Comparing the Gerber Dime, NexTool Mini, and Leatherman Squirt Keychain Multi-tools

I was interested in comparing three popular key-chain multi-tools to see which one would come out on top.  These are the NexTool Flagship Mini, the Gerber Dime, Leatherman Squirt, and the bonus Victorinox Sports Rambler.  These are all miniature tools that are smaller than your regular Swiss Army Knife and way smaller than any regular pliers-based multi-tool.  All fit very well in the palm of your hand and you could fit three of these in the palm of your hand, four if you have beefy paws.

Side view of the tools showing length and height. The tools from top to bottom are the NexTool Mini, Gerber Dime, Leatherman Squirt PS4, and the Victorinox Sports Rambler (not a pliers, but handy).

While these types of tools cannot compare to their full-sized brethren, they are infinitely useful as they are easy to keep on your keychain or tucked into a pocket for easy carry due due to their small size and weight.  Their usefulness is determined by the fact you have one you when you need it.  It is like the saying photography saying "the best camera is the one that's with you."

These tools are very similar, with the NexTool Mini being both the largest and heaviest. The NexTool is just over 2.5 inches (6.4 cm) long and .6 inches (1.5 cm) thick, 1.2 (3 cm) high, and it weighs in at 2.75 ounces (78 grams).  This is still not big in size or very heavy.  The other tools are slightly smaller and lighter, with the Gerber Dime being a little longer due to the bottle opener being fixed on the outside.  

The NexTool is still not a big tool, but I would consider it near the maximum size I would want for a key-chain based tool, with the Leatherman Squirt being the most compact and the lightest.  The Victorinox is a min-pocket knife, but I actually carry it the most on a pocket clip as it complements my EDC pouch very nicely and it is super lightweight with no angular corners.

Width view of the tools.  The tools from top to bottom are the NexTool Mini, Gerber Dime, Leatherman Squirt PS4, and the Victorinox Sports Rambler.

The width of these tools is quite similar when you see them compared like this with the Victorinox being the slimmest and the Leatherman being the thinnest multi-tool.  All of the multi-tools have their tools accessible from the outside with the pliers closed, which is a nice feature.

The three pliers open for comparison.  You can see the jaws open to a similar extent and the plier heads are about the same size.

Out of the pliers, the Dime has the most useful looking jaws.  Both it and the Leatherman open to the same max jaw width, and the Dime has a more pronounced pipe-gripping cut out.  The Leatherman is a close second with a pliers head built to tighter tolerances and the end of the jaws fits very precisely so it could be a fat tweezer. The NexTool has a good pair of jaws but I'd say it takes third place, but not by much.  All of the pliers are spring loaded with decent grips for all three.  They will all cuts small wires with their wire cutting feature.  I've actually used these mini-pliers to twist metal wire together or to pull some apart.

The three multi-tool scissors compared.  At this point I'm leaving out the Victorinox as it isn't a pliers-based multi-tool, but it does have a good pair of scissors, just not as good as the excellent scissor found on the full sized Victorinox pocket knives.

Maxlvledc did a comprehensive test of multi-tool scissors on his Youtube channel and the NexTool scissors scored very high on it.  I've tried a few tests myself and can confirm the findings.  All of these scissors cut paper very well, but on more unusual items such as paracord or plastic ties, the NexTool is the only one that shines.  The scissors on the Leatherman and the Dime are very similar and they are just TINY compared to the much bigger scissors on the NexTool.  You can tell from the design of the NexTool that the scissors were a big consideration and they are excellent scissors.  For example, the NexTool scissors cleanly cut through paracord in one go, something that the other two could not do even with multiple snips.

The blades of the multi-tools shown for comparison.  The big blade at the top is your regular sized Victorinox which is easily twice as big as the others.

The NexTool has the largest blade out of the three and it was razor sharp and slicing paper with ease.  The blade on the Leatherman is also very sharp and so was the Gerber blade.  The designs of all three blades are different with the Leatherman blade ground only on one side and the Gerber being a sheep's foot design.  I kind of like the slightly larger blade on the NexTool the most, but you really can't go wrong with any of the three.  I'm not even going to compare it to the teeny blade on the Victorinox Sports Rambler as these three blades make that look like a Crocodile Dundee knife comparison.

