Saturday, March 5, 2016

Griffin Pocket Tool Review by James Mackintosh

The Griffin Pocket Tool is one of many One-Piece Multi Tools (OPMT) that have sprung out of the fertile entrepreneur land of Kickstarter. It is designed by Casey Deming and is sold through Coyote Mountain Outdoor and their storefront on Amazon. It’s available in a variety of materials and finishes, including stainless steel, titanium, carbon fiber, and a few limited edition runs like bronze and anodized titanium. Mine was a polished stainless steel version that I received as a gift from my fiancĂ©e for our anniversary.

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Twitter Review Summary: A few small steps away from pocket tool greatness.

Design: 2

The thing that sets the Griffin Pocket Tool apart from other OPMT’s is that the design is based around the built-in pocket clip. The clip is integrated into the body of the tool itself, forming the “flat” end of the integrated box wrenches in the center of the tool. With the attachment point for a keyring opposite this clip, it makes the Griffin Pocket Tool an effective dangler-style key holder if you want to use it in that manner. They also put a lot more thought than normal into the function of the bottle opener, which I will get into in more detail later in the review.

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Fit and Finish: 1

Not perfect. The first Griffin I received I actually sent back and exchanged due to the considerable number of crooked grinds and tooling marks on the tool – the end of the screwdriver, the bevel to the screwdriver, the bevel going down into the clip itself, and the grinds that form the scoring tool were all visibly lopsided. The second one I received was a lot better – still not perfectly straight on the screwdriver end, and some small tooling marks. But these tools are EDM cut and then hand ground, and no human is perfect. Coyote Mountain says that future Griffins will be EDM cut and then CNC machined, which I would prefer.

Theme: 2

An OPMT based around a pocket clip – or a useful dangler, if you will – seems to still be a unique idea in this field. If you choose to use this tool as an anchor for your key set, I think it will do so very well. I’ve decided to pocket carry the Griffin, because my “minimum” key carry would render a lot of the functionality of this tool useless, and I’m very comfortable with my basic black diamond spring-gate carabiner as it is.

Grip: 2

No issues here. The Griffin has jimping on both sides that help with traction while prying off a bottle top, or in the reverse grip, using the box wrenches.

Carry: 1

For my purposes, it works fine thrown into a pocket – although the long and skinny nature of the tool means that it sometimes lodges itself at the bottom of your pocket.

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However, if you’re using the Griffin as a dangler with your keys on it, the actual opening itself is pretty small for a lot of belt loops.

Materials: 0

When I first started writing this review, I had rated the Griffin as a “1” in materials, which I’ve revised down to zero. I like the feel and durability of stainless steel; the heft is worth the strength. The stainless Griffin is approximately three times heavier than the titanium and five times heavier than the carbon fiber. But, umm, the bottle opener bent!

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Maybe that’s a sign I drink too much. Maybe the geometry of the edge needs some work. Maybe they need to heat treat their tools. People complain that the carbon fiber versions chip when you open a beverage as well, which is disappointing. With a thick (3/16”) stock of stainless, you expect to not have to worry about this. Disappointing.

Deployment/Accessibility: 2

No issues with interference on the Griffin. Some features serve multiple purposes – the bottle opener is also a ¼” bit driver, and the key ring hole is a 5/16” hex driver, but you’re unlikely to need both at the same time.

Retention Method: 2

Well, the whole point is that it’s got a built-in pocket clip, which is clever. As a dangler it’s good, or you can also slide it over the lip of your “fifth” (coin) pocket as well. The non-linear gate (which reminds me of old Jaguar automatic shifters) helps hold the tool in place as well.

Tool Selection: 2

It covers the basic tenets of OPMTs – a straight screwdriver/prybar, a bottle opener, and a key-ring.  I like the inclusion of the 4 through 7mm box wrenches, but think about this – what exactly USES those size bolts? I’m a mechanic by trade and I’ll happily show you how clean my ¼” drive 4 through 7mm sockets are. The Griffin could benefit from “imbiggening” – multiply the size by 1.25 so that the clip is a little bigger, and it includes an 8 and a 10mm box wrench – which would actually be useful. The 6 and 7mm wrenches occasionally work on worm-gear type band clamps but of course you can’t fit the Griffin on those. The ¼” bit driver is a great “zero downside” addition, built into the bottle opener. And the 5/16” hex drive – a size commonly used on domestic appliances – is a boon. I don’t do any woodworking but I’d imagine Anthony has something to say about the uses of a scoring tool for marking things. And of course a Philips driver would be helpful, but is impractical from a machining standpoint.

Tool Performance: 1

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Here we get to the Griffin’s strong point for me, a craft beer nerd. The bottle opener is the best short of a bartender-style, full-size tool. Instead of the opener being on the forward side of the tool, hooking under and leveraging UP, you place the Griffin over the top of a cap, hook the edge under, and push down. It is a fantastic single-pull opener, and it’s a lot of fun to use. Sadly after a few weeks of use, it bent, making opening bottles difficult and requiring straightening with a set of pliers. The straight screwdriver/prybar works well, but lacks leverage due to the size of the tool. The ¼” bit driver and 5/16” hex are situated at the end of the tool so you have maximum leverage when torqueing things down. There is no retention method for a ¼” bit, though. The box wrenches are in the middle so access and leverage are poor, but you probably won’t be using them anyway, so it’s a moot point.

Overall: 15/20

For things that I keep a one piece tool around in my pocket for, the Griffin suits my purposes especially well. Pop open a beer, tighten a screw, wedge open the occasional recalcitrant pistachio, etc. I think the Griffin could benefit from improvements in machining and materials, but for around $20 these are more observations than complaints. If you want to try out something new for light duty jobs around the house, it’s worth a try.

5 comments:

  1. I always find it funny that right when I'm researching a product you or one of the other bloggers I follow post a review on it. I was looking for a key dangler and this looks like it'll fit the bill with a few extras. I wonder if the griffin tool xl would fix the strength issue but I don't think it would carry as well. Thanks for the good review

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  2. Great review. Thanks a lot. I was thinking of getting this, but will wait till they make the improvements you recommend.

    I wonder too if it'd make sense to make the screwdriver/prybar a little narrower so the wrench could fit in more spaces.

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  3. Is that the S110V PM2 in the second picture?

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  4. Great review. I have one of these but in Ti. I really didn't want the extra heft, and I also just like Ti. I haven't had any issues with the bottle opener bending, and mine was very good in terms of fit and finish. There are a couple of imperfect machining spots in the jimping but they haven't affected the performance of the tool.
    My favorite thing about it is as you described: it's a OPMT built around a dangler. I replaced a dangler with just a bottle opener on it with a dangler with a bunch of useful tools on it. I have a Gerber Shard, and it's good as a pry for certain things, but the Griffin as a pry has been useful in more situations for me.
    I can't speak to the SS version. But if they're going to be upgrading the machining, this tool goes from pretty good to amazing.

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