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Gerber Dime Review

A keychain tool whose utility belies its tiny stature.
Gerber Dime
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $21 List | $20.95 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Tiny, well made, excellent bottle opener
Cons:  Package opener is specialized, screwdrivers are tiny
Manufacturer:   Gerber
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 17, 2019
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60
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 15
  • Functions - 40% 4
  • Ergonomics - 20% 5
  • Portability - 15% 9
  • Construction Quality - 25% 8

Our Verdict

We have few complaints about the Gerber Dime. It is tiny, inexpensive, and beats the close competition in most ways. To compare it to full-size multi-tools is inappropriate, but when stacked up to the similarly tiny Leatherman Squirt PS4, the Dime is a solid performer. It exceeds the Leatherman in just enough ways as to displace that former award winner and take home our Top Pick honor. Read on for how the Dime beats the Squirt. Or, if you're into the Dime for the price, but want a larger multi-tool, check out the Stanley 12 in 1 for only $19!


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Gerber Dime
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Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award  
Price $20.95 at REI
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Pros Tiny, well made, excellent bottle openerSophisticated, comprehensiveLarge, excellent construction, full-size functions, customizableComprehensive, well-made, aftermarket accessories and carry optionsCompact, light, with multiple carry options, smart, effective tools
Cons Package opener is specialized, screwdrivers are tinyHeavy, expensiveHeavy and large; limited portability. Proprietary bit driver.Proprietary bit driver, no pocket clip includedFew features
Bottom Line A keychain tool whose utility belies its tiny stature.As a top of the line product, Leatherman has equipped the Charge TTI with every imaginable tool, organized and optimized for compact function; in an extravagant move, they have wrapped it in Titanium.A large, heavy tool that does all you might need but is hard to carry around.A full-function tool from a great manufacturer at a reasonable price.A multi tool that optimizes ergonomics and portability at the expense of the feature count.
Rating Categories Gerber Dime Leatherman Charge TTI Leatherman Surge Leatherman Wave+ Leatherman Skeletool CX
Functions (40%)
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4
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9
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Ergonomics (20%)
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Portability (15%)
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Specs Gerber Dime Leatherman Charge... Leatherman Surge Leatherman Wave+ Leatherman...
Number of Functions 9 19 + bits 21 18 + bits 7
Weight (ounces) 2.3 oz 8.8 oz 12.2 oz. 14.3 oz with case 8.5 oz. 9.5 oz with case 5oz
Locking Tools? None All but pliers All but pliers All but pliers All but pliers
Pliers Type Spring loaded needle nose pliers Needlenose with wire cutters, crimper Needlenose, regular, wire cutters, hard-wire cutters, crimper Needlenose, regular, wire cutters, hard-wire cutters, crimper Needlenose with 2 wire cutters
Tools Accessible Without Deploying Pliers All Blades, saw, file Blades, saw, file Blades, saw, file Blade
Blades and Type 1 straight blade 1 serrated gut hook type, 1 straight drop point 1 straight, 1 serrated 1 straight, 1 serrated 1 straight drop point
Scissors Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Number of screwdrivers 2 1 integrated. Many bits included, with more available aftermarket for proprietary driver 4 included, more available aftermarket for proprietary driver 5 included/integrated. More available aftermarket for proprietary driver 4 included, more available aftermarket for proprietary driver
File? No Yes, wood/metal and a diamond-coated file Yes, wood/metal and a diamond-coated file Yes, wood/metal and a diamond-coated file No
Saw? No Metal and wood Yes Yes No
Openers Bottle, package Can and bottle Can and bottle Can and bottle Bottle
Other important Features Tweezers Ruler, cutting hook, wire stripper Ruler, awl, wire stripper Ruler None
Sheath Included? No Yes Yes Yes No
Other carry options Key ring attachment Pocket clip, key ring Pocket Pocket Carabiner style clip, pocket clip
Closed dimensions (Length by thickness, in inches) 2.8 x 0.6 4 x 0.8 4.5 x 0.8 4 x 0.7 4.3 x 0.6
Open Length (Pliers) (inches) 4 in 6.2 in 7.1in 6.3 in 6.2 in
Open Overall Length (Primary blade deployed) (inches) 4.1 in 7 in 7.6 in 6.9 in 6.8 in
Length of Primary Blade Effective Edge (inches) 1.4 in 2.8 in 3.1 in 2.8in 2.6 in

