Announced in 2007, released in 2008, and discontinued in 2016, the Flik was the smaller version of the Gerber Freehand, and the hopeful competitor to the Leatherman Wave. Various issues of previous Gerber models were addressed. Or so Gerber thought. Dimensions and other info
Length: 4.4" (11.2cm)
Width: 1.34" (34mm) or 1.57" (40mm) at the plier buttons
Thickness: 0.75" (19mm)
Tool weight: 8.74oz (248g)
Weight with sheath: 9.5oz (270g)
Handle fasteners: Torx 8
Plier buttons: Torx 8
Blade cutting edge: 2.28" (58mm)
Serrated blade: 2.28" (58mm)
Saw cutting length: 2.36" (60mm)
Scissors cutting edge: 0.94" (24mm)
Price at time of review: ?
Warranty: Lifetime in North America, 25 years everywhere else
Gerber is owned by Fiskars
Pliers; one handed, locking in deployed positionFeatures
Blade; one-handed, reverse tanto, plain edge, hollow-ground
Serrated blade; one-handed, blunt tip
Saw; bi-directional, wood?
Scissors; spring-loaded (integrated spring), thumb-pad
Phillips #2; flattened
Lanyard hole; retractable
All locking tools
All outboard tools
One-handed pliers and blades
Pictograms for locks and long implements
Locking tabs can be used to partly deploy short implements in order to expose nail-nicks.
Pliers have catches that when closed, interlock with catches on handles to eliminate rattling.
Spreading the handles locks them onto the pliers, while creating splay, eliminating the possibility of pinching your palm.
Sheath; Nylon, vertical carry only, velcro closure, can accommodate tool even when pliers are deployed.
The tool came with a sheath, in a blister pack, in the open position, with pictures of the implements, and information on warranty, implements etc.
The sheath fits the tool well. Thanks to the opening at the bottom, the tool can be stored with the pliers open as well, though it will be a very tight fit. There is a pocket behind the main compartment, which can be used to store thin items.The sheath is double-stitched, offers vertical carry only, and has a velcro closure.
There is a spot of frayed fibers despite being brand new.
The pliers are one-handed, in typical Gerber fashion. A Flik of the wrist, and they snap out. Spreading the handles, they click into place, creating some splay. This was done to eliminate users pinching their palms when bearing down on something with the pliers. It succeeds in what it was designed for, but this feature is not refined. Pressing the buttons to retract the pliers may be partly successful, unlocking only one plier jaw. This happens quite often, so every time the pliers have to be retracted, a deep breath and a little prayer are necessary.
Perhaps the most interesting feature are the catches on the back end of the pliers, which interlock with catches on the handles when the pliers are retracted. This locks the pliers and handles together, eliminating rattling, and even wobbling. The tool becomes one solid piece. Excellent.
The pliers are very precise, with the tips meeting perfectly for delicate tasks. The anvil wire-cutters work well, although there is no hard wire-cutting notch. You may be able to flush cut small nails if the plier pivot does not get in the way.
Ergonomics are average. The handle splay helps eliminate pinching, while still allowing a tight grip. There are a few edges and corners that protrude and could be chamfered to make matters more comfortable.
The plain edge blade is a reverse tanto, with a very thin tip. It was sharpened well enough, and will excel in draw-cuts. Sadly, despite the length of the multi-tool, the blade falls short. There is a 3/4" section left unsharpened. Certainly an unsharpened part is necessary, so that when folded, the sharpened edge does not hit the handle. However, the unsharpened blade heel on the Flik was done to prevent users from cutting themselves when opening the blades. Indeed, the thumb-holes that allow one-handed deployment, barely do so. The holes are extremely narrow, and their edges are a little rounded, so the thumb does not have much purchase to unfold the blades. Since the problem was identified, why were the thumb-holes left untouched, while compromising the cutting edge length? Not only did the solution create another problem, it did not really solve the first problem. The blades are still hard to deploy with just one hand.
Another curiosity is the unused length space of the handle. The blade could have been longer, especially if a different profile was used, like a drop-point or anything with some belly.
Of course, because the locking tab spring is so strong, and the tab edges so sharp, the blade is almost impossible to close one-handed.
Ergonomics are again average. There are many edges and corners that will dig into skin.
The serrated blade was well sharpened, and thanks to the blunt tip, it can be used as a rescue blade. It shares the deployment issues of the plain edge blade.
The saw deploys with a nail-slit. Its teeth are somewhat aggressive, but quite small, and there is no taper from teeth to spine. It also has more unused length than was arguably necessary.
It worked on wood and pvc, although it would bind often, and the short teeth would get clogged.
