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Monday, 05 December 2016 14:17

Gerber Center-Drive Review

Written by

Gerber Center-DriveIn November of 2016 Gerber introduced the Center-Drive in a major media storm.  Everyone was talking about it, wanting to try it for themselves, speculating on whether it was hype or whether it was the real deal.  I'm a bit late to the party for reviewing it, and you'll see hundreds of different reviews and unboxing videos already, but mine is going to be different, because there is a reason we are late to the party.  I have actually put mileage on the Center-Drive- I've carried and used it, and I don't think the value of a tool is in it's ability to be pulled out of a package.

So, to get on with it, the Center Drive is a fairly large, one could say bulky tool.  It is really on par with the Leatherman Surge or One Handed Tool (OHT) in terms of size.  That makes it one of the larger tools available and that's a good thing- which is why every company makes one.

Gerber Center-Drive compared to Leatherman Surge

Along with its large size, the Center-Drive also features a large, one handed opening, liner locking blade.  It's a drop point style that maximizes utility and isn't one of those silly tactical style knife blades found on some multitools.  I'm not sure how many people need to use a set of pliers to take out a sentry at a drug kingpin's complex, so I think a good utility oriented blade makes a lot more sense on a multitool.  The Center-Drive blade is large enough to be useful, but not unwieldly- perfect for a multitool blade.

Gerber Center-Drive vs Leatherman Surge

Also outside is the large bit driver that gives the Center-Drive it's name- the bit driver is contoured so that the bit is actually centered on the handle, making it more comfortable to drive screws, at least in theory.  In fact, it is true, but the reality is, a multitool is all about convenience, and if you need to drive many, lengthy screws on a frequent basis, you should probably get some dedicated tools- like maybe a drill.  The increased ergonomic is nice, but I'm not sure how useful it would really be in the long run.  Still, an improvement is an improvement and that counts as a win.Gerber Center-Drive vs Leatherman Surge

The sliding head plier has been a Geber trademark ever since they got into the multitool market with the original Multiplier and this latest iteration of it is just as relevant as all of the others.  The head features replaceable carbide cutters which I think is a good thing, but others have found to be a bit on the brittle side.  I'd rather have something brittle and replaceable than the cast head that can be damaged and screw the whole thing up.  The down side of the head, at least in my opinion, is that it is sprung.  That's a personal thing, I prefer an unsprung head, but some people like it when the pliers open by themselves.  All in all, I consider it a good thing.

Inside the Center-Drive is a series of handy tools, and efficient use of space- for example, the stop that keeps the handles from coming together actually carries a second bit in addition to the one carried in the bit driver itself.

 

Gerber Center-Drive Bit CarrierA couple of internal tools won't be new to any Gerber user- the double sided file and the serrated blade are identical to the ones used in the MP600 series, and are a bit small compared to the rest of the Center-Drive but are perfectly functional and exactly what you would want in either of them.  They seem a bit pedestrian compared to the flair of the rest of the Center-Drive, which has thus far lead a pretty flashy existence, but like the rest of the tool, they just work, so way mess with them?Gerber Center-Drive file and serrated blade

 

But, the Center-Drive doesn't end there- there is also an awl, which doesn't have an edge or sewing eye, so it's basically just a pointy bit of steel, and a bottle opener/pry bar.  Given the success of various pry bar based tools on the market in recent years, it seems odd that no one has thought to put a pry bar in a plier based multitool until now- especially when you consider how many broken blades, bent screwdrivers and snapped files each of the manufacturers replace under warranty each year.

 

Gerber Center-Drive awlOh yeah, and all of the inside tools lock open with Gerber's patented SA-T-LOK system, that has been proven effective on many of Gerber's line in the past, although this one benefits from having a lanyard ring built in that also acts like a thumb ramp in use.  Not slipping onto the blade and cutting my fingers in use makes me happy.

In short, the Center-Drive has proven to be a most capable tool in my testing.  While there are some things I don't like, all in all it is not an over-hyped tool- it's the real deal and I am confident in saying that the Center-Drive would handle any situation that you may encounter, at least as well as any other multitool.Gerber Center-Drive prybar

 

That said, given that there is a spare bit in the handle, I probably wouldn't bother ordering it with the bit set- since the Center-Drive takes standard screwdriver bits, they can be sourced pretty much any time you need them.  Heck, I find them on the ground all the time, and the bit set makes the sheath pretty bulky.  Getting the version without the bit set addresses the only serious complaint I have with it, and that is the bulkiness of the sheath.  By itself it is a very good EDC tool for someone who just wants a tool that works- it may be flashy but it's no fluff piece.

Pros:
Ergonomic bit driver that takes standard bits
All locking tools
Proven design, yet brand new

Cons:
Sprung plier head
Bulky sheath when bit set is present
Hype may turn people off

 Multitool Minute featureing Gerber Center-Drive:

More in this category: « Gerber Mini Suspension-P Review
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