So, I know most people don’t know what a fire piston is. I didn’t either until recently. Basically, it rapidly compresses air when you slam it down on a hard surface to ignite a piece of tinder on top of the piston. Similar to how diesel engines work.
I had read about them on a few survival forums, and decided to grab one the next time I saw a quality one available. I traded an extra knife to michaelmcgo over at bladeforums for a two-piece aluminum one. Here is a video that he made:
Yes, it really is that easy. I think he used char cloth in that video, and he sent a bunch with the piston he sent me. I loaded it up, went outside, slammed it on a landscape timber, and voila! A nice little ember was burning in the char cloth. Blow on it gently, and it keeps going long enough to dump in a tinder pile to get a nice fire going. I know that a firesteel or Bic is much better to carry, but fire pistons sure are neat, and work as long as you can find some tinder.
Here is a link to instructions on how to build a big ugly one yourself, if you don’t want to fork over the cash to buy a machined one: