Gerber Balance Copy
« on: June 02, 2020, 07:55:56 PM »
I just snagged a copy of a Gerber Balance, made by a company ZGB. Nextool also has a version called the "Green Hornet" on Amazon for $26. Like the Balance, this tool has a lever in the center to slide the pliers out. The scales are anodized aluminum. The plier heads are different, and are spring-loaded, unlike the Gerber. I'm not sure if the Gerber handle splay changes as the pliers are slid out, but this model does that. So it can't easily be flicked open, it has to be thumbed open. The pliers are your standard chinese multitool pliers. Tips aren't very fine, cutters are fine for romex, but fail for stranded wire, gripping are is reasonably large. They're not a cool interesting shape like the Gerber Balance... but they do actually seem better sized for the tool. The Balance pliers looked small to me.
The tool is ergonomic and has no hot spots... however, I'm not a huge fan of the spring action. The spring is strong, and the handle splay is large, and because the handles are smooth I'm finding my hand slides up towards the plier jaws too easily. Quality seems decent, with one small caveat. Mine were very, very hard to open. After playing with it for a bit, I noticed a streak on the jaws. Turns out one of the scale screws was too long, and was contacting the plier head. I backed it out a bit and suddenly the tool opened and closed smoothly.
The tool selection IMO is better than the Balance. The balance has two bit drivers, a 1/4" and a micro driver. I thought that was pretty silly. This tool has only the microdriver. I would have preferred they have kept the 1/4 driver instead, but the micro driver does make it slightly more compact. The bits are double-sided with ball retention. There is no magnet. Finding bits may be a problem if you need more than the basic screwdriver sizes included. The other three tools are a nicely sharpened blade, a saw, and a dual opener tool. I would have preferred scissors, but it's not a big deal. None of the tools lock, but they do have a decently strong backspring to keep them from folding up. The driver hasn't folded up on me yet -- putting pressure on it locks it opened harder, and the driver is almost in the center of the tool, making screwing easier.
The four outside opening tools are all you get, so this is a minimalist multitool. Unfortunately, it's also a bulky, heavy multitool. It's very large in the hand, and it's solid metal through and through. It's not a lightweight, there is no pocket clip, and you will need to sheath carry it. The sheath is nice, it has a plastic clip to hook over your belt. No need to take the belt off. There is also a small bitholder inside the sheath, carrying a #1 phillips and smaller flat head. There is a pocket on the back of the sheath where the clip attaches that could be used to carry more bits. The sheath is hard cordura, and is actually pretty good quality. Especially with the belt clip feature.
Overall I like the tool. It has roughly the same jaw capacity and handle splay as a gerber flick, though it's a bit chunkier. The blade is a hair shorter, but has a longer cutting edge. The saw has 1/4" or so less cutting surface. The openers are far larger and more effective than the flick openers. With the Balance scissors in this tool, it'd be the perfect load out IMO. But even so, it's quite usable as it is. Unlike the Flik (which I'm comparing to because of similar size, pliers, and outside opening tools) it doesn't have issues opening and closing reliably. It has usable screwdrivers with good reach, which the Flik is sorely lacking. It's a decent tool, and an excellent copy.