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Wednesday, 27 June 2007 19:01

Gerber Suspension Review

Written by Robert Milliron

Have you guys seen the Suspension multi tool that Gerber is selling? I’ve noticed them for sale at a few of the big discount stores around town, like Wal-Mart and Target. The open-frame construction of the handles is the first thing that caught my eye. The lattice-work look really makes the tool stand out from the others hanging on the rack next to it.

Gerber Suspension

However, upon handling the tool outside of the package, I’m left with the opinion that catching the consumer’s eye is the only real function of the open-frame handles. They look pretty, but don’t serve any real purpose.

To be honest, I wondered if the skeletonized handles would be too weak, and tend to break under high squeezing loads. I’m still not certain they won’t. A magnet sticks to the handles, meaning they are cast from some grade of steel, not aluminum or zinc. To compensate for the large cutout sections though, Gerber made the “web” sections thicker than normal. Bottom line, the Suspension doesn’t weigh any less than a similar sized multitool without windows in the handles.

A couple final points about the handles: they are plated with super-hard titanium nitride for scratch and wear resistance (a good thing) and they are marked with small blade icons of whichever tool lies directly beneath (another good thing.) If you need the serrated blade in a hurry, one quick glance at the tool icons shows where it is.

Gerber Suspension

Unlike the standard 600 series Multi-Plier, the Suspension does not use the typical Gerber sliding jaw mechanism. Instead, the handles and blades fold in a more Leatherman-like fashion. All of the blades are accessible from the outside while the tool is folded up, and all of the blades lock. It is not the first Gerber tool to employ this method of folding; in this and other ways, the Suspension is very much like the Gerber 700 and 800 Legend tools of a few years ago.

Gerber Suspension

I like the locking blades, I just don’t like how short they are. The primary blade for instance, a wharncliff profile with a cast thumbstud, is only about 2-1/8” long. That ain’t much to work with. Even less capable is the wood saw blade, also only about 2-1/8” long. By the time you allow for a reasonable amount of saw-cut stroke, the stubby length of this blade is pretty much limited to sawing items of about 5/8” diameter and smaller.

Gerber Suspension

But there is plenty of positive news about the Suspension blades as well. I like the wharncliff blade shape (a lot!) and am happy to see it on this tool as well as several of the newest model 600-series multitools from Gerber. I also like the one-hand blade opening thumb studs, a feature NOT found on the higher grade Gerber tools. Both the thumbstuds and the blade lock mechanism appear to be inherited from the Urban Legend 700 tool.

Best of all, the Gerber system of anti-blade clumping is employed on this tool. Flying beneath the radar unnoticed, those little tabbed washers are pure genius. You will never have two blades pop out on a Gerber tool when you only wanted one. It’s impossible.

Gerber Suspension

Rounding out the blade selection, we find a radical can opener/bottle opener tool, a sheepsfoot serrated blade (also somewhat short), a nicely made pair of Fiskars scissors, a lanyard ring, a Phillips screwdriver, and a couple of flat head screwdrivers. Ironically, even though I think the knife blades are too short, I’m very happy with the length of the screwdriver blades! Ordinarily Gerber equips their multitools with screwdrivers that are ridiculously stubby. Not so on the Suspension; all three will outreach many of the dedicated drivers on current Leatherman tools.

Gerber Suspension

Have I already mentioned that the plier jaws are spring loaded? They are, and I kinda like that too. A clothespin-type spring is employed, hidden between the plier pivot halves, so it is concealed and out of the way. The jaws pop open pleasantly when you let off on the handles; no need to insert an index finger between the handles in order to get the jaws open like on other tools.

Last but certainly not least, the Suspension multitool is manufactured in China. It is of far better quality than the vast majority of tools to come from that country, but still not quite up to North American and European standards. It employs a number of innovative features, and no doubt sold like hotcakes during the recent holiday gift-giving season. I suspect the quality of Chinese tools will continue to improve during the coming years.

Pros:

  • Spring loaded pliers
  • Long length of screwdrivers
  • All blades lock
  • Titanium nitride coating for wear resistance

Cons:

  • Handle cut-outs serve no purpose, and do not make the tool any lighter
  • Knife blades are quite short
  • Tool handles are much too fat

 

Dimensions:
Length closed 3-7/8”
Width Closed 1-7/8”
Thickness 7/8”
Length open 6”
Weight 8.9 oz

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