Escape and Evasion (E&E) is probably one of the oldest survival skills known to man. In fact, it would be safe to say that as long as man has inhabited the Earth, there have been other men trying to shackle and hold him prisoner for some reason. Due to this, E&E tools were improvised and used long before it became a professional skill taught in military schools.
In the world of E&E, nothing is passed over as a potential weapon or tool to aid in one’s freedom. Small files, bobby pins, Kevlar cord, thin pieces of spring steel, small saw blades, and disposable handcuff keys are just a few of the modern-day items that, when properly hidden, are almost impossible to find by the person holding you captive. I’ve even heard tales of threading piano wire into the seams of pant legs with the idea being that no matter who captures you, they almost always let you keep your pants.
ARS Dog Tag Survival Knife weighs less than an ounce but packs a powerful punch for last-ditch survival/E&E practitioners.
In a true survival scenario, any tool you can acquire (or make) may mean the difference between escaping and succumbing to hostile forces. Small tools are especially valuable because they are easy to carry and hide. I’m constantly on the lookout for new and unique E&E/survival tools since a lot of people I train work in hostile environments. However, in the world of outdoor gear, the term “E&E” conjures up all sorts of politically incorrect thoughts, as well as liability issues, so manufacturers typically stay away from developing and selling E&E kits.
Recently, I ran across a company manufacturing dog-tag knives and advertising them specifically for E&E. And while dog-tag knives are not a new concept, the fact that they are now being mass produced makes them unique. In other words, this is not the typical GI dog tag that a soldier rubs an edge on.
Small razor-sharp blade is very capable at making fuzz sticks for fire building or shaping pieces of wood into improvised tools.
The Dog Tag Survival Knife is manufactured by A.R.S. (Attack Rescue Survive) in my home state of Alabama. And while it may not seem like a whole lot of thinking is required to put an edge on a dog tag, to refine this four-in-one tool to its present level has taken a couple of years and a lot of trial and error. The end result is a small survival kit that weighs less than an ounce and can be worn unnoticed just about anywhere in the world.
The Dog Tag Survival Knife is made in the United States with a lifetime warranty and features 440C steel and a chisel ground edge. The tag is mirror polished to be used as a makeshift signal mirror. The blade comes with an injection-molded holder, button compass, ferrocerium rod and neck chain. Holes in the blade can be used for aiming the signal mirror as well as lashing the blade to a makeshift handle. Simply split a stick and insert the blade into the split until the holes line up with the outer edge of the stick, tie cordage around the stick and through the lashing holes, and you have a small knife with a handle.
While it’s not suitable for running an orienteering course, the 11mm button compass will give user gross direction, and most of the time that’s all that’s required to get out of trouble.
There is also a notch at one end of the blade for striking the included ferrocerium rod so you don’t have to use the edge of the blade. The protector is designed to slide onto the blade and keep the notch exposed to avoid cutting yourself when striking the rod.
As with any survival tool. the ultimate question is, “Does it work?” If I were going to use this as a primary knife for everyday chores, or a mirror to comb my hair with, or a compass to run an orienteering course, I’d have to say no. But for its intended purpose, I can’t think of a better tool. The tag is razor sharp and works really well for severing small sticks, fuzzing out a piece of wood to light a fire or even slicing into flesh. One thing I learned while testing it is pull-cutting (instead of push-cutting) works the best, especially if you haven’t fashioned a handle for it.
Dog Tag has special notch for striking ferro rod. When used with the protector, it makes a safe and comfortable method of starting a fire.
The signal mirror works great using the tried and true “boxing” method taught in most survival schools. To use it, simply extend an arm in front of you and hold up two fingers in a V configuration (also known as a peace sign) and “box” the aircraft or target inside these fingers. With your other hand, move the dog tag blade up to your eye, peer through the center hole and find the target between the V made with your two fingers.
While keeping your eye on the target, move the blade around until you see a flash of light cross over your peace sign. You’ve just flashed the target. Granted, the small size of the DogTag blade does not have as much surface area as a 2” x 3” signal mirror, but if you remove it from its protector, you will find that it projects a rather bright point of light on a sunny day.
Perhaps the best feature of the blade is that you can carry it around your neck or slip it into a hiding place (such as under the tag of your Levi’s jeans), and no one ever notices it.
If you don’t have a true mirror in your kit, Dog Tag blade is next best thing when it comes to reflective signaling.
About the only change I would make for everyday carry is to do away with the ball chain and replace it with paracord. I realize that the ball chain is preferred by some because it will break away and prevent choking, but it’s pretty simple to make a break-away paracord. And with paracord you have enough cordage from the inner strands to tie the blade to a handle, make fishing line, improvise other tools, or numerous other survival uses.
For last-ditch survival or as an E&E tool, I think the Dog Tag Survival Knife is one of the best ideas to hit the production knife market in a long time. I figure we’ll see a lot of these hanging around necks in the coming years. I now recommend them to my survival students. Suggested retail price is $36.95.
A.R.S. Knives Dept. S.W.A.T. 1026 Ivy Place Moody, AL 35004 (205) 383-6224 www.arsknives.com