Gerber Dime Review
Cons: Package opener is specialized, screwdrivers are tiny
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|Pros||Tiny, well made, excellent bottle opener||Comprehensive, well-made, aftermarket accessories and carry options||Inexpensive and well-made, spring-loaded pliers, scissors, pocket clip, one-handed blade||Small, inexpensive, two blades||Full function locking pliers, good bit driver, can (and should be) be modified|
|Cons||Package opener is specialized, screwdrivers are tiny||Proprietary bit driver, no pocket clip included||Hybrid straight/serrated blade, squashed Phillips driver, short main blade||Flexible construction, stiff hinges||Strange initial configuration, limited other tools|
|Bottom Line||A keychain tool whose utility belies its tiny stature||A full-function tool from a great manufacturer at a reasonable price||A budget tool with real value and function, this model is compact with a feature set that does much of what you want and little that you don't||A keychain tool with some basic features and two blades; the serrated blade is unique in this sub category||Full-function locking pliers with a knife blade and bit driver included; as compared to other multi-tools, these are some of the best pliers available|
|Rating Categories||Gerber Dime||Leatherman Wave+||Leatherman Wingman||Gerber Vise||Irwin 5WR Vise-Grip|
|Construction Quality (25%)|
|Specs||Gerber Dime||Leatherman Wave+||Leatherman Wingman||Gerber Vise||Irwin 5WR Vise-Grip|
|Number of functions||9||18 + bits||10||9||3 + bits|
|Weight (ounces)||2.3 oz||8.5 oz, 9.5 oz with case||6.8 oz, 7.8 oz with sheath||2.4 oz||9.5 oz|
|Locking tools?||None||All but pliers||Scissors and blade||None||Pliers and blade|
|Pliers type||Spring loaded needlenose pliers||Needlenose, regular, wire cutters, hard-wire cutters, crimper||Spring-loaded regular and needlenose||Mini pliers with wire cutters||Locking|
|Tools accessible without deploying pliers||All||Blades, saw, file||Blade and scissors||All||All|
|Blades and type||1 straight blade||1 straight, 1 serrated||1 hybrid serrated/straight drop point||1 straight, 1 serated||1 partially serrated|
|Number of screwdrivers||2||5 included/integrated. More available aftermarket for proprietary driver||3||3||2 incuded. Infinitely more available as aftermarket bits|
|File?||No||Yes, wood/metal and a diamond-coated file||Yes||Yes||No|
|Openers||Bottle, package||Can and bottle||Can, bottle, and a unique box opener||Bottle||None|
|Other important features||Tweezers||Ruler||Very small ruler||None||None|
|Other carry options||Key ring attachment||Pocket, Pocket clip||Keychain|
|Closed dimensions (Length by thickness, in inches)||2.8 x 0.6||4 x 0.7||3.8 x 0.7||2.2 x 0.5||6.0 x 0.7|
|Open length (pliers, in inches)||4 in||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.9 in||6.0 in|
|Open overall length (primary blade deployed, in inches)||4.1 in||6.9 in||6.4 in||3.6 in||6.6 in|
|Length of primary blade effective edge (inches)||1.4 in||2.8in||2.4 in||1.4 in||2.3 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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