The EDC Tool Roll is a feature on Jerking the Trigger in which we profile various every day carry worthy tools. The tools shown aren’t multi-tools but rather real tools, that by virtue of their compact size, light weight, usefulness, or unique functionality, can find a place in any range kit, emergency kit, or every day carry bag.
Feel free to comment on the tools that you carry so we can all learn! The discussion on these posts has been very valuable so far.
Even if you don’t know it by name, you have probably seen a Chapman MFG Midget Ratchet before… or maybe an imitation. This little ratchet might be the handiest tool in The EDC Tool Roll thanks to its versatility, compact size, and suite of smart accessories. This review will include more than just the Midget Ratchet which is great on its own but really shines for EDC with a few simple additions.
Before I dive into the tools themselves, I want to briefly mention why I like buying tools from Chapman MFG (ChapmanMFG.com). They have been manufacturing since 1936. They make everything here in the USA from materials sourced in the USA. Their tools are in use by the military. The quality and features are excellent and I find them to be very affordable for what you get. They offer an extensive selection of replacement and add-on parts on their website. They even support firearm owners and gunsmiths with tools specifically for that market. This is a likeable company.
The Midget Ratchet CM-13 is the heart of this review. It is a compact (3.75″ long) ratchet that accepts 1/4″ shank accessories. The 20 tooth ratchet mechanism is milled from tool steel and heat treated. The mechanism is wrapped in a stamped stainless steel housing that is riveted together. It has a pass-through design that requires no reverse mechanism. You just flip the ratchet over instead of flipping a switch. In short, it is built like a tank and, while its drive mechanism is not very refined, it is positive and works in small spaces thanks to its short length.
You can get a lot done with just a few bits and the Midget Ratchet but it really comes into its own when you add the CME-1 3 5/8″ Bit Extension (they also make a 2″ and 6″ extension) and the CMH-3 Screwdriver Handle. These three items, along with your bits, can be carried in a very compact package and add up to a lot of capability. You can use…
- the Midget Ratchet alone as a ratchet for driver bits of sockets
- the Midget Ratchet with the extension to put bits or sockets on fasteners in tight spots.
- the screwdriver handle alone with a bit as a compact screw or nut driver
- the extension with the screwdriver handle as something close to the size of a full-size screw driver
You can even use all three (the ratchet, extension, and handle) fit together at the same time to apply extra torque to fasteners. Chapman MFG states that the Midget can be used to apply about 4 times as much torque as you can with a normal screwdriver.
The CMH-3 Screwdriver Handle deserves a brief discussion of its own here. It is made from very hard plastic with a tool steel insert to accept bits or an extension. It’s size is what makes it so great for The EDC Tool Roll. At 3.5″ long and 1″ in diameter, it is as useful as a full some screwdriver but more than compact enough to fit in the tool rolls we have profiled in this series. It is a worthy addition to this kit.
Some of you my be disappointed initially to learn that these tools are really made to work with Chapman’s own bits. They will accept and turn standard 1/4″ shank bits but not retain them. Standard 1/4″ shank bits can work in a pinch but it can be a pain to deal with them falling out of the tool. Being able to flip over the Midget Ratchet is integral to its use so Chapman has to build the bit retention into the bits themselves. Each bit has a small detent that prevents it from slipping out of the tool under its own weight.
The good news is that the bits are of excellent quality. They are machined well, free of burrs, heat treated, and given a black oxide finish. Each bit (and the extensions) have a small knurled wheel on the back that allows you to turn it with your fingers to help start screws before they have enough friction to ratchet – clever.
Together, these parts are amazingly capable. They are compact, versatile, well made, affordable, and just plain cool.
Where and How to Buy:
Chapman MFG offers a dizzying array of kits most of which includes bits specifically selected for a purpose like a certain trade or maintenance on something specific. They also offer some general use kits that are good but I have had the best luck with putting my own kit together.
Make sure whichever kit you choose as a starter includes the 1/4″ socket adapter or purchase it separately. The Midget Ratchet is a great little socket wrench in tight places but you will need the adapter to attach your sockets.
I like the 1316 kit as a baseline. It includes a good selection of bits, a Midget Ratchet, and a socket adapter. It is all packaged in a good quality, flexible vinyl organizer that lays mostly flat and easily fits in the compact tool bags we have profiled on The EDC Tool Roll.
You can also add the CME-1 3 5/8″ Bit Extension and the CMH-3 Screwdriver Handle. The extension nest nicely into the 1316’s vinyl carrier when it is folded and snapped closed. The screwdriver handle can be rubber banded to the vinyl carrier or just tucked into your tool roll.
If you just want a minimalist kit based around the Midget Ratchet, the Chapman MFG 2021 kit is affordable and ready to drop into your kit.
Alternatives from Previous Reviews:
The Midget Ratchet and its accessories are pretty unique in how they work together but you can piece together other tools to have some of the same functionality.
See all the reviews for previous tools: The EDC Tool Roll
Can you think of another compact tool this versatile or another tool recommendation that fits The EDC Tool Roll? Tell us about it in the comments below or drop us a line on the Contact page.