There are lots of manufacturers in the multi tool world but two companies, Gerber and Leatherman, stand well above the rest. Leatherman invented the multi tool as we know it today and has been producing extremely high quality tools ever since. Gerber is a multinational knife, tool, and equipment titan and is just as much of a household name as Leatherman. Today we’re going to take a crack at the Leatherman vs Gerber debate and see which company we think produces the superior multi tool.
- 1 Leatherman Wave Plus Vs Gerber MP600 – Flagship Faceoff
- 2 Leatherman Brewzer vs Gerber Shard – Best Single Piece Multi Tool
- 3 Leatherman OHT vs Gerber Center Drive – One-handed Opening Battle
- 4 Leatherman Vs Gerber Entry Level Multi Tool
- 5 Leatherman Vs Gerber Keychain/Micro Multi Tools
- 6 Leatherman Crater vs Gerber Obsidian – Knife Multi Tool
- 7 Leatherman Skeletool vs Gerber Crucial – Best Pocket Knife Multi Tool
- 8 What is great about Gerber that Leatherman doesn’t offer
- 9 What is great about Leatherman that Gerber doesn’t offer
- 10 Conclusion
Leatherman Wave Plus Vs Gerber MP600 – Flagship Faceoff
The best place to start when comparing two tool makers is with their flagship tools. For Leatherman that has to be the Wave+ and for Gerber the MP600. Both are full sized tools with lots of bells and whistles. Let’s start with Leatherman.
Leatherman Wave Plus
The Wave+ is an updated version of Leatherman’s incredibly popular Wave multi tool. It has 18 different tools packed into a 4 in long butterfly open package. There are all the standard tools you’d expect from a flagship, knife, saw, file, scissors, along with a few innovations that are distinctly Leatherman.
There’s not one but two different bit drivers on the Wave+, a full sized one and a micro driver suitable for eyeglasses or electronics work. The Wave+ also has Leatherman’s innovative removable hard and regular wire cutters.
Leatherman put a lot of work into the overall design of the Wave+ as well. All four of the main tools are outside open and every included tool locks out for stability. The pliers are some of the best we’ve seen on any multi tool and the materials used are top notch. The Wave+ is one of our favorite multi tools. It’s strong, compact, well made, and does everything you need a multi tool to do.
The MP600 is without a doubt one of the most widely used multi tools in the world. This is due in no small part to its status as the standard issue multi tool of the U.S. military. It’s a big, heavy duty tool that’s designed to stand up to extreme conditions without complaint. Gerber went with a significantly different design for the MP600 than Leatherman did for the Wave+.
The MP600 uses a slide out, one handed opening design for its pliers. All the other tools can only be opened once the pliers are deployed and the handles opened out. We’d go over the included tools, but it would take a while. Gerber currently offers more than 20 different versions of the MP600 customized for any type of work imaginable.
There are standard models with non removable tools, needlenose pliers, bluntnose, straight blade or serrated, the list goes one. Gerber even has versions designed specifically for combat engineers performing demolitions work.
Gerber clearly wanted to make the MP600 a tool anyone could use, but we feel they made some significant compromises to do so. The tools themselves have well, interesting, designs. There is also no version that comes standard with a removable bit driver. You have to buy aftermarket accessories for that. Don’t get us wrong though, the MP600 is a well made multi tool with a lot to like about it.
Our Pick – Wave Plus
We have to go with the Leatherman Wave+ here. The MP600 is a good tool, but the Wave+ just feels more polished. The removable wire cutters on the Wave+ beat out both the standard and removable carbide cutters available on the MP600. In previous reviews we’ve gone over the numerous issues with brittleness and durability we’ve seen with the Gerber wire cutters.
The one handed open pliers are a nice feature, but in general we find outside access knife and saw blades to be more frequently used. The black oxide finish on the MP600 was also an issue. There are lots of reports of it beginning to rub and chip off within a few weeks of using the tool. The MP600 is usually a little bit cheaper than the Wave+ but we firmly believe the price difference is worth it. The Wave+ is simply better made in most respects.
Leatherman Brewzer vs Gerber Shard – Best Single Piece Multi Tool
Single piece multi tools are quickly becoming one of our favorite categories. We’ve covered a lot of one piece tools in this category before, but we would be remiss not to compare Gerber and Leatherman’s single piece offerings, the Leatherman Brewzer and the Gerber Shard.
Both tools are tiny, the Brewzer is just under 2.5 in and weighs less than an ounce, while the Shard is 2.75 in and .6 oz. When it comes to tools Gerber blows Leatherman out of the water. The Brewzer has just two functions, a bottle opener and mini pry bar. The Gerber Shard by comparison has seven different tools/functions including screwdrivers, a bottle opener, a wire stripper, and a pry bar.
We honestly found the Brewzer to be the more attractively designed of the two. It’s a sleek little tool that looks good on your keychain, but in terms of actual usefulness it loses out to the Shard. The Brewzer does exactly what it says it will of course. Overall though it just can’t stand up to the outsized value the Gerber Shard provides you.
