It’s not often I find a multi-tool that catches my attention. Generally, I find them unruly, difficult to use, and full of compromises, stuffing as many gimmicks as they can inside. That’s not the case here.
The Gerber Center-Drive packs several innovations that not only differentiate it from the pack but also transform it from being something that’s simply useful in a pinch, to something that can be a first choice instead.
Starting with a quick description, The multi-tool packs in spring loaded needle nose pliers, , carbide wire cutters, a 3.25″ fine edge blade, a magnetic driver, ruler, bottle opener, pry bar/nail puller, and awl, files, a serrated blade, a tool lock, and standard pliers. It weighs 9.5 oz, is 4.7″ closed, 6.6″ open, and retails for $119 ($132 with the bit set as tested).
The primary innovation here is the centered-axis screwdriver from which the tool aptly named. The bit is centered on the rotational axis, instead of the bit being offset in an attempt to make the device more compact like most multi-tools do. This sounds like a minor change, but the effect is has on usability is not to be understated and certainly doesn’t go underappreciated. when using it, the screwdrivers center point doesn’t actually shift from side to side, instead staying true on it’s axis, resulting on better control and less fatigue. You still have to deal with an odd shaped handle (the rest of the multi-tool), but it’s overall far easier to use as a whole. The bits are also magnetic and interchangeable, which further enhances it’s usability.
The second change here, and probably my favorite, comes in the way of the sliding pliers. By pressing down on a sliding lock and moving it forward, the pliers are pushed out of the front of the muli-tool where they lock in place. They’re spring loaded for ease of use, and the entire body becomes an impressively stout handle and point of leverage. They feel great to use, with a solid bite and good amount of recoil. They bodie does a great job of protecting the hand too, preventing pinching near the teeth or pivot point. They’re some of the strongest I’ve used, easily bending metal without flexing or feeling like they’re strained.
Other notable features include a very sturdy locking blade, although it’s off set and a little trickier to use, solid wire cutters, functional wire stripper, a nice included carry case and an assortment of exchangeable bits if they buy the appropriate packaged deal (the cheaper version doesn’t include these).
There are a few other items like a file, serrated blade, pry bar, and a place for a lanyard. While handy and well built, many of these are a bit harder to access, requiring a strong fingernail to pry back or tough fingertips. That lead me to my only major complaint with the tool, being how difficult a few of the more obscure components can be to access. For example, accessing the pry bar, file, etc, you’ll have to engage the pliers first,, sliding the lock forward with your thumb, and then being able to manually pry each tool back individually to use them. If you plan to use one of the tools extensively and in a more comfortable position, you’ll need to leave that tool open and close the pliers back up around it to avoid having to use them with the tool splayed out, with the pliers’ teeth on one end and open grips on the other as in the image below.
Aside from a minor quibble with a few of the lesser uses tools included, I’ve found the center drive to be an exceptional piece of equipment, especially if you’re relying on it for the basics: the blade, pliers, and of course the screwdriver. In my experience, it’s been impressively stable in the hand and safe to use, has performed better overall than any other multi-tool I’ve ever used, and it’s built impressively well. After a couple of months using it on computers, home repairs, and even bending and breaking metal, it’s quickly become my new personal go to multi-tool, and one that I could easily recommend to anyone who is looking for a tool that can do some serious work.
For more information on Gerber and and their wide range of gear, check out their website, http://www.gerbergear.com/
For information on our rating system and our testing procedures, check out our About us/ Contact us page.
I want to extend a huge thanks to Gerber for their continued support and for providing this product for review. We couldn’t do it without their help. Our full disclosure can be found here.
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