The saw is not centered in its slot, and when being folded, the teeth scrape against the frame. Right out of the package, there are very distinct tracks on the frame, left behind by the saw teeth.
The scissors are spring-loaded, with long cutting edges, and the thumb-pad makes them comfortable to use. With some effort, they can even be unfolded with one hand. Sadly, they did not do a great job at cutting. The sharpening was precise for 3/4 of the length, with the blades binding at the tips. And if you are not pressing to the left, the scissors will not even cut paper. They performed terribly on parachute cord and seatbelt. It required pulling the material taut, and the scissors only got through with multiple cuts. Rather disappointing, considering the size and comfort these offer.
There are also some short -arguably too short- implements. We have a can opener, a small flathead, a flattened Phillips #2, and a bottle opener with larger flathead. Their nail-nicks are not outright accessible. To get to them, the locking tabs have to be pushed down. This will partly deploy the tools, making the nail-nicks visible. If by chance you happen to touch their spines, they will sink back into the frame, and it's back to step one. To avoid this, the locking tabs can be kept pushed down, until the implement is successfully deployed. This will depend on your pain threshold, as pushing the locking tabs is quite painful. The edges are sharp and the spring you are pushing against is curiously strong. This was done to make the nail-nicks accessible. Once more, a solution was attempted, by addressing the wrong end of the problem.
The drivers, albeit short, are ground properly and fit their respective screws. They also sit very near to the center-axis of the tool, making them somewhat easier to use. The bottle opener works adequately.
The can opener is a claw, heavily modified, not only to make it fit in the tiny space they had available, but also to overcome how deep it is in the handle. The cutting edge sits at a different angle, so that the body of the tool will not be in the way when the edge and hook engage the lid. By moving the edge further back, the can opener edge and hook can engage the lid, with the rest of the tool away from the lid. Sadly, the good news, if any, stop here.
Piercing was easy. Holding the tool in an angle different to almost all other multi-tools was awkward. Once the can opener sinks as far as the edge will go, the tool is almost vertical. This alone makes the process challenging, but if only that was it.
Tracing is not easy. With most multi-tool can openers, you can go full circle around the lid without ever disengaging the hook from the lid. From the initial pierce to the final cut, the can openers are touching the can. With the Flik, this is not the case.
Not only does the vertical position of the tool interfere with cutting, the hook that would hold the can opener on the lid tended to slip off. Sometimes, when trying to advance along the previous cut, the edge would simply slide over the previous cut into the can, without making a new cut. Often, after a successful cut, the can opener would jam quite firmly into the lid.
The body of the tool was not bad ergonomically, but it did not matter. The process was not comfortable.
After the middle point, the lid was getting pushed into the can. I have never made such a mess with any other tool. I had to squeeze the can to force the lid to stay out of the food as I was trying to use the can opener for the second half of the lid.
Upon examining the contents, a few metallic splinters could be found, effectively ruining a whole can of food.
You will be left with a lid with many jagged edges and sharp points, and a can of food that will be dangerous to consume.
The can opener was seemingly designed to actually be able to open a can, within the limitation of space for a longer can opener. Given how little space they had, omitting the can opener would have been understandable, and seeing what they did with it, probably preferable.
There is also a lanyard ring next to the bottle opener. When folded, it is completely out of sight, to the point where some Flik owners are completely unaware of it.
To access it, another tool will be necessary. When deployed, it will snap open and not sway freely. Depending on what is attached to it, it may make the serrated blade difficult or even impossible to deploy/lock.Construction Quality
The tool is well enough finished, although there are some grind marks on some edges of the frame. The implements are nicely ground for the most part. The plain edge blade and scissors had some blunt spots that will need some attention. The edges of the locking tabs were unnecessarily sharp. Unlocking even one tool was painful. A Dremel tool, files, or some sandpaper will be required to round off the edges to make them usable with no pain involved.
The saw teeth rub against the frame when it is being folded and unfolded. And given how visible the marks are, even though the tool was brand new, this issue was spotted and ignored.
The thumb-slits of the blades were not done properly. These are the edges that had to be sharp, to make the blades actually one-handed. Instead, the slits are narrow, and the edge your thumb would push against does not protrude at all and is even rounded. You may not even feel the slit when your thumb slides over it. No wonder they left so much of the blade unsharpened. Or, wonder. The slits were the problem. Why did they work around them, leaving them essentially unfinished?
The mechanism of achieving some handle splay when using the pliers may have been requested, and it does work. The issue is that when unlocking the pliers, one jaw may not disengage, making the pliers unable to retract.Design
A common theme of the Flik was the misfires. Attempts to solve an issue created more issues, and for the most part the initial issues were not dealt with at all.
