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[Hands-On] 8 Best Keychain Tools for On-The-Go

Who doesn’t love cheap but handy tools you can shove on a keychain?

I know I do. Most cost under $10, and they offer you quite a bit of value for the money.

There are tons of excellent tools on the market, and we’ve gathered some of the best from Gerber, 5.11 Tactical, CRKT, and Kershaw.

Keychain Tools
Keychain Tools

To earn a spot on the list, the tool must be nice small, but most importantly, designed to fit on a keychain.

I can fit a keychain on a fixed blade, but that doesn’t make it a keychain tool.

Keychain Tools Bottle Openers
Important work here…

Lastly, it needs to be affordable. No Instagram flex-worthy gear on the keychain here. Just useful, practical tools that won’t break the bank.

That said, here are the tools we think you should consider based on our hands-on time with them.

Best Keychain Tools

1. Gerber Mullet

Tools Provided

  • Cross Driver
  • Nail Puller
  • Scraper
  • Hex Driver
  • Large Flathead driver
  • Small Flathead Driver
  • Bottle Opener
  • Wire Cutter
  • Pry Bar

Mullet is a great name for this tool as it works hard and plays hard…business in the front and party in the back.

Mullet

Gerber’s Mullet packs nine different tools in its pocket-sized frame.

This includes some basics like a Phillips head drive, a hex driver, a pry bar, a bottle opener, and two flathead drivers.

Gerber Mullet
Gerber Mullet

The Mullet quickly removed a driven-in screw during testing — its wide size, making it easy to twist and spin.

The small flat driver was tossed into action as well, but it was more awkward due to the flat driver existing as part of the curved pry bar.

What really stood out was the hex driver and pry bar.

I latched that bad boy onto the hex head and literally gave it a whirl, and it spun right out.

Gerber Mullet
Gerber Mullet vs. screw.

As far as mini pry bars go, this was the best tested.

It easily sunk under the small bracket I nailed to a board and pried upwards. That upward curve gives it some natural bending power, and that tin didn’t stand a chance.

Where did it fail? Well, the wire cutter is kinda tricky to use and not very sharp for the role.

Gerber Mullet
Wire cutting is tough.

The bottle opener was also disappointing. Yes, it opened the bottle but was a bit small, making it tough to pry the cap off my Sunday Funday beers.

Carrying the Mullet can be done on a key ring, or the mullet portion can be looped into a belt loop.

Size-wise the Mullet stands at 3-inches long and weighs 0.7-ounces.

8
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

2. Gerber Shard

Tools Provided

  • Pry Bar
  • Small Flathead Driver
  • Wire Stripper Puller
  • Large Flathead Driver
  • Bottle Opener
  • Cross Driver

If you want TSA approved and small, then the Gerber Shard might be for you.

This little fella packs six tools for your consideration. (A lanyard loop is not a tool, Gerber, so it’s not seven as your website says.)

Gerber Shard

Under use, the Shard provided the best Phillips head driver,smoothly and efficiently removing a drilled-in screw.

A small and large flathead driver brings the same upward curve as the Mullet but smaller in size and easier to use by far.

Like the Mullet, stripping and cutting wire was difficult. The effort required to strip a wire is substantial.

Prying wasn’t too tough, but the pry bar is somewhat tiny. The upward angle adds a little extra leverage, though.

Gerber Shard

I jammed the Shard under the bracket, pushed it down, and that little piece of tin tapped out real quick.

For popping bottles, the Shard was the second-best tool, according to my wife. I couldn’t disagree. It gripped and ripped tops off without much of a fight.

Bottle Openers
The Shard ranked #2.

The Shard’s shape makes it super comfortable to use. Nothing pokes or prods when you use its wide variety of tools. Let’s be honest; there’s a lot of value in that.

At 2.75-inches long and weighing 1-ounce, it isn’t hard to carry on a keychain.

7
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

3. Kershaw PT 2

Tools Provided

  • 3 Hex Drivers
  • Small Phillips Head Driver
  • Flathead driver
  • Can Opener
  • Bottle Opener
  • Wire Scraper

If you don’t mind a little extra size, then the PT 2 works.

It’s a big ole boy with some real length to it at 3.25-inches long.

Complete with eight different tools, the highlights include a can opener, hex drivers, and a set of G10 grips.

Keychain Tools Kershaw PT2
Kershaw PT2

The can opener proves decent, cutting through tin cans with relative ease.

