In Nickel Mines, PA the police had to deal with a subject who had thoroughly barricaded himself into the school house before he started killing children. At Virginia Tech the police had to deal with a subject who had chained the three main building entrances shut prior to going on his shooting spree. In some cases shotguns can be used for breaching and such should be trained, but what about when a mechanical breaching tool is needed? The Delia Tactical Raptor entry tool offers four breaching tools in one.
Weighing in at just under 20 pounds - which admittedly isn't light - the Raptor combines four commonly used breaching tools into one unit. "RAPTOR" itself is an acronym that stands for Rapid Assault Police Tactical Operations Rescue Tool. Designed by Delia Tactical especially for law enforcement officers who need to gain quick entry to a given area, the tool can be kept in the trunk of any squad car. The overall length is 30" and the large majority of that (obviously) is the handle. Per the Delia Tactical published material, the handle is 1" diameter cold rolled steel cover by a 1" rubberized non-conductive grip. Having hit a few things with this tool, I'm glad to have that rubberized grip. Remember how it felt to hit something really hard with a baseball bat? The way the vibration came through to the palm of your hand and just SMACKED you? Can you imagine that with steel in your hand instead? The rubberized grip helps to limit that some and makes it more comfortable when you strike something with this tool.
The four tools that are combined, as you can see in the above photo, are a sledge hammer, axe, pry bar and a ram striker. Now, being realistic, when you combine four such tools into one unit there has to be some compromises made somewhere. The ram striker is where I see the most compromise made as compared to other single unit dedicated rams. The 3/8" plate steel ram striker on the RAPTOR can do the job. However, the ramming strength is a combination of the unit's weight plus how fast YOU the operator can swing it. Many rams on the market today are 30 pounds (or more) and so bring more weight to the hit. If you can swing the RAPTOR ram fast enough, you can get that same energy. The handle is certainly long enough to allow a good swing and strike.
The axe blade is, well... an axe blade. What do you want it to do? Chop through something. It will do that. In fact, since most axe heads aren't as heavy as that end of the RAPTOR tool, you'll get some surprising power out of your hits with the axe. The challenge I experienced was making sure my strikes were direct. The weight of the sledge hammer on the opposite side of the axe blade will flop to either side with some force if you don't strike straight.
The sledge hammer is what it is. When you just need blunt force to break through something, this chunk of heavy steel, swung properly, will do some damage.
The pry bar on the opposite end is functional and significant. When you're used to using a crowbar, having such a hefty tool makes you feel more impressive. For those firemen in the audience, you'll be used to this if you've used a haligan bar. With more than two feet of handle to pull / push with, once you've wedged that pry bar into a space you can exert a fair amount of force.
My ONLY discomfort while using / testing this tool was from the rectangular plate at the base of the pry bar section. If you're swinging the axe or sledge hammer, you want to have your hands down close to the other end to get maximum force into your swing. Everything rotates at the side of whichever hand is closest to the end of the tool. That means the rectangular steel plate at the base of the pry bar is digging into the side of your hand through the swing and on impact. Now, nothing got broken (on me). I'm not bruised. The steel plate helps you keep hold of the thing in reality. BUT, it's not the most comfortable sensation in the world.
Of course I had to try the thing out in the "real world". I searched around my area and found several condemned properties listed with various real estate agencies. Apparently the properties had been listed and then fell into such disrepair that they were eventually condemned. I was permitted to abuse a house to test the RAPTOR. So, I can happily report that:
- The sledge hammer works effectively. I broke several interior doors open and into pieces along with smashing through two sheet-rock walls with no issues.
- The axe head works effectively. Once through the sheet rock walls I needed to chop through or break out a couple of cross-supports and the axe head handled them with no problem. The axe head also cleaved cleanly through an interior door with no issues.
- The ram striker plate works. I busted into the front door with two strikes (hey, cut me some slack. I don't do it often). I broke open the back door with three - and then realized that it had a deadbolt AND an additional sliding internal lock on the door.
- The pry bar worked well enough to pull cabinets off of walls and open locked windows with no serious effort.
With my afternoon of destruction complete, I felt this was a tool I wouldn't mind having in my trunk if I were a patrolman again.
The only price I could find for a RAPTOR online was $275. When you consider the cost of purchasing the four tools individually, and then add in the value and convenience of having all of them in one unit, that seems quite reasonable to me. For more info visit Delia Tactical online.