I like guns. I Like to shoot ’em, fondle ’em, like the mechanical-ness of ’em–just plain like ’em. And, the more I get into it, the more I read, and the more I learn. I learned of a man called Jeff Cooper. You can read about him all day online, but the one thing that stuck with me was his “Rules of a Gun Fight”. First rule: HAVE A GUN! Well, that seems obvious, but I guess not always to everyone. Carrying a gun every day for self-protection takes some thought including what holster to use, what covering garment to wear, and even which gun to carry. So, along those lines, to fix things in the field, the first rule of a field fix has to be: HAVE SOME TOOLS! This can be a big gray area as to what to carry, but if you don’t have it, you can’t fix it. Gerber has come up with some really great tools that will be easy to carry, hard to forget, and always have with you.
Their key chain line of multi-tools really fits the bill. There are six different models in their key chain line, and today I have the Vise model in green, but they also have it available in black as well. It, of course, has a small split ring so it can go onto your key ring easily. I added a small swivel snap clip to it so that I can remove the tool from the keys, if they’re still in the ignition for instance.Dimensions are about 2 1/4 inches long by 1 inch wide, and just a hair under 1/2 inch thick when closed. That’s pretty small! It would easily fit in your pocket alone, or riding around with what ever coins you have left over from lunch. Once you grab the knurled bottom edge of each side and get it open, it sort of snaps into place and you have a great little spring loaded pair of pliers at the ready. I’d say they’re about 3 7/8 inches long when they’re open and ready for use. That’s still a good size for a key chain tool.
Just like their big-boy-pants multi-tool brethren, the Vise key chain tool has a great set of pliers jaws. The pliers have a really nice fit to them. You can hold them closed, look through the jaws at a light and see the ends are stepped a bit, and touch nicely right on the end where you’d need it for fine work. Then they step back to a toothy area, then into a rounded toothy area so you could grip something, well, round! Anything from about a 1/2 inch round and down, these little babies should latch onto pretty well. And, all the way down in the throat of these pliers is a small area that will cut wire. It’s a nice tight fit between the two pliers halves too–no flop like with an inexpensive pair.
The pliers are the main tools here but the Vice comes with more. About 9 more, depending on how you look at it. None of these tools lock into place like their larger multi-tools so be careful when handling them. There is a main fold out non-serrated, clip point blade approximately 1 3/8 inches long. On the other side is a serrated, sheep’s foot blade the same length. The serrated blade I used to trim off a few zip ties at work and it worked great. The non-serrated blade isn’t the sharpest blade I have ever used, but would still work for box/letter/string cutting duties. There is a small nail nick to pull these blades out as well as the combination flat blade screw driver/bottle opener. This one is connected to another piece so it’s about as wide at the tool itself making bottle opening easier. There is also a small flat blade. It’s not as thin as needed to tighten up the screws up on my eyeglasses but it’s nothing a quick swipe with a file would not remedy. The last combo tool on the Vice is the Phillips screwdriver with a fine file on one side and a coarse file on the other. The Phillips driver is very thin and it really wouldn’t bite into any of the screws with all four sides that I tried. It worked more like a flat blade small enough to fit into the cross slots of a Phillips screw. I did use the file for taking a small burr off a piece of plastic on my work apron at the shop. I think this would make a good nail file, too but being a mechanic, mine are quite short already.
The Gerber Vise is a great little tool to have on anyone’s key chain for those small chores on which you just can’t use your fingers. Here is a great little pair of pliers, a serrated knife blade, and a bottle opener, all easily accessed, and with you all the time. It worked great as a backup to my Gerber Multi-Plier 600, which I always have on my belt. I have carried a multitude of Gerber products, and they all seem well built and have held up to my abuse. Gerber has great customer service too. The one item that I sent in for warranty was fixed quickly and they gave me a new sheath for it as well. If you’re in need of a compact multi-tool for EDC use or back up in the woods and on the trail, then give a close look at the Gerber Vise.