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Firestarter Shootout- $12 Doan USA Magnesium Bar vs $3 Harbor Freight Chinese Version



A while back I did a video about the Super cheap chinese magnesium firestarter from Harbor Freight. A lot of people suggested I check out the USA made Doan military fire starter. So, in this video we’ll do a side by side comparison to see which one is better. (I’ll admit. I Really want the USA one to win)

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24 thoughts on “Firestarter Shootout- $12 Doan USA Magnesium Bar vs $3 Harbor Freight Chinese Version

  1. A huge amount of effort for a very small possibility of starting a fire. Survivability increases the easier it becomes and that is why after 9 years in the military and 37 years bushcrafting I always carry a BIC in every pocket, every pack and every first aid pouch. I still carry a good quality ferro rod and starter pack just in case.

  2. God, that thing SUCKS. I could have had the fire well-started with a ferro rod and a chunk of fatwood that size super-easily well before that mess got going. AND the fatwood would have probably gotten a much longer, stronger flame going.

  3. The magnesium shavings from either bar really don't burn long enough to be very useful? I would also wonder if those bars are 100% magnesium or are they alloyed with aluminum?

  4. For the price the harbor freight wins by a long shot. This is a last ditch effort item, never will be primary means of fire.

  5. I have used both myself. My experience they are almost identical. I think the Do and burns faster, harbor freight burns as hot, a spit second slower. I never understood why. Main thing is they work. I put an old piece mill file on it works fine. There is a little learning curve. You should have the block almost straight up and down so the rod is closer to the shavings.
    Like someone that posted, get a Ferro rod and mount a good Chuck of fat wood and your ready to go.
    I bought a lot of those HF blocks about 6 yrs ago and used them a lot.
    I have only used 4 blocks out of 20.
    I am sure my son will pass away before they are all gone.
    Thanks for the video, very good review

  6. Those magnesium blocks are hard to start a fire with and that is why I have several ways of starting a fire in my backpack when going camping.

  7. The Doans bar hasn't changed since the one issued in Army Ranger gear 1970 . The ferro rod works fine and trying to get flakes from the magnesium is like carving a rock . Using one in high wind or monsoon rain simply doesn't work . Zippo lighters and common matches . Nice video & Thanks

  8. I hate to say, I think the the China bar won, first, does have a striker and second, its a Hamilton cheaper, but throw them away and carry a bic, or a good blast match or maybe the Etopstech matchbox, get 5 for 9.99 on Amazon.

  9. I was one of the military units ( USCG Kodiak Alaska) to field test these in the 70s. We used the Ontario 499 knife and discovered the sawback does have a use. The DOAN family's concept was a tinder ACCELORANT mixed with native materials in very wet and cold environs. Mors Kochanski dislikes these because of the small size. I explained these have to satisfy weight and bulk parameters in aircraft full of ordnance weighing tons. I still have several of those first issue units. I suppose buying from the USA inventors who fulfilled a need BEFORE our good friends the PRC embraced the wonders of capitalism and sending dollars out of our extended US community doesn't matter.

  10. I have tried several of these magnesium/ferrocerium units over the past 3 decades , but will NEVER carry one as any part of my survival gear. A strong breeze makes it impossible. Even a sneeze can obliterate the pile. If the base you are building your pile on is wet, the water wicks up into the pile , making it impossible to light. You can only use about half of the Ferro rod. A piece of fatwood the same size and a regular ferro rod will give you much better results. UCO Stormproof matches or Stormproof Sweetfire are my favorites for emergency fire starting.

  11. As so many other comments mention, not optimal for use when you are tired, wet, and cold. I bought a package of 6 bags of mag shavings from Amazon. I don't know how many fires you can get from all that, but I imagine quite a few. I tried it out just to see how well it works, and I can say it works pretty damn good. If you can't get a fire going with one bag, then you have a real problem, lol. I carry just one bag in my fire kit for emergencies only. I don't use it for normal fire starting, but if you really were in a jam, it would definitely work. The stuff burns like hell fire, and you don't have to mess around scraping. Just dump a pile out and light.

  12. I think I try ALL of them and pretty much the same so I got tired and went shopping, I buy a 10mm magnesium bar and a 8mm ferro rod, a scraper, drill holes and paracord, never fail me and I know I can count on it if needed. I also got magnesium shaving and put in my ferro handle, save alot of time.

  13. Good video! Thanks for the video! I used to carry these all the time. I had one I kept in my boat, the ferro rod part pitted out to the point it was unusable. Now I carry a ferro rod and some fatwood or cotton balls with Vaseline. Cheaper and quicker in the long run. Thanks again God Bless!

  14. Those linked key chains are too frail, and should be immediately replaced with a length of para cord or new boot lace, the knot glued.

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