The “Special Forces” Shovel = A modern day Sword?

Cold Steel Special Forces Shovel The “Special Forces” shovel or “E-Tool” (Entrenching-Tool) has been used by the world’s armies for a very long time.   You can dig with it of course (it’s not the easiest thing to actually use to dig a hole with, which I always found humorous), but it brings much more than that to the table with it.  So let’s take a quick look at what else this tool has to offer.

SpecsThe tool has some heft to it, weighing in at just shy of 1.5 lbs.  It’s dimensions 21 x 3 x 6 inches in size and is produced in Taiwan for Cold Steel.  The head is made from a medium quality steel and the handle is wood.  The sides and leading edges come roughly sharpened from factory, sharp enough to cut you so treat it like you would a knife. With the 3 sharp edges, it’s almost required that you purchase a sheath (sold separately) if you ever intend to pack or store the shovel.  There’s no way to decrease the size as with other folding shovels, but what it lacks in compactness it definitely makes up in functionality. Personally I like the “less to break” concept so it’s a plus to me that it’s all one piece. This also makes it easier to hold near its center of gravity.

The HandleThe handle can be removed and or replaced by pulling out 2 screws.  It can be a bit slippery, but nothing you can’t fix with tape and/or para-cord.  You could also cut some lines in the handle for grip then sand and refinish it.  We do suggest adding a lanyard (drill a hole through the back, loop some cord through it and tie it off) though for retention.

It’s a shovel or is it?First it’s a shovel, secondly and without much imagination, it becomes a very decent personal defense tool.  The flat of the shovel’s head can smash flat anything you like and the rear edges of the shovel can easy be used to hook and pull with. The 3 sharp edges cut and chop and the handle can be used just as one would use a stick.

The shovel can easily be wielded with either one or two hands.  Interestingly enough a great deal of classical sword (katana in particular) movements can be translated into how one moves the shovel.  This is exactly how A.C.W.A. Combatives chooses to use this amazing tool (in the right hands it’s a very formidable weapon).  Ancient mechanics, modern application!

CuttingHere’s a quick video from Cold Steel that shows the shovel cutting various materials (the movement here is nothing like we suggest, but they are just showing the cutting action of the tool).

SummaryThis is very rugged shovel and well worth it’s $20-$30 price point.  I’d suggest you have one of these in your vehicle (with a sheath) and in your “Bug Out” /Camping gear. Even though it’s not fold-able, the uses, strength, and tactical benefits far outweigh it’s lack of compactness.

Train hard, stay safe,


Justin J. Everman

Founder, A.C.W.A.


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