Portland-based Gerber claims to have “re-energized” the military multi-tool arena with the introduction of two new designs optimized for weapons maintenance and military logistics functions.
According to Andrew Gritzbaugh, marketing communications manager at Gerber, that company was the first to introduce a tool designed specifically for the M-4 / AR-15 platform when they released their “eFECT” Military Maintenance Tool at the Association of the US Army annual meeting in October 2008.
“That’s been wildly successful and has gone downrange hundreds of thousands of times with Soldiers,” he said. “It has an NSN [National Stock Number] and is a highly issued tool.”
But Gerber has hardly been alone in the military tool market, as evidenced by the development of weapons maintenance multi-tools by several manufacturers, including items like the Multitasker Series 3 or the Leatherman Military Utility Tool (MUT).
MUT, for example, was unveiled at the January 2010 Shooting, Hunting Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show, with Leatherman representatives crediting the initial tool design to Sergeant First Class Aaron Hampton, who was then assigned to the US Army Marksmanship Unit at Ft. Benning, Georgia.
The same MUT platform was subsequently used for a military multi-tool specifically designed for EOD operations.
Gerber’s newest tools – designated MP1-AR and MP1- Military MRO – are both based on a new “butterfly opening” platform designated MP1.
“This butterfly opening platform is great because it has ‘outboard’ tools,” Gritzbaugh explained. “Everything is accessible from the outside, with spring-loaded forged jaws on the inside.”
He cited the forged jaws as “the chief difference between this and everything else on the marketplace,” adding, “What’s really great about forged jaws is that they have been stamped and pounded. And all of the impurities and oxygen bubbles inside that steel have been removed through a heavy stamping process and that creates a steel that is so dense that it’s very, very strong.”
He continued, “What’s really important about this is that a lot of multi-tool jaws snap or break under intense pressure. But these won’t do that. They will actually bend before they break. And that’s just a testament to how strong they really are. So the forged jaws are really the backbone of the entire tool.”
Within that MP1 platform, the two new multi-tools are equipped with components optimized for specific military roles.
The MP1-AR, for example, has been provided with a range of specific features designed for maintenance of M-4 / AR-15 series carbines and rifles.
In addition to the forged jaws of the base platform, Gritzbaugh said that the MP1-AR is equipped with a wire cutter, wire stripper, full-size serrated blade, full-size fine edge blade, takedown lower pin punch, carbon scraper. Otis compatible screw-on dental style carbon pick, extended reach bit driver, and 12 piece bit set (including Torx bits, Hex bits, Philips bits, front sight adjustment tool, and trigger assembly pin punch).
“One of the nice things about the extended reach bit driver is that you can pull it out when the tool is totally closed and you will find that the driver is set up to be center mass,: he noted, “So you get ultimate leverage when you are using your driver, versus it being a tiny little half-inch long screwdriver.”
He added that the extended reach driver and bit set are also designed “specifically for getting into the pistol grip so that you can swap out your special grips from the standard. That’s another feature that none of the other tools on the market can do and it’s because it’s got that extended reach driver.”
He characterized the complete package as “the next evolution in weapons maintenance multi-tools,” adding, “It’s the perfect combination for the Soldier in terms of battlefield utility as well as individual carbine and rifle maintenance.”
While the MP1-AR entered the public spotlight at the January 2015 SHOT Show, the second MP1-based military tool, designated MP1 Military MRO [Maintenance, Repair and Operations], has been in the background until now.
“It’s the same basic great new platform of the MP1 – forged jaws, black, exterior tools – but the chief difference is that it has got very specific maintenance, repair and operations implements,” Gritzbaugh explained. “For example, there are a lot of implements to help the PMCS [preventive maintenance checks and services] process, like a file with a tire depth gauge on it to check tread depth, which Soldiers are doing frequently.”
“It also has a ‘cotter pin hook,’ because if you work around vehicles a lot you are always pulling and repairing cotter pins as part of removing larger components. A lot of guys are using their pliers to do that and what will happen is that the pliers will slip and slam their hand against something, or the needle-nose plier may even break. The cotter pin hook looks like a question mark, so you can really get in behind the cotter pin and then use your tool as a large handle to pull that out. It is far more ergonomically specific to that need,” he said.
Other features include a magnetic bit driver with bit set, fine edge 420HC blade, serrated 430HC blade, utility blade, pry bar with bottle opener and textured handles.
“It also comes with a front sight post adjustment tool,” Gritzbaugh added. “Why? Because every Soldier is a rifleman first.”
“I think this MP1-Military MRO is going to be a game changer when it comes to multi-tools in the military,” he concluded. “That’s because most of the military is an operational force. They are moving. They are moving in vehicles. They are moving in helicopters. It’s all about logistics. This tool is designed for that force and it’s awesome.”