And those three hex drivers built into the handle are pretty cool tools. Not to mention, the G10 grips bring increased comfort and leverage.

Examining the design, we see it adopts a two-headed appearance, granting tons of leverage to work hex screws.

Kershaw PT2 Screw
The grips were kinda nice.

I used it to adjust some steel targets I had, and two of the three hex drivers got it done.

While the flathead driver worked well, the Phillips head driver left something to be desired.

Yes, it works for installing batteries into toys, but it’s not great for the average Phillip’s head I run across in my day-to-day. Plus, it’s small.

Kershaw PT2

Due to the extra length, you get one mighty pry bar — bracket destroying, if you will.

This earned the top spot as our number one bottle opener as well. I even opened a can of kidney beans with the can opener.

Can openers on keychain tools aren’t known for their prowess, but I can’t claim it took much difficulty — time, sure, but there’s no difficulty to it.

Kerhsaw PT 2 Bottle Opener
It’s a solid bottle opener!

The wire scraper scrapes wires…not much to say here. Not particularly hard or good at it, so average is the word of the day.

However, what stands out about the PT 2 is the grip design. With a super ergonomic design, it was machined for easy use.

The little grip attachments add width but add comfort overall.

8
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

4. CRKT K.E.R.T.

Tools Provided

  • Flat Head Driver
  • 1/4-inch Hex Head driver
  • Seat belt cutter
  • 02 wrench

The CRKT K.E.R.T. gives users a very specialized tool, but, unlike the other tools on this list, the K.E.R.T. is not designed for a whole ton of different EDC tasks.

So, what’s it for?

CRKT KERT
CRKT KERT

Well, the acronym tells it all — Keyring Emergency Rescue Tool. The name guides the design philosophy.

To start, you get a seat belt cutter (a real standout of the design).

Holy crap, it’s sharp!

CRKT ships the K.E.R.T. with a smaller rubber cover to keep the belt cutter covered, and I get why.

CRKT KERT
The small rubber cutter is handy!

It chewed right through 550 cord, t-shirts, and rags like they were nothing.

I don’t keep extra seat belts around, but I have complete confidence it can eat through a seat belt.

Beyond that, it offers an O2 driver for opening…you guessed it, oxygen in emergencies.

CRKT KERT
I think it could reasonably cut through a seatbelt.

The K.E.R.T. also sports a 1/4-inch hex driver, which proved ultra-smooth when removing hex screws. It fit on with ease and spun them right out.

Finally, the K.E.R.T. houses a flathead screwdriver of moderate size. It seems to fit most flat head screws.

CRKT KERT
CRKT KERT

Positionally it sits perfect and offers an easy to twist design that works fast. The K.E.R.T. is easily the most ergonomic in its tool placement, albeit you don’t get many tools in the package.

At 2.48-inches, it’s short and handy — perfect for keychain use and emergencies.

11
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

5. 5.11 Tactical EDT Tool

Tools Provided:

  • Pry Bar
  • Wire Stripper
  • 3 Hex Drivers
  • 2 Flat Head drivers
  • Bottle Opener
  • Ruler

You might associate 5.11 Tactical with cargo pants and button-down shirts, but *surprise* they make a series of E.D.C. tools too.

The 5.11 EDT comes in at 2.83-inches long, packing seven tools in a compact package.

Multiple drivers stand out with the EDT with three hex drivers of varying sizes, starting at a quarter inch and going up.

5.11 Tactical EDT
5.11 Tactical EDT

Using the hex driver proved to be a great experience, twisting and spinning out the hex screw without argument.

At the rear of the tool sits two flat head drivers – small and moderate sizes, a little wider than they need to be. So, you gotta shove this sucker into the slot and twist hard.

Though the pry bar looks straight with no upward curve, it pushed the tin bracket up with ease. It’s not as simple as the Mullet or Shard, but it gets the job done.

511 EDT Multitool Keychain
5.11 EDT on keychain

The bottle opener was also super easy to use.

Stripping wires also proved a cinch. The center of the pry bar was quite sharp and cut right through the wire coating – stripped just like Chris Farley in that Chippendales sketch. (Kids, go ask your parents what that joke means…)

Chris Farley Chippendales

You also get 1-inch and 5-centimeter rulers to top everything off. Tough to screw those up.

Unlike the other tools, the 5.11 EDT comes with a Kydex sheath to protect your pocket from the sharp bits of the tool.

This sheath adds bulk but not enough to fill your pocket, still allowing the EDT to act as the most carry-friendly of these tools.

