An endoscopic or laparoscopic surgical instrument having an internally disposed ratchet mechanism located within a barrel portion of a handle assembly. The instrument includes a handle assembly having a pivoting handle and a stationary handle, a barrel portion to which an elongated body assembly is secured, and a ratchet mechanism for releasably positioning a tool mechanism located at the distal end of the body assembly at various increments. The ratchet mechanism comprises a pawl member and a rack member which are disposed within the handle assembly. A rotational knob and locking member may also be provided to lock the body assembly at various orientations to the longitudinal axis. The tool assembly includes novel atraumatic jaw mechanisms incorporating flexural characteristics to better gauge the force being applied to the captured tissue. The novel jaw mechanisms further includes increased tissue gripping surface area and multiple tissue handling portions which allow users to use fewer instruments and reduce the time to perform procedures.