The Gerber Dime is one of the most popular mini multi-tools on the planet. And yet, it divides EDC websites and forums in a way that few other items can. So what’s the deal with the Dime? I plopped down my cash in an effort to find out. Here’s what I came up with over several weeks of testing.
As you can tell by some of the outdoor shots, the Gerber Dime is very photogenic. The green and gray finish on my tester sparkles in the sun, and the online store photos paint a tempting picture. In fact, I purchased the Dime largely on the strength of its visual appeal (because, let’s face it, I didn’t really need another multi-tool).
Here’s where things get bad.
My perception of the Dime was shattered the moment I removed it from the packaging. While it retained its trademark looks, I was immediately struck by the cheapness of its fit and finish. The shiny, metal gleam present in so many of its portraits was absent, dulled by some sort of cheap, factory goo coating each of its twelve tools. As I ran my thumb over the center seam, it became immediately apparent that the two halves of the tool were misaligned. An end-on glance confirmed this. It also revealed the haphazard construction of the pivots and fasteners, as seen in the photo below.
Things got worse as I opened the tool. Each and every component proved difficult to deploy, despite the layer of grease covering each surface. It was almost as if there was sand or grit in the pivots, requiring significant fingernail pressure to flip them from the case. Even deploying the pliers feels, well, bad. And once my fingers closed around the handles, their spring action felt almost tentative. I’m actually afraid to apply too much pressure, out of fear that they’ll fail.
I’ll go into the individual tools below, but I have a general comment to make first. The metalwork on each and every weapon in the Dime’s arsenal is very, very poor. Like, something I’d expect to see on a no-name tool from Walmart. This lack of quality makes it difficult to enjoy the experience of using the Dime, to say nothing of trusting it to accomplish its tasks.
Here are the specs, if you’re still interested: 2.75-inches closed, 4.25-inches overall, weighing 2.2-ounces. Construction is of stainless steel, though there’s no indication of its type.
1 star out of 5
Enough about looks. Let’s dive into the Dime’s performance as an everyday carry tool. Unfortunately, things don’t get much better here. Rather than attack the package as a whole, let’s approach each of the Dime’s components individually. Here goes:
- Spring loaded needle nose pliers: The spongy feel of the spring further enhances my distrust of the soft-feeling steel. Not good.
- Standard pliers: See above.
- Wire cutter: These are flat, with rounded edges. They’re wire crushers, not cutters. Fail.
- Tweezer: Difficult to pull out and return, as if they’re getting hung up on something in the handle. Also covered in grease, with a burn mark where the two pieces of metal are welded together.
- Bottle opener: Functional, though its fixed nature makes it a threat to the screen of your smartphone. Probably shouldn’t share pocket space with anything delicate.
- Fine edge blade: Difficult to deploy, scraping against the outer case of the tool. Didn’t come terribly sharp, but at least it’s ground on both sides of the edge (though unevenly). Could cut things, in a pinch.
- Retail package opener: This one is a winner. No, I’m serious. This tool (though it’s not terribly sharp) is the best thing the Dime has going for it. It’s good for opening those clam-shell packages we all hate, where the sharp edges can slice into your fingers. I’d love to see this feature incorporated into more multi-tools.
- Scissor: Functional, though a bit dull. The spring action is acceptable.
- Medium flat head driver: Difficult to deploy, with an odd curve in its underside. Acceptable.
- Coarse and fine file: The teeth of each file are improperly ground, making them little more than bumps on the metal. Completely nonfunctional.
- Cross driver: Comes to a nice, sharp head, but its proximity to the bottle opener could make it difficult to maneuver.
- Lanyard ring: Not sure this should count as a tool, but it’s functional. No issues here.
So, there you have it. Out of twelve tools, you’ve got one that is excellent, five that are mostly functional, four that are iffy, and two that are completely useless. That’s far from a passing score.
2 stars out of 5
Gerber offers a lifetime warranty on the Dime, which is good. Because I have feeling that you’ll need it, sooner rather than later. The lackluster assembly of its questionable materials just doesn’t fill me with confidence. I can see it lasting through a camping trip or two, but I wouldn’t trust it as an EDC. Heck, I don’t think I’d trust it as a keychain backup. If you’re looking for a cheap multi-tool to throw in your car or tackle box “just in case,” then maybe the Dime is for you. But folks with higher expectations for their tools should look upmarket.
For me, the Dime is headed for the Drawer of Misfit Tools.
1.5 stars out of 5
The Gerber Dime costs approximately $15 online, usually retailing for around $20 at brick and mortar shops. And guys, it’s just not worth it. I’ve gotten more use out of my $4 Gerber Shard than I will ever get out of the Dime. Heck, you can get a Shard and a Morakniv Companion blade for about the same price as one of these little guys.
Let’s say, hypothetically, that I got my hands on a bad example of the product. In that case, I’d say that the Dime is an okay tool in that price range. Not great, but acceptable. But think about what else you can get for just a little more. Tools like the Leatherman Squirt or the Style PS/CS far surpass the Dime in quality, and they’re almost as widely available.
1.5 stars out of 5
This is a particularly sad review for me. Gerber made the first real multi-tool that I ever bought, way back at the tale end of high school. That’s it, pictured above. She’s got some rust spots and some dents from a decade of use, but the old MP400 is still plugging away. I carry it daily, as part of my extended EDC pack. As such, I really wanted to like the Dime. Conceptually, it packs a great number of useful tools into a small, attractive package. But the execution is so abysmal that it lets the entire thing down.
I know Gerber can make good tools. They have before, and they can again, and, to some extent, they still do. There are plenty of apologists out there who love this little guy, who will say, “Well, you must’ve gotten a bad one.” But, no. The Dime is a mess, guys. You and I know Gerber can do better.
Where to Buy
Amazon (Rated 4.1 out of 5 stars over 1,496 customer reviews as of 4/16/17)