I recently reviewed a great classic leather sap from Andy’s Leather. That sap was similar to most saps in that it consisted of a weighted leather pouch on the end of a flexible handle. Saps have been made this way for years. However, the sap that I will be reviewing today is a departure from tradition.
The Same but Different
The “Paul’s Sap” model from Andy’s Leather looks like any other sap at first glance. In fact, no amount of visual inspection would lead you to believe that the Paul’s Sap is anything other than a traditional sap. That all changes when you pick it up. Once the Paul’s Sap is in hand you immediately notice what sets it apart – a thick steel rod inside the handle. This steel rod makes the Paul’s Sap completely inflexible at the handle. This is no ordinary sap. It is a blurring of the line between sap and straight baton, and it is devastating in trained hands.
Andy, of Andy’s Leather, is a police officer and also a baton instructor. Paul’s Sap is the result of Andy’s experience as a baton instructor with input from tactical trainer, Paul Gomez. The goal was to create a traditional looking sap that could be seamlessly worked into someone’s existing straight baton techniques. The rigid steel rod in the Paul’s Sap handle allows it to work with the same strikes and techniques that can be used with a straight baton. This reduces the amount of impact weapon specific training that is necessary because the same training translates from stick to sap.
The steel rod is hammered into the ball of lead shot that is in the weighted end of the Paul’s Sap. Then it is stitched inside the leather exterior of the sap. The stitching is evenly spaced, straight, and clean. Andy stitches these saps while they are still wet with the leather cement so that the cement is drawn through the seams with the thread which he says creates a stronger bond between the layers of the leather.
The Paul’s Sap model that I have to review is actually an example of a new option that Andy will be offering his customers. It is made from durable leather in a saddle tan color that, while durable, has a much more utilitarian appearance than Andy’s typical richly dyed bridle leather saps. This will serve as a lower cost option for those who need a durable, hand-crafted tool but have to work within a smaller budget.
The Paul’s Sap is really a joy to work with. It allows you to deliver a strike no matter how it is indexed in your hand because the stiffening effect of the steel rod makes every surface a striking surface. When it is dark enough that you can’t see your hand in front of your face, it is comforting to know that you have a tool that doesn’t require the perfect grip to operate.
All of the typical sap techniques work with the Paul’s Sap however it can also be used deliver strikes and jabs. Hammer fist strikes are particularly painful and easy to deliver with the Paul’s Sap. Simple thrusts are one of the easiest techniques you can use with the Paul’s Sap. A sharp thrust that comes straight out from the user’s body and connects with the ribs, collar bone, or chin is very effective and difficult to block. A thrust with normal sap would cause the sap to fold and flex which would make the thrust less effective. The Paul’s Sap is rigid enough to stand up to these techniques.
The lanyard strap on this particular sample runs from the top of the sap to the bottom. This type of lanyard provides retention without having to take the time to wrap it around the user’s wrist. The user simply grabs the sap through the lanyard. The lanyard passes over the back of the hand, providing a measure of retention. It even provides some retention in the event that you grab the sap the wrong way with the strap going over your fingers.
The Paul’s Sap from Andy’s Leather is definitely unique. The steel shank in the handle makes it feel like an entirely different tool but very familiar at the same time. Those who have trained with a sap, a straight baton, or both, will feel right at home. The ability to deliver strikes and jabs regardless of how the Paul’s Sap is being held make this a potent and more fool-proof self-defense tool. Whether you choose a utilitarian finish like this sample or a Paul’s Sap with all the richest options, you will be investing in a tool that you will be able to pass on to your children.
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 for impact weapon training.