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Why I Love: The Gerber Armbar Drive

Why I Love: The Gerber Armbar Drive

Say the word “Multi-Tool” and heads begin to swell with a pretty standard image: a butterfly opening, plier-based design with a knife and some rudimentary screwdrivers and pry bar deploying from the handles.  Occasionally, those expectations get upended.  I am happy to report that the multi-tool I spent the last week with managed to upend my expectations and solved a problem I did not even know I had with other multi-tool designs.  I am extremely excited to share why I love the Gerber Armbar Drive.

 

The Stat Line

Simply put, The Gerber Armbar Drive is a multi-tool with 8 different tools built into it.  Fully closed, it is 3.5 inches long and weighs in at 3.2 oz. 

(I chose the urban blue.  Shocking, I know)

 

It features a knife, bit driver, pry bar, bottle opener, hammer, scissor, and awl.  The real story here is how it is packaged.  Noticeably absent is the almost ever-present pliers.

(not in attendance, pliers)

 

Gerber focused on making this multi-tool more akin to a traditional folding knife to increase pocket friendliness and likelihood of carry.  So, in the quest for a more knife-like silhouette the pliers had to go.  In its place is a new focus tool: the magnetic bit driver.  It folds like a traditional blade on a multi-tool and increases the overall length to 5.9 inches when folded out.  It will also hold ¼ in magnetic bits so you can choose your bits based on your needs.  Folding out from the bit-driver side are the scissors and awl.  The knife is located on the opposite side of the handle, deploys via thumb hole, and locks in place. 

(a locking blade on a multi-tool? Yes, please. Every time)

 

The hammer is conveniently located on the bottom of the tool, allowing for a flat surface to strike a nail or stand the tool on it.  It also flips open to reveal the bottle opener.

 

Carry-ability, Reliability, and Performance

The first, most glaring thing I noticed when I went to carry the Armbar Drive is the lack of a pocket clip.  Normally, this is a non-starter for me since I hate items loose in my pockets.  Since I wanted to at least try to carry it, I put it in the coin pocket of my jeans (aka: that little pocket no one really knows what to put inside).  Once I pocketed it, I totally forgot it was there.  So, while it is definitely carry-able, it is best if you’ve got the right setup for it.  Every tool in the Armbar Drive requires a deliberate action to open, and I did not find anything poking out during carry.  At no point was I worried that the Armbar Drive tools would open unintentionally.   The knife is less than 3 in long (Gerber says 2.5 but I measured 2.7 inches) and stayed sharp the entire time I have been carrying/using it.  I personally feel like the minimal, purposeful design will ensure long term reliability.

 

About that problem I never knew I had.  Turns out, in my daily life, I have a very small need for pliers.  I find myself loving multi-tools, but rarely (if ever, honestly) find myself using their main reason for existing.  What I do find myself reaching for a lot is a screwdriver.  This is one of the tools that I felt underperformed on other traditional multi-tools.  The extension is 2.1 inches long and is 2.5 inches with the bit installed.  I like that the extension, combined with the overall design of the Armbar Drive, feels like a traditional screwdriver in hand. I found myself playing with the flip out bottle opener a lot more than I should have.  It has the sensation of flipping a coin and has a tactile and audible click when opening and closing. 

 

(part hammer, part bottle opener, all fun)

Final Takeaways 

The title may give this away, but I love the Armbar Drive.  I appreciate Gerber displacing the signature pliers in favor of a screwdriver.  It literally feels like half a multi-tool in every conceivable dimension but MAYBE length closed.  The only additions I could think of making would be a pocket clip and/or storage for another reversible bit.  As I look at it, however, I have no idea where to put one.  I take the smallest comfort in knowing that smarter folks than me designed this thing and they couldn’t solve this problem, either.  This is a multi-tool I am wholeheartedly recommending to anyone who uses a screwdriver more than a pair of pliers.  Now before you destroy my inbox, I know that Gerber makes the Center-Drive line of multi-tools with BOTH the bit driver and pliers. Be on the lookout for another comparison soon.

 

See you out there,

Paul

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