Functions to Look for in a Key-Tool

While nothing beats the multi-functionality of a Gerber nor the effectiveness of a good knife, you can’t exactly bring them everywhere. I don’t carry a multi-tool while in business attire, and I can’t bring a knife on a plane, especially if I’m carry-on only. Enter the benefit of a key-tool, the most stupidly useful thing I’ve ever bought in the “tactical” section of a PX. I bought a DoohicKey about four years ago as an impulse buy, and it hasn’t left my keychain since. There are many flavors of wallet and key tools, but here are a few specific uses I’d look for in buying one.

The point of a key-tool is that it takes less effort to use than it would hunt down the appropriate tool for the job. This lends itself to general functions over specific tools. Three functions make up 90% of mine’s usefulness: cutting, prying, and opening bottles. Since a bottle opener is technically also prying something open, that means just two actions were useful enough to justify writing about it.

The most frequent use of my tool is when a knife isn’t on hand. One edge of any good key-tool is tapered just enough that it tears through cardboard and other materials but is still blunt enough to pass TSA and won’t break skin without some serious effort. You can see this on both the DoohicKey and the popular Eat’N tool. If you buy a key-tool for one reason, this is it. While talking about knives, the easiest way to ruin a good knife is to try and use its tip to pry something open. The part I’m talking about on mine is technically advertised as a flathead screwdriver (which works in a pinch), but I’ve found much more use from this part using it as a very tiny crowbar.

After those core functions, everything else is just niche usefulness. Take the ‘wrench’ that’s common on these tools. I think I’ve used it maybe once over the course of a thousand days of it being on my keychain. It also shares the flaw of position with another common function, the ruler. Both the wrench and ruler can be in odd spots that make them unwieldy to use. They work in a pinch, but these are fringe benefits of having a key-tool. Don’t get distracted by a hundred niche uses these tools can have. Remember the ever-flexible 80/20 rule; 80% of its usefulness is probably only going to come from 20% of the functions.

Having a general multitool on hand saves time and headaches in a wide variety of settings. They’ll never beat specific tools at their job because that’s not their purpose; where they lack in efficiency, they make up in versatility. I’d highly recommend replacing the bottle opener on your keychain with one of the many key-tools available. You’ll be using it long after the logo on it has faded away from wear and tear.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Garrett Ferrara

Garrett Ferrara

Garrett is a writer, perpetual student, and seven-year Army veteran. Currently studying Anthropology and Writing & Rhetoric at the University of Central Florida, he's hoping to stretch the G.I. Bill all the way to a PhD. Bilbo Baggins is his favorite literary character; a character that traveled, fought battles, and finally settled into a simple life. He's looking forward to squaring away that last phase.
Garrett Ferrara

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