Built to exceed Russian Spetsnaz specifications, this tactical combat shovel from Cold Steel makes a great camp tool for the hunter, fisherman, and canoeist. With about a pound and a half of medium carbon tool steel and a durable hardwood handle, the Cold Steel tactical shovel is a good reason to throw away the old folder. Chances are your folding shovel didn't work very well anyway.
If you're base-camping and hiking instead of through-hiking, it makes good sense to bring enough tools to live well. No base camp is complete without a sanitary latrine and a good fire pit, not to mention all the other things you can build if you have time and not too many rules in the way. Folding shovels may be compact, but with all those threaded fittings and swivel joints, it's hard to find one that actually holds up to anything but sand.
The Spetsnaz Special Forces shovel is simpler and better. The flat shovel blade is almost six inches wide with three cutting edges ground for heavy work rather than slicing. Cold Steel revised the Russian design only slightly, using heat-treated steel twice as thick as the Spetsnaz version. The heavier steel cuts down the combat speed of the shovel but gives it extra strength for more common chores. If you want razor-sharp edges, you need to add those yourself.
Historically the combat shovel probably dates back to the trench warfare of WWI, when soldiers were rumored to prefer a sharpened entrenching tool over knives, bayonets, or clubs for close combat. Verified combat use tracks back to the Russian Spetsnaz, whose soldiers are routinely trained in the use of the short shovel as knife, club, non-lethal baton, axe, and throwing tomahawk. Cold Steel's handle quality is unpredictable -- test the shovel when you get it and use the five-year warranty if any problems show up.
A practical belt sheath is also available but at extra cost.
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