What $3 will get you

I was at Wal*Mart recently and made my obligatory stop in the sporting goods section to see if they had any new goodies. Lo and behold, they had a rack in the middle of the section filled with clearanced crap (not in the general term crap sense, but as in dog crap). I saw “tool” on one of the packages, so I went in for a closer look. It was a Coast Fishing Multi-Toolbox. I like Coast. I like Multi-Tools. Fishing is pretty fun. I really like things that are a combination of all that and are $3 (originally a staggering $7, I think). So, I grabbed all eight that they had to see what kind of multi-tool $3 will get me at Wal*Mart.


It is actually not completely terrible.

Once especially interesting thing I noticed on the packaging is that this thing is made out of 440C stainless steel. Actually, it is “440C Stainless specially heat treated cutlery steel.” Heck, half of the production knife companies out there don’t use steel this nice on $50-100 knives. It is not the best in the world, but still a pleasant surprise.

I used one of my other 500 knives to open up this one’s packaging and slid it out. The bottom felt a little rough, so I flipped it over and saw that it had a diamond sharpener on the bottom that was mentioned nowhere on the packaging. It even had a slot in the middle for sharpening fish hooks. OK, #2 pleasant surprise for the $3 multi-tool from Wal*Mart. Not that you can sharpen any of the multi-tools’ parts on the sharpener, but what kind of sissy takes only one blade with him?


The other side has four wrenches cut into it. I am not a master angler by any means, but I can’t for the life of me figure out why a fisherman would need those. Are there rods that have bolts that you have to adjust? Maybe you are supposed to use it on your boat? Anyway, they are there if you need them. There are also inch and centimeter markings on the tool so you can flip it over four times to figure out if your fish is over the legal limit.


Opening it up revealed the array of tools. There is a serrated blade, marlinspike, scissors, phillips screwdriver, saw, hook puller, and screwdriver/bottle opener. Those all make more sense to me than the wrenches. The only problem is that all of the tools have fingernail slots except the marlinspike. If you want to use that particular tool to spike marlins (?), you have to open the knife or scissors on either side and hope it comes with them, or just open everything else to get to the spike.


There is a sort of locking mechanism on the tool. A piece of the wrench part of the case goes down into a slot on the tools when they are opened so they cannot close. It is not even remotely secure, but better than nothing, I suppose. I closed with the marlinspike out, pushed it down hard on a table, and it held.


The blade has some very aggressive serrations, which are especially dumb on a tiny blade. People like their serrations though, so I can understand why Coast put them there. The blade cut paper and small branches just fine, and did not snap in half on me. The saw did as well as a Swiss Army Knife saw does, probably since they are the same general design. The scissors cut well and the rest of the tools did just fine. I did not have a marlin to spike, but it performed well as an awl. A fish scaler is a curious omission on a fishing tool, but perhaps they thought a saw was more important in case you need to saw down a tree to create your own rod or make a log cabin to properly enjoy all the fish you catch.

Well, that is what you get for $3 at Wal*Mart. Definitely not the best multi-tool in the world, but not bad for what it is. I still have seven left, in case anyone else wants one.

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