The Multitool Fallacy (but wait, there's more !)
First the positive : I carry a small quality multitool (Leatherman Juice CS4) with me and did so for the last 14 years. It has proven to be helpful now and then to do small, improvised repairs. I intend to carry it for another 14 years, since that little thing is durable.
Do I use it for something else than impromptu repairs ? Actually, I do use its perfect-sized screwdrivers to disassemble my cap & ball revolver, and on some other occasions on other firearms. So there's that. For anything else around the house, I have regular tools.
The Mutlitool Fallacy is the belief that all you need is a multitool. Actually, this way of reasoning goes beyond multitools, I will provide firearms and other examples below.
It used to be that useful mutlitools were relatively expensive, there have been improvements to that regard, and there are now good middle-range multitools available (and expensive ones are not necessarily good either).
A multitool is designed for small repairs and its main argument is that it is portable. That's it. In essence, they are foldable pliers with some Swiss knife stuff added wherever there is some space left.
In each functionality, any multitool will always be inferior to an entry-level tool (I'm excluding Chinese crap Tools In Name Only (TINO) here), and a good quality multitool is costing more than the sum of individual tools it encompasses.
This is why a multitool is a niche product. They exist since at least the Roman Empire (http://scoutmastercg.com/1800-year-old-roman-multi-tool/ ), so maybe they're also a sign of decadence :) Many people own one, but it should not be considered above its actual usefulness.
The definitive downside of a multitool is that you don't want to abuse them, although tools are made to be abused. If you break you 5 $ pliers you buy another pair, if you break the pliers on your Leatherman (or warp the handles) you can basically toss the thing away.
The “but wait there's more !” in the article's title refers to the kind of feature creep you find of inferior products in a desperate attempt to sex it up to the uninformed and the stupid (spoilers : it
works). Some examples : the tiny plastic magnifying glass or the infamous button compasses that doesn't work.
A firearms equivalent of a multitool is the M6 Aircrew Survival Weapon. It has its use, for instance if you're hiking or you're flying in a small aircraft (who knows ?). The Chiappa X-Caliber weapon sells for 688 $ but it includes eight 12ga adapters for following calibers : .380 ACP, 9mm Luger, .38 Special/.357 Magnum, .40 S&W, .44 Magnum, .45 ACP, .410/.45 Long Colt, .20 Gauge
You can buy only the conversion kit for 268 $ ( https://www.cheaperthandirt.com/product/chiappa-x-caliber-12-gauge-break-action-shotgun-caliber-conversion-adpater-complete-set-steel-black-970387-8053670711495.do )
This means the weapon without the conversion kit costs 420 $. I don't say that the weapon is useless, even in a survivalist perspective, but that's a lot of money for a lowly combination hunting gun. For about half the price of the package I could buy a 99 $ Wal-Mart single shotgun and the conversion kit alone, or for under 15% of the price of the package only the single shotgun.
What inspired me to write this article is an afternoon spent at the shooting range with a guy who owns a crappy combination hunting gun that sometimes doesn't break open. It turns out he loses the zero of either his red-dot scope or his hunting scope whenever he switches them. This could be (only partially) mitigated by buying quite expensive scope bases instead of the half-assed entry-level crap he uses.
Side note : actually chinese crap is a blessing for some manufacturers who can afford to decrease the quality of their products because no matter what it'll be better than pot iron products from Confucius Central.
For what he spent one a single “multitool” firearm he could have purchased a scoped break-action rifle for 399 € ( https://www.chassemarket.com/pack-carabine-baikal-izh18-30-06-springfield.html ) and a single-shot shot gun for 179 € (https://www.chassemarket.com/fusil-baikal-ij18.html ) , a total of 578 € (new !) rather than a second-hand combination gun for 700 € and a second-hand 150 € scope and endless frustration.
The final part of this article is about ourselves. As with everybody who lives in a dysfunctional society, Westerners are obsessed with being badasses, which make them automatically wusses in the first place (really it's like that kid who wants to have a toy gun so he can feel powerful).
So we have ludicrous macho stuff like the “Heinlein List” ( http://heinleinlist.com/ ) of stuff a single human being should be able to do, and ending with “specialization is for insects”.
On his list you'll find “program a computer” as well as “change diapers”. If only Billy Mays was still among us he could read that list with an Oxy Clean voice and then add : “but wait ! There's more !” ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTpXh33Mbeg )
Yuppie survivalists think they have to do it all by themselves. You can do a lot of low-skill stuff by yourself, and already that is not so easy. Surviving the looming collapse is not about knowing how to butcher a hog or start a fire in the wilderness. At all.
The reality is, we all specialize, and because we specialize, we actually get better at other stuff than people who don't specialize. Having an experience of success in a complex endeavour (setting up a business for instance) teaches you efficiency and also how to subcontract the stuff that is critical to a specialist.
