CAMPING - GEAR
Folding shovels with blade edges aren’t new, but the colourfully named Annihilate Assassin F-A3 is more than just a folding shovel: it holds multi-function survival tools as well.
For a start, this piece of kit is not your usual cheap and cheerful Chinese-made gimmick; it has beautifully forged shovel and knife blades of martensitic stainless steel and screw-apart handles made from aircraft quality aluminium alloy. Overall length is 615mm.
The multi-function shovel – spade, axe, wire cutter and chisel – features a patented multi-angle adjustment blade and non-slip foot grips. When the blade is angled at 90 degrees or more it can function as a hoe and that can be handy when clearing ‘ramps’ in front of a bogged 4WD’s tyres.
The blade also has drilled holes that can be used to aid aligning drill bits.
The handle sections screw apart to reveal a combination harpoon, saw blade and rope or seat-belt cutter; a smooth knife blade with serrated section; a high-pitched whistle for gaining attention and a ‘fire stick’ that can produce sparks when struck, to light a fire. Also, the 408mm-long handle can be unscrewed from the shovel blade, to become a mono-pod for stabilising a camera, because the tip is threaded to match all camera bodies.
When disassembled, the entire kit fits into a 180mm x 270mm canvas carry bag that also holds a handle length of synthetic cord, a wire-saw, for cutting thick branches. Total weight is under 1.5kg.
Each handle and tool section screws to its neighbour with precision and the joints are sealed by captive O-rings.
As those of us who’ve used high-end Chinese-made tools know only too well, that country is capable of producing top-quality products and the Assassin F-A3 is one such example. Such high quality dictates a high price, so it’s no surprise to see it priced at $369.50 on Amazon https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07GQPZ8DN?ref=myi_title_dp
The F-A3 on test
Our test unit arrived with instructions in ‘Chinglish’ and our favourite was the description of the knob at the end of the handle as a ‘caudal peduncle’. (A caudal peduncle is the narrow section of a fish, just ahead of the tail fin.) However, the accompanying schematic illustrations made the various functions quite clear.
We set to, digging holes and chopping dead branches, as you would when digging out a bogged 4WD and making a camp fire. The fire stick produced copious sparks when scraped with the back of the knife and could easily start a fire, particularly with aid of a little ‘starting fluid’.
The wood chopping blade was quite impressive, as were the small knife blade, the saw tip on the harpoon, the rope cutter, the wire-saw and the wire cutter.
Every tool functioned as it was designed to do and there were no obvious ill effects, like denting, chipping or bending of any of the components. Impressive stuff.
The F-A3 should appeal in particular to lightweight campers and hikers, but could be a useful accessory in any camping kit. Check out our video test: