Gear test: Cobra cable ties

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It seems like I’ve been using the ubiquitous cable tie in one form or another for most of my life, and I’ve experienced all too many snags and cuts caused by the sharp stub that remains after tensioning and trimming them to length.

Quality cable ties typically work well and last until you need to cut them off. If you make the mistake of bargain hunting for them, cable ties will either break with the first tensioning pull or not retain tension for very long. Poor-quality ties also break down after exposure to heat and ultraviolet light.

Whether good quality or poor, the common theme with every cable tie I have used is that once secured in place, a very sharp tang is left exposed, which will tear your hands apart the first time you brush against it. Cobra low-profile cable ties solve this problem with a few unique features, while providing a much lower overall profile, a snag-proof exterior, and a bit of flexibility that has helped me out on more than a few occasions.

The best feature of Cobra ties is that once tensioned and the free end of the strap is cut, the remaining stub retracts into the head of the tie, eliminating the sharp edges that exist with standard cable ties. All of the edges are rounded, as well.

The Cobra tie has a contoured locking head that uses an “inline” mating design, as opposed to the traditional perpendicular entry point for the free end of the strap. This helps eliminate the stress points of traditional cable ties. The flexible head conforms nicely to the contour of the bundle, without creating the high point that occurs when using conventional ties.

The locking pawl of the Cobra tie, which is built into the head, doesn’t securely lock onto the strap until final tension is applied to the bundled cables. Then the bundle tension pushes up on the pawl to create the pressure to lock the tie. Although this initially concerned me, I found it to be an asset. While bundling and securing wires, I often need to add cables or hoses within the bundle, forcing me to cut off the just-installed ties. Although not releasable, Cobra low-profile ties can be snapped apart while attached but still hanging loose, allowing you to rewrap the bundle after making changes or additions.

I’ve been using Cobra ties to rebundle both wiring and hoses aboard my 36-foot Albin, in addition to securing existing runs in the bilge using the company’s various screw and adhesive mounts. I had success using the different mechanical installation tools I have acquired over the years, but I also was able to simply tug on the end with pliers and cut off the excess. Either way, Cobra low-profile cable ties provide snag-proof installation.

Cobra Cable Tie Co. provided independent lab testing data showing that its 50-pound ties have a tensile strength between 112 and 152 pounds, while its 120-pound ties have a tensile strength between 203 and 242 pounds. The tests were performed by installing the ties on a 1-1/2-inch-diameter split steel mandrel that was mechanically pulled apart until the tie failed. The testing was performed both prior to and following exposure to predetermined moisture levels and thermal cycling. All of the low-profile ties meet the appropriate MIL standards, are UL and CSA listed, and are protected by two U.S. patents.

Cobra low-profile cable ties are available in lengths of 7, 11 and 14 inches, with a tensile strength rating of 50 pounds and strap width of .178 inch. The company also offers 14-inch ties with a tensile strength rating of 120 pounds and strap width of .3 inch. They are available in both natural and UV black 6/6 nylon. Pricing runs from $4.95 for 100 7-inch, 50-pound UV black ties to $16.75 for 100 14-inch, 120-pound black ties.

Distribution is expanding, but the ties can be purchased directly from Cobra on the company Web site (www.cobracabletie.com), or by calling (888) 295-6255.

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