While at Lowes to get yard supplies, I once again yielded to impulse and bought another multitool, this time a Gerber Clutch. After playing around with the Clutch for a few days and using it for some real world tasks, I'll offer some observations.
Fit and finish are decent - not up to Swiss Army standards, but not bad. Tools, including pliers, snap open and closed with authority, resulting in a tight 'lockup' when opened. None of tools actually lock, but when fully open they have zero slop, either side-to-side or back-and-forth.
The knife blade is slightly less than two inches long and is good for typical tasks a pen-knife would perform. Works fine for opening packages or envelopes, stripping insulation off wires, cutting twine, etc. The blade is fairly thin, so I wouldn't use it in situations requiring lots of cutting power, except during an emergency.
The nail file is about the same size as the knife blade, and has a curved, pointed tip for cleaning under nails. It files nails OK, but I'm more interested in its potential for other things. Can be be used for light prying, scraping oxidation off metal parts, positioning wire around terminals, probing solder joints during desoldering, and as sort of an awl for digging into softer materials.
The slot-head screwdriver on the end of the bottle opener isn't bad - wouldn't want to put great stress on it, but it works fine for removing switch plates, screws in enclosures, etc. The bottle opener will open a bottle, but not as quickly and easily as the larger one found on my Tinker.
The bottle-opener/screwdriver implement provides the single issue with the Clutch that bugs me the most. Opening it requires enough force to nearly break a thumbnail. Hopefully it'll loosen up with use. The other implements require some force to open, but nowhere near as much as the bottle-opener.
The small screwdriver will fit screws in eyeglass frames, which is a plus. It could also be used as a short, pointy probe to get into small openings.
The Phillips screwdriver will turn small screws fine, but usabilty for larger screws is limited due to its flatness.
The tweezers are short, but usable. The ends of the tweezer tips are angled, which is a clever design. The angled tips have a sharp corner that works well for grabbing onto tiny things. Used the tweezers to remove a small wood splinter from my thumb, which they accomplished easily.
Finally we get to the pliers, which are the primary tool around which the Clutch is built, and also the primary reason for carrying the Clutch rather than a small Swiss Army knife with similar functions.
The fit of the pliers is rather precise. The tips of the jaws are smooth and come together without a visible gap. Small serrations line the jaws between the tips and a small elliptical cutout which is also serrated. The cutters are small, but they cut wire cleanly. The plier handles and jaws snap into place tightly when opened. The plier pivot allows no vertical play at all in the jaws. Handling the pliers gives the user a feeling of precision due to a total absence of slop. The spring opening function is also a nice feature.
Obviously, because the of their small size, the pliers should be limited to jobs not requiring a lot of torque. Within this constraint, the pliers are very versatile. So far I've used the pliers for cutting and stripping wire, splicing wire, holding a nut still while turning a bolt, positioning and tightening wire around a terminal, and holding parts while soldering.
The Clutch's pliers are well suited to electronic and light electrical work. I have a butane-powered, shirt-pocket-size soldering iron and a shirt-pocket Digital Volt Meter. With nothing more than that iron, that DVM, and the Clutch, I have the capability to do basic electronics work in the field.
Summarizing, I am really impressed with the Clutch's pliers and find them very useful for a variety of tasks.
+Very well made and useful pliers.
+Knife is decent.
+Slot-head screwdrivers are decent.
+Compact size and light weight; carries well in pocket.
-Phillips is of limited usefullness.
---Very stiff opening screwdriver/bottle-opener.
I bought the Clutch with the idea of replacing my Vic Tinker for EDC. While the Clutch offers most of the functions of the Tinker, it doesn't do them quite as well. The knife blade isn't as good as the big blade of the Tinker, the screwdrivers aren't as good as the Tinker's, and the bottle opener isn't as good. The Clutch lacks a true awl and a can opener.
So, I may end up carrying the Clutch as a complement to the Tinker rather than a replacement. There are many situations where this combo would be handy. Using the Clutch to hold a nut while tightening a bolt with the Tinker. Holding a screw with the Clutch to start it while turning with the Tinker. Holding an object with the Clutch while cutting on it with the Tinker. If I can get used to carrying the Clutch in one pocket and the Tinker in the other, this could be my ideal EDC.
(Pics courtesy of Defender at Multitool.org)