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Gerber Dime Review

A keychain tool whose utility belies its tiny stature
Gerber Dime
Photo: http://www.gerbergear.com/
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $23 List | $16.41 at Amazon
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  ⋅  Nov 22, 2019
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47
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#14 of 19
  • Functions - 40% 3
  • Construction Quality - 25% 6
  • Ergonomics - 20% 3
  • Portability - 15% 9

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 next to similar-sized offerings, the Dime is a solid performer. It exceeds the rest of what we've tested in just enough ways to displace former award winners and beat newcomers to take home our Top Pick honor as the best keychain-sized multi-tool we have tested. Stash it on your keychain and we know you will be pleasantly surprised at just how useful it is.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Gerber Dime
This Product
Gerber Dime
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award  
Price $16.41 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$169.95 at REI$79.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$99.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$129.95 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
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Pros Tiny, well made, excellent bottle openerSophisticated, comprehensiveCompact, light, with multiple carry options, smart, effective toolsComprehensive, well-made, aftermarket accessories and carry optionsLarge, excellent construction, full-size functions, customizable
Cons Package opener is specialized, screwdrivers are tinyHeavy, expensiveFew featuresProprietary bit driver, no pocket clip includedHeavy and large; limited portability. Proprietary bit driver
Bottom Line For daily carry and occasional use, this tiny and mighty tool is just the ticketThe sky-high standard by which other multi tools are comparedClever and clean, with only a few tools, all of which are executed well for everyday carryAll you should need, with proven pedigree, at a forgiving priceThis tool pulls no punches: it optimizes for function at the cost of portability
Rating Categories Gerber Dime Leatherman Charge+ TTi Leatherman Skeletool CX Leatherman Wave+ Leatherman Surge
Functions (40%)
3
9
5
8
8
Construction Quality (25%)
6
9
9
8
9
Ergonomics (20%)
3
7
10
7
8
Portability (15%)
9
6
8
5
1
Specs Gerber Dime Leatherman Charge+... Leatherman... Leatherman Wave+ Leatherman Surge
Number of Functions 9 19 + bits 5 + bits 18 + bits 19 + bits
Weight (ounces) 2.3 oz 8.8 oz 5.0 oz 8.5 oz. 9.5 oz with case 12.2 oz. 14.3 oz with case
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 with 2 wire cutters Needlenose, regular, wire cutters, hard-wire cutters, crimper Needlenose, regular, wire cutters, hard-wire cutters, crimper
Tools Accessible Without Deploying Pliers All Blades, saw, file Blade Blades, saw, file Blades, saw, file
Blades and Type 1 straight blade 1 serrated gut hook type, 1 straight drop point 1 straight drop point 1 straight, 1 serrated 1 straight, 1 serrated
Scissors Yes Yes No Yes Yes
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 No Yes, wood/metal and a diamond-coated file Yes, wood/metal and a diamond-coated file
Saw? No Metal and wood No Yes Yes
Openers Bottle, package Can and bottle Bottle Can and bottle Can and bottle
Other important Features Tweezers Ruler, cutting hook, wire stripper None Ruler Ruler, awl, wire stripper
Sheath Included? No Yes No Yes Yes
Other carry options Key ring attachment Pocket clip, key ring Carabiner style clip, pocket clip Pocket Pocket
Closed dimensions (Length by thickness, in inches) 2.8 x 0.6 4 x 0.8 4.3 x 0.6 4 x 0.7 4.5 x 0.8
Open Length (Pliers) (inches) 4 in 6.2 in 6.2 in 6.3 in 7.1in
Open Overall Length (Primary blade deployed) (inches) 4.1 in 7 in 6.8 in 6.9 in 7.6 in
Length of Primary Blade Effective Edge (inches) 1.4 in 2.8 in 2.6 in 2.8in 3.1 in

Our Analysis and Test Results

As compared to the full-sized tools, the Dime doesn't score very well overall; the 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.

Performance Comparison


The tiny, but effective pliers of the Top Pick Dime.
The tiny, but effective pliers of the Top Pick Dime.
Photo: Rosie De Lise

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 deployed and 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.

All the features of the Top Pick Dime, except for the pliers.
All the features of the Top Pick Dime, except for the pliers.
Photo: Rosie De Lise

The larger tools have up to three times more features than the Dime. You don't choose the Dime for maximum versatility. You choose it for maximum portability.

The features and functions of the Dime, deployed for you to see.
The features and functions of the Dime, deployed for you to see.
Photo: Jediah Porter

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.


Any direct comparison of the Dime to the construction quality of most larger tools 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. It is when stacked up next to a similarly sized tool that the Dime stands out. It is at least a little better than others we have reviewed, in terms of construction quality. First, the pliers are just a little stiffer than the closest competition. All small tools flex when squeezed and twisted, but this Gerber a little less. The Gerber is assembled with serviceable Torx bolts. The blade of the Gerber is a versatile double-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 really earns the Gerber our Top Pick for the ultra-portable keychain tools.

In terms of applications of the Dime pliers, think more about...
In terms of applications of the Dime pliers, think more about disassembling electronics and such than about working on cars or sturdier tasks.
Photo: Rosie De Lise

Ergonomics


Small tools are inherently more difficult to use than full-size ones. Pliers work best when they just fill your closed 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 other tiny tools are essentially tied here. All "keychain" multi-tools suffer mainly for their compact stature. It is the bottle opener of the Dime that scoots it ahead of even larger tools. The larger tools are all easier to use in every other way. The bottle opener of the Dime is always available, from the moment you pull it from your pocket.

You won't sign up for extended whittling with the Dime, but it does...
You won't sign up for extended whittling with the Dime, but it does the job for short tasks and soft materials.
Photo: Rosie De Lise

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 puts it well into its own class. It doesn't matter that some of the larger products add 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 each other than to the Dime.

This is where the Dime really shines. It is tiny and virtually...
This is where the Dime really shines. It is tiny and virtually disappears on your keychain.
Photo: Rosie De Lise

Some tested multi-tools, lined up here for size comparison. The Dime...
Some tested multi-tools, lined up here for size comparison. The Dime is on the far right and is much smaller than the rest.
Photo: Jediah Porter

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 more expensive options earned our Best Buy Awards. As a specialized product, the Dime is certainly a good value.

The Dime and a close competitor, side by side. Notice the Dime's...
The Dime and a close competitor, side by side. Notice the Dime's bottle opener on the end of the right arm of the right tool.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Conclusion


We find that the consumers of tools like the Gerber 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