Monday, December 1, 2008

Gerber Artifact mini-tool, cool EDC? or copyright infringement?

It's funny, as much time as I spend online, I'm not really a forum-guy. The only forum I actively participate in is, I feel if I joined knife and tool forums, all I would EVER do is review and discuss knives and tools with fellow cutlery-geeks. I'd never leave the house! Recently though, I've been reading...or lurking on forums and it seems Gerber's new-ish Artifact tool is garnering a bit of criticism and causing a few arguments here and there. If you're familiar with the awesome handmade keychain tools of Peter Atwood, Gerber's Artifact might look a bit familiar. Atwood is not attached to Gerber in any way, yet the Artifact looks as if it might have been "inspired" by Mr. Atwood's work. To see Atwood's tools, check out the Planet Pocket Tool link on my blog follow list. Some will say that Atwood didn't invent the mini-prybar tool and that Gerber is keeping makers like Atwood competitive by offering similar tools at a tiny fraction of what Atwood generally might charge for one of his awesome little handmade precision tools. Others say it's blatant copyright infringement and that Atwood should be mad as hell. All I know is, I got a Target giftcard from my boss, and of course, those who have known me at any time over the past 18 years or so would be able to tell you what section I would likely head for at Target. Their "sporting goods" section usually contains a small selection of reasonably priced Leatherman tools, and some Victorinox and Gerber stuff. I'd seen the Artifact online when it came out, but even at around $10.00 USD, I waited...waited until I got a giftcard. I walked out of Target with the Gerber Artifact and the Season 10 Simpsons dvd set and all I had to dole out was .98c in pocket change, thanks Mark!

Anyway, I will admit that Gerber has seemed to have gone downhill, even since I worked in retail cutlery in 2000-2003. They've increasingly resorted to Chinese manufacturing, like everyone else, and the memory of the 2007 recall of the EAB [exchange a blade] still lingers in the minds of informed cutlery enthusiasts. Afterall, the EAB was yet another of hundreds of tools found all around the world inspired by the Superknife razor folder concept. You can't really call "ripoff" on that though, as Gerber, through Fiskars owns the Superknife brand and all trademarks. Cannibalization? maybe, infringement? probably not.
Anyhow, Atwood ripoff or not, the Artifact, by Gerber, promises to be a useful little if I need another knife or tool.
Here's the lowdown:
Overall Length: 4.80"
Closed Length: 3.50"
Components: EAB #11 hobby [think, Exacto kniife] blade, cross [that's phillips to most of us] driver, small flat driver, medium flat driver, bottle opener, wire stripper, pry bar, lanyard [no, it doesn't come with one, but has a hole for keychain or lanyard attachment]
Handle Material: Stainless steel
Handle Color: Titanium nitrade coating

Titanium Nitrade? Gerber's own website says "nitrade", good attention to detail guys!
From WikiPedia:
"Titanium nitride (TiN) (sometimes known as Tinite or TiNite) is an extremely hard ceramic material, often used as a coating on titanium alloy, steel, carbide, and aluminium components to improve the substrate's surface properties.
Applied as a thin coating, TiN is used to harden and protect cutting and sliding surfaces, for decorative purposes, and as a non-toxic exterior for medical implants."
Either Gerber has created a new coating, or they just have a lazy copy editor for their site.

I've read threads on forums about people injuring themselves with the sharply pointed #11 hobby blades on these knives, but rumor has it that the Artifacts being sold now in stores have been redesigned. For $10.00 USD paid for by my boss, I don't care enough to contact Gerber about the legitimacy of these rumors. I'll take my chances, if the little bastard draws blood from me while I'm using it as intended, I may just have to start badmouthing the formerly 'Legendary Blades' and contact my attorney! Kidding, I do look forward to keeping this in my Cabela's carpenter jacket's zipper pocket for a backup the event that any or all of the several knives and tools in my car should mysteriously fail. All sarcasm aside, the Artifact looks to be an inexpensive intermediate McGuyver tool to handle a multitude of daily tasks without breaking out your SOG Power Plier for a screwdriver, or voiding your Benchmade's warranty by using your $200 knife as a prybar or scraper. I can see the Gerber Artifact maybe being a popular Christmas stocking stuffer, and if it works as promised, gaining a following among working class heroes like cops, medics and firemen worldwide, as a small and light addition to their EDC arsenal.

I'm gonna cut my Gerber Artifact out of the package [with my Benchmade Rift] and either attach it to my 5.11 Tactical man-purse, or maybe throw it in my work bag. The Gerber Artifact might be a good tool to use at work around Sheeple whose eyes tend to widen when I bust out a 3.75 inch black tactical folder in some podunk family retail establishment somewhere. I'll provide updates and report on my experiences with this surprisingly controversial little piece of Chinese-manufactured American engineering.
Stay Sharp yo.
ps: I've ordered some lanyards from Scott, at The Lanyard Zone, his stuff is mega-cool and reasonably priced if you want to spice up your EDC gear with some skulls...he even offers skulls that glow and metal skulls with glowing eyes! Eric, check 'em out! The Lanyard Zone is here. Scott offers a ton of different styles and color choices, there's something for everyone and he seems like a hellofa nice guy.


discomfort said...

Once again Aaron a superb article. I might look into getting the Gerber Artifact and keep it in my jacket pocket for those times I need a little extra tool or don't want to whip out a four inch blade.
awesome Aaron I love reading your blogs.

Jun said...

What an interesting looking blade. I am still learning about the different types of knives and all the special lingo involved. So would this be similar to a benchmade rift then? At any rate it looks really neat and I enjoyed reading your post. Thank you for sharing!.

Aaron said...

Hi Jun!
thank you for the positive feedback. To answer your question, in short, no. This is a simple little keychain tool that sells for about $10 US dollars, whereas a full size folding knife like a Benchmade Rift is much larger, with a blade which locks using their proprietary "axis" lock system. The difference in price between something like this is quite a lot as well. I really like the Gerber Artifact though, and their "Shard" tool is a newer version which looks very similar, but does not have the blade. You can find the Gerber Artifact or Shard as I said for around $10 or $12 USD, whereas a Benchmade Rift, or something similar might sell for at least $140 USD, but of course Benchmade is known for their superior quality and USA manufacture. I am a big fan of their knives, expensive as they are, you cannot go wrong with a brand like benchmade, or even Kershaw, Spyderco and several other big name brands. Thanks for reading!