Modernizing Battlefield Hand Tools

Maximizing Space and Cross-Functionality for the Warfighter

White Paper

May 30, 2018

Authored by:

Robyn Eastman, CDR, CEC,

U.S. Navy SeaBees, (Ret.)

Calvin Zenor, Exec. VP/Int’l Sales Mgr.

MagLok Tools, Inc.

White Paper

I. The Problem:

A. The military is currently evaluating, assessing, and upgrading tactical vehicles to meet ever changing threats and theaters of operation.  However, the hand tools assigned to these vehicles and to the Warfighter have not kept pace. The Warfighter is still required to use outdated, suboptimal, and in some cases unsafe technologies for hand held tools when in the field.  These hand tools are segmented into 3 functional tasks: digging (e.g. shovels, picks), striking (e.g. axes, sledges), and leverage (e.g. lug busters, pry bars) tools, each with further functionality from short and long handles.  Due to space and weight considerations it is not possible for the Warfighter, or the vehicles, to carry a suite of hand tools suitable for multiple contingencies.

B.  The Warfighter is continually assigned multiple objectives requiring different functional tools. Essential material in the field is the most valuable asset to the Warfighter and therefore available space is the ultimate limiting quantity.  Unfortunately, there is currently a large trade-off between the effectiveness of the Warfighters hand tools and the available space.  The available space in transport - whether carried by the Warfighter or various types of vehicles – limits the quantity and/or quality of tools available to the Warfighter to accomplish the ever changing objectives.  Therefore, design improvements to hand tools that achieve cost effective cross-functionality can utilize available space more efficiently. 

C. The constraint of space is further complicated by the multiple tactical scenarios demanded of the Warfighter.  This complication means that multiple tool heads are required in order to address different functions.  However, these different hand tools require handles which are either similar or identical resulting in valuable space being occupied for the same or similar products and costs that are pointlessly duplicated.  The Warfighter in a squad on maneuvers may have different needs than a Special Forces Warfighter team.  The required hand tool configuration of a LTATV may differ from a JLTV which will differ from heavy trucks; and individual Warfighter E-Tools will differ from Vehicle Recovery tools; yet there are many cross-functional similarities that need to be taken advantage of. 

 D. o date, the military has employed modular tool systems on a very limited basis due to the numerous shortcomings and limitations with regard to safety, functionality, price, and durability. 

II. The Solution:

  1. The ideal hand tool system should address all of the above problems by:

    1. Providing the Warfighter true versatility, with fully inter-changeable tool heads and handles to apply in any situation or theater with the objective that unit efficiency is maximized with multiple Warfighters being simultaneously employed in multiple functions.
    2. Providing increased safety, while limiting fatigue for the Warfighter.
    3. Providing a “lifetime warranty” on all parts, reflective of a proven record of durability.
    4. Occupying less space than current hand tools now in service.
    5. Costing less than current hand tools in use.

  2. MagLok Tools received the ‘Value Award’ from Overland Journal which stated, the tools “are affordable, extremely versatile, and let you adapt without significant weight or space changes to your current vehicle configuration” (Overland Journal, Winter 2016).

  3. All of these requirements of a tool system are addressed by MagLok with a “modular, interconnecting” tool system, that is cost effective and provides cross-functionality, versatility, safety, and durability with efficiency of space and weight. (See Exhibit 1)

    1. Unit Efficiency. The currently employed vehicle recovery kit has only 1 handle, and therefore only 1 Warfighter can utilize the product at a time. The MagLok Vehicle Recovery Kit provides 3 handles to employ 3 Warfighters simultaneously in multiple differentiated tasks. In an emergency critical environment, Warfighters need ‘simultaneous and multiple use capabilities’ that utilizes the maximum number of available Warfighters to efficiently provide solutions to the situation. The MagLok Vehicle Recovery Kit alone provides this capability. Depending on the tactical situation tool configuration can be changed at minimal cost, simply change tool heads.  

    2. Functional Optionality.

      1. As a vehicle recovery tool kit, MagLok provides 13 usable tools which is far greater than any alternative, while fitting in the same space on the vehicle.  The configuration of these hand tools are based on the request of 1st  Special Forces based in Ft. Bliss and include a shovel, axe, pick, sledge, and lug buster, all of which are accompanied with an interchangeable 36” and two 17” handles for digging, striking and leverage operations. 