Leatherman OHT vs Gerber Center Drive – One-handed Opening Battle
One handed opening tools are becoming more and more popular as new models are released. Gerber got into the field early and incorporated slide out pliers into a lot of their designs but Leatherman wasn’t asleep at the wheel either. They released an innovative multi tool designed to allow one handed opening of every tool. Lets see how these two, the Gerber Center Drive and Leatherman OHT, compare.
The Gerber Center Drive took the slide out plier system in use on most of Gerber’s full sized multi tools and added a purpose built center axis bit driver. The goal was to create something capable of fully replacing pliers and screwdrivers in the handyman’s toolbox. Overall they did a pretty good job with it. The pliers work as well as any of their multi tools and the driver is actually a pretty nice innovation.
It allows you to apply more stable pressure as you’re working with screws. The Center Drive comes with many of the tools we like to see on top quality multi tools. One of our favorite features is the included awl, something a lot of manufacturers are pulling out of their tools.
Leatherman took the one handed opening trend several steps further along with the OHT. It’s a multi tool designed to allow every single tool included to be opened one handed. It uses slide out pliers similar to the Center Drive but places all the other tools on the outside of the handles. They made a lot of design compromises for this to work but overall did a pretty good job. All of the tools are easily accessible even when wearing gloves. They also lock out for added stability and safety.
The tools on each of these couldn’t be more different though. The Center Drive was made for contractors and people in the building trades. The OHT has a distinctly military bent, with things like a bore brush attachment and oxygen tank wrench included.
We like the design of the OHT better, but overall think the Center Drive is more useful to the average person. If Leatherman released a multi tool with the OHT’s design but a more generalist set of tools we’d have to reevaluate.
Leatherman Vs Gerber Entry Level Multi Tool
Every major multi tool manufacturer knows that all of its customers aren’t dropping $100+ dollars on a pocket tool. They’ve responded by creating high value tools at affordable prices. Leatherman and Gerber have done a pretty good job with their entry level tools, so let’s check out the Leatherman Wingman vs Gerber Suspension and see who wins out.
Right out of the gate you can see a difference in workmanship and design. Both manufacturers went with a butterfly fold for these tools but Leatherman seems to have used thicker, sturdier materials. The Suspension has 12 tools to the Wingman’s 14, and each of the tools just feels a little looser and flimsier. Gerber does provide a locking tool system, which we like, but Leatherman’s actual tools just seem better made. The only exception to this is the spring arm on the scissors, a known point of failure.
We prefer the brushed stainless appearance and durability of the Wingman over the Suspension’s smoothed metal. The pliers were another big sticking point for us. Gerber doesn’t seem to have taken into account the average person’s hands when designing the Suspension. The spring loaded pliers hold it open just a little too wide for comfort. This also makes it difficult to get a firm grip and really torque down on a bolt.
Leatherman wins here as well. The Wingman is only marginally more expensive than the Gerber Suspension but it feels like a much nicer multi tool.
Leatherman Vs Gerber Keychain/Micro Multi Tools
We love keychain multi tools. They’re tiny, lightweight, and absolutely packed full of value. Keychain tools go wherever you go, no matter where that is. Gerber and Leatherman both have keychain multi tools on the market, though Leatherman has noticeably more available.
For Gerber it really comes down to the Dime. It’s a tiny little tool that includes a lot of useful tools. Gerber used a standard butterfly fold design with a little set of pliers as the main tool. It’s basically a full size multi tool that Gerber shrunk down to fit on your keychain. The Gerber Dime is very popular and has a lot of dedicated fans but it doesn’t always hold up against some of Leatherman’s products.
Leatherman Micra vs Gerber Dime
The Leatherman Micra is just about the first keychain tool to hit the market. It has been continuously available since the mid 90’s and is one of the best tools of its kind. It has a pair of scissors rather than pliers for a main tool and includes things like a knife, attached tweezers, and screwdrivers. It has all metal construction similar to the the Gerber Dime but it just feels a bit better made.
The Dime seems to give more than the Micra does. We found the Micra to have a sleeker appearance, better build quality, and generally more useful tools. This is especially true of the scissors. At keychain tool sizes scissors make more sense for a main tool.
Leatherman Squirt PS4 vs Gerber Dime
Next we’ll look at the Leatherman Squirt PS4. The Squirt and the Dime have very similar tool loadouts. The Dime does beat out the Squirt with its inclusion of tweezers and a useful little box cutter. One thing we really like about the Dime when compared to the Squirt are the removable torx bolts instead of rivets used in its construction. It’s a small thing, but we like being able to take apart our tools for regular cleanings.
Overall the Gerber Dime just beats out the Squirt PS4. They’re both great multi tools, but the Dime has slightly better tools and overall design.
