Every so often, an off-brand multi-tool will have a feature that sets it apart from the rest. In this case, the Henstrong/Bibury tool sports a standard hex bit driver. In recent years, this has been included in several multi-tools, with various rates of success. How will it fare in this tool? Is the rest of the tool decent? Let's see.Dimensions and other info
Length: 4.13" (10.5cm)
Width: 1.57" (40mm)
Thickness: 0.83" (21mm)
Tool: 12oz (343g)
Tool and bits: 13.5oz (383g)
Handles: Torx 8
Cutting edge lengths
Blade: 2.87" (73mm)
Serrated blade: 2.71" (69mm)
Saw: 2.28" (58mm)
Price at time of review: $37
Pliers; spring-loaded (hidden spring), needle-nose
Blade; oho (thumb-hole), clip-point, plain edge, hollow grind
Serrated blade: oho (thumb-hole), sheeps-foot, hollow grind (secondary bevel is chisel grind)
Saw; wood, one-directional (pull-stroke), locking
File; cross-cut and hacksaw teeth
Hex bit driver
Bits: PH 0, 1, 2, Flat 2.5, 4, 6, Torx 10 and 15
Can opener; quarter-circle
Reamer-punch; sewing eye
All locking tools (back-lock)
The tool comes in a plastic box with snap closure, lined with foam, and includes four double-ended bits.
The box is well enough made and durable. It has the Henstrong logo engraved on the top, and closes firmly. As nice as it is, it is questionable whether people would carry the tool in it. A sheath would have been much more useful.
The blades open with just one hand and were well sharpened for a budget multi-tool.
Ergonomics are below average, due to many sharp edges, implement spines and corners digging into my hand. Them being locking helps with hard-use tasks, but the ergos do not.
Right out of the box, the blades were covered with tiny scratches.
The woodsaw was properly aggressive and despite its short length it cut very effectively.
The file is cross-cut on the side, and worked on wood and metal. It came with a black spot on it. The hacksaw teeth are mostly useless.
The scale measures 7cm but the markings have been stamped incorrectly measuring-wise, beginning 0.5mm early, so using it may not yield accurate results.
The hex bit driver locks at 90° and 180°. The hole is standard 1/4" hex, but it is too deep for standard short bits. You will have to use long bits, extensions, or just shorten the depth with a metal piece, to make it accept standard bits.
It came with the magnet broken, and when using double-ended bits, retention is poor, since the thin tips contact half of a tiny, crumbled magnet.
It cannot store a long bit when closed. It has to close with no bits installed.
It has developed some surface rust after a few months.
The openers and their flathead tips are well enough shaped and work.
The wire-stripper notch is sharp, but shallow, and there is a lump of metal left behind from the grinding process.
The reamer-punch is pointy, and the edge is sharp. It punched holes effectively, and it also has a sewing eye.
The pliers are robust, and precise. The tips meet to a nice point and the jaws have no play.
The handles have no retention when using the pliers, relying on the tightness of the pivot screws, and ergonomics are average, due to the thick, angular shape and handle splay.
There were some scratches and dings on the pliers and wire-cutters.This is a standard bit with my filler hex piece and disk magnet.
All tools lock with a back-lock. The locking plate engages notches on the tools, and while it is firm, all tools have a little play when locked.
To disengage the lock you press on the lever. The design bears a resemblance to old school multi-tools, and one could argue it is done better here. The levers do not protrude outwards, do not interfere with ergonomics, and they do not take any tool space in the handle. Still, all tools have play, so while nice, it is far from perfect. Quality control/Construction quality
All tools lock with play back and forth, although the lock never failed.
The wire-stripper notch was not cleaned from excess burr.
The implements has virtually no retention when closed, and the same applies to the handles when using the pliers. Tightening the screws helps, but the more you tighten them, the harder it will be to deploy the implements.
Surface rust has started appearing on surfaces that are unfinished or not well polished.
There were tiny scratches on the blades and pliers.
The hex bit magnet was broken.
The file has a black spot.Design
The design is simple. No eye-catching implements, no daring stylistic choices. A simple frame with cut-outs, and just some blackened edges for some visual interest. The locking mechanism would have been the most impressive feature, as it is reminiscent of older generation tools, but as every single implement has play when locked, it leaves a lot to be desired. The hex driver would also be a major draw, but standard short bits will just sink in. A few solutions exist, so not all is lost.
The tool load-out is basic but functional, and the plain frame gives it an industrial look.Performance
Despite the poor finish, the tool is built like a tank. It is robust, heavy, thick, and angular. All tools work. Despite the play when locked, and the various cosmetic imperfections, everything on this tool works for its intended purpose.
Ergonomics suffer a little, due to the many hotspots, bulk, handle splay, and weight.
The hex driver locks at 90° and 180°, and can accept standard bits, if they are long or if you use an extension.Conclusion
Many inexpensive multi-tools have some sort of compromise, which is often forgiven in favor of a significant attractive feature. Sadly, the locking mechanism and hex driver were the main selling point of this, and both are riddled with flaws. As a whole the tool has too many flaws, big and small, that take away from its utility, appeal, and value.
All tools work in this, which would make it useful in some situations, but then again, there are other competitive options in this price range. Options that are better executed, that weigh less, that come with more bits, and with better ergonomics.
It looked great in pictures, but in hand, the negatives may outweigh the positives by a long margin, depending on your priorities. Pros
-All tools work.
-All tools lock.
-Bit driver can accommodate standard long hex bits and extensions.
-Built like a tank.Cons
-Low grade steel
-Poor quality control
-Bit driver cannot store bit closed and only accepts long bits or extensions.
-No retention for closed implements or when using pliers.
-Heavy and bulky.