Survival Wire Saws Do They Really Work and Do You Need One
If you compare the two pictured above you can easily see the differences. Quality matters, as it does with most survival gear. Both are designed to perform the same tasks, but the question is how well each one would perform the stated tasks.
From left to right, if you look closely at the first picture you can see where packaging shows the saw cable can be attached to a piece of flexible wood to create a handle (make a bow saw). The first one also includes a spare cable as well. You can also see in picture number one where it would be a simple matter to change out the cable by loosening the two thumb screws.
The wire saw depicted in the second picture could be attached to a flexible sapling in the same manner. Field testing however reveals that it can be difficult (not impossible) to get the correct tension with either cable unless the wood is “green” with considerable flex that would tighten the cable enough to prevent “kinking”.
The cable depicted in the second picture has a different weave to the cable, which makes it susceptible to kinks, which can cause it to break when this happens. The second saw does not allow you to change out the cable.
There are obviously a number of survival wire saws on the market of varying quality with various cutting edges, and some do work well enough for cutting wood, if it is all you have to cut wood with. If given a choice of course, a traditional wood saw is much more efficient and reliable.
This article is not a review of any wire saws and does not recommend one over the other. This article merely wants to look at other uses for wire saws, because frankly as far as cutting wood many leave a lot to be desired. They do however cut wood, but a serrated table knife will as well, and if you have several years to spend on the task you could get the job done.
Tip: To cut branches that you cannot reach you can attach Paracord to the ring handles, weight one end, and toss over the limb. Grab the ends of the rope, which are now the handles and center the wire saw and begin sawing. It is recommended that you have a helper when using this method, so you do not have to stand directly under the limb for obvious reasons.
When deciding on survival or emergency gear you would look at how user friendly is it and how much effort it takes to perform various tasks versus other pieces of gear that are designed to or could do the same tasks. Pricing is always a consideration, but it should not always be the deciding factor. Weight, and how much room it takes up in your pack is also a consideration.
A wire saw can be a vital piece of survival gear if it is all you have, so you have to be confident it can do what it states without tremendous effort on your part.
Most survival kits that are off the shelf, and filled with all you supposedly need will have a wire saw included, maybe even more than one. Retailers often times advertise by the number of pieces, so why not run up the count by tossing in a several wire saws of low quality.
The saws do not add any appreciable weight to a pack, and most can be carried in your pocket. Additionally, they are relatively inexpensive, so there really is no reason not to carry one, but before you ruin it cutting wood, consider some of its other uses.
1.) Cut rubber tubing such as a garden hose so it can be repurposed or use on a radiator hose to cut out a rupture so it can be reattached.
2.) Cut and/or butcher game. A wire saw can be used to cut the cartilage between joints, and even cut the bone in some cases, and it can do rough cuts on the meat itself. This would be a field expedient method however. If you have choices though, do not set out with the intention of only using a wire saw.
3.) Saw through heavy cordage made from vines, grasses, leather, and other materials.
4.) Saw through light gauge metals. Some of the lesser quality saws will get hot and break when trying to cut metal, but others in an emergency can cut light metals such as aluminum and copper in some cases. This could be useful if you are trying to salvage survival material from vehicles, structures, or bicycles. This would be labor intensive, so weigh the effort against the gain, and consider the possibility of ruining your saw as well before starting.
5.) Cut PVC tubing/pipe and this is particularly important if you have cached supplies in PVC tubing and had attached both end caps with glue. It would be very difficult to cut into the PVC with just a knife. A saw, even a wire saw, would be better suited for cutting PVC and other heavy plastics.
6.) Cut the tops off plastic water bottles or gallon plastic containers to repurpose for survival uses.
7.) Cut zip ties, rope, or tape if restrained. This would be an extreme situation, and a very unlikely one, but if you are restrained by zip ties, rope, or tape and could maneuver the wire saw into position you could free yourself and then free others using a wire saw to sever the restraints.
8.) Use to cut sections out of rubber tires that then could be used in an emergency or survival situation.
9.) Use to cut through heavy canvas, leather, or nylon straps or webbing.
10.) Use it to cut bread into slices that you baked over an open fire or use to cut other foods in some situations.
To survive you have to adapt and often times use what you find in your environment, or use what you happen to have on your person. A wire saw can be carried just about anywhere, so consider adding a quality one to your Everyday Carry (EDC).
Consider carrying one while camping or hiking and add one, or even two to your survival kit. You will not be cutting any sizable trees down and if you get the cable hot by sawing it will likely break, but there are other uses for a wire saw besides cutting wood, and with a little imagination you can come up with even more uses in an emergency or survival situation.
(Picture # 1) http://www.bestglide.com/military_survival_wire_saw.html
Picture # 2) http://www.outdoorpros.com/Prod/Proforce-Equipment-71010-Commando-Wire-Saw/9204/Cat/50