The line between rip-off and homage is a thin one. In many cases, the original is so innovative that anything else in the market niche is going to be, in some ways, a rip off. So when competitors started making one piece multitools, Peter Atwood's legions of fans cried foul for quite a few designs, but as things have gone on, people have realized that tools are almost always iterations of previous tools. Even Peter himself has pointed this out.
So we get to the first non-Atwood tool I tried out, one made by Joshua Rice. He has a wide variety of tools available, many made from exotic materials and all of which are vastly easier to acquire than Peter's work. That is not to say they are of lesser quality. In fact, in some respects I think that Josh's stuff is superior, especially to early work from Peter. His products have a more cohesive aesthetic and I think his bottle openers are the best anywhere on any multitool. He has also taken to putting pocket clips on his tools, a great idea for bigger pieces. Again, some will see rip-off, but really I think they are a nice competitor to Atwood's stuff. In fact, check out how much the circle has turned (even down to circular bottle opener), with Peter's new Keyton looking a lot like the Pacu.
The first piece I am going to review is a pretty middle of the road piece--a pretty typical tool set, a not-too-exotic material, and an average price. After using the Atwrench for a while I decided that I wanted something a bit lighter. I looked around and the JDR Ti Baby Pacu 2.5 (a reference to the size of the tool, not its place in a series of previous tools) seemed to fit the bill. There is a non-Baby Pacu, but it is almost exactly the same, but wider. Here is a review of the Ti Baby Pacu 2.5. Here is my write up for EDCF when I first got the tool. And here is my Ti Baby Pacu 2.5:
The design is significantly more streamlined than the Atwrench, bearing a closer resemblance to the Atwood Keyton than the Atwrench, but don't be fooled, this pocket tool is full of ideas that push the limits of the form. First, the first choil makes for a very nice grip in both directions. The ridge grinds on the opposite side not only add even more to the grip, they also give the tool a more sophisticated appearance, and of course there is the fish theme in abstract aided by both grip mechanisms, an amazing degree of form and function in such a small tool.
Fit and Finish: 2
Peter's tools have nicely eased edges, something folks call "buttered" edges. Josh's stuff is a bit crisper. I don't prefer one to the other, but they are very different. The grinds are very nice, even on the secondary grind. I also like the chamfering around the lanyard hole and the bottle opener.
Same as the Atwrench--keychain tool with all the most used features. Again, I find the lack of a Phillips driver a bit of a miss, but so few tools in this category have one that I can't really knock a point off.
Best in class, without question. The choil combined with the ridge grinds on the opposite side make this the grippiest tool despite its miniscule size. Awesome job.
Okay, this guy is significantly thinner than the Atwrench, but the comparatively tiny lanyard hole means that it can snag and bunch on your keychain.
In theory Ti seems like a good idea...shiny, super light, relatively tough. But only in theory. In reality it is just not tough enough to hold up to the chores of prying and screw driving. In the end, it just wasn't up to stuff. The pry tip ended up with more chips in it than an Irish Pup on Good Friday (I know, I was trying to be funny). If I had to do it all over again I would get an S30V version of the tool, found here.
With the finger choil and only a few tools, none are hard to get to or block others. Very well thought out and spaced.
Retention Method: 1
I really like Josh's design with a pocket clip. I am not sure it would work on this small of a design, but the lanyard hole is just too small. Its small size also makes it hard to put on a split ring.
Tool Selection: 0
Again, like with the Atwrench, the lack of a Phillips driver is a deal breaker for me when it comes to tool selection. If you can do without it, the rest of the tools are all high use items.
Tool Performance: 2
Unlike with the Atwrench's stinky wrench, every tool here does its intended task very, very well. The bottle opener is probably the best I have ever seen of any design, even those on stand alone bottle openers. The hook is aggressive enough to get under the cap and the tool's thickness makes it easy to balance on the cap. The pry is good, especially if you don't care about chips on the edge. It also works well as a driver and in a pinch a box opener.
Overall Score: 14 of out 20
The material was a mistake on my part. Titanium is just not hard enough to work as a pry absent some amazing heat treat (such as here, click that link, their tools are AWESOME). In a better metal, this tool would be equal to the Atwrench, if not a little better. The grip and the bottle opener are great. As is, though, the Baby Pacu is still worth a spot on your keychain. It just might not be the possible choice (that is foreshadowing)...