Coming on the heels of its successful introduction of its Military Utility Tool (“MUT”) family of weapons and EOD utility tools, Leatherman Tool Group has continued close coordination with military users in the development of its new “Raptor” trauma shears. Slated for public release in a few months, a “Beta Prototype” model of the new tool was recently provided for test and evaluation.
According to Juli Warner, marketing communications manager at Leatherman, Raptor has been in development for “about two years.”
“When we originally developed the ‘MUT’ tool we saw that as kind of the first in what would hopefully be a line of tools – not necessarily built off that exact same platform, but a line of tools that really specifically served the military,” she explained. “So after that tool launched we started looking toward the next thing that we should be doing for that marketplace. And the medical market within the military really came to the forefront.”
After exploring the market for possible tool needs, the company focused on the broad category of trauma shears.
“Those are something that they all carry of them,” she said. “And like we did with the MUT, where we combined a firearm maintenance tool with a utility tool, we wanted to combine the tool that the medic would need with enhanced utility.”
“The difference is that when you are using a pair of shears or in a trauma situation you really don’t want to have a whole ton of stuff on the product,” she cautioned. “Heaven forbid that you forget where some basic tool is or you fumble around while opening it. The fact is that generally the trauma situations are a lot more high stress and a lot more time sensitive. As a result you won’t find a whole ton of extra features on Raptor – but really exactly what the medics themselves asked for.”
Warner said that initial input focused largely on medics from the U.S. special operations community, with later expansion to include input from medics across the Army and Marine Corps.
“We spoke with all of them and they were the ones to really help us ‘dial down’ what to put on these shears,” she said. “The fact that they were folding was an idea that we came up with, based on the fact that our tools fold down. So we wanted to give them carrying options, where they could carry Raptor either folded or extended in the same holster. The holster is also designed so that a user can rotate it around on their kit to actually mimic hand memory – much like they might with a handgun. That’s not to say they would necessarily carry it that way but if they wanted to they could set it up so that the way they would grab for their shears is the same way they would grab for their handgun.”
In addition to the thought given to carrying and size, the design incorporated several additional features desired by the medics, including a ring cutter and a folding strap cutter.
“And we were able to put an oxygen tank wrench within the strap cutter in such a way that if the strap cutter was really what you needed you weren’t fumbling around to get beyond the oxygen wrench to get to the strap cutter,” she said.
There is also a glass-breaking tip built into the end of one of the handles.
“A lot of people have said, ‘You can’t break military glass with that,’” Warner acknowledged. “And we never thought they would. But the reality is that the military comes across civilian medical situations all the time and needs to break civilian grade glass – not military grade glass. Again, it does not get in the way of the main functionality of the shears.”
The shears are made from 420HC stainless steel.
Two marking scales on one outside blade surface include both ECG and CM markings. The ECG (echocardiogram) scale is for quickly reading the strips that are printed out to measure heart palpitations, while the CM scale is for quick wound measurements, which are always documented as metric.
“The blade is designed to cut through just about any kind of material – specifically on uniforms with multiple layers,” Warner added. “And they are also made to be re-sharpened.”
She said that Raptor’s handles are made of “Zytel,” a registered trademark product from DuPont.
“It’s a glass-filled nylon so it’s very lightweight but it’s also incredibly strong,” she noted. “And the melting point is very high on it. So you wouldn’t have to worry about placing it on extremely hot surfaces. But it does allow us to put a little texture in there so that if a medic’s hands are sweaty or bloody they get a little bit better grip on the shears than a smooth plastic or smooth metal would provide.”
“One comment that we got over and over again was that most people, especially out in the field, are not using an autoclave for sterilization of their tools,” she said. “So you could put Raptor in there but we didn’t do anything special to the tool to address that. It was an assumption we had going in – that you always sterilized everything in an autoclave afterwards. But they said that they don’t do that. Obviously there’s a washing down but not autoclaves.”
While declining to identify a specific date, Warner said that Raptor production models should become available “around May of this year.”