A Surprising Bit for Your Assaulter Kit: The Baby Wonder Bar!

Perhaps in need of a rattle can paint job, but part of the tactical package.

It may come as a bit of a shock to the readership that was never in the military, but we don’t always have a million-dollar solution to a problem. It hasn’t been that long since the best Counter Terror troops in the world had a D cell Maglite attached to their rifle with hose clamps. So it shouldn’t be all that stunning to hear that especially early in the GWOT, we were absolutely making things up as we went along. And one of those solutions may be an item you want in your survival kit, despite the fact that it comes from someone unlikely to ever run an ad in a gun magazine.

Cheap, simple, and effective.

Despite living in a world of explosive breaching charges, sledgehammers, and battering rams, I saw one piece of gear grow more and more popular over the years. The simple wonder bar, aka the baby crowbar/nail puller. “Wonder Bar” is actually a registered trademark of Stanley and is made in Mexico. The name, however, has become synonymous with a class of very similar in size and function small bars. And if you buy it from Vaughn instead ($12.97), it is made in the USA.

With Springfield Armory Hellcat for size reference.

Why exactly would SOCOM’s assaulters carry one of these when they already had tools up to Stihl quick-cut saws and det cord? For all the things a small bar would do, not to mention everyone could have one at hand. The specialized tools get spread across the team, and one might not be near you when you need it. Experience showed that the Wonder Bar size could solve a lot of problems, and be light enough to be common equipment.

Effective against cheaper padlocks.

A Wonder Bar is great for post-assault, doing duties like popping open desk drawers and filing cabinets. It will also attack padlocks in a pinch, in one of two ways. It is tough enough to attack the lock directly, as a striking implement, provided you are dealing with Chinesium or worse locks. Most often, it is used to attack the weak point of any padlock system, the screws holding the hasp. Even at only 15 inches, this size of bar wreaks havoc on third-rate wood screws or nails.

Attacking the screws instead of the lock.

For both interior doors and exteriors without a deadbolt, the Wonder Bar is generally enough to pop the frame and bypass the lock. Not only is this less destructive, but it is also quieter than a sledge or other dynamic entry. Which is sometimes exactly what the doctor ordered. It will also take care of improvised barricades, especially those put up with nails. Let us also not forget the sharp point to defeat glass. Every one of us GWOT ninjas, usually as a young man, found out exactly how tough auto glass is. It takes the wind out of your sails when you muzzle strike a car window and bounce off instead of breaking it. Auto glass is tougher than it looks, try it some time at your local junkyard if you don’t believe me. The sharp corner of the pry bar’s pulling end solves this dilemma quickly.

Very effective on auto glass.

Any of which might be necessary for you in a survival situation. Remember, the first thing a breacher uses is his head. When it comes to SHTF load out, all of us are looking for multi-use and absolutely necessary tools. Depending on your area, the extra small nail puller might be something you need to consider.

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About the author: Clay Martin is a former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper, as well as 3-Gun competitor and Master ranked shooter in USPSA Production. In addition to writing about guns, he is the author of “Last Son of The War God,” a novel about shooting people that deserve it. You can also follow him on twitter, @offthe_res or his website, Off-The-Reservation.com

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Harry A. Taraskus September 20, 2021, 9:41 pm

    What a coincidence that this article popped up. After twenty-five years I just broke my Wonder Bar yesterday! I was dismantling part of a wooden deck to reconfigure it and was using the Wonder Bar to pry nails from the stud hangers. It snapped in half! I will buy another. After twenty five years and a lot of hard use, it didn’t owe me anything.

  • StevO September 20, 2021, 3:31 pm

    This tool is great. This was my personal forcible entry tool for 30 years on the Fire Dept. carried this on my turnout coat. Can open a door in a heart beat without that big halligan tool

  • Jonathan Elliot September 20, 2021, 12:20 pm

    It would seem that the “GWOT breachers” ignored the real
    experts in breaking and entering, The American Fireman.

    The Firemen have 300+ years of experience in the
    not-so-delicate methods of Breaking & entering…..
    and, it is well documented.

    Light duty pry bars and claw hammers don’t even make
    “the worst tools list”.

    Any of a number of Halligan bars/derivatives would be better,
    especially if one were breaking something more substantial
    than a “tin can RV door”

    Martin’s ego seems to have taken over his articles.
    The “Braggart BS” and the bad advice about equipment
    impresses only the armchair commandos.

    • StevO September 20, 2021, 3:35 pm

      When your a hose jockey advancing a line you don’t have a extra hand for a Halligan Tool. And ladder guys are most likely venting

    • Scott September 20, 2021, 9:04 pm

      His writing is always top-notch, with plenty of useful info, and a relatable prose (for folks that served that is).

    • KOldman September 22, 2021, 2:12 pm

      And nothing screams armchair commando more than someone from a different field bad mouthing kit advice given by someone with experience in a completely different environment. Then again, you probly do have a lot of experience humping your Halligan over long infils to fires at isolated compounds in conditions where you had to carry water, armor, helmet, comms, primary and secondary gats, ammo, ifaks, restraints, lights, chemlights, nods, fixed blades, a few crashes, evidence/crime scene tools, etc etc …. so clearly you understand the ounces make pounds concept. In fact you could have given props… the wonder bar is essentially a mini Halligan minus the side spur, but with your superior tactical breacher skillz, you couldn’t stoop. Consider a hint of respect in the future.

  • Dr. Strangelove September 20, 2021, 11:14 am

    I’m a truck driver, and I use one of these as a tire thumper and for social work.

  • Rex September 20, 2021, 9:11 am

    Great tip. FYI: The 15″ Masterforce pry bar is $9.97 and Made in the USA as well.

  • Steve in Detroit September 20, 2021, 7:22 am

    A Estwing roofers hammerhawk is another good tool. It has a large hammer face that is serrated, and the hawk part is bigger that those tactical timmy hawks I see, and a big plus is it is Forged.

    • Dr. Strangelove September 20, 2021, 11:16 am

      And still made in Rockford, IL.

  • Mark Miller September 17, 2021, 9:02 pm

    Great tip Clay. Perfect piece of kit for any bug out bag. There are a million reasons you might need to get past a lock in an emergency. It could be your own lock that won’t open, maybe you need to rescue someone.

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