13
at 5.11 Tactical

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

6. Gerber Dime

Tools Included

  • Pliers
  • Wire Cutter
  • Tweezer
  • Knife
  • File
  • Flathead driver
  • Retail Package Opener
  • Scissors
  • Crosshead Driver
  • Bottle Opener

Multitool often conjures up a specific type of look in the mind’s eye. And the Dime…well, it likely looks like what you imagine.

Featuring the traditional multi-tool layout, this keychain tool packs 10 tools in a folding design.

Gerber Dime
Gerber Dime

Features include spring-loaded needle-nose pliers and an internal wire cutter. Small handles greatly benefit from the spring-loaded design, making gripping and ripping pretty easy. In addition, you won’t have to manipulate the small handles here constantly.

The wire cutter portion eats through the thin wires you find in everyday small electronics, but cutting a surge protector’s power cord…yeah, not going to work. You’ll need something bigger for that task.

Bigger Better

Inside the Dime rests a few more tools, including a small but surprisingly sharp blade. That blade comes in at about an inch in length.

A small set of scissors delivers some fantastic cutting potential for paper, tape, and other thin materials. Of course, you aren’t chewing through 550 cord or cardboard with this, but for a simple thing, it works.

Gerber Dime Open
Gerber Dime Open

Opposite the knife, you find a retail package opener. At first glance, I had no idea what this was. However, a quick Google search told me this tool chops through the tape that holds an Amazon box together and absolutely kills clamshell packaging without damaging your product.

I’ve used this particular tool more than any other as of late, and it needs to come standard for multi-tools. Period.

Gerber Dime

I dig the crosshead driver on this bad boy. It’s large enough to work for most tasks. And the folding flat head driver measures short but still stacks up to use.

Finally, don’t forget the small set of tweezers that tackle teeny-tiny splinters. Pretty handy!

Gerber Dime Screw
Gerber Dime taking on a screw

Personally, I love the Dime. Size-wise it measures about the same length as most of the tools, but it’s much thicker.

That said, you can forget about taking it in your carry-on luggage. It’s not TSA-compliant by any means. (You can thank the blade and likely the retail package opener for that.)

I’d sacrifice the small knife for TSA compliance…but I love the retail package opener too much to say goodbye to that.

23
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Have you tried the Dime? If so, give it a rating below.

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7. Gerber Key Note

The Gerber Key Note was a SHOT Show knife I saw years ago and instantly knew I wanted.

This tiny little knife is shaped like a key fob, hench the name.

What’s cool about this is it doesn’t look like a knife.

Gerber’s logo serves as a clear inspiration for the knife’s frame, offering a shield-like appearance.

Gerber Key Note
Gerber Key Note

Inside sits a small blade…insanely small. At its longest, the blade tip is 1-inch long and 1-inch wide. It opts for a sharp corner bringing lots of cutting potential and dipping into whatever you cut cleanly.

It’s also great for ripping through clamshell material and boxes without damaging the product.

The blade’s unique shape makes it a half-decent scraping tool as well.

Overall the Gerber Key Note provides a short but nice blade.

Shorty

As a blade, the Key Note cuts and will accomplish 90% of EDC tasks without issue.

This wouldn’t be my primary knife, but it’s a great backup. You can carry it via a keychain or with the optional pocket clip.

Users can choose to remove the pocket clip or keychain portion if they desire to reduce size or bulk.

A low price point and compact design make it a fun little backup knife.

22
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

8. Streamlight Nano

Finally, before we go, I have to mention the tool that inspired this entire article…the Streamlight Nano.

I got this teeny-tiny keychain light as a door gift, and it’s been chugging along with me for years now on my keychain.

Streamlight Nano
Streamlight Nano

It packs a whopping 10 lumens of power, but that 10 lumens prove quite handy in basic day-to-day situations — like digging through the backseat at night without blinding your driver, in movie theatres, or searching the back corners of my desk drawer.

Riding on my keys (which hang out in my pocket all day), this super-tough light gets dropped, kicked, lost on occasion, exposed to rain/high & low temps…it just keeps going.

Unlike other keychain lights, the Streamlight Nano doesn’t require you to hold a button-down constantly. Instead, you just twist the head, and it pops on and stays on.

Streamlight Nano
A whole 10 lumens here.

Better yet, it can’t accidentally turn on in your pocket.

A more convenient option to my powerful EDC light, the Nano offers a super low price and durable design.