      2. Longer handles are necessary for upright digging/striking that require freedom of movement for more leverage.  However, in tight spots when full range of motion is restricted a shorter version is necessary.  This cross-functional optionality helps to minimize Warfighter fatigue and maximize utility.  The MagLok Vehicle Recovery “dual handle” lug wrench for changing vehicle tires in the field is not available in any other vehicle recovery kit available today. 

      3. Cross-functional optionality is further demonstrated by discussions with Army units from Ft. Bragg who expressed a desire to incorporate a machete/saw in a squad kit for use by a Warfighter on maneuvers.  For different theaters of operation, or tactical engagement, many additional tool options are also available such as a ‘Grizzly’ pry-bar, heavy duty tree saw…any Warfighter’s need can be supplied by a MagLok solution. (See Exhibit 2)

    3. Tool/Handle Connection Integrity.

      1. To date, all modular interchangeable hand tools utilizes a connection mechanism that tolerates excessive ‘play’/movement between the attached tool head and handle (the user).  This creates several problems, including breakage of the connection mechanism which would render the system in-operable; and Warfighter skeletal/muscular fatigue.  Additionally, the tool head of other products tends to be ‘loosely’ connected to the handle with cotter pins, which are subject to failure or losing.  (See Exhibit 3)

      2. MagLok Tools have NO longitudinal or lateral tool head movement relative to the handle.  This translates into direct feedback from tool head to the user which mitigates Warfighter fatigue.  Also, when a “standard” recovery tool, (i.e., sledge, pick, ax, or shovel), is broken in the field, that specific tool is rendered useless and discarded.  With the MagLok system, attach another handle and the Warfighter is instantly equipped with a backup tool.  Additionally, MagLok utilizes a 3/8”-16 thumb screw (with a shear strength of over 8,000 lbs.) that is tethered to the handle by a stainless steel cable so it can never be separated from the system. (See Exhibit 4)

    4. Tool Head Independence.

      1. Modular interchangeable hand tools tend to have tool heads that can never be removed when utilizing other tool head attachments.  This adds unnecessary weight, increasing Warfighter fatigue, while an exposed tool poses a constant hazard.  

      2. All MagLok tools are completely removable and independent, minimizing weight, increasing safety, and allowing a high degree of functional specialization. 

    5. Pricing. 

      1. In addition to the benefits described above, for vehicles (support and tactical) that use MagLok over conventional ‘head and handle tools’, there are very significant additional savings attributed to the elimination of “fitting” vehicles with special tool carrying attachments/configurations to carry those conventional tools.  (See Exhibit 5)

      2. MagLok is priced materially lower than either vehicle recovery or the stand alone tools currently in use for vehicles or the individual Warfighter in squads.

      3. MagLok has a “true lifetime warranty”.  Break any part of a MagLok Tool in its intended use, and the Warfighter need only take a picture of the broken part, email the pic with an explanation to MagLok, and the part is replaced for free.  (Note: the MagLok replacement rate for broken tools is < 0.5% in heavy commercial use). 

      4. With MagLok, when additional or different tools are needed, the military will not have to incur the cost of “complete” tools (i.e., head and handle).  Where units already have sufficient handles, only tool heads need to be ordered.  Optimally, there shouldn’t be more handles than there are users.

    6. Durability

      1. Except MagLok, all hand tools capable of inter-changeable heads and handles are susceptible to product failure from a lack of maintenance and/or exposure to a difficult environment – water/rain, dirt, mud, lack of oil…  Other products have movable parts, hinges, threads, clamping mechanisms, cotter pins, and loading springs that must be kept clean and/or oiled to remain operable.  MagLok Tools has proven to be dependable in extreme environments since there are no moving or operational parts that can fail due to rust, corrosion, or tearing.  In one test, MagLok Tools and an E-Shovel were placed in buckets of mud of different consistency, for an extended period of time, and then removed to dry.  The hinging mechanism of the E-Shovel failed at both the neck and handle, while the MagLok Tool performed as intended without any complications.  Furthermore, the E-Shovel states that periodic lubrication is required to have any hope of performing as intended, while MagLok never requires lubrication.  

