Strike anywhere matches are nowhere near as explosive as they used to be. They don’t light anywhere near as well as they used to. That’s not news to phillumenists.
So, of the imperfect field of four I’ve looked at are ranked this way:
3. Diamond Green Light
4. Red Birds
Uco lights about 15% easier than Penleys and have a satisfying phosphorus flare-up that Penleys are more deficient in. The splint “the stick” of the Ucos seem slightly better than the Penleys. Very slightly. The Uco box has a wider striker strip too; not that its that important, right? I actually suspect that the Ucos are made by the same manufacturer as the Ucos. Both are/were made in Chile. Their appearance is quite similar. Of course, telling a match from a match isn’t that easy anyways, right? The amount of phosphorus white burn on the Ucos makes them stand-out however.
Penleys light about 20% easier than Diamond Green Light. Diamonds do seem to have slightly better splints.
Red Birds have thin, crummy splints that break quite easily. Really, aside from striking on the box, Red Birds aren’t that useful. Calling them strike anywhere is disingenuous. They do light easier than Diamond Green Light matches. I am somewhat heavy-handed and oafish, which make the Red Birds more prone to breaking. Some people who are more deft might be able to get better results than I do, but I guess I have to review based on my experiences.
Overall, I’d say if you want the best possible, go with the Ucos. If you want to be be more frugal, the Diamond green lights. I would LOVE to see somebody selling master cases of the Ucos. I may contact Knife Country USA and inquire further.
Like many uninitiated match users, I naively thought that, when the striker strip on my match boxes was worn out — as it inevitably will be — I could still strike the remaining matches in the box by using something abrasive like sandpaper. If you, too, in a fit of pyromaniacal experimentation, have tried this, you know that this doesn’t work. It’s because the matchhead doesn’t have the phosphorous to catalyze the ignition.
These UCO strike anywhere kitchen matches are what I remember from my childhood and have worked precisely as expected. They strike on a variety of surfaces, including the backs of plates, wood countertops, pants zippers, and (crucially in, say, a camping setting) most kinds of rocks. The box also comes with an abrasive striker.
The matches light with a satisfying flare and burn well. The wood is of descent quality and sustians the fire well.
I have not tried the other brands of strike anywhere matches available on Amazon, but these have worked very well for me. I am tempted to stock up as you can never be sure if these will be regulated out of existence someday.
Not so with these (UCO) strike anywhere’s. Simply opening the box gave me some confidence; they looked just like the “matches of old” I had been expecting on my last purchase of the “other” brand. These had much thicker, longer sticks than the others, as well as MUCH more compound on the tips, both the red match compound, and the phosphorous white-tip.
My first “test” for them was on the match box itself, but on the bottom of the box, not the striker sides. (***Don’t try this at home; I was trying to relive a childhood memory, and somewhere along the line, common-sense left me for a little while.) The match lit…first attempt. No broken stick, no crumbling of the match head. It just lit like it was supposed to, even though it was not on a “rough” surface.
My second “test” was on the paper covered bubble mailer the guys sent me the matches in, simply because it was the nearest thing to me at the time. (Also, I do try to “re-purpose” items when I can, but not sure if this counts or not.) Anyway, the match DID light, but on the second strike. But again, no broken stick, and the tip remained intact to give me another shot. (***Probably best not to try this one at home, either, but I had to give it a go. ***Please refer to “childhood memory” in previous paragraph…)
“Tested” these things on just about anything dry, within reason: the brick wall, 2×4 in the lumber pile, sandpaper, concrete, rock, fingernail, etc. The matches just kept on lighting! (Good thing I ordered a box of 250!) Finally decided to try the striker on the box, and, of course…the match lit, and using VERY little pressure.
All-in-all, absolutely great strike anywhere’s, perhaps even better than the ones that helped to nurture another budding young firebug…Just glad they’re still around.