A New Generation of Tools for America's Warfighters

Article excerpt

Sometimes the little things can have a large tactical impact. At least that's the hope and expectation shared by several knife and tool developers who have begun to offer another new generation of tactical devices through military programs like the Rapid Fielding Initiative (RFI) or direct sales at Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) and other retail outlets.

Representative glimpses into the 2012 emerging tactical tool market were offered by Gerber, Leatherman Tool Group and Ontario Knife Company earlier this year.

Gerber

First unveiled in prototype form during the AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition last October, several new Gerber tools are available to military customers this year.

"Most of these items are available to the military now," explained Andrew Gritzbaugh, senior marketing specialist for Gerber, "at places like AAFES" in addition to military units.

Describing it as "perhaps the least interesting but probably most important item," Gritzbaugh presented the MP600 ST one-hand-opening tool.

"If you've been to Iraq or Afghanistan you've been issued this on the Army's RFI," he said. "The MP600 ST is the new version for 2012. ST stands for sight tool. ... We've combined some of the components and ? given it more specific use to weapons maintenance in the held."

The sheepsfoot blade now has a partially serrated/partially fine edge; it also comes with a carbon-scraping pick, a front sight post adjuster and a long Phillips head screwdriver. Additional features include a rotatable carbide wire cutter and modified locking mechanisms that simplify use with gloves.

Another new Gerber product for 2012 is a modified strap cutter dubbed the Crisis Rescue Hook. "It's like our regular strap cutter that you see on guys everywhere," Gritzbaugh said, "but it's much bigger, so you can get more torque behind your pull. We also recognized that medics were using this very frequently to cut clothes to access wounds, so we added an 02 [oxygen tank] wrench. If you're in the back of a combat vehicle and you need to expose a casualty's wounds, you can also adjust oxygen without having to set your tool down. It makes you a more efficient soldier. It also has a window punch on the end of the handle."

Another multiuse tool that has made the transition from prototype stage over the past few months is the Downrange Sharpener, featuring two diamond-coated rods for large and small serrations, rotatable carbide cutters for fine edges or tip, and a flat panel on the back for finishing a tip or edge.

The De Facto close quarters combat knife is also new for 2012. The four-inch spear-point A blade features dual serrations and is coated in the color Tan 499.

"It's your everyday dagger but with additional features you might want," Gritzbaugh said. "This was developed with veteran Special Forces operators. It has a spike pommel on the back and a very interesting rubberized grip. Another really nice thing is the frictionlock sheath: It mounts on a MOLLE [modular lightweight load-carrying equipment] belt, wherever you want to put it. Lots of people mount it on their left shoulder. If your primary weapon system goes down, you have this in a friction lock and can easily access this weapon."

An additional locking mechanism can be used to temporarily lock the weapon during airborne operations or other rugged assault phases.

Gerber 's new Combat Fixed Blade knife was created on the company's popular Yari knife platform. According to Gritzbaugh, the new knife is "full-tang construction; 154CM high carbon stainless steel, so it's very durable. It's designed for prying, cutting, ripping through things. It's not necessarily a fighting knife, although you can use it for that. But this is really about utility. This is your answer if there is anything you need to do that involves a sharp edge."

The knife features the same type of rubberized grip as the De Facto, an extremely low-profile sheath and works equally well with wet or dry hands. …