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Knives That Are Tools: BlackHawk Small Pry Breach Knife

The BlackHawk® Dynamic Entry® Small Pry™ is a carefully thought-out piece of breaching equipment. Sure, we have two-man rams, sledgehammers and Hallagan tools. The last door breach our team did, however, was accomplished with a 15-inch wrecking bar. And that is the point. Sometimes the smaller, handier, easier to carry, “have-it-with-you-all-the-time” tools are actually more useful, and more used. The BlackHawk Dynamic Entry Small Pry is one tool that is light and compact enough to have with you all the time.

Many tasks call for lighter tools, but they definitely still call for tools. We need to open inside doors, inside drawers, inside closets, inside containers, and the door ram, big crowbar and Hallagan tool are downstairs, outside on the ground by the front door. Or maybe your toolman neatly places everything in his backpack and immediately follows the rest of the entry team…not.

Small Pry is a cute little name for a tool that is really a “breach knife.” The Small Pry is the first joint effort by two separate BlackHawk entities: Dynamic Entry and BlackHawk Blades. As a result, the dual-purpose tool performs both the breach role and the knife role, achieving both with BlackHawk excellence.

Dynamic Entry is legendary for producing entry tools that actually work, and this one fills yet another niche. The Small Pry can perform “breach” functions like a pry bar. It can be used to break and then be turned over to do the rake. It can perform “knife” functions like cutting, chopping and hacking. Unlike most big knives with edges only as sharp as an axe, this cutting edge is as sharp as any tactical folder. Most importantly, the Small Pry is handy enough in size, weight and bulk to actually keep it on your LBV.

The Small Pry breach knife is made from a slab of ¼-inch steel. It remains ¼-inch thick from the rounded, exposed pommel to within a ½-inch of the flat tip and blade edge. No taper. No bevel. No false edge. It is ¼-inch thick everywhere and 14 inches long. The Small Pry weighs 21 ounces, which is exactly the same as a 15-inch wrecking bar. The Small Pry is a hammer, hatchet, club, shovel, knife, break-and-rake tool and pry bar. It can cut through screens, back through wire-reinforced glass and chop through drywall.

The cutting edge has a “chisel” grind. One side of the blade is absolutely flat. The other side has an edge angle of about 30 degrees. That means the total included angle is just 30 degrees, making this a sharper grind than saber, double bevel, and convex (axe) ground blades. The last 0.05-inch of the blade has an edge grind. Even if this razor edge gets beaten and rounded, you still have the 30 degree included angle chopping edge, sharper than an axe.

Most of us have a bad habit of running our fingers along the blade edge to see how sharp it is. Especially on an entry club like this, you expect the cutting edge to have an axe-grind and be only axe-sharp. Here is what is going to happen: You are going to run your finger across the flattened tip and find it does not have a knife edge. It is just slightly flattened. Then you are going to run your finger down the knife edge, expecting it to also be flattened—you will slice your finger so deeply that you need stitches.

So, before you do something that will get blood all over your BDUs, keep in mind the Small Pry’s heritage: BlackHawk Blades. Right out of the box, the Small Pry is sharp enough to slice a sheet of paper held on edge in the air. It is not quite sharp enough to shave arm hair, but close. And all this from a tool that is basically a pry bar.

For a 21-ounce, 14-inch long tool, the Small Pry can be used to make surprisingly precise cuts. The flat spine allows hand-finger placement very close to the cutting edge. Held like this, the balance point is exactly where the wrist bends. This allows the same tip control during cutting as a tactical folder. The sharply-defined, almost-90-degree-angle tip further helps point control. Not that you would, but you can actually whittle with this big tool.

The relatively short cutting edge length (3.5 inches) actually makes the big tool easier to grasp for precision cutting than a big fixed blade with a 7-inch cutting edge. Hint: Because the blade edge is only ground on one side, it is important to hold the tool straight while cutting. Otherwise, the slicing will arc slightly in the opposite direction of the ground side.

D2 Tool Steel

A bewildering number of knife steels and stainless steels exist. So what is D2? Where does it fit in the big scheme of things? D2 Tool Steel is a premium grade alloy. It is harder, more corrosion resistant, tougher, and more shock and chip resistant than other Tool Carbon or High Carbon Steels.

D2 is basically a semi-stainless steel. Chromium is what makes a steel alloy “stainless” steel. Definitions vary widely as to how much chromium is needed to call the steel “stainless.” Some sources say a minimum of 10%, but others say 12%. At any rate, D2 has 12% chromium. The 440-series stainless steels have 16% to 18% chromium. The other factor is carbon. It is carbon which turns iron into steel. Stainless steels have 0.5% to 1.2% carbon, while D2 has 1.5% carbon. The more carbon, the harder the alloy.

High Carbon Steel holds an edge better than most stainless steels. The downside, of course, is the need for at least a little maintenance. The entire surface of the Small Pry is finished with black epoxy powder coat. No care whatsoever is needed with that. Only the very edge of the cutting surface, the last 1/16 inch, is exposed steel. Run a honing stone down one side of the edge and wipe it with gun oil—that’s it.

The flat leading edge of the Small Pry has a chisel grind to almost a sharp edge. This, of course, is the pry edge. It has steps in the grind surface for grip on the surfaces being pried. The Small Pry can be jammed into a gap by the force of a two-hand thrust; the 8-inch textured rubber handle has room for two hands. Or it can be inserted into the gap and palmed in with pressure on the pommel. The pommel has exposed steel, as it should, but it is also rounded to allow a great deal of hand pressure without causing pain. Of course, the exposed pommel also means the Small Pry can be sledge-hammered into place.

The handle of the Small Pry has been over-molded with thermoplastic rubber, and it has a checkered finish. This texturing helps the grip with bare hands and gloved hands alike. The hook of the Small Pry (the curved part behind the cutting edge) has deeply machined reliefs. This jimping is designed to grab the glass during the rake sweeps.

The Small Pry comes with a Kydex® molded sheath. This adds almost no weight, of course, but it also keeps the entire rig very flat. The sheath is no thicker than the slender, rubber-covered handle. The Kydex sheath is formed to allow the Small Pry to friction-snap in place. Hanging handle-down, the entire setup passes the jump test and the rollover test. And there is nothing on either the sheath or the exposed handle to snap or grab on anything it brushes against. The Small Pry breach knife comes with one of two mounting kits. One is designed for STRIKE compatibility. The other is a more “universal” mounting kit for other LBVs and backpacks.


The ingenious design of the Small Pry allows for a fast and straightforward break-and-rake. Shatter the glass with a hammer blow using the tip of the flat spine. Then, either continue the forward motion, inserting the point, grabbing the glass with the curved edge and pulling up, or shatter the glass, turn the Small Pry edge down, insert the tool, engage the glass, and pull down and out.
We carried the Small Pry on a couple of SWAT training days. Some abandoned buildings, houses and mobile homes were the proving grounds. The tool is so light, compact and portable that it is easy to have with you and, after use, to keep with you. We already carry a bunch of gear on the LBV. This tool, however, does so many things, and does them so well, that at least one operator on the team should have a Small Pry. You will now find you can leave the rest of the entry tools outside on the ground, by the point of entry.

With an MSRP of $200, the Small Pry is actually less expensive than most tactically-oriented fixed blades that do less than this tool can. Any day you break-and-rake glass is a good day. And any day you pry open a locked door using a tool you already have with you is an even better day.

Published in Tactical Response, Nov/Dec 2009

Rating : 7.0

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