I purchased a Gerber Prybrid utility knife a couple of weeks ago, thinking it would be an interesting and more compact alternative to common construction-focused models.
The Prybrid has a sliding utility knife blade, a cord cutting notch, a pry bar, bottle opener, and some other minor features almost nobody will ever use.
It’s a somewhat outdoors-themed utility knife and pry bar.
Although, Gerber says:
With a convenient dual-ended design, the Prybrid Utility is the only tool you’ll need for quick tasks at the job site.
My Prybrid has been sitting on my test bench due to time constraints and other priorities, but I thought it might be nice to post about it as a follow-up to my recent Coast DX126 folding utility knife review.
So, last night I opened it up, checked it a bit, and oh boy, instant regret.
For a utility knife to be jobsite-friendly, you’ve got to be able to change blades fast, right?
Somehow while changing the blade, sorry – while trying to change the blade, something on the tool cut two of my fingers. I didn’t notice, I just realized my fingers were wet and I saw the blood. I washed up and applied bandaids to the cuts. I really don’t know what happened here.
But there is something I do know – I greatly dislike tools that make it difficult to change out accessories.
Maybe I’ll get a feel for things with time, but I did not have an easy time changing the utility knife blade at all.
Did I get a dud? Are my fingers weaker than I thought?
Did I do something wrong? I haven’t a clue, because Gerber doesn’t provide any instructions with the knife, just a standard sheet of precautionary statements that they seem to include with each and every multi-tool, knife, or similar product.
I found a quick video online, and it made blade changes look relatively easy. It reinforced what I thought I had to do, but it just didn’t work.
To change out the blade, you extend the knife all the way out. There are 3 blade positions – closed, extended for use, and extended for removal.
Do you see the large T-shaped tab that covers the blade? That is what’s applying locking pressure to the blade.
There’s a small protrusion that holds the blade into position from sliding in and out.
This tab needs to clamp the blade with enough pressure so as to help prevent the blade from intentionally pulling out from the knife, and so it’s pretty strong.
So, there’s this itty bitty little tab that you have to push, and with enough strength to counter the spring tension, all while carefully pulling the razor-sharp utility knife-style blade.
With practice or a bit of break-in, maybe I’ll be able to finesse it a bit more. In theory, or with practice, I should be able to hold the knife carefully, push the locking tab open to relieve pressure on the blade, and then gently and carefully remove the blade. But, I’m not there yet.
Right now, I feel that I need 3 hands to safely change blades on this – one to hold the knife, one to release the locking pressure, and one to safely remove the blade.
Putting a fresh blade back in? That’s a very similar challenge.
To insert a new blade, you have to push the locking tab open and hold it open while guiding the blade. If you don’t open the locking tab with enough pressure, it squeezes the blade and fights any efforts to carefully bring it to the proper locked position.
Looking at online reviews, there’s a lot of positivity for the Gerber Prybrid knife and pry bar. I do like its overall design and construction, but the blade change process is literally painful.
This is supposed to have a tool-free blade change process, and I found it to be way too awkward.
The problem here isn’t so much about the knife, but my expectations. When a tool is designed around replaceable utility knife blades, I expect it to allow for fast, easy, and safe blade changes. The design here is not fast or easy, at least in my early experiences so far.
However, that the spring-tension locking tab is so strong is also a good thing, as it reduces the chance of blade pull-out.
Oh, and one more thing – I did read some online complaints about the Gerber Prybrid knife not being compatible with all brands’ utility knife blades. So, if I end up using this knife enough to formally review it, I’ll have to get much more familiar with the blade change process. Great.
This Gerber is up there on the “terrible blade change process,” right next to the newest Dewalt folding retractable utility knife that I recently reviewed.
I think that the Gerber Prybrid might be an okay “just in case I need it” type of EDC tool where a single blade will last a very long time before needing to be reversed or changed. But in my mind and usage, utility knife blades are for frequent use, and that doesn’t mesh well with difficult blade change mechanisms.
I also bought the Gerber Prybrid X, a similar tool that works with hobby knife blades. Unfortunately, the Prybrid X looks to have a similar blade change design.
Hmm, maybe this is the problem – Gerber shows a fingernail being used to put counter-pressure on the Prybrid X’s locking tab. I trimmed my nails a couple of days ago; was I supposed to grow out a nail in order to change the blades on these tools?
I’m sure I’ll settle on a safe technique eventually, but right now the process feels very precarious and intimidating.
Just to be sure, I tried to change the blade one more time, to see if it would be easier. I did change and replace the blade yesterday – just once – maybe this second go around would different. Nope.
Maybe my fingers are just too wimpy for this tool, as everyone else online seems convinced blade changes are easy with this tool.
I took a look at Gerber’s introductory promo video.
Ah, okay – they show that to change a blade, you hold the knife handle in your right hand, both sides of the blade with your thumb and middle finger, and use your pointer finder to unlock the spring tab.
I tried doing it this way and I reversed my hands. I tried to use my thumb again while holding the handle in my right hand and blade in my left.
My short nail doesn’t do much, and if my nail was longer, it’d likely bend or crack.
How did I get the blade out and reinserted the first time around last night? I cheated and used pliers.
Maybe this is why Gerber doesn’t include any instructions with the knife, because there’s just no easy way to do this properly. I’ve watched the blade change in their intro video several times, and have concluded that they’re using magic.
In case you’re curious, I think this is what cut into my finger until I noticed the blood – one of the corners of the bottle opener claw is rounded, the other is pointy and much sharper. I’m thinking I was concentrating too hard on safely avoiding the blade’s cutting edge that I might have awkwardly gripped the tool too tight and at the wrong angle.
Yup, I cut my finger on the bottle opener while trying to be super careful about not cutting myself on the blade I was trying to remove and reinsert.
There are aspects I immediately like about this tool, but boy does the blade change design really sour my early opinion. I’ll either find a way to change the blade in a quick, easy, and safe manner, or just live with the idea that it’ll take a bunch of other tools.
Maybe I’ve got to do some finger exercises, thicken my callouses, or follow Cosmo’s advice, where they say more Biotin – vitamin B7 – could help improve fingernail strength.
Following are some purchase links, if you’re interested. Maybe one day I can recommend it, if either the blade change tab breaks in a little or I find the process less clumsy.
At the time of this posting, the Gerber Prybrid tools have more than 2,100 reviews and ratings for the two color options combined, with most being very positive.
If you have one of these tools, have your experiences been like mine? It seems very popular, and so I can’t help but think that either there’s something wrong with my tool, which doesn’t seem all that likely, or something wrong with me. I like to think that I’m fairly competent and experienced with all kinds of knives, but one has me stumped.