The contrary of that is Bubba, who'll lose his hand because he messed up with the gun and had no notion of what he was doing. In a functioning society, you have a lot of specialists, who do their job well, you depend upon them as they depend upon you. Yes, this sounds a lot like a beehive or anthill. Ask any Heinlein wanabee if he wants to receive surgery from a specialist or a non-specialist.
A society of multitools is going to suck and be frail, a society of dedicated tools is more resilient but less adaptative. It's all about the right mix.
I build my own house, except for drilling the well(300 feet through solid rock) and hooking the electrical main up. Nothing was perfect, but I ended up with no mortgage. Screw specialization, and i'd be perfectly happy having my veterinarian stich me up for a $65.00 house call compared to the $1700.00 i got charged for an inch long cut. Too much specialization and they just turn into government sponsored monopolies. Don't be badmouthing Heinlein, when I get so old I'm crappin my pants I want to change my own diapers, thank you!ReplyDelete
You both have points. There is a thing such as TOO much or TOO little specialization. Which is where both your examples end up. Happy middle ground.Delete
>> when I get so old I'm crappin my pants I want to change my own diapers, thank you!ReplyDelete
Dennis this is actually a good example. What happens when you can't change your own diapers ? Would you rather put a gun in your mouth then, or simply ask somebody to wipe you ?
There are people out there who change diapers and program a computer, I guess they will rather program the computer. Others will wipe your butt because there is nothing else somebody wants them for. Specialization works out not only for the top of society butt also for the bottom (double shameless puns intended).
That is a tough one. I enjoyed the article and the logic. That survival gun kicked in my gun lust, even if logic makes it a silly toy. My family watched granddad die of alzheimers, so not being able to wipe my own ass, makes a Winchester lollipop sound like a good idea. One thing I hate is the idea of having to repair my own car. Sure glad they have specialist to deal with what ever over complicated contraption comes out of the over educated minds of Detroit's engineers.Delete
Agree on your general overview of the multi-tool. They’re great to have on you if an unexpected repair comes up, but if you’re setting out to repair something specific, you would pick the right tools for the job. In almost all cases that I found the multi-tool to be of help, it was usually for the pliers/wire cutter combo.ReplyDelete
I have the Swiss Tool, Swiss Spirit X, and like it a lot. It’s a high quality tool.
The SOG line of multi-tools allow for a tool to be switched out if you decide to go with a tool that would be more useful for you, or if you happen to break an existing tool.
In my opinion, the best multi-tool for the average person, is one that’s based on the one handed opening, pocket clip tool, with the design based around the knife primarily. These are the types of tools that I’m referring to here:
Since about the only thing I can repair is PVC or bicycle based, a multitool was never needed.Delete
Well, I’m like you Jim. Unless it’s easier than seducing Rosie O’Dumbbell with a Twinkie, count me out 😀Delete
I do occasionally though find myself needing a pair of pliers, and sometimes cutters, at random times. I probably use the knife the most for cutting random stuff, which is why I suggested the two multi-tools above. These models have the minimal, but most commonly used tools.
I wonder what Rosie would do for a Chocodile? I mean, they are like pure Twinkie greatness, SQUARED! And I don't even like pastries much.Delete
ok chamber adapters are not a multi tool. They are for extending modern ammo, through scavenging and flexibility in what's you have on hand.ReplyDelete
Never seen the point in the multi-tool phenom. Face it, if you want to put 13 different tools in your pocket size and quality are going to suffer tragically. Just what I need, I'm laying some ass into a stuck faucet valve with a cheezy multi-dysfuntion and the teeth slip destroying the valve and the backs of my knuckles.ReplyDelete
No thanks. I don't run around all day fixing stuff on the fly so there is no point in carrying tools 24/7. And when I do need to fix something I see what needs to be done and get the required REAL tools and get it done.
Multi-anythings are for silly asses that would rather talk than do.
Oh, on that multi-gun thing, basically you're trading a 26" barrel for several 8" barrels and losing much in the transaction. Silliness.
The 1st true multi-tool I remember seeing years back with the set of pliers with an adjustable wrench on one handle end, the other handle end being a blade screwdriver.ReplyDelete
There are tons of multi-tools out there now, but the one I prefer is the Leatherman Crunch, a LOCKING PLIER (mini Vise-Grip) tool that is like a third hand. The adjuster screws out and leaves you a bit holder for various screwdriver bits and even drill bits if you need it, but that has proven to be a hassle. But still - its there.
IF you are fine with the standard multi-tool, then a set of small pliers pretty much completes the EDC tool set for me. I do miss the occasionally needed hammer though.
Thanks for the post.