I previously reviewed the J-Bar as a method for moving super-heavy loads across flat surfaces by the miracle of leverage. As good as a J-bar is at moving things, it’s not a great prybar. When I need to pry something apart, remove nails, separate two things from each other, I fall back on a standard set of lightweight crowbars (I have a titanium crowbar which I’m particularly fond of) to do the work. Often, however, there are jobs which just can’t be handled by a normal crowbar, or which are repetitive or awkward where a crowbar just isn’t the right tool.
Enter the Artillery Pry Bar System. I know, I know – adding the word “system” after anything so simple (“The Dixie Cup System”) makes it seem like some sort of marketing terminology, but in this case the suffix is deserved. This is an erector set for people who want to rip things apart. Various parts thread together or re-configure to take on almost any prying task, from the short to the four-feet-of-leverage end of things. Crowbars will quickly become tools for sissies after you get one of these. I’m reminded of the Far Side cartoon where a Viking is examining his mace and talking with another Viking as a third Viking blowing a bubble is walking into the frame. The text is something like “You know, Lars, there’s nothing like the good solid feel of a mace in your hand to make you want to smash something.” If you have one of these prybars, you’ll find yourself looking for loose boards on the side of the house, hoping to rip one out, or maybe eyeing that abandoned building down the street to see if you can get it to fall down in under an hour.
I don’t even know what half of these blades DO, but there clearly are parts in there for removing nails, prying up sheetrock, roofing, or whatever. I’d have to say that the simple prybar ends are the ones that are my favorites, but the range of different destructive capabilities is impressive even if you don’t use a few of the more exotic ends.
The length of the bar is adjustable, and there are two different extensions that can be used. There are three different fulcrum options, and even a set of fulcrum extenders for one of them that can be attached for really getting leverage. There are configurations to be used on decking, so you can stand on the deck but rip the deck up from the “open” side. It’s all pretty lightweight stuff; aluminum, mostly, but tool steel where it counts. Lifting this up and prying against walls or even overhead would be possible with no difficulty.
I just used it for prying up a floor plate in one of my shipping containers, which would have been a much more difficult (and “up close”) episode without the Artillery tool. Unlike crow bars, you can use your foot to assist in planting the blade into whatever it is that you’re prying. Combining your arms and a foot, you can quickly get a purchase under nearly anything that needs to be moved with pretty good accuracy.
This is a PERFECT tool if you live in earthquake country, or for first-responder firefighting or rescue folks. I imagine that with a sledge hammer, gloves, and this tool you could tear apart a whole woodframe house in a matter of hours. Everything you need is in the box, including the big Phillips-head screwdriver and adjustable wrench you might need for switching configurations around.
The one downside is that it’s expensive compared to a cheap crowbar. But I imagine if you’re a contractor, this would pay for itself quite quickly, especially if you wake up in the morning with a sore back from demolition work where you’re on your hands and knees doing crowbar huffing-and-puffing. There are three different set configurations, ranging in street price roughly from $200 to $330 and they vary by what blades and accessories they include.