Covert Products Group designs and manufactures unique tactical tools that are well…covert. They describe themselves as “an American company that designs, sells (and sometimes manufactures) low-viz tactical gear for .MIL, undercover LEO, Agencies, EDC-ers, Gray Men and responsible civilians”. We helped publicize the Kickstarter Campaign they launched last November for their Trident EDC tool, and they sent me their flagship BAT Coin (Bring Anywhere Tool) for testing and review.
The BAT Coin is a TSA compliant keychain accessory that really is as small as can be functionally possible. I think it is a cool piece of design, and I am not the only one. The BAT Coin has been featured on several gear websites and has won International design competitions.
They describe the BAT Coin thusly:
The B.A.T. makes having “just enough” of a tool easy. We wanted to create the smallest useful tool possible, give it a ton of features, and make it the size and shape of something that just about everyone carries all the time: a coin. Any smaller and you either lose functions or functionality.
It is made of stainless steel and can be safely carried in your pocket alone or with other change. Since it has no exposed sharp edges, you can take it with you just about everywhere, and (unlike many pocketknives) you can use it in public without anyone giving it a second thought.
The BAT Coin comes with 10 features, some of them are fully functional, some satisfactory in a pinch, and some are really disappointing.
From the CPG website:
- 1) Modified Phillips head screwdriver with three prongs so the BAT lays flat in your pocket
- 2) Safe, semi-sharp captured edge for opening boxes
- 3) Scribe point or hole punch
- 4) Small-gauge wire stripper
- 5) Fire-steel scraper (use it with any ferro rod survival fire starter, Swedish firesteel or similar item)
- 6) Flat head screwdriver
- 7) Serrated fire-steel scraper (throws sparks well)
- 8) 3M SOLAS reflective sticker you can attach to the back for emergency signaling, or leave if off for stealth carry
- 9) Friction saw that can cut through zip ties or cordage without cutting you
- 10) Bottle opener
I tested each one and will give it a grade of (U)nsatisfactory, S-, (S)atisfactory, or S+. I tested the tool while attached to my keys, as this is how I carry it. Without the keys, the tool is easier to use.
1) Phillips Head: A bit weird given the design decision to make it 3 sided (in order to sit flat). It works, but I had better results using the flat-head in screws which were small enough. I used it in the course of installing a new light fixture today for a practical test, and started a screw into a 2×4 with it. The ergos are a bit rough and I would rather have a screwdriver.
2) Captured edge: Out of the box, this was useful for cutting through tape on box seams, but I did hit it with the medium grit Sharpmaker rod. I didn’t want it paper-slicing sharp – I am reaching blind into my pocket for it, but 5 minutes work increased its usefulness.
It does a great job cutting through tape, even that twine-reinforced stuff.
Duct tape is no problem at all…
It really isn’t made for slicing through the cardboard itself. It simply doesn’t plunge deeply enough, and is not functionally sharp enough to slice cardboard.
As much as I would love for it to be so, , the edge is not sharp enough for cutting through a seat-belt strap. I tried. As the BAT Coin is TSA Compliant, it would have been really nice.
I did find the captured edge to do a better job stripping wire than the actual wire-stripping notch. See Below.
3) Scribe / Scraper: It works. I actually used it a few times when it was the best thing handy. Not the greatest ergonomics, but it can scrape its way through a blister package.
4) Small-gauge wire stripper: I tried to use it on 18 gauge wire and the notch is just barely big enough. Since 18ga is pretty darned small, this is barely functional. The Gerber Shard can handle much larger wire.
I actually had better luck with the sharpened edge (left or upper wire). Neither was remotely as good as the wire strippers I used when installing the light fixture.
5) Ferro-rod scraper (#1): Works. But not as well as the toothy one (#7). The small tool’s questionable ergonomics come into play here as they do with the screwdrivers. Grade: S
Testing the ferro-rod scraper on the @covertproductsgroup #BATCoin. It works better than seen here. I was sitting on a crate, with my phone between my knees, filming my hands in front of me. When I have full control it does a solid job. Video uploaded for embed in my review. #edc #edctools #edctool #keychaintool #knifenation #edclife #beprepared
The scraper works better than the video shows. It is hard to hold a phone between your knees and shoot yourself scraping a ferro-rod. It also works better when, as an Instagram commentor mentioned, you pull the rod past the BAT Coin, rather than scrape the bat coin on the rod. I am used to using a knife and prefer to move the business end of the knife away from myself. But he is technically correct.
6) Flat head screwdriver. As I said, it works better than the Phillips. Fairly useful for many sundry EDC tasks. Like unlocking the register grates when changing a furnace filter.
7) Serrated fire-steel scraper. As I said, this one worked better for me than the plain. ymmv.
8) 3M SOLAS reflective sticker: a scotch-lite-type sticker. Most useful if you are trying to find your keys in low light.
9) Friction saw: They say you can saw your way through zip ties. I couldn’t. And the ones I used were not nearly as thick as flex-cuffs – which is something listed on the product description page. It was even less useful on wood, not that they advertise this use.
10) Bottle Opener: It works. It works best when you use your keyring for better leverage.
Grade: Depends on the Beverage. GLBC Christmas Ale is always S+
Pretty much any issue I have with the BAT Coin can be directly related back to CPG’s desire to make the tool as small as possible and be TSA compliant. The ergos are a bit funky, because it is so small and there are edges of other tools poking into you when you are accessing one of the others. Not terrible, but not comfortable or efficient either.
I like the BAT Coin, despite its deficiencies. In the end, at $32 MSRP, I cannot recommend it above the $5-$7 Gerber Shard, which will be returning to my primary keychain. The prybar function is incredibly useful, and the slightly longer shape make the screwdrivers easier to use.
But the BAT Coin will go on my backup set, displacing the NiteIze Doohickey which has been residing there for a couple of years.
In the end I ask myself, “if I am in a MacGuyver situation would I want the BAT Coin with me?” The answer is yes. Preferably not as my only tool, but I would be happy to include it in my mental assessment of my resources in an emergency.