The Product Testing methods we use for Product Evaluation varies depending upon the Product being tested. We don't test a survival tent in the same manner that we test a survival knife. Each item in our Product line goes through a Product Testing process performed by active duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces, experienced outdoors-men, survivalists, and by the NSC staff. The criteria listed below is used for Product Testing and final Product Evaluations.
The NSC is not affiliated with any manufacturer, distributor or dealer that has a vested interest in the Product Testing procedures we use or in the products themselves. Furthermore, no one has any influence on the methods we use to test the products we sell. The rating that a Product is assigned is a direct reflection of that particular Product as a SURVIVAL ITEM
, not as a recreational item that would receive "normal use" under "normal usage" or circumstances.Gear is tested using the following criteria:
: Is the cost of the tested Product reasonable, or are there similar items that are equal to (or better than) the tested Product at a lesser price? In short, is the tested Product worth the money? Is it a good value?Durability
: How well does the Product being tested stand up to abuse? How well does it tolerate salt water and chemicals, and in the case of a tent (for example) how well does the tent withstand the effects of sun, rain, and wind? Is the tested Product tough and durable, and will it withstand repeated hard usage and still function as originally intended? How much (excessive) abuse can the tested Product tolerate? In short, will the tested Product last?Reliability
: Does the Product being tested do what it's supposed to do, and how well does it perform that particular job? Is the design simple and easy to use? In the case of a tent, how easy is it to set up and take down? Can it be pitched in the dark? In a thunderstorm? Is there adequate ventilation? If the Product is a knife, can the edge be resharpened easily? Is the tip strong? Can it be used as a pry bar? Does the item rust or corrode easily? Is it fragile? Can it be used with gloves on? Is the tested item dependable? Will it function under adverse conditions? When wet? Full of sand or mud? In extreme heat or cold? In short, is the tested Product reliable?Intangibles
: Since we all shell out money for survival gear, aesthetics come into play when we purchase an item because we're human. All things being equal, a beautiful knife that does the same thing and costs the same as an ugly knife, will probably receive a higher intangible score than the ugly duckling. Other intangibles, depending on the Product tested, are color, texture, and comfort. Some products are also evaluated for stealth. (Noise and visibility.)
We don't cut corners on Product Testing. Every item in our Product line has "earned the right" to be there, and to preface it's title with the word survival. Now having said that, the composite rating a Product receives does not reflect how it compares to every other Product in the same category. Using knives as an example, a pocket knife is not expected to perform the same tasks that a fixed blade survival knife is expected to do. Which means a $25.00 pocket knife can receive a score of 100 while a $250.00 fixed blade survival knife may only receive a score of 80. That does NOT mean the pocket knife is a better survival knife than the fixed blade knife. It simply means the pocket knife excels at the tasks a pocket knife is expected to be able to do. Products are rated within their respective category. Generally speaking, the more expensive products are better in quality. The better the quality, so the theory goes, the better the Product will be able do the job it was designed to do. But not always. If that was an absolute, it would be a simple matter to pick the most expensive item (in any category) and walk off with the best of the best without any Product Testing being necessary. During the Product Testing procedure we've discovered some pretty inexpensive items that have outperformed like items that cost substantially more.
You can find tested Products in almost every category that fit a wide range of budgets.NOTE - We would like to take this opportunity to thank the hundreds of customers who made suggestions for our rating system. We are in the process of updating our product ratings from the old rating assignments to those that everyone can understand. ( See below ). Some products may still reflect the "old rating".
85-89 ABOVE AVERAGE
Products scored TACTICAL means the item is primarily used as TACTICAL GEAR. That does not mean the item will not function well if used in a Survival situation.