If you’re at all familiar with everyday carry or even the most basic tenets of home improvement and DIY culture, you’re probably familiar with multi-tools. These devices are designed to do a lot of work but take up very little room — most often being sized appropriately for pocket carrying. And while there are a lot of options out there, some are specialized in their design and construction to suit specific tasks.
In the case of this guide, our collection of EDC multi-tools are not necessarily for your average person. Rather, they were made to function under tense, dangerous circumstances. These multi-tools weren’t made to tighten screws or open bottles (though some of them definitely can). They were made to save lives. These are the 15 best emergency EDC tools for first responders.
A Different Kind Of Multi-Tool
While most multi-tools are generally useful — packing sometimes dozens of functions into a folding, pocket-friendly format — there are a few specific tools we were looking for in these offerings to rank them amongst the best pieces of first responder EDC gear. They are as follows:
Seat Belt Cutter: As the name suggests, these devices are used for cutting through the thick and durable nylon fabric of seat belts. They’re also designed to keep fingers out, making for quick work with little danger to the user or the people they’re helping.
Glass Breaker Tip: Almost always made from super sturdy metal — like tungsten carbide — these tiny tips are made to shatter glass windows of cars or homes, allowing for quick entry in time-sensitive situations.
Oxygen Tank Wrench: Commonly found in aircraft and ambulances, oxygen tanks require a specialized tool in order to open their valves. This is probably the least-essential tool compared to the other two (as you’ll likely find an oxygen tank wrench along with any oxygen tank you might find), but it’s still handy to have in a pinch.
CRKT Exitool Emergency Multi-Tool
While this certainly falls into the realm of being a first-responder emergency multi-tool, it could also benefit just about anyone with a car — as it was designed specifically to discreetly attach to your vehicle’s seatbelt. That way, if you find yourself in danger, you can simply grab it, cut off your seat belt, and get out. It also has a tungsten carbide glass breaker and a built-in LED flashlight, as added bonuses.
OKC Model 4 Multi-Tool
About as simple and straightforward as they come, Ontario Knife Company’s Model 4 multi-tool is a no-fuss, no-frills first responder life-saving device. It’s made in the USA out of sturdy anodized aluminum — making it both durable and lightweight — and it comes with its own MOLLE-compatible nylon sheath. For a quick and easy emergency EDC tool on a budget, this one is solid.
Kershaw Barricade Rescue Knife
Kershaw’s Barricade functions wonderfully as an everyday carry knife — with its 3.5″ 8Cr13MoV black-finished steel blade, liner lock handle, and SpeedSafe assisted-opening deployment. But it also has a couple of excellent features tucked away that elevate it into the realm of first-responder multi-tools. Namely, a seatbelt cutter built into the base of the handle and a glass breaker tip on the end. On the budget-friendly end of the spectrum, this is a superb option.
Leatherman Z-Rex Multi-Tool
The Leatherman Z-Rex first responder multi-tool has all the necessary bits you’d expect from a solid emergency response everyday carry device — including a seatbelt cutter, a glass-breaker tail, and an oxygen wrench. What it also offers that isn’t found amongst its competitors is the ability to swap out the blade once it’s gotten dull. And that’s a pretty handy feature that makes this amongst the top options. Obviously, we’d hope you’d never have to use a tool like this enough to need a replacement, but if you work as a first responder, it’s definitely a huge bonus.
Gerber Crisis Hook Knife
Compact and carry friendly, thanks to its sleek skeletonized design, but a lot tougher than its folding counterparts due to its one-piece design, the Gerber Crisis Hook is one of the most rescue-focused multi-tools around. The hook portion was designed specifically to be tough enough to cut through seatbelts, clothing, and more, whereas the tail end of the handle is perfectly suited to breaking glass. It also has an integrated oxygen tank wrench and comes with a MOLLE-compatible sheath — making this one of the best one-piece multi-tools for emergency response.
StatGear T3 Tactical Rescue Tool
Whereas most first responder multi-tools that have a glass breaker tip, almost all of them require you to get some momentum behind it to break a window. StatGear’s T3 has a leg up on all of them, however, as it has a spring-loaded version that can punch a hole in a glass pane with 5-7 pounds of pressure from a standstill. That’s not the only thing that makes this first responder tool excellent, either, as it also boasts a built-in LED flashlight, a fold-out seatbelt cutter, and (of course) a partially-serrated 440c steel knife blade.
Buck Knives 753 Redpoint Rescue
An American knife-making brand that’s been around since 1902, Buck Knives knows a thing or two about making a good folding blade. And wouldn’t you know it, that translates beautifully into their emergency- and rescue-focused 753 Redpoint Rescue knife. A bit more industrial-looking than a lot of their more iconic cutting tools, this one features a partially-serrated 420HC blade mated to a rubberized handle with a titanium coated tail end that doubles as a glass breaker and seatbelt cutter. It also features the brand’s SUR-Lock SafeSpin opening technology for quick and easy deployment and a slider lock for extra security in use.
