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Monday, 14 November 2016 15:41

Gerber Center-Drive Thoughts

Written by

What is it about the Center Drive that makes it so interesting?  It's just another multitool, isn't it?  The answer to these questions aren't as simple as you may think.

Yes, the Gerber Center Drive is just another multitool, the same way that Tesla's new $30k electric car with a 300+ mile range is just another car.  The Tesla has four ties and gets stuck in traffic just like every other car, so why get excited?  The Center Drive is a sliding head plier tool just the same as we have seen from Gerber before, and even Leatherman got in on the game after Gerber's patent expired.  That right there brings up a couple of thoughts- the first being that it is kindof special since Leatherman jumped on the design as soon as they could, and the other being that it obviously isn't that specil since Gerber didn't feel it needed to be protected longer. 


Getting a bit deeper into it, there isn't really anything new on the Center-Drive.  Yeah, it has a long screwdriver which is nice, but hardly groundbreaking, as Gerber has done it on their Fit multitool, the sliding head plier isn't new or proprietary, the knife blade is virtually indistinguishable from any other one handed opening knife, and even the serrated blade and file are the same old same old, borrowed from the MP600 series, which is probably the most successful multitool design out there, given the amount that have been issued by military organizations worldwide, and the number of variants.

At this point you might be thinking "But Grant, the awl is new, and so is the pry bar tool," and you would be absolutely right, those are both new, but let's face it, no one is buying the Center Drive because of a pointy hunk of metal tucked away inside.  

But, the awl and the pry bar are indicative of why Amazon is having trouble keeping the Center-Drive in stock.  They are symptoms, not the cause, and the cause is bigger and more exciting than most can imagine- if yuo happen to be one of the Plier People.  


Two months ago I, the guy who has built a website around folding plier tools, was at the point where I thought there was no excitement left to be had in folding plier tools.  I thought the day of the folding plier was done- sure there would be some holdouts, and some token new models here and there, but there was nothing exciting- no companies were leading with new and interesting tools, and the recent offerings from other companies have been a bit flat.  Yes, SOG came out with the Power Play and Reactor last year, which are indeed nice, but don't have that wow factor.  Even the company synonomous with folding plier tools decided last year to put all of their stock in a bracelet of all things....

Now enter the Center-Drive.  Yeah, there's little new aboutit, but it is showing the world that the folding plier tool isn't old hat- it can be fresh and exciting, and that designers are still putting effort into making them better, and the companies that manufacture them are willing to take them to the next level.  On the whole, most manufacturers have barely tolerated multitool lines, since the costs are high and the prices are low- why make a tool that has 30 moving parts that has to sell for under $100 when you can make a folding knife with 2 moving parts and sell it for $250.  It only makes sense, and I don't blame them, but you can see why manufacturers just don't usually get excited about them.

SOG Set 02Add to this that SOG has also announced new tools for 2017, and although they haven't said what they are yet, they have quietly released a Third Generation Micro Tool Clip in time for the holidays!  One can expect CRKT to have some new stuff as well, as they have an impressive stable of top shelf designers and always have something interesting to show for it, and I doubt very much that the fine folks at Leatherman will let this opportunity pass.

In short, Gerber didn't just release a new multitool- they issued a challenge to all manufacturers and designers to pull out all the stops and come out with something interesting, and furthermore, to be proud of what has always been the overlooked, sometimes barely tolerated offspring of the knife industry.  Put away the gimmicks and bring out something that people will actually use and carry, because we all know, specialty tools get put away in a box and often get forgotten.

And the best part of all of this?  We, the multitool enthusiasts and the buying public are the ones that win in all of this, with lots of new, and exciting tools to come.

Grant Lamontagne

As the founder of Multitool.org Grant has been a collector of Swiss Army Knives and multitools for over 25 years, and a user for over 40 years. 

With a day job working in the field, either out in the woods or on industrial sites, Grant uses tools every day for all manner of different purposes.

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