Leatherman Style PS vs Gerber Dime
The Style PS is a great little tool designed for frequent travelers and those who often find themselves in secured buildings. It doesn’t have any blade on it at all, just a small pair of scissors, tweezers, and a nail file. Compared to the Gerber Dime it has a lot less functionality but is still an excellent specialized tool.
This one mostly comes down to your own lifestyle. The Gerber Dime does have more tools than the Style PS but its general build quality doesn’t hold up as well. Some people will like the Dime more, but if you’re looking for a TSA friendly tool we definitely recommend the Style PS.
Leatherman Crater vs Gerber Obsidian – Knife Multi Tool
Gerber is well known for their fixed blade and folding knives but Leatherman also has a few pocketknife options. The two we’ll compare are the Leatherman Crater vs Gerber Obsidian.
We’re looking at the C33T version of the Crater that includes a phillips and flathead screwdriver built into opposite ends of the handle. The Crater has a 2.6 in blade which is honestly pretty small for a dedicated folder. The screwdrivers both work well and we like their position on either end of the handle. It makes it easier to use them than if they had been placed more towards the middle, common in many pocket knife designs.
One thing that sets the Crater apart from the Obsidian is the carabiner/bottle opener that folds out from the handle. It can be used to clip the knife to your belt loop but we found it more useful at attaching the Crater to bags. The bottle opener works well enough but can be difficult to get open on the first try.
Gerber has a lot more experience at making folding knives than Leatherman and it shows in the Obsidian. The blade is a full 3 in long, a better size than the Crater’s 2.6 in blade. It’s also made from harder 440 blade steel instead of the 420HC of the Leatherman Crater. The Obsidian lacks a carabiner but does include the same screwdrivers as the Crater.
We think Gerber beats out Leatherman in this category. Folding knives are the companies bread and butter, they’re just more experienced that Leatherman and produced an overall better product.
Leatherman Skeletool vs Gerber Crucial – Best Pocket Knife Multi Tool
No Leatherman vs Gerber showdown would be complete without the pocket multi tool comparison. For Leatherman that has to be their iconic Skeletool while for Gerber we chose the Crucial. Both of these are stripped down, lightweight versions of full size tools that make significant utility compromises for improved carry profiles.
The Skeletool weighs just 5 oz but is still a full 4 in long. Leatherman put it together using lightweight stainless steel and put a lot of thought into its shape. One of the features we like the most is the outside accessible combo blade. It’s basically just a pocket knife with a pair of pliers and a bit driver so being able to fold out the blade without opening the tool was a nice touch.
The Gerber Crucial uses a more classic design but does some weird things with its shape. There aren’t any straight lines to be found on the Crucial, something that makes getting a firm grip difficult. Gerber chose to put standard phillips and flathead screwdrivers on the Crucial, another mark against it. It’s half an inch shorter overall than the Skeletool but we honestly think Gerber really compromised its overall usefulness to achieve this.
Leatherman wins this one by a pretty big margin. The Crucial just doesn’t feel as put together as the Skeletool. The screwdrivers don’t work as well as the interchangeable bits on the Skeletool and both the pliers and knife are less useful. The final nail in the coffin was its odd shape. We found it to be much less comfortable to hold and use than the Leatherman Skeletool.
What is great about Gerber that Leatherman doesn’t offer
Gerber’s been making quality knives and tools since the 1930’s. They know what consumers want in a blade and they usually try to provide it. Gerber also offers a much wider range of tools, equipment, and knives. You can set yourself up with a multi tool, pocket knife, brush machete, hatchet, and axe all without ever leaving the Gerber website.
A lot of people will say that Leatherman pays closer attention to detail, but Gerber still produces excellent tools. Many of their top products are still made right in Oregon by American manufacturing, something a lot of EDC enthusiasts prefer.
What it comes down to is that Gerber has a broader range of products that go from extremely entry level to top of the line. If you’ve only experienced their consumer focused stuff bought at Wal-Mart you’ll have a different opinion of them than if you’ve been using their multi hundred dollar products.
What is great about Leatherman that Gerber doesn’t offer
Leatherman invented the multi tool as we know it today. As a company, they only produce multi tools. They have a laser focus on creating the best designs and manufacturing them using the best techniques. Pretty much across the board Leatherman products are better made than any other manufacturer’s at the same price point.
Leatherman understands what their market, they know what their customers want, and they provide it. How many companies exist nowadays with that kind of dedication and focus? If you’re looking for just about the best multi tools available, whatever your budget, you can’t go wrong with a Leatherman.
Gerber and Leatherman are both excellent multi tool brands that produce high quality tools. For casual use you’d be fine with either a Gerber or a Leatherman. If you’re looking for the best multi tools money can buy, we think you should go Leatherman. Gerber makes some fine tools but Leatherman invented the multi tool. It’s what they do, and they do it well.
They’ve spent 30 odd years doing nothing but engineering and redesigning what a multi tool is and can be. Do they make mistakes? Sure, everyone does. But all of the tools we’d consider to be the top in their category are made by Leatherman.