I have been eyeing the Gerber Dime for months since I saw a friend opening a beer bottle with it. Well, I have many multi-tools that have a bottle opener, but something about the look and feel, and functionality of this multi-tool got my attention. And when I saw the awesome price of the Gerber Dime on Amazon, it was a no-brainer, I had to get one for myself.
The Gerber Dime is a plier-based mini multi-tool with a lot of features packed in a compact package. As per the official specifications, it has 12 tools, all made of stainless steel, enclosed within Aluminium scales on both sides.
If you need a full list of all the features in the Dime, you will get it here.
Before getting the Dime, I researched a bit about it on the Internet and got confused.
While some people found it almost useless, some are raving about it. And the views were quite extreme!
How can something be very good and very bad at the same time?
I have been carrying the Dime in my keychain for about a month now, and I think I know why people have such extreme views about it. Read on, as I share my thought and experiences of using the Gerber Dime.
Build Quality, Fit And Finish
The Gerber Dime looks attractive. The stylish design and the colors make sure that people will ask you about it when they see it in your hand. Of course, there is a Black one if you do not want to be too conspicuous. But the other color options: Red, Green, and Purple, are very interesting. I got the green one (because I do not have any Green multi-tools!).
I have heard that the colors do come off eventually. It may not look as attractive, say, after a year of regular use. It is to be expected, as the outer covering is just painted Aluminium and the color will rub off with time.
Regarding the build quality, I must say I am pleasantly surprised. Honestly, I am so spoilt by Victorinox and Leatherman multi-tools that Gerber always has been a second or third best in this department. But with the Dime, Gerber did not disappoint.
It is never easy to design a small tool with good build quality, but Gerber somehow pulled it off with the Dime, especially at such a price point.
Each of the tools feels strong (for the size) and the tools stay in place when in the open or close position.
In fact, some of the tools appear too stiff when pulling out. Yes, you need fingernails to operate the Dime. All the tools are to be pulled out with nail nicks.
Granted, the individual tools are not as shiny, and the fit and finish are not as good as a Victorinox SAK, but in such a small multi-tool with so many implements, I did not find anything to complain about.
Yes, it feels a bit heavier, considering the all-metal construction. But I guess it is not much you can do to keep the weight down in a mini multi-tool that incorporates a set of pliers (the pliers are always the heaviest tool in any multi-tool).
The Dime uses screws instead of rivets to hold all the tools together. As such, you can take it apart if you wish, and also adjust the tension on the tools.
I heard the blade steel is not top quality, but it does not bother me. Honestly, I am not going to build a house with it. I want something that works and this one does.
The Dime is cheaper than most multi-tools in its category but packs a lot of features. But the manufacturer hasn’t cut corners while designing the tool.
At least, the tool doesn’t feel cheap while handling it and using the various implements.
The Bottle Opener
When I first saw the Dime, I thought it was a fancy bottle opener. Really, the weird hook-like thing at one end of the Dime is actually a bottle opener. And it works great, better than many other small/keychain multi-tools. The whole body of the Dime can be used as an ergonomic handle with this ‘hook’ at the end making it an excellent bottle opener.
As this bottle-opener portrudes from the body of the tool, I was a bit apprehensive that it may be uncomfortable in the pocket.
But after carrying it for more than a month, I didn’t really feel anything sticking out. All the other corners of the Dime are adequately rounded off.
By its very design, it appears this hook-like bottle opener can be used as an attachment point. You can probably attach a carabiner to it and hang it from your belt loop or backpack.
By the way, the Dime also has a split ring, in case you want to attach it to your keychain in the traditional way.
If there is one tool for which I will get the Gerber Dime to replace a Swiss Army Knife in my keychain, it is the set of pliers. So I was naturally very interested to check out how effective the Dime is in this respect. As you unfold the handles of the Dime, it becomes a pair of spring-loaded pliers.
As per Gerber, there are three tools in the plier design – normal pliers, needlenose pliers, and wire cutter. The needlenose end is flat at the tip and the two ends make a flush and precise contact.
After using the pliers to tighten and loosen some nuts and bolts I can say that it works, mostly.
First, the good things. The handles of the pliers are very comfortable, surprising for such a small tool. The handles along with the spring loaded design give the pliers a very strong grip. I was able to loosen some small nuts very easily with it. The needlenose is very precise, you can almost use it as a tweezer to remove splinters, or to pick up small objects.
Now, the things that I did not like about the pliers. Even though the ergonomic handle coupled with the strong spring action makes you think that you can use it with some force to loosen stubborn nuts and bolts with, please do not. The pliers are not strong enough to handle that kind of abuse.
A tiny part of the metal in the pliers got chipped when I put some extra force to remove a worn-out and rusted nut. I did not notice it at first, but on close observation, it is very much evident. Also, while working with the pliers sometimes it felt as if the plier jaws are twisting sideways from each other. I guess it would fall apart if I applied a little more force.
I am not sure how much force it would be able to take without failing. But now I often find myself going for a more robust pair of pliers even when the Dime is in my pocket. I am just too afraid to damage it further.
The wire cutters on the pliers did not fare much better. It can cut paperclips and thin pins very well, but while cutting actual wires, the cutters just slip and get stuck.
I also accidentally pinched myself while using the pliers. The near-end where the two handles meet while squeezing the pliers has a pinch point. The skin of your palm will get caught in it and give you a bad pinch if you are not careful.
I always thought that a tiny set of pliers does not help much, and to some extent, the Dime reinforced that belief. I am not blaming the Gerber Dime for this, as all such mini multi-tools with pliers will have similar issues.
