The Kershaw A100 is one of the most fascinating tools in my collection and makes a refreshing change from the ‘PST-like’ format that many manufacturers have copied. The A100 brought several new innovations and build quality is excellent, although there’s a case to argue that over-engineering may have brought production to a premature end! (more)
When introduced in 1997 the A100 was the first tool to offer a OHO (one handed opening), liner locking knife blade together with adjustable, locking pliers. As with traditional ‘mole’ grips, the plier jaws are adjusted using a knurled screw at the end on the handles and there’s even a release lever to assist in opening the pliers when locked onto something tightly. I have no other tool in my collection that functions as well as the A100 in this area.
The A100 however suffers from a couple of problems that probably eventually lead to it’s lack of popularity as a viable tool and eventual decline, namely:
Over Engineering – It’s difficult to handle the A100 without marvelling at the incredibly intricate design. Rather than the 4 rivets / bolts that we are accustomed to seeing hold a multitool together, the A100 has 9 pairs of bolts visible on the exterior of the tool. Looking in the handles shows various intricate springs and levers which whilst adding to the tools performance, provide plenty of nooks and crannies for moisture to accumulate and plenty of potential for something to fail! Equally, the production costs of such a tool must be vast compared to the simpler “PST” design, and consequently the A100 was an expensive tool with much potential for problems. The example I have has received much TLC and refurbishment to return to the state you can see in the pictures.
Dimensions – The adjacent picture shows the A100 alongside a Leatherman PST. It’s pretty clear that the A100 is a BIG tool, and this (for me at least) makes it impractical to carry it.
Regardless of it’s practicality though, the A100 is truly unique in modern multitools, and a very interesting collection piece. More facts and figures about the A100 can be found in the multitool.org multitool encyclopaedia.