Hell, get one for your kids — they’ll love it.

11
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Conclusion

Keychain tools bring some handy features to your keyring, from knives to bottle openers to light. In addition, they sport a compact design perfect for on-the-go.

Keychain Tools

Out of the tools on the market, the above list brought the most versatility and function while meeting a reasonable price point.

What do you think of our list? Are there tools you’d like to add? Let us know in the comments below. In need of some airplane-worthy tools? Check out our list of the Best TSA Approved Tools.

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8 Leave a Reply

  • tirod3

    Of the lot, the Dime is the best. Keychain prybars with a bottle opener are just that, the Dime takes it to the next level with the package opener. I've used the Dime at an auto parts store pulling fuses, cutting packages (the last time - the absolute last time I used a sharp knife - it cost me five stitches) and the screwdrivers are handy. A bottle opener, tho, is pretty much useless on the job. There's only one product that is consistently banned during the work day, and that is beer. I see a keychain bottle opener as an after hours gimmick, soda pop is usually canned poptop or screw off. So, if it's got a bottle opener, it's a waste of my money.

    Gerber does have a lot of this market now however when you look around there are plenty of others. A flashlight is a separate item, like another posted, I use a USB rechargeable clip on pocket light precisely because I do not want another item attached to my keys. At present I have the house key, truck key, and her fob - which is already too much. Key security means keeps keys where they are accessed by other keys - the hitch lock key is in the truck, same as the gas cap, garage door key is the same as the house key, tool box key is in the house key box, etc. Two key security. The biggest mistake is having all of them on one key ring - and most of the time, that's how they are lost, too. All in a big bunch where it's a major effort to replace them, because they were NOT in your pocket, controlled access on your person.

    I don't need a keychain tool cluttering all that up, too, so the Dime goes in my pocket one side, the flashlight the other. I've only lost one set of keys - they went into a back pack, original 66 Mustang and house key. I was riding a bike, I had no need for more than the house key. Control the keys and you won't lose them like so many I have seen working retail. They all come back asking, only to discover that lump of keys thrown on the car seat slithered under it to be discovered hours later.

    Don't be that guy. Keep it minimal and you keep it secure.

    June 23, 2021 6:52 am
  • Anonymous User

    The Streamlight Nano is nice, but I've been using a keychain USB rechargable O-Light for awhile. The batteries for the Nano can be expensive, almost as much as a new one!

    June 21, 2021 2:56 pm
  • A. J. Hodges

    I've used the gerber dime for over 2 years and am loving it. As a parent my number one use for the scissors has been cutting straws shorter for my kids. I also use a carabiner style keyring so I can pull it off quickly and not have the rest of my keys in the way.

    June 20, 2021 9:32 pm
    • W.P.C.

      I'm a kids straw cutter too with the Dime! Although the scissors on my latest one are not as good as the older ones. I've had to sacrifice a couple of Dimes at security checks for shows because I forget it is in my pocket! Lately I just bend the straw and slice it with whatever my EDC pocket knife is. Almost past the straw cutting stage anyway (daughter just turned 8). Tempted to buy another one to see if the scissors are better, maybe I just got a dud last time.

      June 21, 2021 7:17 am
      • W.P.C.

        Forgot to point out the article didn't mention one of the best things about the Dime: the bottle opener! It is as wide as the handle so can get a cap off in one effort, rather than the multiple efforts required of a single blade opener. Love not having to search for a bottle opener at friends houses (I always seem to be drinking my friends beers!)

        June 21, 2021 7:21 am
  • Ivanator

    The streamlight nano is good, but it needs a little Teflon tape to keep it from unscrewing in your pocket.
    Have a shard and a mullet, and they both have enough pointy bits to poke you from time to time.

    June 20, 2021 9:19 pm
    • John

      The Shard, it will poke you eventually and with the right situation will drive its self through your pants pocket and into the leg via that pointy phillips head. Have a scar to prove it.

      June 21, 2021 4:59 am
  • Will

    I've carried a Gerber VISE around for years. It's kind of surprising how often a tiny set of pliers like that comes in handy. I can't quite figure out why it's even a separate product from the Dime, as they seem to only differ in aesthetics, but a word of warning about the VISE in particular: the design relies on some small metal bits bending slightly to give it that snappy open/close motion, and they eventually snap for good. That same metal bit is critical to the pliers functioning, so it's effectively fatal to the tool.

    June 20, 2021 5:25 pm
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