        Finally, MagLok Tools have been successfully tested by the military as well as 100’s of thousands of tools used in a heavy duty commercial and off-road environment.  To date, the failure has been less than (<) 0.5%, and the critical connector part has never failed.    

    7. Transport

      1. Because MagLok Tools can be ‘broken down’ for shipping, they transport more efficiently by weight and space.  In shipping to remote locations worldwide, for the same space, 25% more MagLok tools can be shipped than the current standard hand tools.  Alternatively, the same tools occupy approximately 25% less space in transport.  Either way, increased efficiency in transportation to final destination results in significant savings.   


 "Great product. Connections are solid and secure, and solved my “where are all these tools going to fit” problem in my JKU."

Commercial, Off-road User

“All in all we are very pleased and impressed with your company's product and every one that observed it is also impressed with it as well.” 

Kroll Steven J MSG (3SFG)"

“The Mag-Lok tool system is a great investment and a sturdy tool that I have personally used.  They are well constructed and offer the user the ability to a jobsite without heavy bulky items or long handles protruding from the vehicle.  Having the ability to change heads on the handle enables the user to have multiple tools on site, while limiting the safety hazards…  As a Seabee deploying to the ends of the globe in order to perform construction activities space is always an issue. This system would enable us to take modern tools to remote locations, while saving space and weight.  The Central Tool Room would benefit from the procurement of this system by having numerous tools in one convenient package.  The accountability of this would save money on replacement cost on broken, destroyed, and lost equipment. The system is versatile and convenient which is why it is a must have within the SeaBee’s Table of Allowance”.

John Howard, P BU1, NMCB 1, U.S. Navy SeaBees

“I am a Retired Air Force Senior Master Sgt. that has served with the 1st Special Operations Wing (Formerly 1st Air Commando Wing) and Recruiting. The MAG-LOK Tool configurations and durability would have served me well as an Instructor in field exercises. I have had the opportunity to Demo this product to many Air Force Red Horse, Navy SeaBees, and Army Special Forces and without exception they all provided the same feedback..... These tools are great and they give us the capability to kit the specific tools that we need to complete the mission!!!!! The manufacturer's ability to design specific tools for specific tasks but yet remain flexible to meet mission needs is like none other. The cost of the tools is fair and reasonable and more than justifies their worth.”

Jimmy E Allen, SMSGT, Former Special Operations Instructor, U.S. Air Force, (Ret.)

“As a retired Seabee Mustang who spent 29 years working both ends of the shovel, I wish I had access to the Mag-Lok tool inventory when I was a Seabee recruit as well as when I served as an Operations Officer in a Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB).  The portability, durability, & dependability of these tools is unsurpassed!  I have personally compared these tools with all competitors and have found no equal!  As I reflect on my numerous deployments over my career, I can think of multiple instances that the Mag-Lok Tool kit could have been a difference maker on deployments to Bosnia, Kuwait, Bahrain & Iraq!  The Seabee Motto is "Can Do"...I contend "Mag-Lok Tools can too”.  As a COO of Professional Construction Management firm today, I have found multiple uses for the Mag-Lok tool line for both GC's and utility companies in the construction industry today!  I challenge you today, Try Mag-Lok!  You will never want another tool in your hand!”

Robyn Eastman, CDR, Chief Staff Officer, 22nd Naval Construction Regiment, U.S. Navy SeaBees, (Ret.)

Exhibit 1
Vehicle Recovery Kit
VRK “L” (Vehicle Recovery Kit “Lug Buster”

Exhibit 2
Squad Kit
SK17 (Squad Kit)

Exhibit 3
Exhibit 3

Exhibit 4

Exhibit 5
Pioneer Kit
Pioneer Kit

M70-402-SSPR Kit, Pioneer Tool w/ mounting plate $1,153.00

M70-315-SSPR-AXE $69.00
M70-217-SSPR-Pick AXE $65.00
M70-218-SSPR-Shovel $49.00
M70-215-SSPR- Sledge Hammer $72.00