Editor’s Note: The following is a post by Mark Kakkuri, a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.
Read Mark’s previous articles in this “Top Five” series:
- Five Ways to Improve Situational Awareness
- Shoot Better with These Top Five Tips for Firearms Training
- Top 5 Ways to Carry Concealed When Dressed Up
- Top Five Every Day Carry Essentials
- Top Five Reasons to Carry a Revolver
Besides a mobile phone and a wallet (or a purse) — and, of course, a gun and a knife — one thing that’s probably always on your person is your keychain. On it are the obvious keys: residence, vehicle and probably a few others. Maybe you’ve got a key to the house of a relative or friend, a key or two for work, a key for a back door and maybe even more.
In a pinch, a keychain can become a self-defense tool: grasp the keychain in your fist while the keys stick out through each finger, attach a sturdy lanyard and create some kind of strike weapon, and so on. But a keychain is also a great place to store some very handy and innovative tools — for the mundane as well as urgent tasks of life. Here are my top five picks. Enjoy!
1. Key Organizer
I’m not a big fan of having all my keys jingling around on my keychain. They literally jingle and, sometimes, it’s just smarter to keep things a bit quieter. So, I store my keys in a KeySmart key organizer. Not only does this have the benefit of keeping the keys quiet, but it also keeps them organized. The outer left key on the right side is always the house key. Opposite is the key to the office. KeySmart includes several accessories for expansion — it’ll carry from two to 100 keys — and utility, including a quick-release clip, a tiny torch, a USB drive, a golf divot tool and a bottle opener. It won’t replace the electronic key fobs for your vehicle, but it sure will connect to them and keep things a bit tidier. Made from aircraft aluminum and stainless steel, KeySmart comes in a variety of colors, too. It’s not intended for self-defense, but swung around on the end of a lanyard, it’ll at least give you a fighting chance if that’s the last chance you’ve got. They start at $19.99 and are available at getkeysmart.com.
2. Folding Knife
Yes, another blade. There have been times where I’ve dropped, lost or lent out my main folding knife, only to immediately need another. So, it’s really handy when I can turn to my keychain for a backup. That’s where I’ll find a Spyderco Dog Tag Folding Knife (“Dog tag” because that’s its approximate size.) Difficult to hold and deploy, nonetheless it’s right there, ready for whatever smallish cutting task I ask of it. Made from aluminum and titanium, this tool is plenty strong and sports a robust, highly-engineered design. The sheepsfoot-style blade is a premium CPM S30V particle metallurgy stainless steel. The design gives me a surprising degree of leverage when I cut. Note: The blade does not lock open but stays open via a detent system, so heads up. It retails for $71.97 and can be found at spyderco. com.
3. Utility Key
Sometimes the best tools come disguised and designed as something else. The Swiss Tech Utili-Key looks like a key but is a 6-in-1 tool containing a flat screwdriver, Phillips screwdriver, micro-sized screwdriver, straight-blade knife, serrated-blade knife and bottle opener. Basically, it’ll do all the things you’ve tried to do — miserably and horribly — with your actual keys. And at 2¾ by ¾ by 1/8 inches folded, it’s as small as a key. Weighing only 0.5 ounces, it’s light too, and therefore a great addition to your keychain. Utili-Key is a really good tool, but it is not for heavy-duty work. You’ll need to keep it to more simple tasks. Generally, you can find this tool anywhere online for less than $10 or at swisstechtools.com.
If the Utili-Key isn’t enough for your keychain, then the addition of a multitool, such as the Leatherman Juice, should meet your needs if your needs include needle-nosed pliers, regular pliers, hard-wire cutters, wire cutters, a 420HC knife, spring-action scissors, can opener, bottle opener, Phillips screwdriver, medium/large screwdriver and a small screwdriver. At 3.25 inches closed and with a weight of 4.6 ounces, we’re getting into the higher end of utility and keychain weight. Leatherman offers a slightly smaller multitool called the Micra, but if you really want robust tools available to you, the Juice is probably the way to go. And here’s where you experience some tradeoffs: Juice tools take a few seconds to deploy, but they’re all there and they’re decently strong and therefore eminently useful. It retails for $69.95 at leatherman.com.
5. Keychain Microtool
While there’s a lot of overlap with the tools mentioned here, the point is to show you a variety of ways to meet your keychain tool needs. Obviously, some tools carry or deploy easier or can double as an impact weapon if placed on the end of a durable lanyard. Arguably the simplest of the tools is one that hangs on a keychain and requires very little manipulation to employ. The CRKT Keyring Emergency Rescue Tool (KERT) meets a unique need if you want an emergency seatbelt cutting tool immediately accessible from your keychain (covered by an included sheath). It also includes a bottle opener, flat screwdriver and wrenches — all very handy. Made from 8Cr13MoV steel, the KERT weighs 0.8 ounces and measures 2.48 inches in length. It retails for $8.99 at crkt.com.
Other keychain classics include the famous (or infamous) strike weapon shaped like a cat’s head, a mini Mag-Lite that can double as a kubotan, pepper spray canisters, Paracord keyfobs and so on.
What’s on your keychain?
For more critical information on the use of deadly force and other firearms and self-defense topics, visit www.uscca.com/GunsAmerica.