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10 Multifunction Tools on the Market

Compact Sport

A respected name in the knife business for more than a century, Gerber entered the multi-tool scene in the early 1990s. U.S. Army Master Sergeant H.C. Higginbotham, Jr. (ret.) has carried various Gerber multifunction tools over the years. He said he purchased his first Multi-Plier in the Post Exchange at Fort Bragg, N.C., during Desert Storm.

"The day I put it on, I used it," Higginbotham said. "I've used it every day that I've carried it after that. It's that handy."

The Compact Sport is a mid-size Gerber from the Multi-Plier 400 series. Measuring 4.37 inches (11.1 centimeters) closed, 5.63 inches (14.3 centimeters) open and weighing 6.8 ounces (198.8 grams), it features one-hand, wrist flick opening needle nose pliers and lock-in-place tools. It's smaller, lighter and less expensive than the Multi-Plier, but it has something the Multi-Plier doesn't: incorporated Fiskars scissors that are strong enough to cut through a seat belt. Packed away in the stainless steel handles of the Compact Sport, you'll also find these tools: wire cutter; "cross point" screwdriver; serrated knife; large, medium and small flat blade screwdrivers; crimper; can opener; and bottle opener. A nylon sheath is included for the $45 price.

The Compact Sport is made in the United States and has a limited lifetime warranty. It's also available with black oxide handles for $76.32 [source: Bass Pro Shops, Gerber].

Life is full of little problems. The tools on the next pages are designed to deal with them.