We're Digging Entrenching Tools
By Adelia Ladson
What Is An Entrenching Tool
Although some form of entrenching tool has been used by militaries going back to Roman times, the first modern entrenching tool was invented by a Danish officer, in 1869, to be used by the Danish Army. It quickly became a necessity during the trench warfare of W.W.I and most of the militaries used some form of the design. Not only used for digging the trenches; entrenchment tools were also used as weapons for the close-quarter fighting in the trenches. The folding shovel design appeared during W.W.II and has continued to evolve with a sharp pick sometimes integrated into the design.
Why Do I Need An Entrenching Tool?
The difference between surviving or not, whether bugging-out or camping-out is having the right tools in your gear. One of the most important tools you can have is an entrenching tool that can perform survival tasks like building a fire, finding water and food, and building a shelter. Today's entrenching tools are much more than just a folding shovel. They are multi-purpose survival tools that have features like a cutting edge, penetrating point, compass, screwdrivers and possibly a cord-cutter.
How Do I Use An Entrenching Tool?
With an entrenching tool in your gear, performing tasks that allow you to accomplish the basic survival skills mentioned above are easy. The first thing that you need for survival is water and, sometimes, you're going to have to dig for it. So, having a shovel is a no-brainer. It's definitely better than trying to dig with your hands or a makeshift digging implement. One of the keys to survival is not over-expending the energy needed to keep your body going. The next thing that you need to build is a fire for warmth, cooking and protection from predators. An entrenching tool will typically have an integrated saw edge or axe blade that will allow you to chop-up sticks and limbs to build a fire and, of course, you can use the shovel to dig a fire pit. If you're building a survival shelter, you can also use the entrenching tool to fashion poles or cut cordage for your shelter and, then, you can dig a trench around your shelter to keep the water out. As far as procuring food, which is the last basic survival element, you can dig a trap for small prey or use the bladed edge to cut cordage and a stick to make a simple snare.
Entrenchment Tools We Dig!
As far as what's out there on the market, here are four entrenchment tools that have exactly the qualifications that you're looking for, which is solid performance and lots of features.
M48 Folding Entrenching Tool
The M48 Folding Entrenching Tool can be carried or stored anywhere with its compact, fold-down size. It has a solid, 1050 high carbon steel construction with an aluminum turn-cap and a black, heat-treated finish. The round point shovel head features saw serrations on one side and footsteps on each side. The 18 1/4” overall length entrenching tool folds down to fit into a sturdy 8 3/4”x 6 1/4” 600D nylon belt pouch with Velcro closure.
M48 Tactical Shovel
Another survival shovel from M48, the Tactical Shovel cuts, chops, saws, digs and can even fend off an assailant. The tool has a tempered stainless steel head for strength and a black oxide coating for corrosion resistance. Each edge of the shovel has been shaped and sharpened for maximum cutting versatility including concave beveling on one side for chopping, serrations on the opposite side for sawing and edges that converge into a penetrating point. The grippy handle is made of advanced glass-fiber-reinforced nylon and the shovel head can be protected by a custom nylon sheath. The survival shovel is 16 1/4" in overall length.
BugOut Multi-Function Entrenching Tool
I really find that the BugOut Multi-Function Entrenching Tool is the absolute forerunner of entrenching tools. Starting from the top, it has a stainless steel shovel head that features a saw, knife, hook knife, cleaver/ruler, wrenches and a bottle opener. Moving down, the break down, textured handle is made of heavy-duty aluminum and each of the three sections houses a tool including both a flat head and Phillips screwdriver, a saw with a cord cutter and unscrewing the pommel reveals the fire striker/emergency whistle. The pommel also features a compass set into it and lanyard holes provide another carry option. The entrenching tool is 33” in length when fully put together and a steel lock allows the shovel to be secured into position. The length can be adjusted for need by using either one, two or all three of the sections. The BugOut Multi-Function Folding Entrenchment Tool comes housed in a durable nylon pouch with a belt loop and adjustable strap.
BugOut Small Multi-Function Entrenching Tool
The BugOut Small Multi-Function Folding Entrenchment Tool is the little brother of the entrenching tool above. The only difference is that, if you're looking for a little more compact, it is 30 3/4" in overall length. It has the same features as the larger model.