Years ago a buddy of mine did a review on multi-tools. He compared (and abused) a number of them to determine which one he thought was best. What I learned from his process and his evaluation is that there are some companies who make multi-tools in an attempt to fit a garage's worth of tools in your pocket. Other manufacturers seem to focus on a few necessity tools built into a tough quality package that will last for a longer time. My first impression of the Gerber Crucial was that it belonged in the latter category. Testing (I believe) proved me right.
Shown above with every tool open, the Gerber Crucial incorporates only the most crucial (and commonly used) tools. They include:
- A knife blade that is mixed plain edge / serrated
- A pair of needle-nose pliers
- Wire Cutter
- Slotted (straight) screw driver
- Phillips head screw driver
- Bottle opener
Like almost all needle-nose pliers this also incorporates the rounded grip section of normal pliers perfect for loosening stubborn nuts such as those you find holding in stolen / expired / suspended license plates. Each tool has its own liner lock with the exception of the carabiner hook which doubles as the bottle opener. (For those of you who are nit-picky readers, the pliers don't require a liner lock so it obviously wouldn't have one).
The steel pocket clip (not shown in any of the photos because I didn't think to take a picture of it) allows for easy carrying in a front or rear pocket and the size of the Crucial when everything is folded shut isn't prohibitive to either. In fact, it's a pretty compact tool that I'd guess to be between 3 and 4" in overall length when shut. The grips, while one side is longer than the other because of the design, feel good in the hand when using any of the tools and present no sharp or rough edges when using the pliers. One of the things I liked a lot about the design is that the blde can be opened, one handed, while the tool is folded shut. There's a small - but sufficient - thumb stud that allows for that.
The carabiner clip is spring-loaded both to fold out of the tool and the clip itself where you'd hook it onto a belt loop, gear loop, or D-ring for those of you who wear Warrior Wear or 5.11 Tactical pants. Because the carabiner clip doubles as the bottle opener, the pivot point for the spring-latch is at the tip end - not the base where you might expect it. That means that to hook this onto something you don't push in and down, but instead you push in the latch and push the clip UP into whatever loop you're hooking it on. It seems a little odd but is easy to get used to. It also means that even if the spring latch breaks and loses all spring tension, the tool won't fall from your belt. Gravity will keep it hanging as if hung just on a deep hook.
To test it I cut a few lengths of 550 cord, 1/2" rope, 1" nylon webbing and, using the wire cutters, several pieces of 14 gauge wire. Everything worked flawlessly. The phillips head screwdriver is a tad bit small for some of the larger screw heads, but it's a compact multi-tool - what should we expect? When I was finished testing it and considered the overall design, I was impressed. It's simple. It offers the minimum necessary tools with no whiz-bang (unnecessary) bells and whistles. It's comfortable in the hand. All in all a tool I'm happy to be dropping into my backpack or "tactical" briefcase. I just have to remember it's there before I go trying to get on a plane with my carry-on.
Suggested retail is less than $40 and a quick search on the web found me one for as low as $31.99. That's a darn good price for simple efficiency. For more information check out Gerber online at www.gerbertools.com.