Over the last 20 years or so, I’ve had custom knife makers fabricate a couple of compact “entry tools” for me, and I’ve tried some other production ones.
The convenience of having a tool on the tactical vest that can be used for prying, cutting, and other tasks is very appealing.
The tools I’ve tested in the past have been the size of a small to medium fixedblade knife, which made them handy, but they really didn’t grant the leverage for heavy prying or hacking. Blackhawk’s Small Pry, on the other hand, is a real wrecking tool that may be carried on the tactical vest, though care must be taken where it is affixed to the vest— more about that later.
The Small Pry is definitely larger than other vest-mounted tools I’ve carried in the past. Its overall length is 14.45 inches, a good portion of which is the handle, thus allowing good leverage and striking force. Weight with sheath is around 24 ounces.
The blade is 4.39 inches and constructed of D-2 tool steel tempered to RC-55-57 for toughness. At the tip of the blade is a thick, stepped prying edge. The singleedged
3.5-inch cutting surface may be used for slicing, but functions especially well as an ax edge. Behind the cutting edge, a ridged levering surface curves to meet a single guard above the edge. The blade is black epoxy coated.
The full-length tang is covered with a checkered over-molded thermoplastic rubber handle. The portion of the tang that extends from the rubber handle is flared to keep the hand from slipping off the tool and also has a hole for a lanyard. The rubber handle should give some protection against electrical shock, but Blackhawk does not intend—nor recommend— use around wiring, in the event the hand slips forward off the rubber handle.
Other than prying reinforced doors, the Small Pry can be used for many internal entry tasks. It should be strong enough for most interior foam core or other doors. It may also be used during entry to break glass and then rake the window to remove glass.
There is also enough of a hook to the cutting edge that it should be able to pull out blinds. It will hack through screens then allow the cutting edge to remove them. Internally, the cutting edge can serve as an ax to hack through drywall. Locks on light filing cabinets, closets or cabinets should be pryable with the Small Pry.
The Small Pry is heavy enough and has a couple of strong, flat surfaces to allow fairly heavy hammering or pounding when needed.
The stepped prying edge at the tip is one inch wide, which is too wide to function as a screwdriver. This isn’t really an issue, since most tactical operators carry a multi-tool these days for smaller tasks. As it should be, the Small Pry is intended for heavier chores.
As is typical of Blackhawk Products, the sheath and mounting system alloweasy attachment to military or law enforcement tactical vests. The sheath is injection-molded nylon and offers good friction retention, but there is also a Velcro® retaining strap which may be mounted where the user desires on the vest.
Since Dynamic Entry is part of the Blackhawk Products Group, the Small Pry’s mounting bracket is consistent with Dynamic Entry’s Tactical Backpack its. However, the S.T.R.I.K.E. MOLLE hardware supplied also allows easy mounting to the individual tactical vest. In fact, I can see real usefulness in mounting the Small Pry to a vest carried by individual officers for active-shooter situations, as they may be going in before tactical units with heavier entry tools arrive.
I spent an hour or so positioning the Small Pry in different positions on one of my tactical vests and reached some pretty obvious conclusions. Because of the length of the Small Pry, it does not work well to mount it on the front of the vest. If mounted handle up, drawing the Small Pry is very difficult. Mounted handle down, the Small Pry bangs against the operator’s thigh. Therefore, I decided the best mounting system was on the back, available to the dominant hand. I positioned the sheath so that I could draw the Small Pry over my left shoulder, since I am right-handed.
It is a two-movement operation, however, since I have to reach around under my arm to release the retention strap, then draw the Small Pry over my shoulder. Since drawing and using the Small Pry will normally be a considered operation, extreme speed is not likely to be required. Once drawn, however, resheathing the Small Pry either requires help or the operator has to remove his vest.
Neither situation is optimal, but the only other option I see is to carry the Small Pry in some type of leg mount, and unless the operator went tactical after giving up his career in the NBA, the Small Pry will be too long for the leg.
Normally, I test breaching tools on houses that are tear-downs, when someone I know in the building trades alerts me to a “test site,” but I haven’t had any available since I got the Small Pry, so I haven’t really had a chance to hack through walls or break and rake windows with it. I do look forward to the first chance to bang, batter, hammer, pry and chop with it.
Although I see some usefulness for the Small Pry for individual tactical officers on warrant service or other raids, they will have a dedicated breacher with a full array of tools. I see the Small Pry as being most valuable for officers who may need to do entries without having a tactical unit available. As I mentioned earlier, the Small Pry should be especially useful for officers who carry an active-shooter kit in their patrol car and possibly their personal vehicle. It won’t get them in everywhere a ram or Thor’s Hammer will, but it will get them in places they might not be able to clear otherwise.
Another use for the Small Pry would be for investigators who may have to force an entry occasionally, but aren’t going to be carrying heavy tools.
The Small Pry can serve as a useful individual tool. It is cleverly designed and built tough, and I’m sure creative cops will come up with lots of interesting uses for it. For military personnel, it would make a useful tool and a wicked close-quarters weapon if needed. The suggested retail price is $199.00.