The original Gerber "Multi-Plier" didn't have locking implements, however Gerber addressed this failing with the introduction a couple years later of its "Multi-Lock" tool. Subsequently, Gerber discontinued the non-locking version, a smart move if you ask me, but now calls the former Multi-Lock the Multi-Plier. So, they have now gone full circle on the name--got that?
The distinguishing feature of the Multi-Plier is the ability to easily open the pliers one-handed, a quick flick of the wrist extends the pliers which automatically lock into place. This feature can be very handy at times. For those who use the pliers a lot, this is a real plus. (As an aside, you can also have quick-draw contests with your friends to see who can draw and extend the pliers fastest.) The pliers lock is easy to release by simply depressing the button protruding through a slot in both handles. The handles are comfortable to grip.
One unfortunate potentially very painful drawback of the original non-locking tool was that the closely spaced parallel handles made it very easy to pinch the palm of your hand while squeezing the pliers down on something thin. The "handles" close down on each other with almost no space between them. This deaign failure was subsequently addressed satisfactorily in the locking version, which has adequate space. Just a word of warning should you be offered an older non-locking tool.
Gerber produces these tools in both a standard and needle nose version, both with wire cutters for soft wire Unfortunately, the tip of the needle nose is about twice as wide as those of the Leatherman or a real set of needle nose pliers, so they aren't quite as versatile as it might be. It's a trade-off with robustness, and they are robust.
Gerber produces a number of variations of the locking version of their multi-purpose tool. They now even offer the unique opportunity to custom configure your own Multi-Plier with exactly the tools you want, sort of, and even offer a variety of colored handles. This is a potentially huge step forward in the entire concept of these products, getting exactly the tools you want, though in reality the selections are somewhat limited. Aside from the colors choices for handles and tools, the configurations are taken from the various Multi-Plier tools in the line, but it is a start.
The pliers must be extended and the tool's handles must be opened to access the blades and tools. The standard tool is equipped with both a plain edge drop point blade (2 1/2 inches) and a sheepsfoot serrated blade (2 5/8 inches). A good double sided, fine single cut, course double cut file is included, but there is no "hacksaw" edge, nor is there a saw. There are three slotted screwdriver blades and a #2 Phillips, a can opener, and a nice lanyard ring that swings out for use. The screwdriver blades are properly ground and the edges not rounded-off, something all the other makers could tale a lesson from. They are all pretty short, extending only an inch, and one quarter to half of that is rather wide on the slotted blades--the combination can severely limit their utility at times (the optional Tool Kit addresses these shortcomings). The locking mechanism, a large plastic slide on the top of each handle for the tools is very easy to operate. There is a crimper for crimp style electrical connectors integrated into the back side of the pliers joint. The handles also incorporate 4 inch/8 cm rulers, but since they are on the inside of the handles, they are of limited usefulness.
The "Scout" replaces one knife blade with an excellent pair of scissors which work very well, better than any others of this class of tools. The remaining blade is a drop point that is, unfortunately, half serrated. A good, sharp awl/punch with threading hole replaces the smallest slotted screwdriver blade. The file is carbide coated, something like a diamond coating, less expensive, but nearly as effective.
The "Pro Scout" and "Woodsman" replace the scissors and serrated blade, respectively, with a "saw coupler" which holds a small saber saw blade. This has the significant advantage of allowing you to use different saw blades for different materials and to replace a dull or damaged blade.
For horsemen and -women, the "Trailrider" builds on the Scout, replacing the Phillips with a hoof pick and the file gets an extra course double cut.
Gerber is adding additional variations of the Multi-Plier faster than we can keep up, plus there is the aforementioned "build your own" capability.
Gerber also offers the "Compact Sport" version which is slightly smaller overall than the full-size Multi-Plier. It is equipped with the needle nose pliers with wire cutters and crimper that are about one third smaller overall and with a far narrower and better "needle nose." The implements are full-sized, including a partially serrated drop point blade, scissors, medium screwdriver/bottle opener, Phillips screwdriver, large and small screwdrivers and a can opener. While more compact, we still wouldn't consider it appropriate for pocket carry, but it is less bulky on your belt and if your uses for the piers tends towards the delicate or small, it may be a good choice for everyday use. For possible survival use, we'll stick with the full-size versions.
The Gerber Model 800 Legend is Gerber's second stab at producing a better Leatherman tool (see MPT below for the first). It opens in the same manner, the handles unfolding out and back from the jaws.
Compared to its competition, the Legend is somewhat bulky and not particularly lightweight, despite what Gerber may claim in their advertising. Weighing in at a hefty 8.8 ounces (249.5 grams), it is 4 1/4 inches (108 mm) long, 1 9/16 inches (39.7 mm) wide and 7/8 inch (22.2 mm) thick, not including the one-hand opening studs and locking slides which stick out from the sides. Compared to the standard Gerber Multi-Plier it weighs about 1 ounce (28 grams) more (depending upon the Multi-Plier selected), but is 1/8 inch (3.2 mm) thicker and and inch (2.54 cm) shorter
The Legend has a number of desirable features; all the tools being accessible with the handles closed and they all lock in place, a one-hand opening knife blade and scissors, Torx wrendh adjustable tension for the tools, spring-loaded pliers, and rotatable/replaceable carbide wire cutters, to name just the highlights. Yet, they are also all flawed to one degree or another. Some of the flaws are almost unimaginable, such as the Fiskars scissors that don't work well with stiff materials. The devil is often in the details, and the details are where the Legend seems to be lacking, often limiting the functionality of the tool.
These are definitely not a pocket tools, in our opinion. A nylon pouch is standard with all the Gerber tools, though we have found them to be annoying to wear and use. First, the Velcro doesn't hold the flap very securely. The flap is oversized for the sheath once the tool is inside, so that it sticks out from the sides, aggravates this. When worn on our belt, we constantly catch the flap with our arm or hand or as we passed by something while walking or working, opening it up. The right angle corner of the flap will constantly remind you of its presence as your arm swipes it while walking or working. The melted nylon that serves to prevent the binding from unraveling results in a sharp edge that only makes this more annoying as it scratches your arm.
Gerber offers a limited lifetime warranty.
An optional Tool Kit is available which includes an adapter that fits over the Phillips blade and holds standard quarter-inch hex bits. It comes with 6 bits. This compensates somewhat for the lack of reach of the included tools and provides a wider selection of drivers. The tools can also be purchased with the Tool Kit included. Either way you get a nylon pouch with an extra pocket to hold the kit. It adds a bit of thickness to the package, but not so much as to be unwieldy. We consider the Tool Kit essential to gain maximum possible utility from these tools.
Gerber also makes the MPT (Military Provisional Tool), which is very much a clone of the original Leatherman. It operates in the same manner, but incorporates rolled edges on the handles to help reduce the pain when squeezing hard. This is really the only advantage it has over the Leatherman which is otherwise a superior tool in most respects. It shares most tools with the Multi-Plier. The MPT doesn't close securely, so isn't well suited to pocket carry, even though the size would be fine. The quality control on every example I have seen has been surprisingly poor. Even the sheath on the sample supplied to me was improperly assembled.
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Publisher and Editor: Doug Ritter
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