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Monday, 26 December 2011 00:00

Gerber Crucial Strap Cutter Review

Written by Metropolicity

This Christmas I was gifted a black Gerber Strap Cutter Crucial combo from Beerplumber. He prefaced the tool being Gerber and I, being more of a Leatherman guy, was cautious but was not going to look a literal gift-tool in the plier teeth.

Gerber Crucial Strap Cut

With all tools new and shiny, I would be optimistic about the form, looks, function and carrying potential. In this review I am going to attempt to address them all.

Form

Gerber Crucial Strap Cut

The Crucial is small to medium sized tool, weighing in at a light 5 ounces. When close, it only measures 3.5", 1.5" wide and just over .5" thick. It it easy to hold in the hand and follows a very familiar multitool butterfly opening convention. Gerber known for it's one handed opening masterpieces, the Crucial is definitely something different for them (beyond the few other select Gerber tools).

Gerber Crucial Strap Cut

Ergonomically, the Crucial is pleasing to hold in both the closed and open positions. The black anodized aluminum scales provide a nice smooth, slightly textured and uniformly comfortable grip.

Gerber Crucial Strap Cut
Gerber Crucial Strap Cut

Looks

I am a sucker for all black tools and this version of the Crucial certainly fulfils my desire for ninja-osity. The combination between what seems to be black Titanium Nitride coating, anodizing, and black oxide parts, the Strap Cutter Crucial is….strapping!

All the hardware is also blacked out including the often missed pivot screws. The only gleaming stainless bits are the chisel ground flat bit screwdriver and the sharpened portion of the strap cutter.

Function

Now the meaty portion. I will break this down into 1. Blades 2. Pliers 3. Drivers. Clearly aimed at a more minimal approach to multitools, the Strap Cutter Crucial is a step above the regular Crucial or even the FAST variant.

1. Blades

Gerber Crucial Strap Cut

The stubby, mystery steel main blade is a combo edge with about a 50/50 split on serrated and plain edge cutting surfaces, measuring at 2.25" long. It is a snub nose looking deal with good cutting potential. The lack of point is a little bit of a downside but it'll be a fine day to day cutting utensil.

The liner lock is a little flimsy and only engages on the very edge of blade, I imagine over time this will fall into place better. The big fat thumb stud is a welcome change to the skin rippers on some folders and the sometimes scary hole on Leathermans (fingers have slipped sometimes using those)

As with all mutlitool blades, it is no replacement to a dedicated folder or fixey, but the short body combined with the short blade make for a very pedestrian friendly looking knife.

Gerber Crucial Strap Cut

The strap cutter, which defines this version of the Crucial, is a fine addition to the Gerber line. Very sharp, wide and one handed opening, this is my favourite part of the Strap Cutter Crucial. The liner lock is the same as the main blade but seems to engage better. It sliced through 1000D PU coated Cordura like butter.

Gerber Crucial Strap Cut

2. Pliers

Gerber Crucial Strap Cut

The pliers on the Crucial are meant for light work only. Having a very thin profile and limited flat gripping space, the pliers could be used for delicate fine gripping. There is a little handle play making the pressure applied to the pliers a little wobbly, but if used correctly, the pliers would perform as they should.

The Crucial's direct competition is the Leatherman Skeletool, so it is only fair that we make a direct comparison to it and not other larger tools.

Gerber Crucial Strap Cut

The pliers on the Skeletool open a little bit wider than the Crucial, and unlike the Leatherman, the Crucial has anvil style wire cutters. They cut 18 gauge copper wire fine, but nothing like coat hanger.

3. Drivers

Gerber Crucial Strap Cut

This is where the Crucial is lacking. Most Gerbers have nearly useless drivers because they are so short. The Crucial is no different. The flat bit driver is especially small and short. It is located on the plier pivot side, making deeper screws are nearly impossible to reach. A bit adaptor can attached to this, expanding and remedying this problem.

Gerber Crucial Strap Cut

The phillips driver is the infamous Gerber 2D format and no different than the Leatherman bit in profile. Fortunate for the user, the phillips position can be extended by opening the tool half way and using the full length for torque. Its quite soft on it's edges and probably wouldn't do so well unless the screw head is perfectly matched.

Gerber Crucial Strap Cut

Gerber Crucial Strap Cut

Both the phillips and flat bit drivers have independent liner locks (which is a nice thing to to have if you are bearing down on the phillips). Locking up securely and releasing with ease.

Carry Potential

Gerber Crucial Strap Cut

The clip on the Crucial is a gem, a very simple folded over design, resulting in a low riding, strong and reliable clip. Since the Crucial is a thin tool, it rides well in the pocket. The smooth scales and rounded hardware make the tool glide in and out of a pocket like a slip n' slide in summer.

Matchup

Gerber Crucial Strap Cut

Gerber Crucial Strap Cut

As crafting, light duty and part of a system of tools, the Crucial fits a nice niche. As part of my sewing and craft kit, the Crucial's strap cutter is nice for undoing large stitches, the pliers are skinny and pointy enough to roll wire and adjust hardware, and the stubby drivers are adequate for adjusting screws and bolts on my sewing machine.

It also has super cool blacked out appeal, syncing up the rest of my ninja sewing tools.

Finale

The Strap Cutter Crucial is a great tool with a few short comings. Usually inexpensive and far more useful than weird carabiner on the regular Crucial models. The all black finish is easy to conceal. The Strap Cutter Crucial is worth more than what you pay for it.

Pros

  • All black finish is nice, easy to conceal with the deep pocket clip
  • Reach with the phillips head is decent for such a small tool (when it is 1/2 open)
  • Strap cutter is the most useful addition to the Crucial series, and it's sharp!

Cons

  • Knife blade is a mystery steel, and the coating seems to be painted on
  • plier head is a bit too thin and not enough flat gripping space
  • flat head driver is comically small.
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