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Reviews > Knives > Multi-tools > Gerber Diesel Multi-tool > Owner Review by Ray Estrella

Gerber Diesel Multi-Plier
By Raymond Estrella
OWNER REVIEW
July 20, 2006

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Raymond Estrella
EMAIL: rayestrellaAThotmailDOTcom
AGE: 48
LOCATION: Orange County, California, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)

I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and in many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my wife Jenn or brother-in-law Dave.

The Product

Manufacturer: Gerber Legendary Blades (A division of Fiskar)
Web site: www.gerbergear.com
Product number: 1470
Name: Diesel Multi-Plier
Year manufactured: 2004
MSRP: Not listed on web site.
Weight (by me): 8.6 oz (244 g)
Length (closed) listed: 4.92 in (125 mm) Verified accurate
Length (open with pliers) listed: 6.61 in (168 mm)
Actual length 6.5 in (165 mm)
Other measurements: 0.75 in (19 mm) thick and 1.65 in (42 mm) at the widest point
Color: Bead Blasted Stainless Steel (also available in Black and Mossy Oak Camo)
Sheath size: 5.6 x 2.6 in (142 x 66 mm)
Sheath weight: 0.8 oz (23 g)
Warranty: It comes with a Limited Lifetime Warranty

Product Description

Pliers coming


The Gerber Diesel multi-plier (hereafter called Diesel or the tool) is a very beefy tool. It is constructed almost entirely of stainless steel, the only part that is not are the black locking tabs on the sides. I believe that it is named the Diesel to convey the sense that this is a “big” tool, like comparing a pickup truck to a Mack truck. And that is the case. At over half a pound, (244 g) this is not something I want in my front pocket. Well maybe if I am trying to impress somebody…Half way out

Its other noticeable difference is the pliers, and the way that they are accessed. While all my other multi-tools (this is my fourth over the years) are accessed by flipping the handles “butterfly” style over the pliers’ head to expose it, the Diesel goes about it quite differently.

It slides straight out from the handle with a flick of the wrist like a gravity fed stiletto. The company calls it “wrist flick deployment”. Every guy I have shown it to has to flick it 20 times. Usually posturing while they do so, “What, you talkin’ to me?” Every woman that sees it just says, “Oh, it’s a knife. So you weren’t happy to see me…” (See above.)

As the head reaches its full extension an audible click can be heard. At this point it is securely locked in place and ready for use. The pictures here show the progression from closed to locked open. To close it again I must depress the two little steel buttons shown below near the shoulder of the pliers, and slide it back into the handles.

Fully extended


The handles have the Gerber name and “Diesel muli-plier” stamped into each side. There are also little icons stamped on them to facilitate tool selection. The scissor and knife icon can be seen in the pictures above and below.

Packed inside the handles of the Diesel are 15 tools which are all on display in the picture below. All are stainless steel with the exception of the file. They consist of the following, numerical and clockwise from the upper left side.
>
1: Needle-nosed pliers
2: Regular pliers (area)
3: Wire cutter
4: Scissors
5: Saw
6 & 7: Bottle opener, medium flat screwdriver
8: Can opener
9: Lanyard ring
10: Crimper
11: Double sided file
12: Small flat screwdriver
13: Phillips head screwdriver
14: Large flat screwdriver
15: Partially serrated knife blade.

Every tool will lock in place once it is taken out of the handle. It is released by sliding the black plastic “Saf.T.Plus”, located at the end of the handles, down towards the head of the Diesel.

Field Conditions

The Diesel has been on every winter hike that I have taken that I have either my gear sled, or skis (or both quite often) with me. It has been on four trips to the Bristlecone Pine Forest and White Mountain. A bunch of trips in the eastern Sierra Nevada, up around Lee Vining, Rock Creek, and further north. One trip in the awesome winter of 2004/05 I got to take the sled on BLM land east of Independence, when we had heavy snow down to 5,000’ (1,524 m).

