Make: a "TSA compliant" multitool mod

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I think the ONLY reasons you’ve gotten this through security was because it had “TSA Compliant” on it; most agents really don’t care, and seeing it written on the tool means they will simply believe it. I had more innocuous stuff removed just a few weeks ago.


Exactly, it would be amusing to load the thing up with all kinds of tiny deadly weapons and instruments of torture, but it’s okay because it says “TSA compliant”.


I used to travel a lot (like 100 flights a year or more) and simply gave up trying to carry anything like this whether or not it is compliant. Once the “agent” at Kalamazoo, or Duluth, or Dayton decides it’s against his or her rules there is nothing at all going to change their minds and they will take it. Doesn’t matter at all what the TSA web site or published rules say, it’s all at their discretion and if you argue too much you aren’t flying that day and may even be arrested (I’ve seen both things happen to other people).

My favorite ever first hand TSA observation was flying through Biloxi MS. They got very perturbed and stressed by a ziplock full of powerbars in my backpack. Ran it through the machine multiple times (although to their credit they were polite about it and I was in no hurry that day). While I was waiting a dude “forgot” he had a big-ass hand gun in his carryon. They gave it back to him and told him to go back out to his car and leave it there. They literally handed the gun back to him on the secure side of the airport and told him to carry it back out and then he could come back through!


Another option if you don’t want to remake a multitool is to get one that already has TSA approved tools. Leatherman has a new bracelet that’s supposed to be TSA safe:

PowerBars: are they a solid or a liquid? We just can’t tell!

A gun, though, is clearly solid, and therefore safe.


It amazes me, some of the snafu’s I’ve had with the TSA.

The time I got dinged for having a tube of body lotion over 3oz. (an xmas present), but apparently the scissors in my toiletry bag were not visible on the X-ray.

That time the TSA was super apologetic when they found I had 500 rounds of live ammunition in my roller bag–they quite helpfully offered to check my bag. (oops) First time I got Precheck! Bizarrely, not the last.

Or that time they printed out my ticket at the check in counter, and I boarded a plane with someone else’s ticket.


Note: mileage definitely will vary.
On a recent spate of car-based tourism. one of the four state capitol buildings we visited (Alabama) would not permit any multitool, regardless of blade length. Had to run back to the car. No problem in Mississipi, Louisiana or Florida.

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I shudder to imagine all of the tiny arm hairs ripped out after getting caught in the rotating pins. Truly a terrifying proposition.

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at the discretion of each agent

That doesn’t sound right. Are there not specific rules?


There’s no bright line rule. Certain classes of tool are outright prohibited (e.g. crowbars of any size), but there is a lot of discretion allowing agents to reject a tool others might pass, the website statesThe final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint.”


There are rules, but the interpretation of the rules are up to the agent. From the TSA directly:

“The final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint.”


In theory, there are rules.

But like interacting with police, it might not be worth the trouble to get them to stick to the written rules. Depending on the color of your skin, the sound of your name, or any number of other factors beyond your control, showing anything other than fawning, boot-licking respect, can lead to your whole life being fucked over.


That Tread is bizarre, a bracelet?


Uh, Leatherman already makes this tool. The bladeless Style PS is TSA compliant.

I travel with one and the recommendation I got from one TSA agent was to toss it in the bin with all tools already exposed. It makes going security quicker as they can do a quick visual inspection and don’t have to try and expand it on their own (which is a pain with gloves on).

I’ve followed this advice since and have had no problems.


Pre 9-11 you could bring a pockknife with a <4" blade on it. They should revert to the old rules.

I’ve already told the absurd tale of not being allowed on a plane with a cigar punch that LOOKED like a bullet, but my knife was fine.


They did revert to the blades<4" rule, but pilots/airline personnel revolted and thus they reversed their decision.


You can do the same with SOG’s multi tools, all you need is a 3/16" wrench or socket (for the one I have). You can buy new tools, and change them out. Downside, they are more money.

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Pre 9/11, pre-TSA, pre-small blade ban I used to unfold my full-sized Leatherman (sounds dirty…) and hand it to the attendant at the metal detector along with my keys, passing it around the outside to them. After I passed through the detector, they’d just hand it back to me and I was on my way. Never was a problem. I miss those days.


SOG make a travel compliant tool called the SOG powerlock traveler.