I picked up the Gerber Shard on a whim. At around $5, the introduction cost was miniscule, so I just threw it into my amazon basket to see what all the fuss was about. My keychain is already pretty overloaded, so I wasn’t sure I was the widget/keychain tool kinda guy, but this little tyke really grew on me. You get used to having it on hand, and even though the features performed average at best, I do think that I will stick to having this widget as part of my everyday carry.
The shard is pretty damn small at 7 cm (2.75 inches). You might be inclined to think it’s a flimsy gimmick, but picking it up, you’re immediately reminded that this tool, all 17 grams (0.6 oz) of it, is made out of stainless steel. Of course, it’s not a high-end multi-tool, but at the same time, its sturdiness is not its limiting factor.
One of my biggest gripes with the Gerber Shard is the odd shape it possesses. I found that it was slightly too bulky inside my pocket with all the other crap I have in there, so I have it on its own keyring attached to a carabiner. That way it doesn’t dig into my thighs and it remains accessible for whatever odd job I would need to use it for.
It comes packaged in an adorable little box, and as you will notice immediately upon looking at the box, the Gerber Shard does come with a lifetime warranty. Not quite sure how someone breaks a miniature prybar, but if you were to, you could just send it back in. The only part on the Shard I could imagine wearing out is the Phillips screwdriver head, but I doubt that falls under warranty.
One of the Gerber Shard’s primary features is the mini prybar/nail puller side. The tip of the pry bar happens to be quite thick so lodging it under a nail is the toughest part, but once its in, I found that the Shard made it relatively easy to remove nails from wood.
The sub 3 inch size does mean that to get enough torsion you may have to make adjustments to your grip as you use the Gerber Shard. I see no way to get a good grip on the tool for extended use, but then again, that’s not what it’s for. The Shard is perfect for short bursts, and will definitely help you get the job done.
The black paint chips off very quickly. You only need to use the Shard once for it to begin coming off. Gerber advertises the paint as some sort of titanium based coating, but it doesn’t feel or look like titanium to me. Regardless, the tool is made of stainless steel so I would assume the coating is purely cosmetic.
The second largest feature of the Gerber Shard is the Phillips screwdriver. I can’t say I am too impressed with its performance: screwing anything with it is incredibly irritating due to lack of leverage and the awkward shape of the tool, but on top of that, the screwdriver portion seems badly formed. Various forums have mentioned this and suggested taking the Shard up against a grinder to make the edges of the Phillips head more defined. I will probably do this myself, as in its default configuration it’s a chore to use.
After screwing in, I noticed that the screw was pretty badly stripped. The Phillips head really needs to be modified before using it for serious work.
Unscrewing screws proved much easier, even with the stripped screw, as I didn’t have to worry about the screw’s alignment, and instead focused on keeping constant pressure.
The Gerber Shard also has a bottle cap opener feature. In practise, it works fine and I can get most bottles open on the first try, but a dedicated bottle opener is clearly the better choice if you have one. That being said, I could see myself opening a six pack in one go with the Gerber Shard, and definitely wouldn’t be complaining, so bearing in mind that this is a very small multi-tool, and is meant to be used in situations where you haven’t got anything else, I’d have to say it works well for what it is.
Widgets/keychain tools are odd little things. They have an almost fanatical cult following with custom makers like Atwood charging exorbitant prices (in my opinion) for what I see as not much more than tiny little pieces of steel or titanium.
Clearly, I’m not the target demographic for keychain tools, but my time with the Gerber Shard has opened my eyes to its potential uses, and whilst you won’t see me sporting half a dozen widgets hanging off my keychain, I do understand the attraction.
My core complaint with most of these tools is that I find them too small to perform any real work, but too large to be completely portable. This isn’t an issue of design because I wouldn’t want the Shard to be larger or smaller, but rather, it’s merely what happens when you create something that tries to do too much with too little material. That being said, it’s not as though Gerber intended to replace full blown tools with the features on the Gerber Shard, so I find it unfair to be too critical regarding performance. It’s just meant to be used as a backup, in case you’ve got nothing else on you, and in cases such as these, I can see the Gerber Shard being helpful.