Observations

I got the Diesel on April 20, 2004. As there was no way I would ever carry that heavy a knife/tool for three-season use it sat on a shelf in my gear room. Just until winter rolled around. I always carry a multi-tool when skis and/or the gear sled are involved. And the slightly higher weight of the Diesel compared to my other tools was offset in my opinion by the strength of it. Plus I just like flicking it out. It makes me feel like I am about to get medieval on somebody. “You want some of this?’” FLICK “This will tighten your nuts real good.” (And bolts and screws…)
Sheath
I keep it inside of the inner pocket of my Wilderness Engineering gear sled. I have taken it a couple of times without the sled, but definitely think about the weight on those occasions. My brother-in-law Dave thought I was crazy bringing it until one of our winter treks into the Bristlecone Pine Forest in the middle of winter. On this trip he had a nut come loose on his sled which the Diesel’s pliers took care of in a jiffy.

But a day or two later the bindings on one of my Rando skis just inexplicably went to…uh, changed. I was freaking out. Being 34 miles (55 km) from the nearest help in the winter can do that to me. I actually had to remember, as we were looking at it, that I had tools in my sled. 15 minutes after I got the Diesel out they were fixed and I was back on the trail. The screwdrivers and pliers were lifesavers. After we got home from that trip Dave said maybe he should get a multi-tool to keep with his sled. I gave him one of my old ones. I am keeping the Diesel.

One thing that bugs me is the fact that the pliers will not slide all the way inside the handle. The tip protrudes almost a half inch (12 mm) from the tool (as can be seen in the top picture). With its weight I would not want to have it in my pack without being in the sheath for fear that it will poke a hole in it. As a result I always carry it in the black ballistic nylon sheath that came with it, seen here.

Let me talk about the other tools. I have never used the can opener. Back in 1975 I carried canned food and had a few can openers. I have not used one since ’79 though, and don’t see that changing.

The knife is sweet. But I expect that coming from a company called Gerber Legendary Blades. The partially serrated blade is very sharp and comes to an awesome point. I can dig a splinter out with this. Here is a picture of it. The unlocking Saf.T.Plus slide can be seen well.

Blade


The only problem I have with it (and all the tools) is the fact that it has to open from inside the handle to accommodate the sliding pliers. This puts the tool open above the opposite handle which limits its clearance and usability. The only way to get around that and still maintain the flick deployment would be to mount the knife with the edge exposed when opening. Hmmm…sounds like law-suit city to me.

The saw is very sharp as well. I have only tried it on a piece of downed wood one time. It works well but is kind of short for any extended cutting. I would not want to have to rely on it to supply firewood, which is not a problem as I have not had a fire on a backpacking trip for about 15 years. But if I ever meet a lop-sided peg-legged pirate, I am sure that I can straighten him out.

The file is an honest-to-God high-carbon metal file. One side is diagonally grooved, the other is double (opposite) diagonally grooved and slightly courser. The fine side works great for taking the burr off my ski edge after I catch a chunk of granite and bip it a good one. (Falling down of course where the weight of the gear sled makes me look like Wile E. Coyote as the terrain wads up in folds under my face. The pliers can pick out rocks too.)Cold one

The wire cutter is very sharp and strong. I have cut through 8 gauge wire with it at our shop. I must have used it more than that as it has smeared metal on the cutting surface, but I do not remember what I was doing with it. (Maybe I don’t want to remember…)

The lanyard ring is another thing that has only been out to take this picture. I don’t think of a huge multi-tool as being the kind of thing I need swinging on the end of a line.

The crimper is another item I have just not needed in the field. Maybe if I have to affix some blasting caps to clear out a pass….

The scissors are decent, but I never need to use them as I always have the much better Fiskar scissors in the Gerber Shortcut that I carry with my first aid kit. (See review.)

But the most enjoyable tool to use is of course the bottle opener. When the trip is over and we head to the closest hotel for a shower, real food and some good ale do you suppose I can find an opener at the hotels? No way! Not in this age of cheap beer in cheap glass bottles with twist off caps. But the Diesel saves the day, or rather the evening actually. It is just as good as any I have used, and much better than its little brother, the Gerber Shortcut. And as can be seen in the picture here, it works great in the office too! (All in the name of writing a good review, mind you. It’s tough work, but somebody’s got to do it.)

Pros: Big, strong, fun, beefy, sharp knife, fun, locking tools, fun.
Cons: Protruding pliers tip, useless (for me) items, blade alignment.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

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