The PB Swiss Tools Insider driver is a pocket-friendly screwdriver that can carry up to 8 insert bits in a removable cartridge. Don’t let its modest size or appearance fool you – the high quality Insider is very well designed and can handle most manual driving tasks with ease.
Take a look at our in-depth review of the Insider, or skip ahead to the verdict.
First, a word about PB Swiss Tools. PB Swiss Tools was founded in 1878, and produces a decent selection of quality tools. Each of their tools are 100% made in Switzerland, and come with an unlimited guarantee. In fact, PB Swiss is so serious about the quality of their tools that each one receives a unique serial number. You can even look up the final quality control examination date of any tool via the PB Swiss Tools website.
The main appeal of the Insider is of course its size. At about 4 3/4″ long, and 1 5/32″ at the widest part of the handle, the Insider is extremely portable. Since all of the edges of the tool are rounded, the Insider can be comfortably carried even in a front pants pocket.
The Insider’s magnetic bit holder securely holds onto insert bits with minimal play or wobble. The embedded magnet is also surprisingly powerful, and can hold loose fasteners to inserted bits for easier fastener installation and less cam-out. There are actually two versions of the Insider – one with a 16mm bit-holding shaft, such as the one shown here and featured in this review, and one with a longer 110mm shaft. Obviously, the one with the longer shaft will be slightly less carryable, but it is still well suited for home or shop use.
One of the nicest features of the Insider is that it is self-contained; the one-piece cartridge can hold up to eight insert bits, and is securely screwed into the body of the driver. While the included bits are of very high quality, you can always swap them out for the standard-sized 1″ insert bits of your choice. If necessary, the cartridge can even hold 2″ power bits, but that will of course reduce the total number of bits that youc an carry.
The Insider comes with 8 bits: 2, 3, and 4mm flat-head bits, T10, T15, and T20 Torx bits, and #1 and #2 phillips bits. The first thing one notices about these bits is that they’re color coded to distinguish bit types. For reference, in addition to the above styles and their respective colors, PB Swiss’s Pozi drive bits are green, and their hex bits are pink. Each bit is marked with a PB Swiss Tools logo and its size designation. Oh, those color bands around the bits – those are PB Swiss Tools’ size identification scheme.
Our impression of PB Swiss Tools’ bits has been overwhelmingly positive. These bits are hard, precise, durable, and may actually be the highest quality bits that we’ve ever used. We are especially fond of the hollow ground flat-head bits, which feature chamfered corners for better fastener fit and reduced fastener damage.
The handle of the Insider is of PB Swiss Tools’ Multicraft design, and is manufactured from cellulose aceto-butyrate, a robust, durable, and impact-resistant material that offers a non-slip grip even in oily hands. The grooves in the handle enable a firm and comfortable grip, even when applying high torque to a fastener, and also prevent the driver from rolling off of slightly inclined surfaces.
Pictured above is a relative size comparison, showing the Insider along with two “x-in-1” drivers and a Leatherman Skeletool.
(Don’t forget to select “watch in high quality” via the bottom-right hand side controls)
There are only two downsides to the Insider. First of all, everyone that sees my Insider immediately wants one of their own. That’s actually a good thing, and since the Insider is relatively affordable, a few close colleagues just might recieve one as a birthday or holiday gift. Second, the embedded magnet is fairly strong, giving me reason to avoid using the Insider inside or near sensitive electronic equipment. However, the advantages of the strong magnetic hold on bits and fasteners is a worthwhile tradeoff.
As mentioned, there are two versions of the Insider available: the short version reviewed here, and a longer version. PB Swiss Tools also offers a short soft-handled bit driver, as well as two “classic” handled bit drivers for those that have alternative means of storing their insert bits.
We purchased our PB Swiss Tools Insiders from Amazon.com due to their low prices, free shipping, and overall top-notch customer service.
Buy Now(via Amazon)
Update 1: It looks like there are two new Insider versions available! On the downside, I’m still hoping for a SwissGrip version of the Insider!
Update 2: There are two other places where you can buy this in the USA – Tool Lady and Count on Tools.
a gj member
another excellent review
I don’t own one of those PB Swiss gizmos, but I do have a lot of Wera stuff, and I’d say that the Kraftform Kompakt has it all over the system I see above.
Excellent review; this tool alas is missing square drive bits which is a personal requirement.
Kris, while square drive bits are not included, PB Swiss’ Robertson bits are sold individually, and of course you can alternatively use any standard sized square drive bit of any brand.
I have been using the cheap, bright green hardware-store 4-blade version of this for over 10 years. It includes a 2″ long extension shaft, making it more useful. It also is in a much smaller package that really fits in my front pants pocket while leaving room for my pocket Leatherman and Swiss army knife and big keyring and quarters for the beer machine.
So why can’t the good Swiss toolmakers copy the cheap Chinese tools that happen to be perfect for the job?
I cant find this anywhere online to purchase. Does anyone know where I can find one?
If I recall correctly, there are one or two other places where you can purchase the PB Swiss Insider, but at a considerably higher cost ($37 + shipping). If you cannot wait for Small Parts to receive a new shipment, let me know and I’ll find you some links.
I’ll try and wait! Thanks.
FYI, the Insiders are back in stock.
What about PB’s steel quality? Is it up to the fame of Swiss steel?
I have nothing but praise for the PB Swiss bits – they performed at and beyond my expectations. I hold similar praise for other PB Swiss tools that will be properly reviewed some time in the [hopefully near] future.
Knowing the Swiss and their attention to precision this tool should be well made. The video has convinced me to give it a try.
A small $37 screwdriver for 1/4 inch bits??
First of all, quality/hardness, etc is not a big issue with a hand screwdriver. You can hardly strip or break a bit by hand. Power drivers, yes its worth the extra cost for good bits. But even here, on has to wonder if it just doesn’t make more sense to break a bit here and there and just pop and another inexpensive one.
This screwdriver is way too expensive. But, if you want to be ‘seen’ with it….
For what it’s worth, the drivers have increased in price slightly in the past few months. An inquiry to Small Parts revealed that PB Swiss required this. Every now and then there are 10% and even 20% off sales, which make the prices more reasonable.
As far as hardness and quality is concerned, good bits do make a difference when used in a hand tool, but you’re right in that the difference is more pronounced when used with a powered driver.
The PB Swiss Insider is still by far my favorite multi-bit driver, and if I had to, I would replace it. The Insider is currently $34, but there’s a 10% promo, making it $30.60 shipped.
which bits are better for impact use the wera or the pb swiss bits?
I don’t think that PB Swiss makes any bits that are rated for impact driver use, but Wera does have impact-rated bits.
PB Swiss bits are better for hand tools, but I haven’t use either brands’ bits with an impact driver yet. If I had to choose, I would give Wera’s impact bits a try.
Thanks for nice post.
Hey Stuart, how did the handle hold up in the last 8 years? Did it survive unscathed the test of time or did it crack, shatter, or degraded in any other form?
I’ve babied it a little bit, but it’s held up very well. I recently bought another.
I’ve swapped in some bits, but the PB Swiss bits are very good and slow-wearing.
So far, all of my PB Swiss “MultiCraft” hard-handled screwdrivers are in great shape.