The mechanism that allows for some handle splay, to eliminate pinching, was successful, but it made the pliers periodically jam when being retracted.
The blades were hard to deploy one-handed, so a portion was left unsharpened, to make the tool safer. Why not just make the slits better and keep the cutting edges longer?
The locking tabs have to be pushed to expose the nail-nicks of the shorter implements. Why not just make them sit higher?
The choice of having everything outboard, to make them easier to deploy, was negated by everything above, making the accessibility of the pliers, blades, and short implements problematic.
The scissors were among the few implements that were well designed, but the execution damned them as well.
The tool's compactness and industrial look are deceiving. The handles are covered with features; words, pictures, cut-outs, buttons, slits, pads. While the handles are littered, space could have been used more efficiently and effectively for some implements. For a tool with ease of access as one of its main selling points, it did not impress, to say the least.
The only feature that genuinely solved the problem it was designed to solve were the catches of the pliers and handles, that eliminate rattling, wobbling, and sound altogether, when the tool is closed. The pliers latch onto the handles, and the tool is one solid, silent piece.Performance
The degree of performance varied for each tool. The can opener failed completely. The process was excruciating and in the end, the food was not safe to be consumed. The drivers, though short, fit their screws. The serrated blade did well. The bottle opener worked. The scissors cut with some coaxing and patience. The saw has no taper towards the spine, which made it bind, and the tiny teeth clogged up promptly. The plain edge blade could have been longer, sharper, and better at slicing.
The pliers, arguably the main tool, are fine and even one-handed.
The thing is, performance does not exist in a vacuum. Accessibility takes a massive hit with the Flik. Even the one-handed pliers, the very identity of Gerber multi-tools, may jam when being retracted. So much for quick access. The one-handed blades are barely one-handed, not to mention the cutting edge length fiasco. The short implements are almost three-handed. Having to push the locking tabs, which was uncomfortable to begin with, in order to expose the nail-nicks, to then deploy them, was nothing short of head-scratching. Conclusion
The Flik was a very interesting multi-tool. Arguably one of the most complicated multi-tools released by Gerber, one has to appreciate how everything fits together. One-handed pliers, with no rattling when retracted, with the additional luxury of eliminating the handles pinching when used, all tools outboard and locking, big scissors, two one-handed blades, it sure has a nice assortment of implements and features. It was clear that the designers spent a lot of time looking at issues of other tools, and creating solutions. Sadly, apparently they did not look long enough.
Examining the Flik's answers to various issues of comfort, accessibility, utility, even nitpicks, such as rattling when closed, there are several points of interest. At first there seems to be an answer for every issue, but looking a little closer, the original issues have barely been addressed. The alleged solutions only served to create even more issues, which themselves were left unaddressed. This is a shame. The Flik looked very capable and well-designed. Perhaps the most frustrating matter is that most problems that still remain, could have been solved easily. Making the spine of the short implements taller or have them sit higher would eliminate their deployment issues. Making the thumb-holes of the two blades a little wider with sharper edges would have made one-handed deployment intuitive and eliminate the long, unsharpened blade heels. Forgoing the can opener altogether would have eliminated a terrible implement, possibly allowing the Phillips driver to be thicker, even square-shank, thus compatible with their bit adapter.
Still, they did what they did and it is what it is. The tool can certainly be used, and to some extent, will be adequate. The pliers themselves are well-finished and will grab and twist effectively, the serrated blade has a usable length and will cut through straps and cordage efficiently. The scissors will snip the odd clothing tag and coupon, the drivers will turn a few screws.
The Flik is definitely a curiosity. It is truly astonishing that so many features were designed to solve specific issues, yet failed miserably. How it remained in production for as long as it did is anyone's guess. This was promoted as Gerber's answer to the second generation Wave. One can only imagine how loud Tim Leatherman laughed when they gave him a Flik, telling him that.
It is alright to release a mediocre tool. Even the inexpensive beaters have their place. Alas, the Gerber Flik was not an inexpensive beater. It had great expectations, unapologetically touted as the replacement of the tool that arguably all other tools are measured against, and nowadays, modeled after. For such ambitious claims, which it failed to reach, the Flik did suspiciously well, being in production for almost nine years. Ultimately though, it was unceremoniously retired, and has since fallen into obscurity. It can still be found collecting dust in some places, but, as nice as it may look in its blister package, there are numerous other options available today, better designed and executed, with fewer compromises.Pros
-Good serrated blade.
-Silent when closed.Cons
-Unrefined design, with solutions that not only did not solve anything, but caused more issues instead.
-Blades are hard to deploy and retract one-handed and are far shorter than possible.
-Poor or average performance on almost all implements.