Hands-on Gear Review

Gerber Dime Review

A keychain tool whose utility belies its tiny stature.
Gerber Dime
By: Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 24, 2017
Price:  $25 List  |  $15.99 at Amazon - 36% Off
Pros:  Tiny, well made, excellent bottle opener
Cons:  Package opener is specialized, screwdrivers are tiny
Manufacturer:   Gerber
60
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 14
  • Function - 40% 4
  • Ergonomics - 20% 5
  • Portability - 15% 9
  • Construction Quality - 25% 8
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
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  • 5
Top Pick Award

Our Verdict

We have very 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 the perennial award winner and take home our Top Pick honor. Read on for how the Dime beats the Squirt.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

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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 Baladeo Locker is a full-size tool that, at first glance, has a similar number of functions to the Dime. However, on closer examination, the built-in bit driver isn't just one function. The bit driver of the Locker gives it, again, nearly unlimited optional add-ons. 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 is 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 portable 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, but the other tools of the Crunch, hidden inside the closed pliers and relatively small, aren't as much superior to those on the Dime as you would think.

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 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 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 *Baladeo Locker* 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 in a few ways 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 the least expensive tool 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 well below 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 earned our Best Buy Award. 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

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