The tools on the Leatherman.

The Squirt is a nice tool package and it has the nicest build quality out of all of the tools.  It also costs the most, but can be priced similarly to the NexTool depending where you buy it.  I really like the Squirt, but I also recognize the some of the superior functionality found on the NexTool.  The tools on the Squirt include: knife blade, the BEST 2 SIDED FILE out of all the tools, a flat head screwdriver/bottle opener, a mini-phillips screwdriver, scissors, pliers, wire-cutter.  The nail-nicks on the screwdriver and phillips are tiny and the hardest to use out of the three tools.

The tools on the Gerber Dime.

The Gerber Dime is the economy priced tool out of the bunch as it can be half the price of a Squirt.  That doesn't mean it is a bad tool.  I've actually owned a Dime the longest out of the three and have had it on my key chain for about ten years.  Something on your key chain gets all banged up, so you might not want to spend a lot of money on it.  The tool set on the Dime includes: A full sized bottle opener (THE BEST BOTTLE OPENER out of all the tools), a file / mini-phillips screwdriver (the file is so small it can barely be used for anything), a flat head screwdriver, a very handy box cutter/package opener, scissors, pliers, wirecutter, and is the only one of the three to have a pair of tweezers.  I've found this tool very handy to have around and it has decent functionality.

The tools on the NexTool Mini.

The NexTool Mini is the newest tool in the trio.  I recently purchased it on Amazon as it doesn't seem to be available at retail outlets in Canada.  It is a Chinese brand that has focused on having a great pair of scissors in addition to the other functions.  The build quality is quite good and it is a complex tool to build due to the number of components, stamping and folding of metal.  It is an original design and a nice addition to the mini-multi-tool world.  You can see with everything folded out that it has large scissors and pliers and that the design is built around these two tools.  The tools on it are: a long flat head screwdriver / decent file (two sides), a long 2D phillips, a can opener and bottle opener tool, a knife blade,  FANTASTIC SCISSORS, pliers head, wirecutter.  This is the only tool to have long screwdrivers other than the Victorinox.

The tools on the Victorinox Sports Rambler.

BONUS multi-tool: The Victorinox Sports Rambler is a nice little multi-tool that has a 3D mini-phillips that fits eye glasses screws, wire stripper, bottle opener (kind of only okay for this), a small blade, min-scissors, a great nail file / flat head screwdriver, toothpick and tweezers.  A great compact and elegant little pocket knife!  I usually have this with me at a minimum.  I use the Nano-clip to keep it handy in my pocket.

Conclusion

It is pretty hard to say which of these multi-tools is the best as the tool sets are very similar.  I don't think there is a best, other than to say which of the multi-tools had the best of a particular type of tool.

  • Best Quality: Leatherman
  • Most Expensive: Leatherman 
  • Least Expensive: Gerber
  • Best Blade: NexTool with the Leatherman close behind.
  • Best Pliers: Gerber (better grip) or Leatherman (the plier heads are more precise)
  • Best Scissor: NexTool (by a huge margin)
  • Best File: Leatherman
  • Best Can Opener: Only on the NexTool
  • Best Bottle Opener: Gerber (all tools have this, and I guess I use it a bit)
  • Best Tweezer: Only on the Gerber
  • Best Long Screwdrivers: Only on the NexTool
  • Best Package Opener: Only on the Gerber
  • Worst File: Gerber
  • Hardest tools to open: Leatherman for a couple of the smaller tools.

I think the Gerber seems to be geared more for daily use due to the package opener/bottle opener tools. The Leatherman is the best all round tool especially for the size and quality.  However the larger NexTool gives the Leatherman a good run for the money.  In terms of price the NexTool is cheaper than the Leatherman, but is more expensive than the Gerber.  If scissors are very important to you, then this tool is a hands-down winner, but it is also slightly larger because of this.  All of these are good tools and I think whichever one you pick will serve you well.


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