Saps are not a new idea. They have been around for many years and for good reason – they work. They work so well in fact, that many police departments no longer issue them or even allow their use due to the injuries that they can inflict. Thankfully for us regular guys, we are not bound by police policy and, as long as your local laws allow, you can own and carry one of these effective and nostalgic impact devices.
What is a Sap?
Saps come in many forms but at their most basic, they consist of a handle and a weighted end (usually with lead shot). They are usually made of leather though other more modern materials like nylon and kydex are sometimes used. Saps often have a lanyard of some kind to provide retention if the fight turns into a grappling match. They are usually flexible to provide sort of whipping action and some use a flat spring in the handle to enhance the whipping action.
The weighted end basically just serves to store potential energy until you decide to turn it into kinetic energy by swinging it. When used properly saps have been known to concuss the person being hit, produce one hit knockouts, break jaws, break wrists, break ribs, and other painful injuries. You need only to be popped lightly in the jaw once to feel how effective a sap can be.
The sap that is the subject of this review is from Andy’s Leather. It is very traditional in its shape and materials. It features a typical tear drop shape and a long wrist lanyard. The body of the sap is 6″ long and it weighs 7.10 ounces. The vast majority of that weight is the load of lead shot.
Andy uses hand selected cuts of bridle leather for his saps (he also has lower priced options available for the budget conscious) and it shows in this sap. The grain is excellent and the leather has really softened nicely in the short time that I have been working with it. The grain is very attractive and it will improve with age.
Straight, evenly spaced stitching is a hallmark of quality leather work. The stitching on this sap is excellent. Andy bonds the leather with rubber cement and then stitches while the cement is still wet. This makes for a strong bond as the cement is drawn through the multiple layers of leather. The location of the stitching is important in sap selection too. The best saps, like this one, have stitching that is as close to the edge of the leather as possible.
The rich reddish brown semi-matte finish is applied very evenly and is very attractive. The sap really has a quality about it that you can only get from a craftsman. It looks and feels natural and handmade. The best part of buying quality leather products is that you know that the look and feel will only improve with age.
The lanyard is one of my favorite things about this sap. It makes it very easy to retrieve from a pocket and it also makes this very compact sap perform like a longer sap. It works like a grip extension that allows you to grip the sap with your thumb, index, and middle finger, while your ring and pinky fingers are on the lanyard. Of course, you can also choke up so that your whole hand is on the sap. It is a versatile configuration.
The combination of size and weight of this sap is excellent. This would make an ideal everyday carry sap. It could easily be stowed in a brief case and retrieved quickly by its lanyard. It also carries easily in the back pocket of jeans or “tactical” pants. Even though it is quite compact, this sap hits harder than similar sized saps that I have used. That is probably due to the way that the lanyard allows you to choke down on the grip which effectively lengthens the sap in your hand. If you need one sap that can do it all, this design is definitely worth a look.
The beauty of ordering from a true custom shop like Andy’s Leather is that he can make whatever type of sap that you want and Andy’s background as a police officer and impact tool instructor can really help guide your decision making. He offers several finishes, double stitching, and even rivets to reinforce the stitching (a popular option for saps headed to Iraq and Afghanistan). Those who are not sure exactly what they want might be best served by browsing the selection of saps that he keeps on hand.
As with any other weapon, you should seek professional training in order to use the weapon safely and efficiently. I always recommend George Matheis of Modern Combative Systems.
Stay tuned for an upcoming review of a very unique sap from Andy’s Leather.