Which KeyBar is right for me?

When first getting into the KeyBar life, one might find themselves a little overwhelmed by the plethora of material options, KeyBar sizes, and tool inserts that we have accumulated into our product line-up. You might find yourself frustrated with such a daunting task if they aren’t knowledgeable about the materials used or if a KeyBar JR or regular KeyBar would be best to fill their needs.  In this article, we’re going to help by laying out the fundamentals of each material type and KeyBar size to help you better make your decision when shopping around and building the ultimate, customizable key and tool organizer that is the KeyBar.

KeyBar vs KeyBar JR

Check out our full line of Full Size KeyBars and full line of KeyBar JR’s

This is a question we get asked on a daily basis when first trying to decide which KeyBar is going to be best for your needs. Before diving head on into material and design options, this is the first thing that always takes precipice.

First ask yourself “How many keys do I actually need to consolidate?” and then “Will I be filling it with tool inserts along the way? And exactly how many or what tools do I want to include?”. If your answer is somewhere around 2-3 keys and maybe 1 or 2 inserts, then the KeyBar JR is going to be your best option. Especially if you’re looking to maintain the most minimal blueprint possible.

Though we advertise the bulk majority of our tool inserts to be compatible with both the KeyBar and KeyBar JR (aside from the Titanium Hook Insert, Keyrabiner 5.0, and blade inserts specifically for the full size [though we do make JR specific ones too]), one might want to build an extremely versatile multi-tool with the added bonus of consolidating their keys. Bundle packages like the Titanium Screwdriver bundle are best left to incorporating into a standard sized KeyBar. And when you start adding more tools and keys to the mix, having a KeyBar JR might tend to get a little bulky in the pocket. Not saying that that’s a bad thing, as you can always use extension screws and build an insanely versatile KeyBar JR. But all we’re pointing at is that if you want to keep it slim as possible, then a standard KeyBar may be a better option.

For example: Say you have only 2 keys, but you want to add a Blade Insert, a Phillips Head ScrewDriver insert, a Bottle Bomber, a set of titanium Tweezers, and a couple Quick Key Tab 2.0s to the mix. Now it is possible to do this in a KeyBar JR, but you’ll be looking at putting the bulk majority of these tools on just one side of the KeyBar JR and leaving maybe just the tweezers and the keyfob link on the other thinner side with a bunch of washers to make up for the space that is now engulfed by the larger side. (Again, not saying you can’t put those larger items on the smaller side, we’ve seen plenty of people do it before). If you want to keep it tightly packed, slim, and looking clean as can be, then maybe the standard sized KeyBar will be more your route to go.

Material Choices

Now that we’ve discussed picking out a KeyBar size, let’s dive right into the big question. What material do I want? We can go all technical with this and tell you the super specifics of each material and what makes one most certainly advantageous over the other, but at that point we might as well be writing a scientific thesis paper filled with graphs and spec sheets. So let’s just look at the materials we offer and give some descriptions of each and then we’ll go from there.

Lightweight:

  • Aluminum
  • Carbon Fiber
  • Micarta
  • G10 Composite

Heavy (but with style):

  • Titanium (being the lightest weight out of this bunch)
  • Brass
  • Copper

Aluminum

Pictured: Stonewashed Aluminum KeyBar
  • 6061 Aluminum Aloy is a precipitation-hardened aluminium alloy, containing magnesium and silicon as its major alloying elements.
  • It has good mechanical properties, exhibits good weldability, and is very commonly extruded.
  • It is one of the most common alloys of aluminum for general-purpose use and is extremely lightweight and durable.

Titanium

Pictured: Slayer Titanium KeyBar
  • Titanium  is a lustrous transition metal with a silver color, low density, and high strength, and resistant to corrosion in sea water.
  • The two most useful properties of the metal are corrosion resistance and strength-to-density ratio, the highest of any metallic element. 
  • In its unalloyed condition, titanium is as strong as some steels, but less dense.

Copper

Pictured: Stonewashed Copper KeyBar JR
  • Copper is a soft, malleable, and ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity.
  • A freshly exposed surface of pure copper has a pinkish-orange color.
  • Copper is used as a conductor of heat and electricity, as a building material, and as a constituent of various metal alloys, such as sterling silver used in jewelry.

Brass

Pictured: Stonewashed Brass KeyBar
  • Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, in proportions which can be varied to achieve varying mechanical, electrical, and chemical properties.
  • Brass has long been a popular material for decoration due to its bright, gold-like appearance; being used for drawer pulls and doorknobs.
  • It has also been widely used to make utensils due to properties such as having a low melting point, high workability (both with hand tools and with modern turning and milling machines), durability, and electrical and thermal conductivity.
  • The composition of brass (generally 66% copper and 34% zinc) makes it a favorable substitute for copper based jewelry, as it exhibits greater resistance to corrosion.

Carbon Fiber

Pictured: Full Carbon Fiber KeyBar
  • Carbon Fiber is extremely strong and light fiber-reinforced plastics that contain carbon fibers.
  • Carbon Fiber can be expensive to produce, but are commonly used wherever high strength-to-weight ratio and stiffness (rigidity) are required, such as:
    •  Aerospace
    • superstructures of ships
    • automotive
    • civil engineering
    • sports equipment

Micarta

Pictured: Full Green Linen Micarta KeyBar
  • Micarta is a brand name for composites of linen, canvas, paper, fiberglass, carbon fiber, or other fabric in a thermosetting plastic.
  • These resins were used to impregnate paper and cotton fabric which were cured under pressure and high temperature to produce laminates
  • Today Micarta high-pressure industrial laminates are produced with a wide variety of resins and fibers.
  • Common uses of modern high-pressure laminates are as electrical insulators, printed circuit board substrates, and knife handles.

G10 Composite

Pictured: Natural Colored G10 Composite KeyBars
  • G-10 is a high-pressure fiberglass laminate, a type of composite material.
  •  It is created by stacking multiple layers of glass cloth, soaked in epoxy resin, and by compressing the resulting material under heat until the epoxy cures.
  • G-10 is very similar to Micarta and carbon fiber laminates, except that glass cloth is used as filler material.
  • G-10 is the toughest of the glass fiber resin laminates and therefore the most commonly used.
  • G-10 is favored for its high strength, low moisture absorption, and high level of electrical insulation and chemical resistance.
  • Decorative variations of G-10 are produced in many colors and patterns and are especially used to make handles for knives, grips for firearms and other tools. These can be textured (for grip), bead blasted, sanded or polished.

Now I know that was a lot of reading to do, but hopefully it gave you better understanding in the materials we use the most consistently, why we use them, and which would be the best for what you’re looking for in your KeyBar build.  If you’re only concern is weight, let me break it down into 2 different categories of lightweight versus a little on the heavier side.

Hopefully this article has helped you to make a well-informed decision on your KeyBar choice as well of a bit more of an expert in materials used within the EDC industry.

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