Just as clip-it folding knives have become an unofficial part of the duty uniform for the military, EMS, and law enforcement, so, too, have pocket tools. These remarkable little knives offer all the capabilities of a small chest of tools in a palm-sized object.
There are a wide variety of pocket tools available, but one of my favorites is the Paratool S31 from SOG Specialty Knives and Tools. What makes this tool so different from many of the others on the market is the pivoting action of its jaws to the handle. This design allows you to grab items at odd angles (from 140 degrees to 180 degrees) and still have the pliers function normally.
Another feature unique to the Paratool is the design of the handles. Ventilation/drainage holes allow debris and liquids to drain out of the handles. This facilitates cleaning and prolongs the life of the tool.
The handles also double as a ruler: one for metric, the other for U.S. inch measurements. Like any ruler, the handles also make good straight edges for diagramming an accident report or marking out a set of blueprints for a tactical insertion.
Like they do on other pocket tools, the tool blades fold into and out of the Paratool's handles. The blades include a file with a coarse and fine cut side, a punch, a can opener, a small flat head screwdriver, a serrated knife blade, a flat knife blade, a Philip's head screwdriver, a medium flat head screwdriver, and a large flat head screwdriver. These tools can handle pretty much anything that occurs during a shift, and off duty. Granted, the Paratool can't help you do everything that you can do with your favorite set of Craftsman or Snap-On tools. But can you carry a tool box on your duty or pants belt?
The pliers of the Paratool S31 are top notch. They are sturdy enough to cut household wiring or something as lightweight as a paper clip. The jaws of the pliers produce a firm grip on nuts and bolts or something as thin as the individual strands of nylon cord in 550 rope.
With all of its features, you might think the Paratool is large and bulky. This is not the case. It weighs a scant 7 ounces, is 4.3 inches long closed and only 6.4 inches long when opened for use. The Paratool is lighter and smaller than many items that are carried on your belt or in your briefcase and most likely many times more useful.
The SOG Paratool S31 is available in two stainless-steel versions, one shiny metal and one blackened metal. SOG chose stainless steel for its durability and because it is more rust resistant than carbon steel. For the user, that means if you drop your Paratool in a puddle or are using it during a scuba operation, it will not be corroded by the end of your shift.
SOG's Paratool S31 is a tool for everyday use that reflects its maker's commitment to the missions of men and women in uniform. It's a versatile and durable pocket tool that can help you accomplish any number of tasks and it can take what the duty day dishes out.
Folded Length: 4.3 inches
Open Length: 6.4 inches
Weight: 7 ounces
Construction: Stainless Steel
Scott Smith is a former active-duty Army MP. He is airborne qualified and currently serving with the 171st Security Police Squadron of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard.