So, there I was... walking around the 17+ miles of walkway on the SHOT Show 2011 floor when I found the Gerber booth. Truth be told, I was looking for it and was delighted to find it; finding what you're looking for at SHOT Show isn't always easy. When I got to the Gerber booth I was introduced to the new Bear Grylls line of knives and tools. One of the items I was shown was the Ultimate Multi-Tool - and a few weeks later I received one for field testing.
Now, right off the bat, before someone accuses me of liking something because I'm a fan of Bear Grylls or his television show on the Discovery Channel, let me put this in writing: I'm not a fan. I don't watch the show. "Reality television" and Frank Borelli don't mix. I have nothing against Bear and I admire his background and experience - but I'm not a fan. That his initials are on this Ultimate Multi-Tool or that it's part of his Survival Series of products being produced by Gerber means nothing to me. My only questions and concerns were:
- What tools does it actually have?
- What design features make it stand out?
- How does it perform?
My first impression was that it was shaped funny. As I pulled it out of the packaging and held it in my hand I found that - like other recent Gerber multi-tool designs - it wasn't the nearly perfect rectangular shape like so many multi-tools across the years have been. Instead, it's narrower at the pliers end and thicker near the ends of the grips. Folding it open I was pleased to discover that there were no sharp edges to dig into my palm or fingers when I used the pliers AND that the pliers were spring-loaded to open. That was two design features I noticed and liked just in opening it.
I closed it back and took a good look at the grips. There are three blades in this multi-tool:
- A plain edge blade
- A serrated edge blade
- A saw blade
Then I found another design feature that I liked: On both the plain edge and the serrated edge blades, there's a small thumb-stud allowing for one hand opening (as you hold the tool, in the closed configuration, with your right thumb). Further, those blades LOCK out. Many multi-tools that have locking blades require a skilled safe-cracker to get the blades unlocked and closed back into the carry position. Not so with these blades on this Ultimate Multi-Tool. With one hand I can open the blades and close the, but they lock out securely and I had no worries that they'd close during use.
Before I go much further, let me list out the tools included / provided:
- Needle nose pliers
- Fine edge knife (plain edge)
- Serrated knife
- Phillips Screwdriver
- Small Flat screwdriver
- Medium Flat screwdriver
- Lanyard Ring
- Bottle Opener
- Can opener
- Wire Cutters
Now I assume that all you readers can figure out how to use the pliers, knives and screwdrivers. In all honesty, the saw blade - which MAYBE reaches 3" long - has limited use. Yep, you can cut small branches with it, but let's be realistic - you're not sawing through logs with it. The bottle opener, scissors and wire cutters are all no-brainers for 'how to use'. The Can Opener is easy enough, most especially if you've ever used a P-38 can opener. If not, find someone over the age of 40 who can show you how if you can't figure it out.
For field testing I wore this Ultimate Multi-Tool in the provided embroidered black nylon belt pouch for a few weeks. I had opportunity to use every tool - although I had to set up the situation to use the saw. Every other tool I found or experienced a need for in the four week testing time frame. I was real happy with the spring-loaded pliers function and got pretty good at opening and closing the two knife blades one-handed. The tool itself handled everything I reasonably asked of it. Even the scissors - which on almost every multi-tool are so small as to be next to useless - managed to handle the paper and string cutting chores I presented.