xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' My review of the Hawke HASP ~ The Prepared Guy

Saturday, June 6, 2015

My review of the Hawke HASP

First, I have to say, and let me frame this as well as most of my future product reviews, that I am a skeptic.  I guess I have been burned one too many times so I rarely take anyone at their word, believe what I am told, or accept the pitch of a sales man without performing my own due diligence first.  You're not likely to find a review by me of a product that does not cause me to feel that it is gimmicky; that I'm somewhat skeptical toward at first or something that is truly exceptional.  And I probably won't waste my time writing a review of a product that isn't worth it.  We'll have too see about that though.

Which brings me to my honest review of the Mykel Hawke HASP.  I met Mykel at the PrepperCon convention in SLC in April and had the chance to listen to the panel he participated on Saturday afternoon.  The discussion was excellent and I gained a greater appreciate of his skills, experience and charisma.  I was introduced to the HASP a few months before but didn't have the chance to swing it until just recently.

Not being big into Bushcraft like some other preppers I did not immediately appreciate the advantages of the HASP the first time I saw it.  When a tool or other device attempts to be something that 'does it all' I am immediately skeptical.  Rarely do I find anything that does more than one specific task very well.  It may excel at one task and be mediocre at performing its other claims or because of the attempt to design it to perform multiple functions the outcome is that it performs poorly at all its designed tasks.  This is what I consider to be a gimmick.

When I was asked to give my review of the HASP I was excited to do so.  Check out the PrepperConTV YouTube channel for my quick field review of the HASP.

My first thoughts about the HASP were that it looked like one of those gimmicks I was referring to above but my second thought was that "Myke knows what he's doing, so I'll give it a try".  My initial impression of the tool was not all that positive.  The quality of the grind and the appearance of the quality of the workmanship overall was sub-par, but then I looked up the price and thought "OK, let's see where this goes".  The HASP and it's sheath are stamped with "Made in El Salvador".  I thought that this is the main reason why the price was low and that my opinion of the quality of the tool was less than desirable.  I'm a big proponent of "Made in the USA" products, but more on this later.  Mykel's web site states that the HASP is made of 'high carbon steel".  I thought to myself "That's good.  But why isn't it made of 1095 and stamped on the tang with the exact steel that was used?"

There are many different types of high carbon steel.  When I look at knives and survival tools the first thing that I look at, besides the design, is the steel that was used, then I try to determine the reason why the manufacturer chose to use that particular metal.  I then thought that the thickness of the steel was maybe too thin at 1/8", that a thicker 3/8" - 1095 steel would be the right choice but I still held back my judgment.

One immediate thing that I was impressed with was the feel of the HASP in my hands including the grip, the balance and the weight.  The quality of the fit and finish of the sheath is also a plus.

As I admitted, bushcraft does not take up a significant portion of my time spent prepping.  I do feel that it is an important skill to practice and so I spend some time every year working on a shelter a short hike from our home.  I primarily use this as quality time to spend with my son as well as to work on his outdoor skills.

This week we made the regular pilgrimage to our shelter location and gave the HASP a try.  I generally carry a 5" long, 1/4" thick 1095 steel 'survival' knife which I use to cut branches that we add to the shelter.   Needless to say it takes a little while to baton through a 1" or larger diameter branch.  This is where the HASP truly excelled!  The 3 lb. weight seemed ideal for this task; not too heavy to swing for extended periods of time and just heavy enough to make cutting a breeze.  The shape and material of the handle (I love Micarta!) seemed to make it effortless to retain in my hands and not once do I remember feeling it slip even when they got a little sweaty.  The length of the handle is ideal.  It is plenty long enough to swing with two hands and it's balanced and light enough to choke up on or hold near the end of the handle with only one.  I also found the same to be true when digging with one hand or two.

The tip of the HASP is the shape of a pointed shovel and is ground down to a point that is not quite sharp enough to cut with.  This makes the tip vulnerable to damage from rocks but the advantage is that it breaks into hard ground easily.  This is the part of the tool that does not excel as it was designed, or does it?  It clearly will not do well in rocky ground but it quickly became clear to me that it performs much better than attempting to dig with a knife as I have done before.  Digging with a knife will compromise your cutting edge thus hampering your ability to use it for what the knife was meant.  Where the shovel meets the brush hook is the pick.  I found this to be very useful at quickly loosening the soil.

The HASP excels at wood cutting tasks.  The brush hook is something that I've never seen in a survival tool, it works extremely well and is a perfect compliment to the opposite side of the HASP.

So, after actually using it for what it is meant for my eyes were opened and I understood why Mykel designed and built it the way he did.  This tool is meant to be used!  It is meant to be chipped and dinged and sharpened and used again.  It's high carbon steel holds an edge well enough to cut all day but is then easy enough to sharpen in the field and keep going.  It's inexpensive enough for me not to feel that I don't want to abuse it, at least just a little.  It is built for real survival work, which means that it doesn't have to be ground and shaped perfectly cuz i'm just gonna ding it up anyway.  The fact is that it doesn't have to be perfectly refined to work property.

There is no tool that is perfect for all tasks.  There are no tools that are indestructible.  If it has a strength then likely is has a weakness on the opposite end.  If it excels at one particular task then likely it does poorly at another.  Use a tool for the purpose it was designed for and it likely won't let you down.  The HASP works very well for what it was designed to do!

Mykel, if you happen to read this I want to tell you that I love this tool!  I will be buying one of my own and carrying it often, along with a 3 - 4" fixed blade knife as its compliment.  I also have a few recommendations for you if you don't mind.  First, don't change a thing!  Leave it just the way it is! Second, there could be merit in designing a few other versions of the HASP.  Make a slightly larger version and have TOPS knives make it for you.  ( I love TOPS knives).  Make it from 3/8", coated 1095.  Make it a few inches longer and the head a little taller and broader.  Add a lanyard hole near the hand guard since this one will be a little heavier.  Then also make one that is smaller.  Use a shorter handle but still long enough for two hands if you choke up on the neck,  Include a small choil and some jimping on the neck.   Use 1/8" 1095 so that it will be easier and lighter to pack around.  Give this one a kydex sheath.

Now that i'm done with my review and have to give this HASP back I feel hesitant to part with it. Let me say it again... I really do like this tool! Myke, you're a genius!        

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The purpose of this site is to provide you with information about what I have learned, my experience, and what my motivations are as a Prepared Guy. I have always felt driven to be ready for any situation by something powerful deep inside me. Being prepared has always served me well. I feel compelled to help others do the same.
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