REVIEW: RATS Tourniquet

Warning: This is a review. A review isn’t there to replace advise and training by a certified medical expert.

Today folks, we will take a look at a very controversial piece of medical equipment. Even when you talk to expert medics you mostly get one of the following opinions. Opinion one is that the RATS is a niche tool that won’t replace a CAT but has its place somewhere. Opinion two is that the RATS is a dangerous piece of equipment that should be banned.

When I looked for other reviews on the RATS I mostly also read that the RATS is a niche product. But I didn’t really got out of them what kind of niche was actually meant.

The RATS features a small pack size.

So my goal was to figure out what the RATS actually is. An alternative to complete TQs like the CAT, a specialized tool, a backup TQ or a nice gimmick. To make it clear, a nice gimmick has no place in any se of medical equipment.

RATS compared to an Esmarch TQ

When I review gear I firstly look for equipment that is comparable. After looking at the RATS a yellow light bulb appeared over my head. There was another elastic approach to critical bleeding. The Esmarch TQ that you often find in Russian and eastern Europe forces. Luckily enough a buddy once brought me one from a job in Ukraine.

The three finger loop

The Esmarch is a PITA for self application but it works. But it’s also one of the most painful TQs out there, because of its non-slip rubber surface. The RATS has roughly the same length and is luckily made of a textile rubber fabric that doesn’t chow your skin. Lengthwise it’s the same. But the RATS is only a third of the width of a Esmarch TQ.

Carried in the back pocket of a regular jeans.

The RATS is capable of self application because of its “three finger loop”, you simply slide the lose end through the loop and you are ready to put some serious pressure on one limb. Self application took around 40 seconds in our tests, that’s OK, but a CAT or SOFT-T is superior here. Please do not remove the label that says “three finger loop” as it’s kinda part of the system. So self application was possible, but you didn’t get the same compression and speed that a windlass TQ would archieve.

Self application of the RATS

Talking about the width of the RATS, you should know that a narrow surface on a TQ can result in serious tissue and cavity injuries. The RATS prevents this by putting each twist of the elastic beneath the other. With three twists you get the clinical proven 40mm surface. When you did the last twist you simply tuck the loose end between the metal anchor next to the three finger loop.

You can fix the RATS using all kinds of elastic retention.

The RATS narrow design appears firstly as one of its weaknesses but the 40mm surface rule was created with the average person in mind. But there are persons like children, small women, old people, I’ll people or guys that simply don’t lift. 40mm sized TQs won’t really get the desired compression here. The RATS is also a great tool for K9 medicine as some fellow handlers told me, especially for the muzzle and the limbs. Iam not a K9 guy but it really makes sense. There is also another use for the RATS, using it as a second TQ when the first TQ doesn’t work! This really makes sense as it is often not possible to properly place the second TQ high and tight because of its size.

The RATS routed below a dress belt.

One of the things I was looking forward to was the small packing size of the RATS. Especially as carrying a CAT in close protection can be so annoying that you will stop carrying it on person after some days. When I first got the RATS in my hands I was kinda dissapointed. It wasn’t as bulky as a CAT, but it was half the diameter of a beer can. After carrying it around a few days in the back pocket of my jeans I felt pretty comfortable with it. It also fitted well in the inner pocket of my blazer.

The black RATS works best for concealment.

When wearing a complete dress suit or business casual I discovered another way of carrying it. I simply routed it through the belt loops and under my belt. The three finger loops either IWB or into my pants. To avoid this I discovered that I could also reroute the loose end under my belt. This carrying method also worked with IWB and OWB holsters and provided a great way to carry the TQ around without sacrifiizing valuable pocket space or mounting anything to a belt. No one ever asked me about the TQ, so I think it’s pretty low viz. It even works with narrower dress suit belts.

The RATS carried under a dress belt offers quick acess.

Another way to carry the RATS if archieved by buying a special elastic sleeve for it or simply using one or two rings of elastic webbing. This is more of a thing for overt use. But it works flawlessly

So what is the RATS? Is it in line with traditional TQs like the CAT? NO! I would never replace a CAT with a RATS, it simply doesn’t work as well as your primary TQ. But there are so many people in close protection that have no possibility to carry a CAT on person that I see a real application here, especially when your pricipial has children. Of course it’s also a great EDC solution for those that, like me, don’t want to spend their lifetime in “cool” 511 cargo pants. It’s also a great addition to a dedicated medical bag as it allows you further treatment options and doesn’t really take away this much space.

Folks, this was our conclusion on the RATS. It doesn’t belong into the depths of hell, but also keep in mind that this isnt a full combat TQ! Remember to think differentiated. A Prius and a Dodge RAM are both cars, yes. They serve the purpose of motorized movement. But they aren’t able to excel in the same environments!

Again a warning. Don’t carry medical equipment without being properly instructed on its use.

The RATS and some assorted equipment is available at S4 Supplies.

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