The Gerber Diesel is best for military members who love their MP600 because Gerber improved on the classic design. Pliers keep the wrist-flick deployment but the rattling and is gone and there is less sloppiness. Handles separate when open to reduce pinching, longer and stronger knife blade and tools, Torx fasteners instead of clips and larger release buttons.
Gerber built their reputation for rock solid multi tools supplying the US military. With many servicemen and women carrying a Gerber multi tool during their service its no wonder they wanted the same capability as civilians. Gerber targets their Serve line of tools toward US military, law enforcement, and rescue professionals.
First released in 2005, the Gerber Diesel is available in stainless steel and black versions with identical tools. Today we are reviewing the features, build quality, and utility of the Gerber Diesel Multi Plier multi tool.
Gerber Diesel Multi Plier – First Impressions
Gerber calls it the Diesel Multi Plier because the pliers are the main feature. The Diesel design has the pliers sliding within the handle, a one-handed flick of the wrist extends the plier jaws for use. Beyond the pliers, you need to dig deeper (literally) to get to the other tools as they are inside the handle.
The Gerber Black Diesel MultiPlier is highly rated on Amazon and other shopping sites so we were expecting a top of the line performer. In 2014, the Gerber website listed it under the Military section with Credentials Required to purchase. On paper, the Gerber Diesel has the right stats but we were disappointed when we got our hands on the Diesel multitool. Read our detailed review to find out why the Diesel let us down and what multi tools we recommend instead.
Gerber Diesel Multi Plier – Tool List
Gerber lists the Diesel with 12 tools on their website but identify 15 in some documentation, go figure.
- Needlenose Pliers
- Regular Pliers
- Wire Cutters
- Jaw Release Button
- Tool Lock
- Cross Driver
- Partially Serrated Blade
- Large Flathead Driver
- Small Flathead Driver
- Coarse and Fine File
- Can Opener
- Medium Flathead Driver
- Bottle Opener
The black plastic components (tool locks and pliers slider) are easily visible on the stainless steel Diesel 22-01470.
Gerber Diesel Multi Plier [Gerber Description]
This is one of the biggest, toughest multi-tools that also features the ease and convenience of wrist-flick deployment. That’s the story behind the Diesel Multi-Plier. We’re talking about an industrial-strength tool here. The kind that pulls no punches and shrinks for no task…regardless of how tough it might be. The individual stainless steel tools are bigger than average, and more rugged than normal. And each one locks into place for maximum safety and security with the Saf.T.Plus system. Maybe you could get by with a lesser tool. But why run the risk of all the cussing and fuming when you can own the multi-tool that rules the road? Diesel. The one tool you need when you can only carry one tool.
Core Tools – Pliers
Gerber built the Diesel around the pliers and their one hand deployment mechanism. With a little practice you will have the pliers out with a satisfying ‘snick’ every time. The key is holding the handles so they are loose and not squeezed together – this keeps the sliding mechanism moving smoothly without binding. Retracting the pliers is simple – just press the jaw release buttons and slide the jaws back inside the handle.
Using the pliers we found that they closed precisely and the serrated jaws give solid grip. On our tool, the wire cutters made contact before the tips of the pliers so fine work was difficult. The needlenose pliers did not grasp a piece of paper unless we squeezed strongly.
Another compromise with the pliers comes directly from the sliding mechanism. The tolerances must be larger in order to slide smoothly, resulting in up/down play in the plier jaws. We put the Gerber Diesel against a hard surface and measured 3/32 inch movement at the end of the plier jaws. To be fair, this movement didn’t cause any actual problems during use but it was distracting and just didn’t give the same confidence.
Core Tools – Knife
Except for the pliers all other tools are inboard, meaning they are inside the handles. To access the knife requires a 5 step process. Extend the pliers, open the handles, unfold the knife blade, close the handles, and finally retract the pliers. After all that you can use the blade but the inboard orientation causes an additional problem. Because the blade folds out from the inside, the lower handle is below the cutting edge and interferes during use.
The blade is narrow with a thick spine and straight cutting edge, serrated on the lower half. The tip on this reverse-tanto style blade is long and thin and we have concerns about its durability. has falls somewhere between a Wharncliffe and a lambsfoot blade. Surprisingly, Gerber doesn’t even provide the blade length in their information about the Diesel. We measured the blade at 2.25 inches of cutting length.
Specific information is very sparse on the Gerber website. Gerber doesn’t list the blade length for the Diesel and does not provide the steel composition for most of their multi tools. All the information they provide is in generic statements like solid stainless steel construction or this blurb in their FAQ:
If you use stainless steel, why has rust occurred on my Gerber product?
Gerber products use a 100% high-grade stainless steel. Stainless steel is not completely resistant to rust but rather is corrosion resistant to rust. Corrosion can occur in the absence of proper maintenance. Your Gerber product should be cleaned, dried and re-oiled periodically to inhibit rust and corrosion; this is especially true in a damp or marine environment. If your Gerber product comes in contact with any substance that you are uncertain about, it is always a good idea to wash your blade off with tap water, dry it and apply a light coat of oil. If your Gerber product comes into contact with saltwater you must flush it with tap water immediately after use and coat it with good quality lightweight oil. Salt water is extremely corrosive and will attack and destroy any type of steel.
User forums note differences in tools based on whether the tool is produced in the US or overseas. The Diesel is listed as USA Built w/ Global Parts. If Gerber thought the steel used would sell more tools they would list it in their specifications. Their website does list 420HC for the Centerdrive and 440 stainless for several knives so the Diesel is likely to have lesser quality steel.