For a better set of pliers, go for a bigger multi-tool. Victorinox SwissTool Spirit is an excellent option.
But at the same time, if a tiny set of pliers is a must for you, then the Gerber Dime does provide an option, and will not fare worse than any other alternative in the market. For light-duty plier tasks, these are adequate (if you keep in mind what light-duty means!).
The Main Blade
For some, the knife is the most important tool in any multi-tool. The main blade in the Gerber Dime does not disappoint. It looks and feels more robust than those in any other multi-tool of similar size.
The design of the blade is odd, I think it is called a sheep foot design. With a rounded belly and considerable thickness, it does feel strong while using it.
The blade is grounded on both sides of the edge.
Being thicker and broader, the blade does not bend easily if you apply some extra pressure while cutting or slicing something. It cuts paper, cardboard, and paracord with ease. The steel may not be the best, but it does sharpen easily (I used a Victorinox sharpener).
I do not think you need (or deserve) a better knife than this one in any multi-tool as tiny as this, especially if you consider how cheap the Dime is.
The Package Opener
If there is one tool in the Gerber Dime that nobody complains about, it is the package opener.
This is one tool that really comes handy when opening those plastic clamshell packaging.
I usually use a small knife to cut open such packages, but this tool does the same task more efficiently and with less effort.
It doesn’t come very sharp, but enough to pierce the plastic and draw-cut the clamshell at the edges.
Trust me, you will be using this tool much more than you think.
The Victorinox MiniChamp (reviewed here) has a very similar tool that Victorinox calls Orange Peeler. As I have already used that on clamshell packages before, so I was familiar with what this nifty tool can do.
Gerber got the naming right at least for the tool. I Guess ‘Retail Package Opener’ sounds much more practical and useful than ‘Orange Peeler’, especially when the two tools are virtually the same!
There are two screwdrivers in the Gerber Dime, a big flathead one, and the other one is a cross driver which fits both flatheads as well as Philips head screws.
The flathead one is hard to pull out, you need pretty strong nails! It works well, but the shortness might be an issue in certain situations.
The cross driver did work the only time I used it on a Philips screw, but being a 2-dimensional driver, I am not very confident of using it too much. I heard that it also works on those Robertson screws, but haven’t tried it yet on those.
Both the screwdrivers are pretty short. They do come in handy occasionally, but I found in many cases that the inadequate length of the drivers limits their usefulness.
The cross driver is also a file with abrasions on both sides, course on one side, and fine on the other. The abrasions are so dull and smooth that the groove tops have little bite, and coupled with how short this tool is, I could not do anything useful with it.
Maybe you can use it on your nails, but I do not think it will be effective as a nail file either. The file proved completely useless to me.
I always make sure that the multi-tool I carry has a pair of scissors, and the Dime does have one. It appears strong and has a non-slip spring that won’t misalign or break easily.
But alas, the scissors are not every sharp! Don’t get me wrong, It will cut a sheet of paper. But just fold the paper twice, and it struggles.
I had a hard time cutting a thin piece of cardboard with it.
What about paracord? Don’t even think about it! I tried it on a 550 paracord, it couldn’t even cut the outer layer. It almost felt as if the scissors would snap off if I put any more pressure.
Maybe I was expecting too much from such a tiny pair of scissors. But given that the scissors in a Vic Classic can cut a paracord in half in two strokes, these scissors are really disappointing. As another example, the scissors in the Dime are almost as big as the one you will find in the Leatherman Wave, but does not perform half as good!
I am really disappointed with the scissors. Yes, considering that it does cut paper, it may be useful sometimes, but these are by no means the best you can get in a pocket multi-tool.
Gerber did manage to tuck in a small pair of tweezers in the Dime.
Unlike the tweezers that you get in Victorinox SAKs, the ends of the tweezers in the Gerber Dime are a bit slanted for more precision.
I haven’t used the tweezers much, and given how small these are, their usefulness will also be limited.
But the tweezers do come in handy while pulling a splinter out of the skin if you do get one embedded in your fingers or palm. If you need bigger tweezers, I guess you can use the pliers too, as the needlenose tip is very precise.
After carrying the Gerber Dime every day with me for about a month and using it whenever I got the chance, I am quite neutral in my opinion about it. Some people in the multi-tool community dismiss it as a piece of shit, while some others have made the Dime their keychain tool of choice.
There is a reason why the Dime evokes such strong emotions in the multi-tool community.
It does a few things very well, while it fails to impress in others.
It looks and feels good in the hand (or in the keychain), has one of the strongest blades in a tool so small, has an awesome bottle opener, and a superb package opener.
On the other hand, the pliers are not as strong as they look, even though they feel great in the hand. The file is useless, the screwdrivers are so so, and the performance of the scissors is disappointing. Also, to me, it feels a tad heavy in the keychain, and some of the tools are a bit difficult to pull out.
If you are someone who just needs the pliers and the scissors occasionally, then the Dime will probably work for you.
Especially, if you are careful not to exert too much pressure while working with the pliers, it will serve you well.
I guess you might even be pretty impressed with it. The Dime probably has the best selection of tools in a keychain multi-tool.
And above all, nothing can beat the Dime in terms of price. I have seen the price go down as low as $15 occasionally. I got the Gerber Dime for $20 from this Amazon listing.
But even at this price, there is simply nothing in the market that can compare to the feature set of the Dime. If you want a full-featured EDC multi-tool and you are on a budget, look no further than the Gerber Dime.