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Saturday, 29 November 2008 14:04

Gerber Artifact Review

Written by Grant Lamontagne

Released last year, Gerber's Artifact got people's attention- probably more than Gerber was expecting initially at least. I first encountered it at the 2008 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, and was instantly taken with it.

Gerber Artifact

The idea is simple- it's basically a small pry bar with a few added cutouts to allow it to be used for other functions as well, such as opening bottles and driving screws. The design has been likened to some of Peter Atwood's designs, but at an average price of about $10-15, the Artifact is likely to see more pockets and keychains than a Prybaby. The Artifact doesn't end there though, and also features an ingenious folding X-Acto blade, but more on that later.

Gerber Artifact

Despite it's origins, the Artifact is a fairly high quality piece, although admittedly it's fairly easy to manufacture a tool with so few parts. It's also nice to see a small prybar tool that is convenient to carry- I m certain that it will save a lot of knife blades and screwdrivers from broken tips, and that alone is worth the price tag on the Artifact.

Gerber Artifact

Unfortunately the Artifact's prying ability is somewhat limited by the short length of it's handle, but something has to give for convenience sake- otherwise it's not likely to be carried, and would be completely useless siting in a drawer a home! The blade of the pry bar is notched to help remove nails. All in all, it works well enough provided you aren't using it for anything too serious.

Gerber Artifact

On the opposite side from the prybar blade is the screwdriver, which is pointed for use in phillips screwdrivers. It also has small side tines to show that it's a phillips screwdriver, although they aren't defined enough to actually get any purchase in a screw head. Users should also be aware that this is a prime location for the Artifact's pretty black coating to star chipping off. While I like this little screwdriver, I think I would have preferred a small flathead for it's versatility. Anyone else interested in having a flathead should consider grinding off about 1/8” of the tip and also the smaller tines on either side. This would allow it to still function as a phillips and also add the functionality of a flat head.

What multitool would be complete without the most important feature of all, the bottle opener? The Artifact's bottle opener is quite prominent, cut out from the underside of the pry bar. Anyone familiar with my reviews here will know that I don't normally rate Gerber's bottle openers very highly- in fact, most don't work at all, but the Artifact works quite well. As with the pry bar function though, there is very little leverage available due o the short handle, and given how far inset the bottle opener is, it offers even less, but even so, bottle tops rarely need a significant amount of force to remove. This bottle opener is no ideal for a bartender, who would be opening many bottles constantly, but for the average user it should be more than adequate.

Gerber Artifact

Lastly there is the knife blade itself, and this is perhaps the most impressive part of the Artifact. At first glance it's a simple X-Acto style blade, but that's just the beginning. Since it is an X-Acto blade it can easily be replaced when it gets dull or even when a different blade style is desirable. There are many different shapes of hobby blades that could easily be swapped into the Artifact depending on your needs. It's not often you have the choice of blade style on a multitool! The blade comes out easily by prying the blade holder lock open with a fingernail, and replaces just as easily. Be careful though, as these thin blades are sharp! The blade is also able to be opened one handed thanks to the checkered texturing of the blade holder, but be careful as it's easy to slip and come in painful contact with the edge. Finally, the blade locks open with a small liner lock system that works quite well despite the half stop designed to stop the blade halfway out. This is supposedly a safety feature but I don't see how it's considered safer. Still, it's a common enough feature on many knives and tools so it's obviously got some merit with someone somewhere. For those who live in jurisdictions where locking knives are illegal, the blade holder rests against a cutout in the keychain, and the lock mechanism is screwed in, so it can be removed and yet still functional. Bear in mind that there is no backspring to keep it open and so great care should be used, as with any other slip jointed folding knife.

Gerber Artifact

Overall the Artifact is a great little tool- very handy, inexpensive and not terribly bulky, although it would be noticeable on a keychain. It can slip into a pocket or the bit holder on a full sized tool easily, so there's little or no excuse not to have it handy when you need it. This is one of the few tools that I consider a “must have” for everyone, be they collector, user or even a non tool person. With the most commonly needed tools I can see the Artifact or it's blade-less twin the Shard being acceptable on just about anyone's keys, pocket or purse.

Pros:

Solid Build
Excellent Tool Selection
Blade System Offers Numerous Options

Cons:

Short Length = Not Much Leverage
No Flat Head Screwdriver
Black Coating Not That Durable- Why No Polished or Bead Blasted Version?

 

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