Our Analysis and Test Results

There are two "keychain" sized multi-tools in our current review. They are essentially the same size as one another, and therefore fairly direct competitors. Each has its pros and cons, but overall the Dime came out ahead. The *Leatherman Squirt PS4* is a former Top Pick award winner, but the Dime is just a little more stout. Overall, the Dime edges ahead and takes over our Top Pick award for keychain carried, ultra-portable tools.

Performance Comparison


As compared to the full-sized tools, the Dime doesn't score very well overall; these larger models are all more durable, and most of them have more features. For use of any of the included functions, a larger form-factor is more ergonomic. In our overall, weighted scoring matrix, the bigger tools are generally rewarded. It is only in portability that the Dime indeed edges to at least near the top of the heap. In our overall scoring, the excellent portability gets overwhelmed by the larger tools and their utility.

The Dime  in an average adult male hand  for size reference.
The Dime, in an average adult male hand, for size reference.

Functions


The number and size of an ultra-compact multi tool's individual features are inherently limited. The Dime is a very small set of pliers with a knife blade, small scissors, a dedicated "package opener", and a pair of basic screwdrivers built to fold into the handles. On the end of one plier handle is a bottle opener that stays ready to use at all times. None of the tools are ideal, but all will find at least occasional use. For some, the bottle opener will see daily use. For others, the readily-accessed blade or pliers will be the most popular. The pliers are small, and the materials are thin. For light-duty pliers tasks, these are suitable, but the limited reach and flexible nature of the thin materials limit the utility of the pliers. The blade is basic, sharp, and small.


The larger tools have up to many times more features than the Dime. The Editors' Choice Leatherman Charge TTI has, for instance, more than twice as many functions, even before considering the nearly limitless potential of add-on driver bits. The Dime, in so many ways, is best compared to the Leatherman Squirt PS4. Both of these compact tools score 4 out of 10 on our functions category. They have a similar number of features, with minor differences. The Dime has a package opener where the Squirt has a file. The bottle opener of the Gerber is larger and easier to access than the bottle opener on the Squirt. Otherwise, these two tools are very similar in terms of functions.

The features and functions of the Gerber Dime  deployed for you to see.
The features and functions of the Gerber Dime, deployed for you to see.

Ergonomics


Small tools are inherently more difficult to use than full-size ones. Pliers work best when they just fill your closing fist. The pliers of the Dime are better operated with fingertips than with your fist. One cannot exert nearly as much force on the pliers of the Dime, even disregarding the construction and strength limitations of the smaller tool, as one can on the larger tools. The other attributes are similarly diminutive and therefore limited in utility. A larger knife blade would be better. Larger scissors are easier to deal with. Bigger screwdrivers generate more leverage. Of the functions of the Dime, the only one that suffers none for its miniaturized status is the bottle opener. The bottle opener of the Dime works as well as any full-size version.


The Dime and the Squirt are essentially tied here. Both suffer mainly for their compact stature. It is the bottle opener of the Dime that scoots it ahead. The larger tools are all easier to use in every other way. The carefully located and smoothly machined blades and drivers of the Charge TTI are in a class of their own as compared to the Dime. The pliers of the other Top Pick winning Leatherman Crunch are infinitely more useful than those on the Dime and the screwdriver of the Top Pick SOG Baton Q4 approximates the dedicated versions available. The other tools of the Crunch and Baton aren't as much superior to those on the Dime as you would first guess.

Portability


Gerber makes the Dime the second smallest product in our test. In assessing portability, it is size and weight that primarily determine portability. The Dime is actually more compact than most modern automobile key "fobs" and weighs just 66 grams. In even the most crowded pockets the Dime will virtually disappear. The tool comes ready to slide onto a keychain with a little split ring, and the external contours are smooth enough to cause no more damage to the fabric of your pockets than your house keys will.


