Survival Spears the Old Way

Cavalry lance by Paul Chen of Hanwei Forge

Cavalry lance by Paul Chen of Hanwei Forge

A recent project of mine was to find a good trail spear (like the Paul Chen Lance at left). I’ve written about the modern versions on my backpacking site and don’t much like them–too fragile, too complicated, too many problems. What I wanted was a real spear that would fit the modern situation. Functional, but discreet–something you could carry with a sheath over it so the people you pass won’t be too upset by the crazy man with the spear. Also legal, meaning the blade can’t be concealed in the shaft. The days of bamboo cane swords are long past. What I don’t want is a survival spear that I have to break down and reassemble while a mountain lion chews on me–that seems silly.

Yari by Paul Chen of Hanwei Forge

Yari by Paul Chen of Hanwei Forge

Many of the kung fu spears I’ve looked at seem like too much–I’m sure they made good sense in other days but today they’d just create legal problems. The Paul Chen yari [Yari Md: SH2152] is the one that almost passes through the centuries successfully. If it wasn’t quite so beautiful and lethal in appearance I’d go with it, even though it’s a bit heavy to be using as a walking staff. Cover the blade with a leather sheath and you could pass as a civilized person. Minor issues include the ferrule at the hilt of the blade and the lacquer finish–I’m sure either one would quickly generate some blisters. Probably the yari was meant for carrying on the shoulder instead of banging into rocks and dirt.

The Paul Chen lance point and matching foot [Lance] seem perfect, however. A simple tube sheath with a nondescript covering meets all my camouflage standards without interfering with use of the blade. As with a fixed blade sheath knife, the lance is always ready to use. A weight of about half a pound isn’t too much, considering the emergency value of a good spear. This lance is a remake of the same version used by the British cavalry, and is meant to fit on a shaft of ash or bamboo. You save a little money by doing that work yourself. That means it’s possible to go ultralight, if you can scrounge up a carbon fiber rod to fit. I’d stick with the natural materials because they’re more hand friendly.

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About JTHats

Avid backpacker and outdoorsman with old skills and interests in old ways of doing things; equally fascinated by electronics, from the days of Sputnik, to the Zilog Z80A, to the present day of black box circuitry. Sixty years of experience with growing my own food and living simply. Certified electronics technician, professional woodturner, woodcarver, and graduate of two military survival courses -- Arctic and Jungle.

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