Thursday, January 11, 2018

Swiss+Tech 9-in-1

While digging through my truck bag/ GHB, I ran across a small nylon pouch that I didn't remember sticking in that side pocket. Once I opened it and saw what was in it, I had an “Oh, that's where that went” moment.

A friend gave me a little pocket multi-tool as a present a few years ago and after initial testing (playing with it), I found a pouch for it and stuck it in my GHB. I then forgot I had it and that I had put it there. I've tested it (played with it to see what it would do) some more since then, and thought it might fill a need for some of you.

The item in question is a Swiss+TechST50016 multi-tool. Like most of the Swiss+Tech (ST) tools, it is made of stainless steel and is designed to securely close around a key chain or D-ring to keep in close to hand. Once closed it requires folding both handles down to open, so it is very unlikely that this tool will ever accidentally come unhooked from your gear.

Here it is closed:

Once you pivot the handles down, the function becomes a bit more clear:

The 9 tools are:

  1. Pliers (small, but good teeth)
  2. #1 and...
  3. ... #2 Flat screwdrivers (inside one handle)
  4. #1...
  5. ... and #2 Philips screwdrivers (inside the other handle)
  6. Wire cutter (right below the plier joint)
  7. Wire connector crimper (below the cutter)
  8. Wire stripper (just below the cutter, use one notch of the crimper)
  9. Bottle opener (on the same handle as the Philips screwdrivers)
The individual screwdrivers are easy to see once they are folded out from the handles. I like the way they nested the smaller ones into the larger ones to save space.

Pros and Cons

  • Small and multi-functional.
  • A good mix of tools: the #1 Philips is what you need to open the battery compartment of many toys and electronics, and #2 Philips is the standard for drywall screws and most electrical box screws.
  • No cutting blade, so the TSA shouldn't steal it.
  • Sturdy. There's no plastic in this one, it's built to be used.
  • The handles each have three ridges to give you a bit more grip. This is nice for people like me who have large hands; it prevents slipping and gives some feedback on how much force you're applying.
  • The wire cutter and stripper work well for 12 and 14ga copper wire, the most common sizes you'll find in houses. I didn't want to dig out the heavier wire to test it, but I'd guess that 10ga solid wire is about as big as it will handle.
  • The screwdrivers can be used with the handles in a couple of different positions:
    • With the handles down (so the tool looks like a pair of pliers) and the screwdriver blade extended straight out, it gives you a bit more reach. 
    • Fold the blade 90° for a little more leverage, or turn the handles back to the storage position, to give you a better grip.
  • They're cheap. For less than $10, you can have something to throw in your desk drawer for minor furniture repairs or put it in a tackle box for fixing a messed-up fishing reel.

  • Being made of stainless steel, it's heavy for its size and not something I would carry on a key chain in my pocket. With the cell phone, normal EDC knife and pistol, and keys/money/misc. I already carry, I don't need something else testing my belt's ability to keep my pants on me.
  • The handles pivot on a pair of pressed rivets. This is probably the weakest part of the tool, since the rivets have to absorb as much force as you apply to the handles. For light duty it shouldn't be an issue, but not a design for a tool you'd use every day.
  • The pliers are small. A quick test gave me a maximum comfortable bolt head/nut size of around 12mm or ½ inch. That's equal to about a 10mm or 5/16” diameter bolt, which is light-duty to me. The jaws open wider than that, but I prefer to have a bolt head or nut completely inside the plier jaws when I'm applying torque. My knuckles have seen enough abuse over the years to teach me a few things.
  • Mine had a small burr on one of the jaws, which made it hard to open or close until I took a small sharpening stone and buffed it away. Mass-produced tools often have minor imperfections like this, so I'm used to fine-tuning them.
  • The crimper does a mediocre job of crimping connectors on most common wire sizes. It did a fair job on 16ga, but the 20ga and 12ga wires didn't want to hold very well. 
  • The wire cutter is stainless steel, so use it for copper and aluminum wire. Steel wire will likely dull the cutter on the first try, unless it is very soft steel.
  • It's small, so you might forget you have it.

I have at least one other Swiss+Tech product (they're small and I misplace them) and I will be reviewing it soon. For the prices, I may have to pick up a few more to compare functions. Expect more product reviews in the near future.

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