Gerber Armbar Drive Multi-Tool Hands-On Review
Gerber Armbar Drive Gives You the Tools You Need Without the Bulk You Don’t
The Gerber Armbar Drive moves away from multi-tool designs that try to pack as many tools as possible onto one frame and goes with a more minimalist approach. It’s a refreshing design that packs the tools I use most in a much more compact package.
- Compact design that doesn’t take much more room than your EDC knife
- Includes 7 of the most useful tools
- Creative hammer/prybar/bottle opener design
- Under $40
- Needs a belt clip to keep from getting lost in your pocket with your keys and other items
- Bit driver could use a lock
RecommendationThe Gerber Armbar Drive has a length and height that’s more compact than my Gerber Fastball knife with about twice the width. We really like how easy it is to carry in your pocket. To solidify the design, it could use a lock on the bit driver and a belt hook would be nice. Even without those changes, there are a ton of everyday uses for it and with a retail price around $35, it’s pretty easy on your wallet.
Gerber Armbar Drive: Tool-By-Tool
All of the tools on the Gerber Armbar Drive are listed as stainless steel. I haven’t been able to find an exact specification for the blade steel, but it’s acting similarly to the 420HC you find on the Center Drive. You can sharpen it easily, which is great for any knife you might carry in the field. It doesn’t hold its edge as long as other steels, though.
The plain edge blade is 2.5 inches long with a modified sheepsfoot design that has a touch of belly in the middle. Lacking a piercing tip, it’s a reasonable slicing and chopping blade. It’s a solid bet for food prep in the field and cutting across materials. It’s not going to be as much help getting into clamshell packaging or field dressing game, though.
There’s a liner lock to secure the blade and it’s very effective. It slides well past the halfway point of the blade, leaving little risk of failure while you’re working.
You can open the blade with one hand using the thumb hole. However, we find it’s easier to go ahead and use two hands.
Having a compact pocket bit driver is one of the things we’re most excited about on this model. The Center Drive was an excellent design, but its bulk made it uncomfortable to use compared to the screwdrivers we’re used to. Having the slimmer frame makes it much easier to grip and rotate.
The Gerber Armbar Drive comes with a double-sided bit (#2 Phillips and slotted). It holds in place with a magnet in the bit holder and accepts any 1/4-inch hex driver bit. You can put a 2-inch or even extension bit in if you like, but the driver will only fully close if you use a 1-inch bit or don’t store one in there.
The downside is that there’s no lock for the driver. As you rotate the tool around, you inevitably cause it to fold down as the torque increases. It’s not a complete deal-breaker, though. I find that turning the driver 90º against the frame and using more like a T-handle driver lets me apply more torque and is more effective at keeping the bit engaged.
Pry Bar, Bottle Opener, and Hammer
The base of the Gerber Armbar drive acts as a small hammer. It’s not something you’re going to finish off framing nails with. You can do a reasonable job closing up a paint can or driving tent stakes, though.
Flipping the hammer out to where it snaps in place, you expose a combination of a pry bar and bottle opener. The pry bar is a hidden gem on the tool, helping us open paint cans, prying up staples, and all kinds of other things we’re normally tempted to risk our knife edges on.
Of course, the bottle opener is welcome around 5:00.
Overall, the flip-out design of this end makes it a really effective part of the tool.
The scissors depart from traditional multi-tool designs a bit. Rather than closing together when you fold it into the frame, this one spreads apart. It sounds counterintuitive and possibly dangerous, but the edges aren’t exposed once you swing them around.
There’s a tab on the moving end to help push against the spring that is a nice touch. It gives your thumb a bit of a break while allowing you to put a bit more pressure into the cut when you need it. Compared to other multi-tool scissors, it’s a nice upgrade.
Not to be missed, the all-important awl is hiding between scissors and bit driver. It’s on the smaller side, but still effective if you need to punch an extra hole in your belt on the fly.
The Gerber Armbar Drive has an MSRP of $39.00 and you can find it for a few dollars less than that online. It’s available with the orange accents we tested, Onyx, or Urban Blue colors.
There’s also an Armbar Cork that swaps out some tools in favor of being able to open wine bottles for the same price.
The Bottom Line
The Gerber Armbar Drive has a length and height that’s more compact than my Gerber Fastball knife with about twice the width. We really like how easy it is to carry in your pocket. To solidify the design, it could use a lock on the bit driver and a belt hook would be nice. Even without those changes, there are a ton of everyday uses for it and with a retail price around $35, it’s pretty easy on your wallet.Get it on Amazon