This journal will document my experiences with the Gerber Crucial Multi-tool which was part of a Combo set with a Gerber Contrast folding knife.

My very first multi-tool was a basic Swiss Army Knife with a large and small knife blade, nail file and corkscrew (I think). About 10 years ago, I bought a Swiss Army Cybertool 41 (my current EDC) which I used to carry in my pocket until I realized that they were wearing out because of the weight of the tool. I now carry it in my messenger bag, so it is not immediately available when needed.

Last year I bought a Leatherman Skeletool (after years of waiting, when it went on sale at for $40) and a few months later, I lost it when it fell off my belt on the day I switched from a wide leather belt to a narrower belt.

My EDC Needs

Wed 31 Jul 2013 10:17:30 AM EDT

My needs for an every day carry (EDC) are quite modest: opening cardboard packages, cutting tape and plastic tie-wraps, tightening the odd Philips screw and prying something open. The tool also has to be lightweight.

Any additional features the multi-tool might have are a bonus.

The photo on the right and the following one, below, are of the packaging. The ruler may be used to determine the actual size.


Wed 31 Jul 2013 10:35:03 AM EDT

I ordered the knife on Tuesday July 23 from's Deal of the Week for CAD$ 39.99 + tax ($45.19 total). It shipped on Friday July 26 and arrived on Monday July 29. I bought this to review my first Gerber products and compare the quality and functionality to equivalent Victorinox and Leatherman products.

It arrived in a surprisingly large box because the cardboard and blister-pack of the knife and multi-tool design is wasteful rather than compact— the multi-tool is extended to show the pliers (the extended knife of the multi-tool is actually printed on the packaging) and the half-opened knife is placed further away than nevessary.

First Impressions

Wed 31 Jul 2013 11:25:36 AM EDT

Come, thick night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes
Macbeth, I.v.

Contrast Knife

After cutting open the blister pack of the Contrast knife with a (J.A. Henckels TWIN cuisine one-piece) kitchen knife, I opened the Contrast knife using the thumb-studs on the blade and used it to cut the plastic around the Crucial multi-tool. The studs are located on both sides of the 3-inch, 7Cr17Mov stanless steel blade, just below the jimping. The Contrast knife was very sharp and sliced through the plastic easily. I noticed that the lower part of the G-10 handle looked "worn"— the hatched pattern was not fully formed in places but otherwise there were no scratches or blemishes on the knife.


For one-handed opening of a folding knife, I prefer a blade with a hole cutout instead of the stud, as the stud in the Contrast tends to dig into my thumb as the blade is deployed (it probably works better while wearing work gloves) and so I use both hands to deploy the Contrast blade.

To compare, the Leatherman Skeletool has a blade hole which I felt performed well enough that I could deploy the blade one-handed. (It was Spyderco that pioneered the blade hole, the pocket clip and serrated blade, several features that most blades have today.)


When I went to close the knife, I didn't know how— I looked for the icon of an open lock usually printed on the safety switch, but there was none on this knife. There were no instructions included in the packaging either. I put the open knife aside and decided to look at the multi-tool.

Later, I emailed Gerber asking for help and within an hour or so, I received a reply telling me that the Contrast knife uses a frame lock (as opposed to a liner lock) suggesting I search for Youtube videos and describing how to fold it back. After some searching, more fiddling and experimentation, I used the flat screwdriver on the Crucial multi-tool to push aside the frame and fold the blade closed to its 4.25-inch size.

I haven't managed to fold the blade without inflicting mild pain on my thumb. This is supposed to be normal on new knives and the stiffness does eventually wear off. I think the handle design could be improved by reducing the height of the right hand side of the frame to increase the thumb's surface area when disengaging the frame lock.

Other than the sharpness, I was not impressed with the workmanship and functionality of the Contrast knife (which usually sells for $USD33).

Crucial Multi-tool

No pleasure endures unseasoned by variety.
Publius Syrus (42 B.C.)

The Crucial multi-tool, is heavier and slightly wider than the Contrast knife but closes to a smaller 3.6-inches. It has a two-tone brown and silver handle which eliminates it as a tactical knife. This particular tool had two very obvious nicks on the edge of the silver handle below and to the left of the word "Crucial" (please refer to the "B" annotation in the 7th photo). In addition, some of the Torx screw-heads felt rough or had burrs that I could feel as I passed my fingers over the multi-tool.

The tool weighs 5oz and clipped to the inside of my pocket, the weight is not noticeable; I have to feel to see if the multi-tool is still there. The Skeletool, in comparison was quite a bit heavier, and I didn't like the feel of it clipped to my pocked, so I wore it on my belt.

It has a knife with a semi-serrated blade, a flat head and Philips screwdriver, a carabiner with a bottle opener and a pair of needle-nose pliers. All the tools can be accessed without opening up the pliers.

When I opened the knife blade, using the thumb stud embedded into the upper edge of the blade, there was a small drop of machine oil on the tip of the blade, which I wiped off with a paper towel (a few hours later, when I went to use the knife again, there was a smaller amount of oil on the tip of the blade).


I am not impressed with the quality control and workmanship of the Contrast knife and Crucial multi-tool from Gerber. However, relatively speaking, the functionality of the Crucial multi-tool is better than the Contrast knife.

The photograph on the right (click to enlarge) shows the drop of oil (marked "A") and the nicks (marked "B"). I am willing to live with the two nicks on the handle because they are cosmetic in nature and after a bit of rubbing with the emery board, they are of no concern.

The Leatherman Skeletool suffered from similar quality defects the most egregious of which was the blade hole had such a sharp burr that my thumb received superficial cuts each time I opened the blade. I had to deburr the edges with a few strokes of some emery paper.

Victorinox still reigns as king in terms of the quality of workmanship and thoughtful tool functionality and usability.

Crucial Multi-tool: The Final Verdict


Thu 01 Aug 2013 12:00:50 AM EDT

Moments ago, I went to pickup the multi-tool, which happened to be lying on my mousepad, and the burr on the Torx screw-head caught on the fabric of the mousepad and tore a very fine streak on the surface; I could feel the tug as it caught on the fabric. I tried sanding down the burr with an emery board but it seems to be more stubborn that I expected. Perhaps I might be more yielding to a metal nail. Alternatively, I can request to send this tool in for a warranty repair. It's only been one day since I received it.

I cannot carry this multi-tool with me every day because this burr would rub against the inside of my pants pocket and eventually wear a hole in it. This tool, built in China, is now useless as an EDC until that screw gets replaced. I can also feel that another screw head on the opposite side has a slight burr.

How did this tool get past QA with so many defects? I am confident in saying that Gerber needs to improve their manufacturing process and their QA to prevent a repeat of such occurences.


Final Score: 2 out of 5

I would not recommend the Crucial Multi-tool because of the poor workmanship and lack of QA in the manufacturing process. If I lost this tool, I would not buy another copy of it again. Nor would I recommend or buy another Gerber product again.

Gerber Crucial Multi-tool Journal / luis fernandes /