October 17, 2013

Gerber Diesel Multi Tool Review

Anyone who has ever spent any time in the military can tell you Gerber is synonymous with great multi tools. It really doesn’t matter the brand whether it be Leatherman, SOG, or Victorinox, they’re all referred to as Gerber. It is a fact that military loves Gerber’s tool. If you take a group of Marines and ask for a Gerber multi tool you will have half a dozen different variants offered to you in half a second. The particular model of Gerber I preferred while I was overseas was the Gerber Diesel.

The Gerber Diesel multi tool is a tank; it’s big, heavy, and strong. The tool was perfect for an infantryman serving on the front lines of Afghanistan. The tool is made for heavy duty use and I never shied away from putting it through hell.

I served as a machine gunner in Afghanistan in 2009. Prior to deploying we had a hell of a training cycle. We trained for weeks on end in a variety of environments. We trained in woods, on the beach, in the desert, in fake towns, and we kept training no matter the weather. That whole time a Gerber Diesel was in my pocket, on my belt, or attached to my flak jacket. The first day I stepped out of the bus to my first unit, my squad leader took the new guys aside and told us to buy three things, a write in the rain notebooks, map pens, and a good Gerber. The rest is history.


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I chose the black oxide version of the diesel. The black oxide finish prevents the sun from reflecting off it, which can give away your position.  A feature I really like when I first bought the tool is the icons for the four main tools. This makes it possible to feel for the tools when you can’t take your eyes off what you’re working on.

At first examination the tools are all larger than average. The tools all lock into place, which is both convenient and much safer to use. The tools are also easy to access when wearing gloves which is a huge plus for Marines and soldiers. Gloves are now considered a mandatory part of our personal protective equipment when we operate.

Let’s see more about the tools you will find in the Gerber Diesel. I will start out with the knife. The blade is partially serrated and two and half inches long. The knife has a drop point at the tip. The blade was ultra-sharp right out of the package. In Afghanistan I used my blade for more tasks than I can remember. I used the blade to open MRE boxes, to dress chickens we bought from the market, to cut rope, cords, and even to cut cushions in cars we found weapons in.

The pliers use a unique sliding system instead of a folding system. There is a button on each handle that is pressed inwards and releases the pliers to slide forward. The main advantage of this is the pliers can be opened one handed.  We machine gunners have the biggest guns, and in a country where rain and sandstorms come out of nowhere, the task of cleaning them is an everyday occurrence. Machine guns have lots of bolts and pins that have to be removed during maintenance and after a sandstorm these bolts and pins are damn near cemented in.

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The best way to get them out is a pair of pliers. You also risk damaging the small and light grip checkering on these parts. The pliers have got to have a good set of teeth that grip so you don’t have to squeeze too hard and damage the parts as you pull. The Gerber Diesel’s plier worked perfectly. My Diesel actually become the machine gunner’s go to for removing stuck in parts.

The Saw is two and a half inches too, and has a very nice tooth pattern. The saw is also incredibly sharp and pretty impressive. Believe it or not Afghanistan gets cold, and I mean below freezing cold. If you’re lucky enough to be allowed build a fire it has to be small. I actually used this little saw to cut through branches that were 2 to 3 inches thick and it worked flawlessly.

The Gerber Diesel also comes with a pair of spring action scissors. These are tough little scissors that actually worked to cut thinner wire. I had some snare wire lying around and it gobbled it up. Our thick camouflage uniforms are pretty cut resistant but these scissors sliced right through them. I liked having these in case someone was injured. These scissors could cut through the uniform so the wound could be treated.

The Gerber Diesel also comes with a two sided file. This was another tool that made weapon maintenance easier. If you used them gently you could remove stuck on carbon without damaging any metal. There were also more than a few issues with the weapons that were solved with a file. Occasionally a piece would break and we would get a replacement, but that replacement wouldn’t fit just right. A little skillful application of a file would fix that right away.

The can opener was a God gift. I can’t count the times we got Spaghetti O’s or Chili in a can in care packages. They would have gone to waste without my can opener. I’ll admit it took a few tries to get the correct method down, but once I did I could do it pretty quickly. You never think a can opener could be useful, and then you’re looking at your first can of Chef Boyardee.

The Gerber Diesel comes with three screwdrivers that come in different sizes. There is nothing more frustrating than having a screw driver that doesn’t fit, so having different reduce the risk of ending up with the wrong screw driver. First off we are issued these GPS units that require you to remove small screws to change the battery. This GPS not only tell us where we are going, but where we are. If someone in the squad had gotten injured we need to use the GPS to tell us the coordinates to call in a medevac. There was more than once that if I was without my Gerber we wouldn’t have been able to change our batteries, and that GPS is a lifeline for us.

When I first bought the Gerber Diesel the smaller tools were difficult to remove. They weren’t impossible by any means, or even frustrating, they just simply didn’t pull out easy. I actually threw a little gun lubrication on them and that loosened them up. Over time, and a lot of heavy use they now come out smooth and easy.

The Diesel doesn’t come with a pocket clip, but I honestly never needed one. I kept my Diesel Pouch rigged to my flak jacket. I placed it high near my chest to avoid the water and mud we often walked through to avoid the IEDs planted on roads. Don’t get me wrong there was more than once where I tossed my multi tool in my cargo pocket when I was in a rush, and the tool became fully submerged in irrigation canals and even the Helmand River. The tool never rusted or failed even in the slightest.

The Gerber Diesel is a hell of a good multi tool. It does come in on the heavier side on tools, which many may be turned off for an everyday carry tool. Personally this seems to be a perfect multi tool for me during my pre deployment training and during my time in Afghanistan. The actual tools are very heavy duty, and very reliable. The price point of around 50 dollars is relatively affordable for most people. The tools itself is a great value, and built to last. I love the Gerber Diesel and would suggest is as a multi tool any day of the week.