Review: Gerber Centre-Drive
PUBLISHED: 14:54 13 March 2018
The editor tries a radical multi-tool design from the USA
It seems to me that Gerber is always looking for a new angle when it comes to their tools, and this new Centre-Drive multi-tool is about as different as I’ve seen so far. The heart of the tool is the large pair of pliers that launch forward from the stainless steel handles, either with a flick of the wrist or thumb pressure along the spine of the handles. Once extended, they have a complex and interesting shape, plus hardened triangular steel inserts that can be rotated twice before needing to be replaced. I value this feature a great deal and although it’s not unique to Gerber, I applaud them for adding it. The pliers are spring loaded which makes repetitive jobs much easier in my opinion.
The main 3” blade is accessed from the outside, as is the bit driver that gives the tool its name. This interestingly cast blade has a truss-like design to offer stiffness without excess weight, and takes standard-size bits of any kind. The Centre-Drive feature has a dog-leg shape that places the drive bits on the centre line of the tool so that it stays in line as you turn screws, offering a less fatiguing and more natural feel. Inside the frame is a holder for a second bit and there is a pocket in the nylon carrying pouch designed to carry more still. I think interchangeable bits are superb, allowing us to select all the ones we need to fit stock screws, scope mount bolts etc, so we always have just the right ones to hand whilst we’re in the field.
With the pliers extended you can access a file, a serrated blade and a sharp spike alongside a very neat ‘pry bar’, as the Americans call it. If you need to get the lid off a paint tin or a similar action, this blade will take the pressure without damaging the tool. I was pleased to see that every blade locks in one way or another so our fingers will be safe, but remember that locking knives can be seen negatively in some areas, so be careful where you carry it. Like all American-made products, the Centre-Drive has gone up in price significantly, but then so have its competitors.
It’s clear that this is a substantial and innovative tool that will have huge appeal for anybody looking for something different from all the Leatherman-type ones that hold the lion’s share of the market.