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There’s no question that Hurst’s Jaws Of Life lives up to it’s name. But what if you don’t have them — or don’t have access to the hydraulic pressure required to make them operate? Defense contractor Hi-Shear developed the Lifeshear to provide a mechanically simple, lightweight, pyrotechnic extraction tool to supplement these larger, heavier options like the ‘Jaws.

The system uses small gas emitting (read: goes boom) cartridges that rapidly expand causing a steel piston — with a hardened blade — to cut through material like stout automotive brake and clutch pedal levers. The system’s already been put to the test: in 1995 it was used in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing for search and recovery efforts.

The only downside is that as far as we can tell, it’s not currently in production. A Google search turns up several NASA articles about the amazing civilian uses of space technology, however other than that it just doesn’t seem to be around anymore. It’s a shame that such useful technology would just disappear.


Has anyone seen one of these in action? Did they ever get mass produced? Let us know in comments if you’ve got some inside information.


4 Responses to The Lifeshear Rescue Tool

  1. Wheels17 says:

    Not too hard to find. Try http://hstc.com/ and use the navigation menu. The cutting tool is under “Ordanance and Electronic Products”. Site is live, and company is still on AMEX as HSR.

    Looks like a good site to buy those explosive bolts and nuts you need as well.

  2. rbb says:

    One drawback that I see is its inability to be used in a flammable environment (think gasoline fumes) because the explosive charge could spark an even greater explosion.

  3. J Wilkinson says:

    you can find a Carl Gustaf Cutter (CG Cutter) on this website
    an improved version of the Lifeshear.

  4. Dan says:

    Hi there, I’m putting together an Open Educational Resource on the applications of NASA based tech, does anyone know where the top image of the Lifeshear came from or who owns the rights to the image? I’d like to use it, but don’t want to break copyright law in the process :S



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