As we saw in our previous articles, cutting some wood for a fire, making a shelter or clearing up the trail is an integral part of any backcountry adventure. In our continued focus on the different types of portable saws, we have so far looked at some of the best folding saws, bow saws and pocket chainsaws available in the market. There is another type of saw which is ultralight and compact enough to fit even in an Altoid tin – the wire saw.
In this article, we will look at some of the best wire saws for camping and survival available in the market. Wire saws, sometimes referred to as commando saws, rope saws or survival saws, are similar to pocket chainsaws, but use a wire blade instead of a chain blade and hence are extremely lightweight, compact and generally inexpensive. They can cut through small branches, plastic, and soft metal. Because of these qualities, wire or commando saws are an integral part of any bug-out bag, survival or emergency kit.
Read on to find out which are the best wire saw available on the market!
Do check out our detailed article on the best folding saws if you are looking for a primary wood processing saw for your needs.
Best wire saw listSome of the best wire saws for survival and camping are listed below:
|Size & weight
|Best Glide ASE Adventurer Wire Camp Saw
|- Made in the US, bi-directional cutting wire saw featuring a durable stainless steel spiral cutting wire and metal-ring handles.
- Bigger .050 inch blades and larger ring than the standard pocket saw version.
- Unique spiral design allows for more efficient cutting with less binding.
- Can cut through wood, plastics, bones and soft metals.
- Works best when the blade is held as straight as possible to cut.
|Rothco Commando Wire Saw
|- Compact commando wire saw with an 8-strand, 1/16" braided stainless steel wire and equal sized metal rings on both sides.
- Swiveled brackets at the end of the wire reduce torsion stress and minimize sagging while cutting.
- Spiraled cutting blades allow bi-directional cutting.
- Can cut through wood, plastics and soft metals.
|BCB Commando & Survival Wire Saw
|28”; 1 oz.
|- NATO approved Commando Wire Saw that features an 8-strand braided stainless steel cutting wire and metal holding rings.
- Swivel at the end minimizes stress and reduces sagging and friction while cutting.
- Can cut through wood, bone, PVC plastic pipes and very soft metals.
- Different sized rings at the ends helps in making snare easily.
|BlueStraw Survival Wire Saw
|29"; 0.9 oz.
|- Decent-quality wire saw made with 4-strand stainless steel wire rope.
- Features metallic handle with 360-degree rotational bands.
- Can cut through wood,PVC, rubber or soft metal.
- Available in a set of 3 wire saws.
|Coghlans Deluxe Commando Saw
|- Uniquely designed commando saw with an 8-strand stainless steel blade wire.
- Comes with nylon wrist straps on each end for cross -cutting wood.
- Can work as snare by passing one wrist strap through the other.
|SE Survivor Series Wire Saw
|- Stainless steel survival wire saw with a 304-grade 1/16" thick stainless steel blade wire and plastic handles.
- Spiral wire blades provide bi-directional cutting.
- Grooved 2.75-inch plastic handles make it easier to use for cross-cutting.
- Can cut through wood, plastic, soft metal and rubber.
|CRKT Ken Onion Para-Saw Bracelet
|- A 9.5-inch paracord bracelet, with a 7-strand, 9 ft. 550-paracord and a tungsten carbide coated wire saw securely woven in the bracelet for emergency use.
- The latest version has the wire saw plastic encased to prevent any discomfort.
- Wire saw can be unraveled in emergency situations.
- Available in multiple colors and wrist sizes ranging from 7.5-inches to 9.5 inches.
What is a wire saw?
A commando wire saw, or simply a wire saw, is a flexible pocket saw that consists of a multi-strand, braided wire blade with handles on each end. So, in its structure, a wire saw is very much like a pocket chainsaw. A wire saw is often referred to as a survival saw, commando saw or rope saw.
Wire saws can be used to cut through wood, plastic, rubber, bones or soft metals such as aircraft aluminum. They are extremely lightweight, compact and hence perfect for bug-out bags and emergency survival kits. They are, however, not as efficient or durable as the pocket chainsaws.
A pocket wire saw is available in different lengths ranging from 20-inches to 26-inches. Most wire saws are bi-directional, meaning that they cut in both pull-and-push motion, but they have a tendency to bind to the cutting surface.
While many manufacturers advertise that wire saws can be used for cross-cutting just like pocket chainsaws, they are not as effective and durable in such cases. They work best for straight cutting using your hands and torso or through a makeshift bow saw.
To summarize, some of the things you can do with a wire saw are:
- Cut a deadwood branch 2-3 inch in diameter.
- Cut things like plastic pipes and rubber hoses.
- Build a makeshift bow saw for cutting larger logs of wood.
- Use as a snare wire by passing one handle through the other.
The major pros and cons of the pocket wire saws are listed below:
In short, the wire saws makes for an excellent backup or emergency tool but should be avoided as the primary wood processing tool. You are better off carrying a folding saw, knife or a hatchet as the primary tool for processing wood.
In the next sections, we will look at some of the factors to consider before picking the best wire saws for camping and survival and share our top picks.
How to pick the best wire saw for your needs?
Whether you are looking a wire saw for adding to your emergency kit or as a backup to your hatchet, knife or folding saw, you need a saw that is reasonably reliable and durable, while being lightweight, portable and inexpensive.
With so many not-so-good options available in the market, you have to keep a few considerations in mind while picking the best wire saw for your needs. These factors are summarized below:
- Wire build and design
- Handle design and build
- Size and Weight of the wire saw
Wire build and design
Needless to say, the cutting wire of any survival saw is its most important part. So, the build quality and design of the wire blade is the first thing that you should look at, as it governs the performance and durability of the tool.
