Okay, for those of you who don’t like video (or don’t want to listen to me talking the whole time), here’s a full text review:
I never thought I’d get excited about a shovel, but that’s before I heard about Cold Steel’s Special Forces Shovel. The Special Forces Shovel is a short camp shovel with sharpened edges, which makes it effective at a number of tasks beyond digging holes. It’s a Frankenstein’s monster combining all the best parts of a machete and a shovel, and I love it.
So why is this called a “Special Forces Shovel”? Well, because it’s based on the design used by the Spetsnaz (Russian special forces). This entrenching tool was designed to be used as both a tool and as a weapon of last resort, with the sharpened edges of the shovel making for a deadly piece of kit. The Spetsnaz soldiers were even trained to use the shovel as a throwing weapon.
The shovel comes from the factory with what Cold Steel calls a ‘utility edge’. It not as sharp as I would like, but it’s a good starting point. You could work it into something much better, but I wanted to test it straight out of the box. I took it up north to my parents’ property to try it out, and had an absolute blast.
Special Forces Shovel as a Machete/Hatchet
The very first thing I did with it was use it as a machete. I limbed a few fallen trees, and chopping down a whole bunch of saplings. It even took out a few decent ash branches.
Seeing that it was working pretty well, I took it to a poplar my dad was going to take down anyway. It took a bit of chopping, but I’m pretty happy to say I cut down a full sized tree with a shovel. Now granted, it was softwood, and my dad did some of the chopping too, but still. I chopped down a tree with a shovel. That’s awesome right there.
Ninja Star Shovel?
Next, I just had to try throwing it. I picked a handful of targets on the property: a nice sized tree, an old stump, a pallet, and an old chair. And I was surprised to find out that I’m really, really terrible at using a shovel as a throwing weapon. I hit what I was aiming for most of the time, but usually with the wrong end, or as a glancing blow.
In the end, the only thing I got the Special Forces Shovel to stick in was an old chair, which isn’t really all that impressive. That’s not denigrating the tool of course, only my ability to use it.
Despite my complete lack of success, throwing this thing is an absolute blast. It’s almost worth the price along just to take it out in the woods and see if you can get it to stick to a few trees. I’m definitely looking forward to trying it again, and hopefully I’ll have a bit more luck.
Special Forces Shovel Versus Zombies
Next up was the zombie test. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any spare zombies sitting around, so I was forced to use coconuts, which are pretty standard in the world of zombie weapon testing. As luck would have it, my sister and her husband – both funeral directors – were also home visiting. I had them both check out the coconut, and they said it was fairly close to the thickness of a skull. It wasn’t exactly scientific, but I’m going with it.
To test, I put a coconut on a tree stump, with a towel underneath to keep it from slipping when I hit it. I didn’t think breaking the coconut open was going to be an easy task; I figured it would take me two or three hits. It didn’t. One solid blow with the Special Forces Shovel and that thing exploded, sending coconut milk everywhere (I had to change my shirt).
My wife took a crack at it too, only she was a lot more delicate because she didn’t want to get covered in coconut juice. It took her three blows, but she made mincemeat of the stand-in zombie.
So can the Special Forces Shovel kill a zombie? Well, if the coconut is reasonably close to the density of a zombie skull, then I would say absolutely. Granted, we had the coconuts on a stump at waist level, and had plenty of time to line up our shot. At head level, it’d be a bit more challenging, but I still have no doubt this thing could cleave some zombie skulls when push came to shove.
Okay, So Let’s Dig a Hole
Finally, I decided to try it out for it’s actually, designated purpose: digging holes. I’m happy to say the shovel was up to the task. It was early spring when I tried this out, and in northern Michigan the ground was a still a little frozen. This shovel dug right in without a problem, no doubt helped by the sharpened edges.
One thing that I think is really cool is that the head is mounted to the handle with two normal screws. That means you could easily replace the handle, or even substitute in a longer one, without too much trouble.
So, is Cold Steel’s Special Forces Shovel a worthwhile purchase? Absolutely. Not only did I have a ton of fun testing it out, it would also make for a fantastic camp or survival tool. I know it’s earned a permanent spot in my trunk, and it’s definitely going to come with my on my next few camping outings.
It comes with a nice nylon sheath, which is good since the edges are sharpened. I beat on my pretty well, and the only damage I manged to do to it were two small chips in the handle and getting the whole thing dirty. This thing is built to stand up to some punishment.
On an Unrelated Note
So this is my first video content. I’m sure it’s a little underwhelming. I’d really love honest feedback from you guys on how I can improve things, because I’d like to do more of them.