With so many tourniquets on the market and Chinese knockoffs floating around on sites like Amazon and Ebay and such, I've always looked at tourniquets online through a very cautious lens. I did the same with Recon Medical tourniquets. But after some research and following the company for a few months, I decided the risk of buying one was worth putting my curiosity to ease. At the very least I would have some training tourniquets and some personal experience to pass on to my students. So as I do with any tourniquet, I bought two, one to test and train with and one to put into the field of deemed worthy.
At first glance, these tourniquets seem to fall into the typical style for a windless tourniquet. Nylon, velcro and a windless, what more could there be?
One difference you may immediately noticed is Recon Medical's Patent Pending Assisted Occlusion Strap. I really like the idea behind this. Whether your hands may be bloody or wet, or you're lacking grip strength for whatever reason or you are just not as well trained, the AOS makes for a simple solution. Hook your finger through the loop and pull tight. Simply genius.
Recon Medical' site states their tourniquets have DuPont Kevlar stitching. As far as durability goes, these tourniquets feel like they are not cheaply made. I've handled the knock offs found on the interwebs, these are not. You can find videos on Recon Medical's social media of durability testing, something I cannot do as I do not have the machinery to test it and I am typically not in the market of destroying products that I buy or torture testing. There are plenty of youtubers that do that.
The Aircraft Grade Aluminium Windlass gives you a bit of piece of mind. I had been issued some tourniquets some 10-15 years ago, and honestly the windlasses seemed like they could have been a failure point. I'm confident that these windlasses will get the job done. They aren't as beefy as say the SOFTT-W, but very similar texture. No doubt these will work in extreme conditions.
Recon Medical also sends this UV resistant bang with each tourniquet for long term storage and protection the sun. I know most tourniquets on the market come wrapped up in UV resistant packaging. But this allows you to open up your equipment, stage it to your liking and safely store it until it is needed.
Speaking of getting the job done, I tested these, as I have done with all the tourniquets I've tested, with a self application. I see a self application situation as a worst case scenario. I want a tourniquet that I am able to self apply one handed and have occlusion. Unfortunately, I do not have a doppler device, so to confirm occlusion, I palpate various pulse points and use a pulse oximeter.
First, I used my dominant hand to apply the tourniquet. I found it to be just as easy to apply as the iconic CAT tourniquet, in less than three turns (two and a half depending on how you count) the pulse ox read 0's and there was no palpable pulse.
Next, I applied the tourniquet with my support hand. This is where I found the aforementioned Assisted Occlusion Strap come in handy. Starting from a staged position, the tip about 1 inch through the buckle, I was able to hook my finger through the hole and tighten in down enough to re-grip closer to the buckle and crank it down. Again, after 1 1/2 to 2 turns of the windlass, no pulse, no pulse ox reading.
Finally, I applied it to my upper thigh. My thighs measure around 25 inches in circumference. Although I wasn't able to get definitive occlusion on my upper thigh, I live with the mentality that it'll take two. Theres a lot of tissue to compress up there. The CAT and SOFTT-W weren't able to get there with one either. At least not self applying. I moved the tourniquet down about 10 inches where the circumference is closer to 20 inches and got better results. Both test cleared out the pulse ox readings, but on my upper thigh I was able to palpate a pulse. Faint, but palpable. Just another reason to live by the old mantra "Two is one, one is none."
Overall, I think these tourniquets are a great value and worth buying. And for the price of $14.97-$16.97 (at the time of this review on Amazon) and an option to get a whole trauma kit for less that most commercial tourniquets, I can't think of a better value. But don't hear what I'm not saying... if you have the money and any doubts, buy a CAT or SOFFTT-W. These two have a lot of field use and clinical support, not to mention the combat applications they've seen for well over a decade. But I plan on putting this one into my EDC, whether it be on my hip, in my bag or on my ankle, it'll be there.
UPDATE: Recon Medical also backs all their products with a Lifetime Warranty.