Superesse Straps has developed a wearable fire-starting lanyard...
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If you ever attended church Sunday school as a kid, you may remember the Old Testament Bible story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. According to the story, these three men were thrown into a blazing furnace as punishment for their refusal to bow down to the egotistical king, Nebuchadnezzar. Miraculously, they were spared an agonizing death — instead, the king watched as the men walked through the flames unharmed.
We mention this tale because it served as the inspiration for the latest collaboration between blade designer Grady Burrell (of Master Proven) and blade maker Darrel Ralph (of DDR and DGT). This small knife is called the Shadrach, and just like its namesake, it has some fiery surprises in store.
The Shadrach blade started out as the brainchild of Grady Burrell. An avid outdoorsman, he served 20 years in the U.S. Army, reaching the rank of master sergeant before he retired. His career assignments included military police, MP investigator, company armorer, Department of the Army senior advisor, and recruiting and retention non-commissioned officer. After retirement, he acted as military liaison, government law-enforcement representative, director, and vice president for various U.S. military contractors.
Given this background, it should come as no surprise that Grady knows a thing or two about the importance of quality gear. These days, he puts this knowledge to use as a team lead at Master Proven, an independent gear testing and evaluation company. Master Proven tests gear under extreme conditions in the hands of seasoned professionals, then gives a seal of approval to the items that survive the punishing ordeal. The company works with big names like 5.11 Tactical, CamelBak, and Leatherman.
However, rather than solely testing third-party products, Grady has branched out into designing products of his own — specifically knives. The Shadrach is one such creation, drawing on all his experience in the military, outdoors, and survival scenarios. It also bears the Master Proven seal of approval on the flat of its blade.
While Grady is familiar with designing blades, he elected to partner with an experienced craftsman to bring the Shadrach’s design into reality. Enter Darrel Ralph, who has been producing handmade blades since 1987 under his DDR brand. Grady and Darrel have been working together for eight years now, having collaborated on several previous knife builds that bear the DDR/Master Proven designation.
More recently, Darrel has created a separate line of military-inspired knives known as DGT, or “DDR Goes Tactical.” The new Shadrach falls under this line, carrying the DGT logo on its blade opposite the Master Proven seal.
The Shadrach was born out of Grady’s desire for a compact and simple tool that could serve multiple survival purposes. It needed to slice and pierce effortlessly, while holding a razor-edge and remaining easy to sharpen in the field. Grady also wanted the blade to stay compact enough to be easily concealable, whether on a neck lanyard or a horizontal belt mount.
In addition, Grady wanted a blade that could help survivalists stay alive in frigid conditions, such as the area surrounding his home in Tok, Alaska. Tok is both extremely isolated and often bitterly cold. Needless to say, starting a fire is a top survival priority there, so Grady integrated a ferrocerium rod and tinder material into the Shadrach’s design.
We first got our hands on a Shadrach fixed blade after meeting with Grady at Blade Show 2016. If you follow @recoiloffgridmagazine on Instagram, you may have seen our slow-motion video of it throwing some sparks. Since then, we’ve had time to thoroughly examine and test the knife.
The starting point of each Shadrach is a 1⁄8-inch-thick bar of 154CM stainless steel, a durable material that blends high carbon content with chromium and molybdenum. A 51⁄4 by 3⁄4-inch blank is cut from this stock, with a 21⁄2-inch cavity in the handle, flanked by three pairs of notches and a lanyard hole. The leading 21⁄4 inches are formed into the blade, while the trailing 3 inches remain as a handle. The steel is also coated with a matte gray finish that exhibits fine scratches for a well-worn appearance.
Speaking of the blade, the business end of the Shadrach has a very distinct profile and grind. The silhouette looks like a simple tanto design with a compound bevel — that’s not entirely accurate, though. One side of the knife is indeed compound-beveled, with a deep main bevel ground into the flat of the blade and a finer bevel applied to the cutting edge. The tip’s grind is also interesting, with a chisel cut similar to that of a Japanese kiridashi utility knife. On the opposite side, the blade is almost entirely flat, except for a fine bevel applied only along the cutting edge.
Finally, several fire-starting components have been built into this knife. A 2 ½-inch ferrocerium rod slots into the handle cavity, held in place by two rubber O-rings. The entirety of the handle is then tightly wrapped in paracord, but not the run-of-the-mill sort. This is 550 FireCord, containing the standard seven braided nylon strands in an outer sheath with an added bonus of an eighth strand of tinder wick. This red strand is coated in an easy-to-ignite and waterproof waxy material. Combined with the ferro rod and the blade as a striker, this produces a quick and reliable recipe for fire.
Each Shadrach also comes with a fitted Kydex sheath, removable belt loop, and bead chain neck lanyard.
Fire-Starting with the DGT Shadrach
1) Cut the FireCord and remove some red tinder strand.
2) Shred the strand, then strike the included ferro rod.
3) Sparks will eventually ignite the tinder.
4) Nurse the flame by slowly adding collected dry tinder.
After field-testing the Shadrach, we can say that it’s certainly a versatile little survival knife. It’s great for precise tasks like carving wood, skinning game, or something as mundane as slicing open an MRE bag. The chisel tip works well for piercing or drilling like an awl, but you’ll need to be careful with your grip — there’s no guard to protect your index finger if it slips forward during use.
Obviously, you’re not going to hack through brush or baton logs with this knife, so we’d recommend complementing it with a larger fixed blade, machete, or hatchet for heavy-duty work.
However, the Shadrach’s small size and light weight make it an excellent choice for its intended purpose as a backup blade that’s worn around the neck, on a belt, or attached to a pack. The Kydex sheath fits tightly, providing enough friction to securely retain the knife, but not so much that it becomes hard to draw quickly.
The knife’s fire-starting features work well, though much like paracord survival bracelets, it’s a bit of a hassle to unravel the cord any time you want to access the ferro rod. If you need some of the tinder wick, it would be understandable to remove and cut the paracord, but there are plenty of instances where tinder is readily available and all you need is a spark. In those cases, you’ll still have to unravel the handle wrap. If the wrap were just a hair looser, or knotted one less time at the front of the handle, you might be able to slip the ferro rod out with the paracord in place. Then again, you can always leave the handle unwrapped, and rework the cord into a lanyard if you prefer.
Overall, our Shadrach blade held up admirably to testing. The 154CM steel does a good job holding its edge, even when grinding against the ferro rod repeatedly, and it’s easy to maintain the edge with a few strokes against a ceramic rod or whetstone. Although some may see the $90 price tag as high for such a small knife, keep in mind this is no mass-produced item or fragile display piece — it’s a handcrafted American-made blade that uses high-quality materials and has undergone thorough testing in the hands of veterans. If you have the cash, the Shadrach will no doubt serve you well in any scenario, from everyday carry to extreme survival.
DGT / Master Proven Shadrach
154CM stainless steel
2.5 ounces with sheath (3 ounces with belt loop and chain)