Searching For TSA-Safe EDCs

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Searching For TSA-Safe EDCs
Check in luggages going through security line

Though always open to TSA interpretation, these tools just might pass muster.

It’s the job of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents to help ensure the safety of all commercial flights, which includes confiscating anything and everything from passenger carry-on that might jeopardize such safety. With the summer vacation season and the plane travel that accompanies it beckoning, the focus of this story is to avail you of some EDCs that might pass TSA muster.

Before continuing, there is always going to be that one TSA agent who will find something wrong with a carry-on EDC, no matter what it is, so be prepared for that eventuality. For the most part I read through the TSA’s rules and there appears to be some openings for such EDCs—not many, mind you, but some.

From left: the Leatherman Raptor, Big Idea Design TPT Slide and Gerber Prybrid-X.
From left: the Leatherman Raptor, Big Idea Design TPT Slide and Gerber Prybrid-X.

One is the TPT Slide from Big Idea Design. Lets dive right in to why I think the TSA would OK the TPT for carry-on. First, simply because, in my experience, the TSA has. Back in my trade show days I carried several knives that were structured like the TPT. It is a utility knife with a removable blade. I would throw the knife in my carry-on minus the blade. Since I was working trade shows, I would simply leave some utility blades in the booth for when I got there. If you don’t have a setup like that it is easy enough to just buy a pack of blades in a store at your destination. When you depart to come home, leave them as an extra tip to the chambermaid.

The TPT takes utility blades, the single trapezoid style. You need no tools to remove the blade. In other knives of this style I have seen many different ways to remove the blade. The TPT’s method isn’t difficult but it isn’t a cakewalk like some others, either. Once you get the hang of it, though, you will have an easier time.

A flat-head screwdriver/pry bar is incorporated into the handle butt. There’s also a socket that takes quarter-inch bits. It is a trim package and has a pocket clip for carry or sleek leather pouch that also holds an extra blade. The pocket clip is tight—tight enough that when you get it, give it a good stretch to open it up. Included are two faux blades. They look exactly like utility blades but have no edge. They would be great for chores like breaking tape on packages, though I would not advise attempting to take them through security. You might be pushing your luck.

scissors of the Leatherman Raptor
The author found the scissors of the Leatherman Raptor very useful. He carries a pair in his service bag. Good scissors can cut a variety of materials, from paper to cord and zip ties.

The TPT is a nice piece of kit and gives you a compact tool for EDC, though I can’t see why you couldn’t carry on any utility knife without the blades as long as it fits the guidelines. I do like it enough that it will see duty in my EDC rotation. Country of origin: USA. MSRP: $80.

Sound Substitue

The Leatherman Raptor is basically a set of EMT shears with a few tricks up its sleeve. If you read through the TSA guidelines, they exclude any scissors or shears with blades longer than 3 inches from the pivot point. The Raptor’s blades are only 1.9 inches. As well, I would figure the fact the blade tips are not sharp/pointed wouldn’t raise any alarms either. Keep in mind, I have not carried a Raptor on a plane. Unlike utility knives, I have no firsthand experience with shears to fall back on.

To carry the Raptor you have two choices: a plastic molded belt sheath and a belt clip. You can use the belt clip only when the scissors are folded. They fold up for a nice stowaway package. Other scissors features are an oxygen tank wrench, ring cutter, strap-cutter and a glassbreaker. The sheath will accommodate up to a 1.5-inch-wide belt. I know a number of firefighters who carry a Raptor on a belt daily. I carried one for years on my ankle first-aid kit.

TPT Slide’s faux blade cutting open packages
Use the tip of the TPT Slide’s faux blade to cut open packages and such. The faux blade is great in areas with knife restrictions.

It is a versatile tool with tons of cutting power. The one blade is shaped like a sheepsfoot and, if you use the point, can be manipulated to score or cut things. The Raptor might not be as quick to use as a knife but it does have uses a knife doesn’t. Best of all, it doesn’t incorporate a bottle opener. (As you may or may not know, I hate having bottle openers on everything. At the current rate, pretty soon humans will be born with bottle-opening appendages.) If I were limited to what I could carry for an EDC, the Raptor would be a good practical alternative to a knife. Country of origin: USA. MSRP: $79.95.

Light L’il Bro

The Gerber Prybrid-X might look familiar as it has a big bro, the Prybrid. The Prybrid-X appears to fall under the TSA’s removal-blade category, but instead of a utility blade it takes a #11 crafting blade. The latter might not be as widely available as a utility blade, though by no means is it like shopping for hen’s teeth, either.

To deploy the blade, depress a button and push the blade out the front. The Prybrid-X comes with a pry bar, wire stripper, bottle opener and two flat-head screwdrivers formed out to the tips of the pry bar. It is a design that takes up very little real estate in your pocket. It does have a clip but the paracord lanyard makes it easy to find at the bottom of a pocket.

small, sharp blade of the Prybrid-X.
Sometimes a blade’s ease of access is more important than its size. You can do a lot of chores with the small, sharp blade of the Prybrid-X.

It is a light-duty tool for opening packages, stripping Romex® wire, digging out splinters, etc. If working in non-knife-friendly places like some retail stores, it is a great tool due to its low profile. For the size and weight, I can see it in, say, a tactical pocket pouch or just as that extra blade crazy knife guys like to carry. Country of origin: USA. MSRP: $28.

The Challenge

Carrying an EDC can be challenging at times for many reasons, including regulations and workplace rules. I have a friend whose workplace banned knives. Hence, he couldn’t carry a Swiss Army knife to work but could carry a multi-tool because it was “not technically a knife.”

TPT is easily carried in the belt line
A trim piece such as the TPT is easily carried in the belt line. The author likes carrying it in a belt loop. It saves space in a pocket and promotes easy access.

Fortunately, the knife community is constantly innovating and finding ways to address situations where a “TSA safe” tool is needed, though such tools are few and far between. And that is the challenge. I would like to know if there are more such implements out there. Instead of utility knives, you just remove the blades from, list the more creative stuff in the comments below, the things that make you sit up and take notice.

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