Out of all of the weapons and tools that Cold Steel makes, perhaps my favorite is the Cold Steel Shovel. Cold Steel got their inspiration for their shovel from the Soviet Spetznaz shovel and executed their vision with precision.The Cold Steel shovel is in my opinion the best survival shovel available.
These Soviet shovels were developed for the Special Forces (Spetsnaz GRU) of the former Soviet Army. They first saw action in Afghanistan where the soldiers sharpened all four edges and used this little shovel for fighting as much as for digging.
Using entrenching tools in combat is nothing new; US troops have used them in every major war since World War I. At least one American soldier, Melvin L. Brown, received the Medal of Honor for heroic actions that included dispatching the enemy with his entrenching tool.
The Cold Steel Version Of The Spetsnaz Shovel
The Cold Steel shovel is merely an improved version of the Soviet designed shovel…using better, more durable materials. Cold Steel is famous for taking a good idea from another part of the world and making a great product out of it.
The Cold Steel version of the Soviet shovel weighs almost 27 ounces, which is about six ounces heavier than its Soviet counterpart. That is because the shovel head is 30% thicker. Otherwise the dimensions of the two shovels (both are about 20” long) is almost identical.
The Cold Steel shovel head is 6” wide and is 2 mm thick. It is made of heat treated medium carbon steel that is thicker and harder than the Spetznaz shovel (the Soviet shovel is made of low to medium air cooled steel). The steel is about as hard as a good axe head and is covered by a nice thick coat of paint..The edges come sharp and can be sharpened further to a razor sharp edge fairly easily with a axe sharpener or a diamond whetstone.
The varnished hardwood handle on the Cold Steel shovel is secured very well to the shovel head with two screws…there is no play at all. The screws are nice because they make it easy to remove the handle to replace it or modify it. The handle also has a nice sturdy feel to it in the hand. My only complaint is that the varnished handle is slick in the rain. That can be easily remedied by sanding off the varnish if you want. Also, the handle can also be modified by putting some grooves in it to improve the grip. Both ends of the handle still have the lathe indentations making it an easy to put back on a lathe to turn.
Uses Of The Cold Steel Special Forces Shovel
Cold Steel claims that this shovel can be used as a hatchet, axe machete, cleaver, hammer, and paddle. I agree. It is so very much more than just an ordinary camp shovel. If you have ever carried one the folding entrenching tools that are on the market you will probably never carry one again after getting and using this marvelous, multi-use tool.
Used as a hatchet the cold steel shovel can cut through a four inch pine tree in just a few minutes. It is also great when using it like a machete to clear brush. Used as a shovel to dig a fire pit or latrine it clears the dirt, clay, and rocks away with ease. Try doing all of that with your E-Tool.
The Cold Steel Shovel As a Weapon
For personal defense the Cold Steel Shovel is hard to beat. Personally, if I had to face an adversary that had one of these in his hand I would probably turn and go the other way. In a practiced hand this simple little shovel can be deadly. The 1.6 lb weight of the shovel is capable of doing a lot of damage…much like a small axe or hatchet will.
It throws easily and the blade sinks a couple of inches into a tree stump when it hits. It has both a more powerful strike and a longer reach of any knife. This is a very formidable weapon.
Here is the Cold Steel promotional video on their shovel including a throwing demo:
The Cold Steel shovel is a great buybest survival shovel that should put a smile on the face on even the most critical gear nut. I do recommend that you buy the Cordura Sheath to protect it and the rest of your gear, fingers and everything else that may come in contact with the blade. At around $35 for the shovel/sheath combo, it is a great deal.