Since we don’t have facts to work from, the best course of action is to look at the performance. User reviews comment on the sharpness out of the box with average edge retention. This matches our hands-on experience and our guess is Gerber used a steel from the Chinese Cr series – 3Cr13, 5Cr15MOV or similar.
Gerber included pinch cut wire cutters on the Diesel and they work well enough. We were able to cut 8 AWG copper wire and found the one advantage to inboard tools. Squeezing the smooth body of the handles allows for a stronger grip with no pinch points from protruding tools.
For a multi tool centered around the pliers, we don’t understand why Gerber did not include replaceable blades on the wire cutters. These cutters are not designed for hard wire cutting, but the whole point of a multi tool is to be prepared whatever the situation. We damaged and deformed the cutters on #15 finishing nails, although they did cut.
Gerber recently updated the MP600 to include replaceablement tungsten carbide wire cutter blades so maybe the Diesel will get an update in the future.
A saw blade is always welcome in the outdoors. Hunting, fishing, camping or hiking there is always a need to cut or shape a piece of wood. The saw blade on the Diesel matches the knife blade in form and function. They are both 2.25 inches long and suffer from the same interference with the lower handle.
With the knife we were able to find workarounds but it makes the saw blade almost unusable. The lower handle bangs into the branch when cutting anything larger than 3/4 inch. Adjusting to a shorter cutting stroke makes cutting larger pieces a major chore. The saw blade itself has course teeth that cut well and clear the kerf without clogging. We would prefer slightly finer teeth on the saw because the handle interference means most cutting will be on smaller material.
The screwdrivers on the Diesel are another area compromised by the pliers design. They will break your nails getting them out and have short shanks. Gerber included 3 sizes of flat head drivers and a single cross driver or Phillips head. The cross driver is simply a flathead ground to a point to fit into the screw head. Consequently it only makes significant contact with 2 arms in the cross, increasing the likelihood of stripping the head on stubborn screws.
All The Rest – Scissors, File, Bottle Opener, Can Opener
The scissors and file are bright spots for the Diesel. The scissors are sharp and above average size for medium duty multi tools. The file has a coarse side and a fine side with about 2 inches of usable surface. Gerber milled the two flat surfaces of the file but did not mill the bottom edge. This means you can not cut metal or groove with the file.
The bottle opener and can opener tools are functional once you get them open. Gerber included small cutout notches near the pivot on each tool to grab with a thumbnail. Now it is common for a new multi tool to be stiff, but even after lubricating with a light oil and working the tools open/closed more than 50 times the Diesel was still a nail breaker. We found ourselves pulling the tools out with the tip of our finger inserted into the handle, the notches just had no leverage since they are so close to the pivot.
Variants of the Gerber Diesel Multi Tool
Gerber has three product numbers for the Diesel:
- 22-01470 Diesel Multi-Plier – Stainless
- 22-01545 Diesel Multi-Plier – Black
- 22-41545 Diesel Multi-Plier Black, Sheath
All three versions include a sheath and generally sell for around the same price. Except for the black/stainless finish there are no significant differences between the three models so get whichever is cheaper if you decide to purchase the Diesel.
Unfortunately, the included nylon sheath is nearly unusable. It holds the Diesel well enough, but the belt loop is far too narrow. Most guys wear a wide, thick belt with jeans or work clothes and we struggled to get even a 1 inch dress belt through the narrow belt loop. Customer reviews commonly mention problems with the sheath coming apart and it is not MOLLE compatible. Gerber really missed the mark with this sheath.
Gerber Diesel Multi Plier Review
Wire Cutters: 2.5/5
Saw Blade: 1/5
Other Tools: 3/5
- One-handed: pliers yes, knife no
- Blade length: 2.25 in with lower half serrated
- Closed length: 4.92 in
- Overall length: 6.61 in
- Weight: 8.6 oz
- Pocket clip: no
- Sheath: yes
- Length closed 5”
- Width Closed 1-5/8”
- Thickness 3/4”
- Length open 6-1/2”
- Weight 8.6 oz
First the good. The Gerber Diesel features the convenience of wrist-flick deployment of the pliers. All tools are fully locking with Gerber’s patented Saf.T.Plus component locking system. We enjoy using tools without the worry of one coming closed on our knuckles during use. And that’s about where the positives end.
At 4.92 inches when closed and 8.6 ounces, the Diesel multitool is full sized and best suited for belt carry in a sheath. The knobby protrusions from the locking mechanisms make it uncomfortable in your pocket even if you don’t mind the weight. Unfortunately, the included nylon sheath is nearly unusable. We struggled to get even a 1 inch dress belt through the narrow belt loop. Most guys wear a significantly wider and thicker belt with jeans or work clothes – Gerber really missed the mark with this sheath.
To use the knife blades and other tools, the pliers must be extended. We found this design increasingly annoying as we used the Diesel. The pliers can be used with one hand, but then two hands are needed to separate the handles and open the tool. We missed the slick one-handed opening on the best-in-class Leatherman Charge TTi. After opening a knife blade, the lower pliers handle is in the way which limits the reach of the blade. We found ourselves attempting awkward positioning (and sometimes unsafe) to make a cut. The same handle interferes when using the saw or the file.
Perhaps the biggest drawback was the slop that was present in the pliers jaws. We measured 3/32 inch of sideways play at the tips when held against a hard surface. We also are not impressed with the plastic pieces present on the locking buttons and are unsure of their durability over time and in cold weather. Other similar priced multi tools like the Leatherman Super Tool 300 offer all metal construction without the compromises present in the Gerber Diesel.