Gerber Hinderer Combat Life Saver Knife
Rick Hinderer is a master knife designer. That’s probably why Gerber enlisted him to help them create their CLS (short for Combat Life Saver) knife, which is a tremendous everyday carry cutting device, as well as a first responder-focused multi-tool. And its list of built-in features is pretty extensive, including a 44A combination blade, a seatbelt cutter, an oxygen tank wrench, and a unique patented liner lock for security during deployment. If you’re seeking a tactical-style blade with emergency functionality, go no further.
OKC Quick Access Breacher
Don’t let appearances fool you — this USA-made device is not a beefy fighting fixed blade knife. Rather, it’s a non-folding emergency responder multi-tool. And that begs the question: how does it work. Well, the bit that looks like a blade is actually a 1074 steel breacher pry bar, perfect for wrenching open doors or windows that might be jammed or locked. It also has a sturdy micarta handle for excellent grip in any weather conditions. And it has a beefy glass breaker tip on the tail end that can help emergency responders get into vehicles as quickly as possible. It might not have as comprehensive a list of features, but the Q.A.B. is very good at what it does.
SOG Trident Elite Folding Knife
SOG’s Trident Elite makes for an excellent tactical everyday carry knife with its titanium nitride-coated AUS-8 steel blade, one-hand operation, and piston locking mechanism. But it also has a couple of other additions that elevate it into the realm of being a perfect first-responder tool — including a built-in glass breaker and a seat belt cutter. It also features a spring-assisted opening for speedy deployment, has a durable and lightweight glass-reinforced nylon handle, and an additional safety lock for added security.
Leatherman Raptor Emergency Multi-Tool
Probably the quintessential folding emergency multi-tool, Leatherman’s Raptor might look like an average pair of shears — but it’s got plenty of features hidden away that make it a good deal more first responder-friendly. For starters, the whole thing folds down into a pocket-friendly format that allows for easy storage on-the-go. But it also opens into full-size steel medical shears and includes five other tools: a seat belt cutter, ring cutter (for wedding bands), a ruler, a carbide glass breaker, and an oxygen tank wrench. It’s always hard to say that anything is the best of the best, but it might be true in this case.
Leatherman Skeletool RX Multi-Tool
Specifically designed for use by emergency personnel and first responders, the Leatherman Skeletool takes a lot of the things that make their folding multi-tools great and pares it down into a compact, lightweight, emergency-ready package. That includes seven built-in tools that range from a carbide glass-breaker driver bit, a serrated knife blade for belt-cutting, two sets of pliers and wire cutters, and a carabiner clip for easy attachment to your belt loops or tactical bag. It also comes with a 25-year guarantee and a nylon sheath for simple and straightforward storage.
Benchmade SOCP 179 Rescue Tool
Sleekly designed with a silhouette that’s almost reminiscent of a shark, Benchmade’s SOCP 179 Rescue Tool is a formidable pocket-friendly first responder tool if there ever was one. As it’s a single-piece multi-tool, it’s plenty sturdy — since it’s crafted from 440C high-carbon steel and doesn’t have any moving parts to break. But it also has a wealth of tools to make for quick action in an emergency, including a belt-cutting hook, a carbide glass-breaker tip, and an oxygen tank wrench. Perhaps best of all, it comes with a MOLLE-compatible sheath, so you can attach it to your favorite tactical backpack if you don’t want to pocket it.
Victorinox Swiss Army Rescue Tool
The kings of folding multi-tool knives with a history that dates back more than a century, it should come as no surprise that Victorinox has built a superb SAK with emergency responders in mind. And while it has plenty of standard inserts that range from knife blades to screwdrivers and more, it also boasts some emergency-specific bits perfect for saving lives. They include a glass-breaker, saws that can double as seat belt cutters, and even a pry bar strong enough to bust open crates. If you’re a Swiss Army Knife fanatic who needs an emergency multi-tool, this is the one for you.
Dango M1 Maverick Spec-Ops Wallet
The only wallet on this list, the Dango M1 Maverick Spec-Ops Wallet deserves to be on this list every bit as much as the other multi-tools here. And that’s not just because it’s crafted from aircraft-grade aluminum and a bulletproof DTEX water-resistant fabric. Or because it holds 10 cards, cash, and offers RFID blocking. Rather, it deserves a spot because it comes with a removable 10+ function steel multi-tool insert that features a belt-cutter, oxygen wrench, bottle opener, and more.
8 Survival Skills Every Man Should Know
Having the right tool for the job is only going to get you so far in an emergency situation. If you really want to be able to handle anything, you’ll also want to master the basic survival skills that every man should know.
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