Yes, I am an inveterate gear whore. I am partial to flashlights, knives, multi-tools, EMS equipment, and watches, but when I get my hands on something that fits multiple categories, I am particularly giddy. In this case, the StatGear T3 Tactical Auto Rescue Tool (pictured below) hits 4 out of 5.

StatGear T3 Tactucal Auto Rescue Tool. Image © Statgear.comI picked up a StatGear T3 and the StatGear EMS Tek-Tool (reviewed here) pretty much at the same time. There is a bit of overlap between the two tools (both have a steel tip window punch, both have a 440C steel strap cutter/hook knife) but there’s a lot more difference than similarity in my mind. Both have their place in my preverbal tool chest.

The first impression was good. The T3 packaging was a normal plastic peg-hook display package with those impossible-to-open seams that mid-range retail knives are usually in, where the Tek-Tool was a small box, more like a pen. The T3 was displayed as partially opened in the package, with both the hook blade and the half-serrated drop point blade exposed. The semi-rigid sheath was on the back side of the package.

A word about the sheath: It is a bit on the bulky side, due to it being semi-rigid. That means that the pocket is pre-formed and holds its shape even without the tool in the sheath. The flap of the sheath is secured closed with a snap on the front. Hook and loop would also allow the sheath to self-secure, where the snap has to be positively closed. The back of the sheath has three loops: Two for horizontal carry, and one for vertical carry. The option of waring the sheath in either orientation is a good thing.

Both the hook blade and the drop point blade have a thumb-stud to assist opening. The drop point is on one edge of the handle, while the hook is back-to-back with it, on the other side. In this configuration, the cutting edges of the blades are essentially opposite each other. I tried to open both blades while wearing my Mechanix fleece gloves (the thickest ones that I have available) and was pleased to see that both blades were s chinch to open. The blades are both liner lock, so closing them is a challenge one-handed, but they appear to be very secure against accidental closure when open. There is also a noticeable detent when opening the blades, so they stay closed unless and until you put some effort into opening either one.

The end of the handle opposite the blade hinge is where the spring-loaded window punch resides. I don’t have any auto glass handy, but I activated the punch against my desk to try it out. It didn’t take a tremendous amount of force to activate the punch, but it definitely won’t accidentally fire. I now have a noticeable divot in my desk. 😀

The T3 has a steel pocket clip, should you prefer pocket carry over belt carry. The whole thing is a little bulky for the pocket, in my opinion, measuring just about an inch thick, and weighing in at a good 5.4 ounces. With the size of the T3, I would be challenged to get my hand into my pocket for anything else.

The last good feature about the T3 is the small 5 lumen LED lamp built into the handle. The LED bulb is on the same end with the blades, allowing you to fire it up and see exactly where your blade is going. It is bright enough to check pupillary response in a pinch, without having to change tools. The light is powered by two CR 1220 button cell batteries, accessible though a screwed-down battery cover behind the light switch.

The handle of the tool is somewhat stylized, which is neither here nor there. It doesn’t grab me as OMG AWESOME, but its kind of cool looking, and allows the user some tactile information as to which way the tool is facing without looking. There are a couple of small holes on the end with the punch that could maybe be used to thread a lanyard, if you wanted to.

Now that I’ve talked about the good stuff, it is time for some criticisms. First, the tiny screw holding the battery cover on my T3 arrived half stripped out, right out of the package. That doesn’t speak well for the manufacturing process. Second, the battery compartment doesn’t seem to have any water-proofing protection. Since I expect to use the T3 in all weather conditions, I would want to have the light be somewhat waterproof. Third, I would prefer good-quality hook-and-loop for the sheath closure, since the snap is exposed on the inside of the sheath, allowing it to rub against the tool handle. Also, as mentioned above, the snap has to be positively closed while good hook and loop would be self-securing. Finally, the hole for the battery cover screw appears to be little more than the plastic of the handle. I am afraid that over-tightening the screw would cause the hole to strip out, rendering the battery cover useless.

Overall, I think that the T3 is good. The list price is in line with other folding knives, particularly ones with decent steel. I’m concerned about the battery cover for the LED light, which is my biggest problem with the tool. I suspect that this is a first-generation tool, so am not surprised to see the T3 have some issues. In my perfect world, it would have been made in the USA, but I understand why the manufacturing takes place in China. Manufacturing it here would probably increase the price too much to make the tool attractive to the lowly street medic.

My rating: 9/10

Update: I sent the link to this and my Tek-Tool review over to StatGear along with a request for a new screw for my T3. Not even an hour later I got a response from the CEO of StatGear thanking for my reviews, a confirmation that some of the issues I had with the T3 are being addressed in the second generation (due out very shortly, to the tune of mere weeks), and a request for my mailing address so that he could send me a new screw. I almost always like working with small companies, particularly because they are still close to the end customer. The people in charge have a vested interest in doing the right thing to solve problems that come up. Thanks, Avi!