All else equal, the fact that the Dime is literally just over 1/4 the weight of the Editors Choice Leatherman Charge TTI puts it well into its own class. It doesn't matter that the Charge adds two other carry modes (sheath and pocket clip) that the Dime doesn't have. The Dime is just so much smaller. All the other full-size tools are much closer to the Charge than to the Dime. Only the Leatherman Squirt PS4 is even close in size. The Squirt is actually a little smaller and lighter, with even smoother external facets. We had to score the Squirt higher because of this size difference, but the difference isn't really all that important. None of our testers indicated that the difference in size would inform their decision in choosing one of these for "everyday carry". For most purposes, consider the Squirt and Dime to be tied in portability.

All the 2017 multi tool award winners  lined up here for size comparison. The Gerber Dime is on the far right and is much smaller than the rest.
All the 2017 multi tool award winners, lined up here for size comparison. The Gerber Dime is on the far right and is much smaller than the rest.

Construction Quality


Gerber makes good tools, but the Dime is just so incredibly tiny. To fit all these features into such a product, Gerber had to use thin metal in crucial places. They are not alone. Multi-pliers are inherently less strong than dedicated pliers, because of the extra hinges etc. The tiny Dime pliers, however, are flimsy enough that one could conceivably break or bend them with average strength and use. In fact, we once broke an older (non-Dime) keychain-sized Gerber multi-tool in testing. The Dime is considerably stronger than this discontinued product and is strong enough for minor to moderate household and mechanical use. Just don't expect the pliers of the Dime to crack frozen bolts or bend thick gauge wire. The other tools of the Dime are similarly compromised. Torque hard on the screwdrivers and we can't guarantee your results. The blade of the Dime is decent, but it isn't the sophisticated piece of metallurgy you'll find on a dedicated, high-quality pocket knife (check out the Editors Choice Leatherman Charge TTI and our Pocket Knife Review for truly exceptional blades).


Any comparison of the Dime to the construction quality of the larger tool would be silly. The most casually engineered full-size multi-tool is going to be stronger than the Dime, if only by virtue of the greater volume of materials involved. Even the somewhat low-confidence Best Buy Stanley84-519K88 is beefier than the Dime. It is when stacked up next to a similarly sized tool that the Dime stands out. It is at least a little better than the Squirt PS4, in terms of construction quality. First, the pliers are just a little stiffer. Both flex when squeezed and twisted, but the Gerber a little less. The Gerber is assembled with serviceable Torx bolts while the Leatherman is riveted together. The blade of the Gerber is a more versatile double-bevel sharpened while the Leatherman has the less expensive single bevel. The sum of these small construction quality differences edges the Gerber ahead in this category, which in turn pushes it to the overall top of this compact sub-category. It is the construction quality, then, that earns the Gerber our Top Pick for the ultra-portable keychain tools.

Best Applications


This Dime is great for the casual user in "every day carry". Stash it on your keychain and we know you will be pleasantly surprised at just how useful it is.

Value


The Dime is one of the least expensive tools in our test. Gerber generally is known for making tools and knives with good value. With construction quality that we found to be above par and a price below many of the rest, this is an excellent value. It is only because most multi-tool users are looking for more functions and better ergonomics that the more expensive Leatherman Wingman and Stanley 84-519K earned our Best Buy Awards. As a specialized product the Dime is a better Top Pick than a Best Buy, though it is still certainly a good value.

The Gerber Dime and close competitor Leatherman Squirt PS4  side by side. Notice the Dime's bottle opener on the end of the right arm of the right tool.
The Gerber Dime and close competitor Leatherman Squirt PS4, side by side. Notice the Dime's bottle opener on the end of the right arm of the right tool.

Conclusion


We find that the consumers of tools like the Dime surprise themselves regularly with just how often they use such a product. It is small enough to readily travel with you anywhere, but packs usefulness that exceeds expectations. Get one, if even to complement a larger, full-service multi-tool.


Jediah Porter