I originally wrote out a lot of my thoughts on this tool a few weeks back but due to an absence of an internet connection I didn't post them , now re-reading my words I am not sure that I was right. I think that I treated the Crucial unfairly by expecting more of it than was reasonable. I focussed most of my old text on negatives but missed out most of the features that make this an interesting addition to my tool kit. Given that I've now had the chance to carry a Crucial for the best part of a month I've revised some of my words for you. As I've got JohnM's old tool I'll try not to repeat what he's already said about it here
but would like to draw your attention to the detail that he gives the wire cutters. I hope this is sorted out soon as it's a real shame.
I work in the theatre industry and 'Leathermen' are considered a part of the landscape. Most staff have one and their choice of tool is often considered a statement about them to their colleagues, even the decision not to carry one is often seen as a silent statement by others. I use the term 'Leatherman' here as that it the most common choice, mainly due to the difficulty finding other options in the UK but also as the LM Wave is sold as the industry standard by the UKs leading theatrical chandler. There's a thread here
demonstrating Leatherman's dominance of this market. The bottom line for me and the reason that I penned my harsh words previously is that the Crucial is not, for me, suited for this environment. It's small, has few tools and feels decidedly lightweight so it was quickly dismissed as anything serious. However I feel that I misunderstood that these flaws were in actuality the Crucial's main selling points and I've since spent some time using it out of work and come up with this revised text.
The Crucial is a medium weight multi-tool low on tools but it makes the most of what it does have. It's not a tool that I would choose as my only muli, particularly for work where I know that I'll need a number of features that it's lacking. It is however a small, convenient package that has a number of easy carry options that mean that you'll be able to carry it how you prefer to with a minimum of fuss. It might be said that the most useful muti-tool is the one that you have with you when you need it, the Crucial is Gerbers attempt to be that tool.
As the Crucial is a pliers based tool it would make sense to start there. The pliers are the only tool that require the handles open to be accessed as all the others are outside opening, the asymmetric design makes the opening action slightly odd, as one side rubs against the other which makes the action rather less smooth than I'm used to for a butterfly opening tool, I'm already seeing some wear on the anodising.
The pliers head is a needle nose design with integral wire cutters. They have a slim profile yet plenty of texture inside the jaws for grip. They open wide enough to grip an M10 nut with ease but the handles are short so don't expect a lot of leverage. They also flex when under pressure in a way that doesn't make you feel confident in the tool. Due to the asymmetric design of the handles it's only comfortable to hold one way, not something that really effects how you use it but some people will no doubt dislike this intensely. It's also possible that anyone with large hands might find it too small to hold the shaped handles. So, not great for gripping rusted up fittings while you twist the other side with a 1/2inch ratchet but nice for finer work and more than adequate for those little things that happen unexpectedly when you haven't your normal tools.
The blade is arguably the most useful tool, there are no markings on the blade to show what grade steel it's made from and it hasn't held the edge that I like but in general it's performed well. It has a good one handed opening action which just begs for you to sit and play with it, and it fits my hand nicely when open. The blade shape is interesting, not one I'm used to, but I've adapted to it quickly and I'm more then happy with it in use. The point is pointy enough and the rest of the blade well shaped. It's larger in comparison than those found on other multi-tools both in profile as well as having a much thicker tang which may not be to some peoples taste, yet this blade won't snap if it gets a bit of a twist.
The lock for the most part is good but I've experienced several times that it can pass beyond the blade and jam in the washer gap if used aggressively or any serious lateral force is applied to the blade. Working it free isn't hard but it's not welcome either.
Both drivers have locks and are comfortable to use while the tool is folded, in fact this is the only way that the flat driver can be used as it strikes the back of the blade if the main handles are separated while it's deployed. The cross head driver is of the flat flavour, not my cup of tea, and it has difficulty fitting any schrade heads so most wood screws aren't easy to turn. It isn't bad at turning a No.1 Phillips screw though. It's comfortable to use while folded but lacks reach. The flat driver is well sized but again stubby. It is possible to use the Phillips driver with a handle opened to extend it's reach but I can't believe this was the original intention of the designer as it this makes the tool uncomfortable to hold and the central axis of the driver is outside the majority of the tool when held like this preventing you from applying full torque. In all not great, but adequate.
I'm not convinced with the karabiner, while large enough to actually be useful I personally think the gate spring is too loose and it needs to open the other way to prevent unwanted opening. I can imagine that I could easily lose the Crucial if I was to rely solely on the krab while working at height. I think there is a solution where one of the plastic spacers could be removed to allow a lanyard to be directly attached onto the joint underneath. It does have a nice picture of a bottle on it though just in case you where in any doubt whether Gerber had locked a designer in dark room with pencil, a packet of cigarettes and a post-it note saying, "Make it more than just a karabiner then we'll let you out!" rather than this just being a chance feature. Regardless of how it got there, the bottle opener is fantastic.
Of much more use for carrying is the clip. I earlier said that the main blade is arguably the most useful tool, possibly it's this clip. There aren't many options for pliers tools with clips in production but the Crucial has one. I've carried it on both my belt and in my pocket and not once used the oversized nylon sheath it came with. If there's one reason that I like to carry the Crucial over other tools it's possibly due to this clip which makes it so easy to stow and to grab when needed. Its not reversible but easily removable if you so wished.
Overall the construction of the Crucial is good. It's held together with Torx fittings so if you ever need to make some adjustments it's not impossible and all the tools have washers so the actions should have a good life-span before any adjustments are needed. The anodising is rubbing off quicker than I expected, but this might be due to me not using the sheath. There are a couple of plastic spacers that won't please everyone. It does feels a bit thick for a tool that has only 2 layers and it has quite a few air gaps too. I can't help but think that perhaps another tool could have been squeezed in, the pliers made a bit thicker, maybe the Phillips driver could have been 'not flat' or even the whole thing slimmed down a bit but for the price, overall it's pretty goodSummary
I'm in two minds about the Crucial. On one hand I see it as full of inadequacies and in need of a redesign but there is still something about it that makes me pick it up and carry it over other tools. It's price compared to others in it's class is not unreasonable, it is neither too heavy to carry nor too small to use. It's not full of tools that I'll not use and those that are present are not the worst of their kind I've seen.
I find that the Crucial is not a lot of things and therefore good for me. Unfortunately it is also not legal to EDC it in the UK which is a great shame as that is how I would most like to use it.