A winch is essential in recovering a rig - but what if it's the driver, not the rig, who's stuck? What if fleeing the vehicle is the difference between life and death? Imagine a 4x4 plunged into a raging river or a four-wheeler caught in a raging vehicle fire.
That's why this month we take a look at three seatbelt cutters from some top brands - any one of which we'd be happy to have in our pocket or in our center console.
5.11 Tactical Side Kick Rescue Tool
Price Tag: $44.99
Weight: 3 oz
Blade: Made of AUS-8, the hook on the blade's spine can slice through fabric with ease. But the blade's rectangular tip could accidentally harm a trapped driver/passenger if the user isn't careful when snipping a seatbelt or clothes.
Handle: Pros: It's curved and has a big hole for the index finger. Cons: It's a tad short, forcing us to practically use a pistol grip.
Other Features: Has built-in oxygen-bottle wrench; comes with neck chain and nylon boot sheath with strap.
Overall: The blade's design-hook on the spine, semi-serrated edge, and rectangular tip-is most unique, but not user-friendly for all types of rescues. Still, with the sheath, it can be a handy tool that's built to last.
Benchmade Model 5 W Rescue Hook
Price Tag: $30
Weight: 1.2 oz
Blade: The 440C stainless steel hook can cut through seatbelts and clothing with speed and precision. Plus, its outer edge is smooth and blunt, allowing the user to move quickly without fear of hurting the person in need.
Handle: The compact design means its ring-shaped handle is not the most ergonomical. Getting a good grip can be difficult.
Other Features: Has built-in bottle opener, lanyard hole, and O2 wrench, and comes with a sheath. Also, Benchmade makes other models, including the Model 7 BLK W Strap Cutter.
Overall: If you're looking for a small yet sharp seatbelt cutter, the Model 5 W Rescue Hook is a sure bet. It's lightweight, effective, and affordable.
Price Tag: $124.99
Weight: 4 oz
Blade: Though not hooked, this folding blade is made of VG-10, a premium stainless steel that's the best of this bunch. And the blunt tip means never harming flesh when cutting seatbelts, clothing, rope, or other barriers while freeing people.
Handle: Made of fiberglass-reinforced nylon, this textured handle with pocket clip provides the most ergonomic, comfortable grip of this trio.
Other Features: Squeeze the blade deeper into the handle to extend a carbide tip out the bottom to break glass. A shrill in the handle can act as an attention-pitched survival whistle.
Overall: With its top-notch, safety-minded blade and innovative handle, the Assist is a stellar rescue tool and would be a welcomed addition to any four-wheeler's recovery gear.