everyone here has different areas of expertise. Some members hike, some camp, some canoe and so forth. Each type of outdoor activity brings its own useful tips/info to the forum. As you may have guessed am in the Military and I hunt a lot so obviously my outdoor gear is either a uniform or geared toward hunting of some sort.(thus the real tree stuff)

I am not quite certain what criteria a person needs to meet to be a redneck as such. I have all my teeth, didn't marry a cousin and donít have scrap cars all over my yard. I do have a big dog, drive a big truck and have a big collection of guns.(plus I wear real tree camo a lot) Do I qualify with those points I wonder? mad

I don't know if this is Canada's Texas or not, but there are a lot of folks here who share my way of thinking.
YEEEEEEE HAAAAAAA!!!!!!
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/14/08 02:25 AM

Well we do have a lot of oil and a lot of cows...
Posted by: OldBaldGuy

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/14/08 02:56 AM

Minus 10 is "...relative mild..."???

You guys scare/impress me to no end...
Posted by: Paul810

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/14/08 04:15 AM

I've been snowmobiling when it was -25*F. On a snowmobile it's pretty scary, the air at ~20mph feels like it goes right through your snowsuit (even my heavy duty Gore-Tex lined suit). Gloves don't seem to do much either.

If I didn't have the built in hand warmers on my sled I think I would have lost my fingers in under an hour, same with my feet (lucky for built in foot warmers).

It taught me to:

#1 Wear even more clothes, as well as glove liners or maybe over-mittens.

#2 Pack more disposable hand-warmers (they worked surprisingly well to help keep hands and feet warm when stopped).

With that in mind, my favorite quick starting fire device is a hand held marine flare. They work like road flares, but are safer to hold and can easily be cut down to half size. They're also more water resistant than road flares. Burn time isn't as long as a road flare (only three minutes) but that is plenty of time to get a fire going.

If you know anyone with a boat they probably have some laying around that are out of date, and are therefore no longer needed by the boater. Even if they are out of date by USCG standards they still work for at least a few years later, I've haven't had one fail on me yet and most are 2 or 3 years out of date.

Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Alternate fire starting methods - 01/14/08 04:47 AM

I went ice fishing today. I should have started a fire so I could try a few things myself. But I don't think it got colder than a few degrees below zero so a fire wasn't needed.