Tools of the Teardown: Marlin Drivers

Our svelte fixed-blade Marlin Drivers get their name from the sword-nosed Blue Marlin, but do you know where that billfish got its name? The marlin’s pointed bill—used to stun fish when hunting—shares a marked resemblance to a sailor’s marlinspike, a pointed peg used for untying knots and “marling” rope (wrapping twine around the end of a rope to keep it from fraying). Before powered vessels, your skill with a spike and rope determined your worth as a sailor. Tools were, and are, important.

Like those deft sailors of yore, iFixit’s teardown team use Marlins to untangle tricky tech during teardowns. With 25 different drivers to choose from, our disassembly engineers have convenient fixed-blade solutions close at hand. While we love the breadth of the Mako Driver Kit, and do need it for those extra-rare fasteners, it’s nice to reach for a driver that has the bit already in place. Craig Lloyd, head of Tech Writing, says, “If it’s a device that uses multiple screw head types/sizes, Marlin it is.” The speed and ease of a fixed-blade driver is unmatched; it’s a must for fast-moving teardowns. And as a bonus, with dozens of screws, brackets, and other tiny components, one fewer bit to return to its case can be just the leg up you need to keep yourself organized.

What makes a Marlin Driver better than any other fish in the sea?

There are two crucial concepts behind our Marlin Drivers: shape and selection. Before we landed on this shape, we conducted extensive user testing and research. We studied critical dimensions and ergonomics, and ran volunteers through a blind “taste-test” of five precision screwdrivers—to rate based on features like comfort, grip, torque, and speed. We used the results of this study to develop what we think is The Best driver handle. And we’re so confident in our design that we’ve applied it across our entire screwdriver line: You’ll see the same features in our other three drivers: the mighty Mako, the hefty Mahi, and the agile Precision Bit Driver—which lends its premium polymer handle to the Marlin Drivers. Combined with oxide-tipped shafts precision machined out of S2 tool steel and heat treated to the (chef’s kiss) perfect hardness, the Marlins are fearsome predators.

The sturdy polymer handles make our Marlin Drivers light enough to toss in a bag for a fix on the go, and feature a rubbery grip for torque and comfort. Some other drivers we’ve used are too short or narrow—we won’t name names—to really get a good grip. The swivel cap is great for applying pressure while allowing smooth rotation, and the faceted handle will keep your drivers from rolling off the deck in high seas (to stretch the metaphor a little further). The Marlin bills shafts are long enough to reach into most recesses you’ll find, but not so long as to be unwieldy—Goldilocks would be impressed.  

As for driver selection,’s collection of 65,000+ free repair manuals gives our tool development team unique data about which drivers are needed to repair the world’s most popular devices. The data-driven selection of drive styles and sizes resulting in our 25 Marlin drivers is standing on the shoulders of thousands of hours of documentation and guidemaking from our staff and community. And to further share the fruits of our data-driven labors, our Marlin Drivers are available in six different kits: five specialized five-piece sets in sturdy magnetic tool cases, that let you collect all 25 drivers, and our 15-piece set that includes the cream-of-the-crop most-used drivers, in a conveniently portable fold-up tool roll.

Of course we like tools that make our jobs easier, but we really like using fixed-blade Marlins in our teardowns. Why? They just look so dang good. They’re streamlined and elegant, and easy to stand up straight for great shots like this: 

You may now “oooh” and “ahhh”.

Other tools can do the job, but the Marlin is a special tool for working quickly and effectively. It’s more than seaworthy.