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Thread: Shovel Showdown

  1. #1
    Claptrap's Problem Solver



    The Stig's Avatar
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    Shovel Showdown

    I have an old *I think* German surplus entrenching tool from 1964. Think I picked it up at Cheaper Than Dirt before I officially boycotted them for mass idiocy.

    I thought it might be interesting to compare it to it's full sized cousin. Common sense dictates that the larger shovel head, combined with a longer lever, will make the task of digging that much easier. The question was...how much easier.



    Here are the combatants. Standard rack-grade spade from Home Depot on the left. Been in my arsenal for 7 or 8 years at least and has dug many a hole. On the right is the old-school entrenching tool. It comes in a leather case with buckles and sports a pretty standard maple type wooden handle. It has both a spade/shovel head and a pick portion as shown below.





    The head pivots up/down around a spring loaded pin. The pin is partly round and partly square. The square portion locks the shovel. pick into position, the round allows it to move.

    Pretty standard stuff.
    If you think that come SHTF you are gonna jock up in all your kit and be a death-dealing one man army, you're an idiot - izzyscout

  2. #2
    Claptrap's Problem Solver



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    The field of battle, AKA the dirt patch near the back of our yard. It's on a slope so I steal dirt from it for other projects and the natural erosion refills everything for me.

    The dirt right now is about .75" of dried crust and then soft, moist loose fill below it. We had a lot of rain this past weekend so it's not hard at all.

    With the standard spade it took 17 spade fulls of dirt and about a minute of effort to mostly fill a standard sized wheelbarrow (shown in the first picture). With the 90F temps and 50% humidity I was starting to sweat by the time I finished and took the load of dirt where it needed to go (as part of a different project).

    With the entrenching tool it took 35 spade fulls of dirt and nearly two minute of effort to mostly fill a standard sized wheelbarrow. Again, not a real shock here.

    What made the entrenching tool a drag was the lack of lever. With the standard spade you used your back to drive the shovel, your leg/foot to sink the shovel into the dirt and then your back to lift the dirt (with the aid of a 5' lever arm). With the entrenching tool you have a 1.5' handle and everything is done with your upperbody/arms. What a drag. I was soaked in sweat, and it was pouring off my forehead by the time I delivered the dirt across the yard.

    Damn.

    I then took the shovels to a more compacted and harder part of the yard. With the spade it took a good thrust of the shovel and my full weight to drive the spade about 1/2" into the ground. With the entrenching tool it was all I could do to get a small crust of dirt onto the blade. If I had to dig a foxhole with that thing I'd be one tired troop by the time it was done.

    Now, with the pick portion I was able to loosen up the dirt a little bit and after five or six swings be able to get approximately the same amount of dirt as the big shovel. But that was a whole lot of extra work to accomplish the same task.

    So I guess the point of all this is that entrenching tools are cool and if was the choice between that and my hands to find safety from incoming rounds I'd kill the first SOB who tried to take it. But in a civilian SHTF event it's going to burn a lot of calories to use it for any sort of serious digging. If your SHTF event includes any form of travel, and your vehicle has any way to include a regular spade, I'd highly recommend including it in your kit.
    If you think that come SHTF you are gonna jock up in all your kit and be a death-dealing one man army, you're an idiot - izzyscout

  3. #3
    This guy has "some" flashlights. Just a couple. As in, a metric-butt ton of em.

    Echo2's Avatar
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    I've been carrying the Glock E-Tool.

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  4. #4
    Dont worry about shitting yourself
    Gunfixr's Avatar
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    Sounds to me like somebody needs to come up with a "takedown" shovel.
    Comes apart to carry compactly, reassembles into a real working tool.

  5. #5
    I'll most likely shit myself



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    A take down shovel would have to be made of something pretty substantial to keep it from breaking. The long handles in a shovel (5' or so) has a lot of force exerted on them when in use. I have a lot of clay around the house and have broken a couple of hickory handles out since we moved here. I have went with fiberglass handles now and have yet to break one, but I don't trust them very much either. I will be stocking several replacement handles soon.

    Stig, I'm not sure how well the short foldable shovel would work around here. I agree with your premise, to carry a true long handled shovel with you if at all possible.

  6. #6
    Dont worry about shitting yourself
    Gunfixr's Avatar
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    Yeah, the not breaking part would be the tough part.

  7. #7
    I'll most likely shit myself



    bacpacker's Avatar
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    That's the part I had trouble with.

  8. #8
    Do NOT mess with him while he's pumping gas.

    ak474u's Avatar
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    Ever noticed that tanks, and other military vehicles always had full sized tools? I feel your pain on e-tool digging for sure. Better than using one's hands but not quite a shovel. If the sun wouldn't ruin them, I'd have a set on the roof of the truck at all times. I keep full sized tools for a vehicle INCH bug out, but I have a trifold shovel just in case at all times.
    Common sense is so rare these days, it should be re-classified as a super power.

  9. #9
    Where's the epi?


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    Maybe it was designed for tight/small spaces where a full sized shovel could not get in to? If you were low to the ground and under brush a long handled one would be much harder to control whereas the small one would give you a better grip and well "lower center of gravity" sort of speak.
    I apologize for nothing...

  10. #10
    Claptrap's Problem Solver



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    Quote Originally Posted by ladyhk13 View Post
    Maybe it was designed for tight/small spaces where a full sized shovel could not get in to? If you were low to the ground and under brush a long handled one would be much harder to control whereas the small one would give you a better grip and well "lower center of gravity" sort of speak.
    Entrenching tools, such as the one I was using, of a military nature, are for the infantry. This gives them an implement to dig with and clearly they can't haul around full sized shovels. Thus the short handle. So yes, they were designed that way for a reason.
    If you think that come SHTF you are gonna jock up in all your kit and be a death-dealing one man army, you're an idiot - izzyscout

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