The best wire saws have a multi-stranded wire that provides bi-directional cutting, during both the pull and the push motion. They are made of rust-resistant stainless steel and are spiral bound to give a consistent cutting surface, minimize snagging and improve durability.
A typical wire saw blade should have a thickness of 1/6-inches or more; anything thinner would snap very easily while cutting. This is what differentiates survival wire saws from the pipe-cutting wire saws. In addition, it should be flexible enough to be coiled easily. Our top pick – the Best Glide ASE Adventurer Wire Camp Saw is one example of such a wire saw.
Check out the building material of the wire blade, the thickness of the wire and its design to pick a wire saw which is efficient and durable.
Handle design and build
The other important part of a wire saw, except for its wire is the handle. Ensure that the wire saw has a sturdy metal ring, nylon or plastic handles attached to the wire through a swivel joint. Swiveled joints at the end of the wire reduce torsion stress and prolong the life of the wire saw.
As discussed above, though many manufacturers advertise cross-cutting, wire saws work best with straight cutting either by making an improvised bow saw or by holding them straight in the hand.
So, metal ring handles are the best choice as they can be easily improvised to make bow saws for straight cutting. And if your wire saws have different-sized handles, for example in BCB Commando & Survival Wire Saw, it is easier to make a snare by passing one end through the other.
Many cheap models have flimsy plastic finger handles which cannot withstand the rigors of continuous push-and-pull and hence should be avoided.
Check out the design and build of the handle before picking the best commando wire saw for your needs.
Size and weight of the wire saw
The size of a wire saw is expressed in terms of the length of the wire blade. The longer the wire, the more cutting power it has and the bigger diameter-wood it can handle. Just remember that a longer wire means a heavier wire saw.
Most of the options that we listed have a wire ranging from 20-26 inches and weigh less than 1.75 ounces, making them perfect for survival kits.
Check the size of the wire saw to determine the best option as per your requirements.
Which are the best wire saws for survival and camping and what our picks are?
The Adventurer Wire Camp Saw by Best Glide ASE is really top-of-the-line wire saw for backcountry adventures.
This made in the US wire saw is Best Glide ASE’s middle version, between the smaller Spiral Pocket Saw and Spiral Wire Military Saw versions. It features a durable, multi-strand stainless steel spiral cutting wire with about 21 inches or cutting surface and 24 inches of total length. All the edges of the spiral blade are cutting edges. The wire in the saw has 0.050-blades which are bigger than the 0.040-blades in the pocket saw. It weighs around 1.6 ounces and is still pretty compact to be added to any Tin-type survival kit.
It features heavy duty metal-ring handles on the end. The handles are also larger than those in the Spiral Pocket Saw, allowing it to be more comfortable usage.
The spiral blades on the wire create a consistent bi-directional cutting surface which provides more efficient cutting with less binding. Moreover, the spiral blades do not cut through human flesh readily, making the Adventurer Wire Saw safer than other types of wire saws.
The Adventurer Camp Saw can cut through wood, plastics, bones and soft metals such as aluminum sheets. It works best with straight cutting by using your body and torso or by making a rough-and-ready bow saw.
Also, check out the video below on how you can use a Best Glide Wire Saw to make a bow saw.
The Rothco Commando Wire Saw is another decent wire saw for backcountry sawing activities such as cutting wood, bones or plastic. It may not be the cheapest wire saw, but its great value-for-money performance makes it a great buy. The wire saw is made in China, but quality tested in the US.
The Rothco Commando Wire Saw features an 8-strand, 1/16-inch braided stainless steel wire with equal-sized metal rings on both sides which are attached to the wire through swiveled brackets. Swiveled brackets at the ends reduce torsion stress and minimize sagging while cutting wood. It has a total length of 24-inches and weighs around 1.6 ounces. It is slightly more compact than the Best Glide ASE Adventurer Wire Camp Saw.
The Rothco wire saw provides spiraled blades that cut in both pull and push motion. Equal sized metal handles mean that making a snare by overlapping the ends may be a challenge, though you can easily make a bow saw with the wire blades.
Recommended Accessories to use along with a wire saw
Now that we have looked at some of the best wire saws, let us look at some of the accessories that you might consider with such tools.
Considering that you need some skills and use of both hands to process wood using a wire saw, it is advisable that you wear cut resistant protection gloves while cutting wood or other materials to prevent any injuries. Some of the best budget options to consider are listed below:
Since wire saws are simple tools and fairly cheap, they do not require a lot of maintenance. In order to keep your wire saw sharp and functional for multiple uses, wipe it with a soft cloth, apply some WD-40 machine oil and let it air dry after use. And in case you find the saw binding a lot while operating, you can simply discard it and get another one.
Final thoughts on the best wire saws for camping and survival
Wire Saws, also sometimes called commando saws, rope saws or survival saws, are probably the smallest and lightest tools for processing wood and cutting through other materials in the backcountry. They can cut through small branches, plastic, rubber and soft metal. They are generally inexpensive and can also be improvised to make snares or rough-and-ready bow saws. Because of Because of these qualities, the wire or commando saws should be an integral part of any bug-out bag or survival kit.
In this article, we looked at some of the best wire saws available in the market for camping and survival. One of the major consideration with these types of tools is their reliability and durability. We tried to address these factors by listing out only the options that are functional and reasonably durable and stayed away from the cheap stuff available in the market.
We hope that this article would help you pick the best wire saw for your bug out bag or survival kit. Do let us know your feedback by providing your valuable comments below. Until next time, happy camping!