What’s in a Multi-Tool?
There are many reasons to carry a multi-tool in the field. There are just as many factors to consider prior to making a purchase. The majority of multi-tools have the standard pliers and knife. However, after that, there is a multitude of tools available across hundreds of multi-tools from several brands. Ultimately, your intended use - backcountry, bowhunting, rifle hunting, camping - should provide the parameters to identify the correct multi-tool for you. Here are six capable multi-tools for you to consider.
Gerber Center-Drive Black
The Center-Drive Black provides a one-thumb operating system to release the plier tools; simply slide the release up to open and down to close. The knife is a full-sized 3.25” 420HC blade that locks into place. The hex-bit tool is magnetic and shaped to put the tool on the center axis when deployed to maximize torque. The tool holds two bits, one in the drive tool and one in a storage area. Additionally, the tool comes with a 12-piece bit set, which includes a few common archery-sized Allen bits. To deploy the tools opposite the knife is a little tricky; you have to deploy the pliers, then the desired tool, and then retract the pliers, if necessary. The tool comes with a fabric MOLLE sheath to keep the tool and bits.
By design, the Evolve is a minimalist multi-tool. However, the tool covers the majority of hunting tools needed in the field. The tool has the standard pliers, knife blade, and has a drive bit with a reversible flathead and Phillips bit, as well as a storage area for two additional bits. The tool also incorporates a small gut hook. The knife features Havalon’s Piranta Quik-Change fitment, includes six extra blades, and a replaceable saw blade. Overall, the tool is compact and lightweight. The tool has a belt-clip and built-in carabineer for easy carry, or the tool and accessories fit into the provided fabric sheath that also includes a blade-changing tool.
The Signal is a compact and lightweight multi-tool. To minimize size and weight, the Signal has just one small 2.73” combo blade with both straight and serrated edges. The drive bit includes just one reversible flathead and Phillips bit. The bit is not a hex-bit; rather a Leatherman-specific design. For an additional cost, Leatherman offers a 21-piece, reversible bit kit for a total of 42 bit types. The tool has a few tools specifically designed for backpacking or backcountry use, most notably the integrated safety whistle and firestarter tool. The handle end of the Signal works as a small hammer, perfect for pounding in small tent stakes. The tool has a built-in belt-clip and carabineer for quick carry, and the tool comes with a fabric sheath.
Real Avid Gun Tool Max
The Gun Tool Max is built on a stainless steel frame with a full-sized, 3.25” 440 stainless steel blade. Although it lacks some of the more common multi-tool functions, it is well equipped for performing common repairs and routine maintenance on various firearms. It features a three-position locking hex bit driver with 12 reversible bits, including Torx, Allen, Phillips, and flathead tips. Additionally, the tool is equipped with an oversize flathead screwdriver and a scope adjustment tool. The frame of the tool doubles as a tap hammer. One unique feature of this tool is the 8-32 threaded receiver, which is the standard size for several cleaning-specific instruments, such as rods, brushes, and cables. The Gun Tool Max comes with a nylon MOLLE-compatible sheath that holds the tool, as well as the extra hex bits.
SOG PowerAccess Deluxe
The unique gear-driven opening and closing mechanism of the PowerAccess Deluxe is its best-selling feature. Although it requires two hands to open and close, it’s smooth and simple. The primary knife blade is a thin small, 2.75” stainless steel blade. However, the tool has a second serrated blade. The PowerAccess Deluxe incorporates two methods for utilizing hex bits: 1) individual bits can be compressed into the bottom of the plier tool when closed, providing centering of the bit and 2) a two-positioned ¼” drive tool and bit holder combination. The tool includes 12 single-sided hex bits housed in a small plastic container. A nylon MOLLE-compatible sheath holds the multi-tool and bit holder snuggly, and closes with a hook and loop strap.
Victorinox Swiss Army SwissTool Spirit XBS
The Spirit XBS multi-tool is crafted from burnished stainless steel, making it highly resistant to corrosion of all forms. The surface of the tool is treated with a special alkaline solution to produce the black protective layer, which also enhances its appearance. The Spirit XBS features 23 tools, comprising 27 general-purpose functions. A unique tool of the Spirit XBS is the scissor tool. Although it doesn’t have a hex bit driver, it does have four separate screwdrivers: one Phillips head and three flatheads (2.5mm–6mm). The included sheath is nylon and fastens with a hook and loop strap. The combined tool and nylon sheath are extremely compact and lightweight, weighing less than 9 oz. total.