How to choose a multi-tool

Choosing the right tool pliers may not be easy. In this article, we will try to advise you so that you can choose a multi-tool exactly for you.

How to choose a multi-tool

First of all, one thing needs to be realized. Tool pliers are a relatively complex tool that includes joints, safety latches, various tools etc., so if you do not want to throw money out the window, you should better look for a branded multitool. Although we would find more than two manufacturers, if you want real tool pliers, you will choose between the Gerber and Leatherman brands. The other brands are far from reaching the widespread and quality of these two. Each of the brands prefers a slightly different principle, so it is up to you which will suit you better.

But first we go through some words, more precisely the nomenclature.

Under what names can you find these handy helpers?
  • tool pliers
  • tool knife
  • multifunctional pliers
  • multi-tool or multitool

A tool knife stands out a bit from this group, that indicates the product where the knife is the main one and some tools are there rather as an accessory. The so-called Swiss knife is something else, it is usually smaller tools with a large number of different tools, but it is not very suitable for hard work. Tool pliers are more suitable for this, because, as the name suggests, they contain ... pliers.

Gerber or Leatherman?

Gerber is a much larger brand with a huge assortment of knives, tools and also tool pliers. Although Leatherman also produces some knives and, e.g., the Tread multifunctional bracelet, it cannot be compared to the width of the Gerber range. But if we focus only on multi-tools, then the situation is the opposite and Leatherman is a bit more popular in the Czechia than Gerber. If we look at the U.S.A., the situation is a little bit different again. The Gerber MP 600 is a standard multi-tool of the U.S. Army, issued to soldiers. Gerber has delivered only for the U.S. The Army 20,000,000 pieces so far! And if it was not good, it would be hard for the army to choose it.

If you take a Leatherman in one hand, e.g. the iconic Wave and the Gerber MP-600 in the other one, you will know the differences at first sight. Leatherman is made more precisely, it has no clearance and you feel better about it.

This makes Gerber simpler, more military, like comparing Tiger and T-34  (and we know how it turned out in the end …). The T-34s were simpler to manufacture, made very roughly, but were reliable. So if you are mainly looking for a working tool that will do what is expected of it, but it does not cost a packet, then Gerber is your choice. If you prefer a precision tool that exudes craftsmanship and price does not matter, then reach for Leatherman. This is a simple description of the differences between the brands, but if we look at the individual models, you will find that it is even more complicated.

Pliers system
  • Gerber usually uses a pull-out system, operated with one hand
  • Leatherman usually uses the so-called butterfly system, where the handles are folded over the jaws - this cannot be done with one hand
  • And to make matters worse, both brands also offer models that are typical of the competition

If you are manipulating with a Leatherman, such as a Leatherman Charge TTi, you will feel that there is no play in the joints and you know that you have a precisely made tool in your hands. But you have to do it with both hands. Gerber developed a system in which the jaws of the pliers slide out of the handles. And it can be done with an „old hand“ swing of the wrist. This is a really big advantage of Gerber pliers, because you can reach into the belt holster with one hand and swing the pliers with the same hand while the other hand is free. Gerber went even further with the novelty of 2017, Center-Drive tool pliers, which are simplified compared to the MP-600. The extension is thus even easier, what is more, the extension of the pliers by swinging, the thumb can also be used. It works great and the pliers can be folded together with one hand.

Tools on multifunctional pliers

In addition to the jaws of the pliers themselves, the standard multi-tool has about 12 tools or other functions. Here is a list of them and it is up to everyone what is most important to him:

  • replaceable carbide cutting edges for splitting the wire
  • wire insulation puller
  • knife (with smooth, serrated or combined blade)
  • screwdrivers
    • flat (the best tools have small, medium and large blades)
    • Phillips (usually not full size - here Gerber Center-drive has an advantage with its extension to classic bits)
  • file
  • a wood saw (some Gerbers, such as Legend, use a Remgrit saw (widespread at the U.S.A.) that cuts everything)
  • can opener
  • bottle opener
  • ruler
  • scissors
Other tools are then rather exceptional, they are, e.g.:
  • tweezers
  • crowbar
  • punch
  • tool for making holes in plastic explosive C4 (present in Gerber MP600 DET pliers)
Used materials

The maximum for both brands is the use of HC420 steel on the knife blades, the rest of the tools are usually made of some stainless steel. In any case, the quality of the material and the durability of the construction in general is something that distinguishes quality tool pliers from those unbranded bought somewhere in the market. It cannot be said that Gerber or Leatherman pliers cannot be destroyed, but with standard reasonable handling, with tool limits in mind, you can repair almost anything with pliers, such as loosening the screws on the motor. With noname pliers, you never know when they break. Gerber and Leatherman are not cheap pliers, but the 25-year warranty suggests something about their quality.

Personal experience

And what pliers did I buy? At a time when every soldier had to have a Leatherman Charge, I knew that I‘d definitely lose it, and its price in mind, I‘d regret to do anything with it not to destroy it. So I bought a Gerber MP-600 for a price of one third. I haven't lost it yet and even though it's been 15 years, it still serves faithfully. (Pavel, Armed)

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