Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gerber Shard, minimalist keychain tool.

I first saw a concept drawing for Gerber's new keychain tool, the Shard, well over a year ago on a forum somewhere. I liked the looks. I've had a Gerber Artifact on my keys for close to two years, and I like it very much. The Artifact will open your beer, pull nails, pry, and even slice and cut cleanly and precisely with its little exacto #11 blade (which is replaceable, the Artifact comes with spares). The Gerber Artifact is great for those times where you don't need a huge blade, or you want to be discreet in public, instead of pulling out your six inch bladed Cold Steel Ti-Lite and scaring the shit out of good average folks say, when you're out and about, or working. I've found that after all this time on my keyring, the artifact's Ti-Ni finish is not so much scuffed, as it has been rubbed by keys and other metal and taken on sort of a bronze color on the back side, in addition to some very mild scratches. I'm still sold on the Artifact, I've used the prybar tip as a flat screwdriver and the back end's Phillips driver to disassemble guitar effects pedals to change batteries etc. I've given several Artifacts as gifts in the last year, when I was able to find them. In many stores here in the Northwest, they seem to go quick, especially at retailers like Target, around the holidays. So, my opinion is that the Artifact is a really cool piece of engineering that works well, and it's downright cheap, on average about $10.00 USD.


So, I've been browsing Knifecenter off and on all day, and this evening they added the heretofore unsen Gerber Shard pocket/keyring tool. Oddly enough Gerber's suggested retail is $7.90 USD, and that's exactly what is selling it for. I guess with an item that inexpensive, there's not much of a profit margin, so we probably won't see any deep discounts online, but hell, I spend well OVER $8.00 on lunch many days if I'm out roaming around!

Long story short, I just ordered two Gerber Shard tools. I need another knife/keychain tool/flashlight like I need to be a quadruple amputee, but hey, I live for this stuff! I couldn't resist getting two of them. When I come across a piece of gear I'm very fond of, I like to have a spare! I own 2 Surefire G2 lights, I own multiple Victorinox Swiss Classics, the list could go on! Maybe I'll give one of the Shards as a gift, who knows. I do know that I like the look of it, and its intended uses are immediately clear: Pry bar, lanyard/keychain hole, nail puller, screwdrivers etc. Plus the Shard is Ti-Ni coated, just like its slightly more complete cousin, the Artifact.

Gerber's new SHARD mini-tool:

Gerber caught my eye with this one last weekend at an REI location up North, by a friend's house. I ran into REI very quickly to see if I could score another Human Gear Capcap for my many Nalgene widemouth bottle. Mission accomplished, I found one, and I even found the harder-to-find blue version of the Capcap. Anyhow, over in the headlamp section was a strange new Gerber item called the MicroBrew. It's essentially a bottle opener and a bright white LED light that can ride in a pocket or on a key chain. The MicroBrew features a constant-on LED mode and a strobe/flasher mode as well.
* Powerful white L.E.D.
* Bottle opener
* Replaceable batteries
* Water Resistant
* Regulating circuitry for improved battery efficiency
* Silicone-based core to protect electronics
* Recessed switch to prevent accidental turn-on

If memory serves, I think the MicroBrew was about $10.00 USD also, about the same price as the Gerber Artifact. Pretty neat, though I decided to pass on it, A: I already have the Artifact with its bottle cap lifter built in, and B: I have a very good little Fenix E01 compact LED light on my keys, C: I'm not a huge beer drinker, at least not enough to justify another bottle opener that happens to have an LED in its durable frame. The MicroBrew will probably appeal to many people, it'd be handy to have while summer camping, pounding beer and wandering off to piss in the dark somewhere! So, bottom line, keep your eyes peeled for lots more cool stuff from Gerber this year.

So, when my Shard arrives, I'll fill y'all in on its features etc. I couldn't resist another little item, for about $16.00, the new and improved Juno, by Buck Knives. I'm really loving that knife and tool makers are going for brighter, more hi-vis colors. It's really a bitch to lose a knife it the woods because its got a camo, black or green handle. RAT Cutlery solved this problem with their incredible little Izula fixed blade knife, by offering them in light tan, and pink, in addition to tactical black and dark green. I have the tan version with a bright orange LanyardZone lanyard on it, When I use it for hiking/fishing etc, I always know where that thing is, because nobody else has a tan knife with a dayglow orange lanyard!

Here's the oldschool Juno, by Buck Knives, just a simple lightweight utility lockback:

And here's the new and improved USA-Made Juno, with safety orange handles:

Anyway, I've ranted on here about how glad I am that Buck Knives has returned most of their manufacturing back to the USA, in their new Idaho factory. I bought their Pak-Lite small fixed blade a few months ago, and while it doesn't use any premium super steel, it's a hell of a well made little fixed that is capable of much bigger work than you might think. This little orange Juno ran me about $16.00 USD, and it's nice because if it gets dropped, it'll get noticed (hopefully by me or whoever I'm with!). I actually have lost dark green, black and camo items on outdoor excursions. They blend right in with foliage, dirt, underbrush and bark! Back when I was a smoker, probably age 21 or 22, I went camping out here on the Northwest coast with my best friends (who are now married with twins now) and we camped, hiked, and generally ran around having a great time, drinking, smoking yet still being respectful of nature. Anyhow, we wandered around after dark a bit, back then, I wasn't the own-one-of-everything guy that I am now, and I believe I was using my camo Zippo to light the way on a path we were treading. In short, it dropped, we heard it click shut, no light, except for Dave's flashlight, we scoured the area, but that camouflage lighter was too Camo for its own good, and mine! We even looked the next morning, but if that Zippo was around, it was hidden in plain sight! So, that's my personal justification for buying an inexpensive little lockback with bright orange handles/ The Juno looks comfortable, and ergonomically sound. It has an aggressive serration pattern, and is now American made!
* Blade: 2 7/8" (7.3 cm) drop point, 420HC steel
* Length: 4" (10.2 cm) closed
* Weight: 2.5 oz. (70.9 g)
* Handle: Valox
* No clip; No sheath
* Made in USA

This year Buck is putting out tons of their classic designs in safety hi-vis orange, from their little mini-Buck lockback, to fixed blade hunters and more.

Buck Folding Bucklite MAX Large 3-5/8" Plain Blade:

These next few months will be filled with new product announcements from all major knife factories, keep your eyes peeled. Oh! And expect a full review (by me) of CRKT's amazing Tom Veff M.U.K. (Marine Utility Knife), I picked one up, and it'll do everything from fillet trout, to scale fish and slice the belly, not to mention non-fishing related activities like cutting rope and things like that!

3/1/10 edit:
So, I'm liking the Shard tool more and more. It's mega light and under 3" long. As for the Gerber Microbrew, I bought one as a birthday gift for a friend, the red one. It's very bright, even for a red light, and the half-brightness setting is good for when night vision needs to be preserved. The strobe function would be handy to have just in case, and it does its beer-opening job well too. Bravo to Gerber for continuing to put out lots of useful and fairly inexpensive little gadgets.

No comments: