Gerber just announced their new Center-Drive multi-tool, and it looks like they’ve got some Leatherman tools in their sights.
This is what it says on Gerber’s microsite for the new multi-tool:
Wave Goodbye to Compromise
Second best is nothing to strive for. To trump the multi-tools that preceded it, the Center-Drive had to be real, tough, innovative – and it is. In the inevitable tool to tool showdown, there is no contest.
They also link to a comparison YouTube video, embedded below.
For your interest, here’s a look at some of our past Leatherman multi-tool reviews:
- Leatherman Skeletool Review
- Leatherman Skeletool CX Review
- Leatherman Wave Review
- Leatherman OHT Review
- Leatherman Rebar Review
I also reviewed the Gerber Flik multi-tool which, like the Leatherman OHT that came after it, features a one-handed pliers opening mechanism.
That Flik was decent, but I prefer the Leatherman OHT.
Let’s take a look at what gives the Gerber Center-Drive multi-tool the potential to be as great as they make it sound to be.
Some of the specs are a little uncertain. The only Gerber product pages I can find seem to be focusing all their efforts and information on comparing Center-Drive features against the features of a few different Leatherman tools. But, I can see enough to be excited about.
First, look at those pliers! They open not just with one hand, but with one finger. The one-thumb-opening pliers look to deploy and close quickly and easily. Plus, they’re spring-loaded, a feature I’ve really grown to appreciate in multi-tool pliers.
And are those user-replaceable and potentially user-sharpenable wire cutting blades? That’s a very nice feature to have in heavy-use multi-tool pliers.
One cut of too-hard wire, and standard jaws are permanently deformed. Damage these cutter blades, and you should be able to replace them for a small cost.
Yep – Gerber says these are rotatable carbide wire cutters. The rotatable part is nice, and the carbide composition should give them long life.
Here’s the main feature of the Gerber Center-Drive multi-tool, or at least its namesake feature. A centered 1/4″ hex bit screwdriver!
It can use standard screwdriver bits – yay!
And it’s also centered, so you can twist the closed tool as you would any regular screwdriver. If you’ve had to tighten or loosen long screws with a standard off-centered multi-tool screwdriver, you’ll likely appreciate this feature even more so than the standard sized bit holder.
I’m crossing my fingers that it can lock in at a right angle as well, for fastening applications that requite a little more torque.
Gerber says that the screwdriver deploys with the flick of a thumb. Sounds good to me, as digging out a multi-tool screwdriver by its nail nick is no fun, especially with recently trimmed nails.
They boast about the full-size knife being 30% longer than the competition. I think I saw somewhere that the blade is 3.25″ long,
It also has a “reverse thumb support,” designed I guess to give you a more comfortable grip.
The tool comes standard with a dual-mount sheath and an add-on bit set is optional. As mentioned, you can use the Gerber Center-Drive with standard 1/4″ hex bits.
Complete Tool and Function List
- Needlenose pliers
- Regular pliers
- Fine-edge knife blade
- Rotatable carbide wire cutters
- Magnetic 1/4″ hex bit driver
- Serrated blade
- Wire Strippers
- Cats paw pry bar
- Ruler (stamped into tool handles)
- Phillips screwdriver bit
- Flathead screwdriver bit
And the icing on the cake: it’s made in the USA.
List Price: $89
Buy Now(via Amazon)
Here’s the Overview and Comparison videos:
This looks to be a big step forward for Gerber multi-tool designs. I’m surprised, optimistic, and eager to be impressed.
what does a new wave tool cost in comparision.
what is the knife material – let alone the rest of the materials – I suspect ALL SS with nitride coating but would be nice to know.
Looks good – wish the blade was just a touch smaller so I could carry that at work – IE we are limited to 3 inch total.
I do expect it to be a solid device though.
I’m seeing prices of $90 at Amazon and elsewhere.
This is listed at $89, it’ll likely be a little less.
Gerber has the tool and bits for 132.00
The 3″ limit on blade length is pretty important. A lot of schools, campuses, and jobs include this limit. I’ve never felt I needed an extra 1/4″ of knifeblade on my multi-tool. Then again, I carry a dedicated folding knife.
It might not be pretty, but you could always grind the blade down to whatever length you’d like.
Very good idea, I didn’t see that one coming.
Over time the Skeletool has replaced all the pocket knives that used to go in my rotation (even though the knife gets about 80 pct of my usage with that tool).
I think I’d really appreciate the centered bit holder as that’s something I’ve noticed the Skeletool lacks; however, I have mixed feelings about the full-size bits. Great for versatility, but looks like you’ll need to bring along that bit holder to have more than one bit, correct? I don’t mind Leatherman’s flattened bits and I like that the Skeletool can hold two double-sided bits.
Looks pretty appealing overall.
I’m with you James, I had a bit of a pocket knife fetish for a while,buying a new one about once a week, but once I got my Skeletool, that’s all I use as my edc. Though this new Gerber looks pretty good, I just don’t see it beating out my Leatherman Wave either, but perhaps I’m just partial to Leatherman
I’m with James and Tom. The Skeletool is the best. The main thing that would improve the Skeletool is the option to carry three or four double-sided bits on the tool itself, instead of just two double-sided bits. Gerber should have included the option to carry more bits than just one.
The full size bits is what I’ve always wanted.
Koko The Talking Ape
That “reverse thumb support” looks bulky and over-built. If it isn’t used to unlock that leg’s tools, say, I would take it off.
Come to that, do the tools on that leg lock? The knife and driver on the other leg clearly lock.
The videos are ludicrously macho. “It’s okay, little buddy. A lot of guys have that problem.” lol
That reverse thumb support, slides as the unlock for that side.
Funny that I was just looking at the SOG Reactor, but this sure looks nicer, and made in USA.
I don’t know anything about the Reactor, but negative reviews online would give me pause.
I tested the SOG SwitchPlier 2.0, but had mixed feelings. My disappointment grew and I threw it in a box somewhere. If I can find out where it went I’ll do a followup review sometime.
The switch plier has been my edc for over a year now and I’ve been very happy with it overall. I got rid of the knife and file and added wire strippers and a v-cut. Those tools along with the pocket clip are a big plus to me.
I started carrying a Leatherman Blast in 2007. In 2010 the compound leverage pliers on the SOG Pocket Powerplier won me over. Even tho their implements aren’t as good as Leatherman, since the pliers head is 90% of what I use on my multi tool, and I usually carry a complimentary SAK, I could make the switch.
I’m now on my second PPP, and wanted to swap a few implements. Individual blades used to be all over eBay and easy to acquire. Now in 2016 they only seem available from SOG itself, and just a few implements cost more than I paid for the PPP itself! SOG seems to be quietly slipping away from their “user replaceable tools” in all their recent releases.
The Reactor intrigued me because it has the compound pliers I love, and a centering bit driver that uses standard bits. I’d be willing to loose the compound pliers to upgrade to the quality of this Gerber.
I have the Gerber Multi-tool 600 that work gave me. It is a decent tool but I do think Leatherman is built better (at least the one my co-worker has) which is more money. I dropped my Gerber from about 4 feet and the pliers mechanism came apart. Luckily I found the spring but another co-worker dropped theirs and it broke (about 10 feet). Maybe it is not designed to take that abuse but because of the design of the Letherman I don’t see this happening if it were dropped.
This new tool looks promising though, maybe it can withstand a drop or two.
The replaceable carbide cutters are a nice touch
whats gerber’s warranty like on this tool?
If they can match/beat leatherman’s warranty, id hop on board.
A few years ago I bought a Gerber Paraframe knife – the larger one to complement my smaller one. Its lock was really stiff. Gerber walked me through adjustment steps, and when it didn’t help they offered a replacement if I sent it back. I didn’t want to go through the hassle so I tossed it to the back of my EDC knife and tool drawer.
Leatherman also offered to replace the broken-tip knife of my Skeletool, but couldn’t guarantee it would be a non-serrated blade. My original Skeletool came with a plain edge blade. Later on the models were switched up, and it now comes with a partially serrated blade. I still haven’t sent it in, but I might, and I definitely have plenty of time to do so.
Sorry for the digression! What I’m trying to say is that I think both have top-notch customer service, and that in my opinion the warranty is the least factor to consider when looking at either of the brands’ tools.
That’s part of the reason I like the SOG stuff, if I break something I can just order the broken piece for a few dollars and replace it myself in a couple of minutes. While waiting two and a half month wait for my wave to come back from leatherman I bought a SOG powerlock and never looked back. I figured the warranty was pretty worthless with such a long wait time attached to it.
I wonder how many ounces it weighs. The Wave is as heavy as I can bear..
This does peak my interest. I currently use the newer model Leatherman Surge. Which recently replaced my Super Tool 300. The Surge is pretty hard to beat in my opinion if you use it for work. I’m happy to hear Gerber made it in the USA.
Surge of course.
I worked for years as a propmaster on movies and commercials, and I used it every single day. ( I still carry one, if i don´t, I feel naked)
Don´t need the full hex bits, but i like the centered idea.
Only thing wrong with the Leatherman OHT is that is doesn’t have a file. I will be looking at this when it comes out since it does.
No, there’s another thing wrong with the OHT. It EATS sheaths. Other than that, I love mine.
Got mine in a custom built sheath, no problems.
X2 on eating sheaths.
I ultimately went back to my gerber mp600. The OHT was heavier and the sheath so boxy it became cumbersome, especially in comparison to the durable gerber sheath that has flat edges and is better suited for hip carry in a crawl space or attic.
That said, im not sure I will love this seath either, but hope a better option is available. The bit holder is a non plus for me, it has a larger diameter and I quickly lost the bits when i briefly carried a wave.
Amen to the OHT needing a file! I carry the Rebar just in case I need one.
Probably the first Gerber multi tool in a while that I would consider. I’m a big leatherman fan but it never hurts to check out the competition especially when they look like they really want to compete. Maybe they’ll be a Black Friday special to push me off the fence.
That’s the same type of thinking that got me excited about the tool.
I suspect I am not be the target market for this tool, but where the Wave is an elegant mix of form and function, I find the “mancho” styling pretty overwrought and frankly trying too hard. From a practical standpoint, no scissors is a deal breaker for me: I use them at least as often as the blade. I am surprised to see only the knife and the bit-holder appear to be accessible without opening the tool. I do like those rotate-able cutter blades though. Historically, I have found the sliding mechanism on Gerbers jambs at inopportune times, but maybe this works better now?
Also, is “cat’s pawl” a typo? I always thought it was “cats paw”
Sorry, “cat’s paw” is correct. Thanks!
That wasn’t a typo, that was more of a brain hiccup.
I concur. I love my wingman. I have the wave too but I use my wingman more. The wingman have four of my most used tool. The scissors, package opener, knife and pliers. Both the knife and scissors are accessible from the outside. If you love your wave I think you will love the wingman even more. The wave does have more tool… which is why I leave it in my vehicle…
Funny enough I have never used the cutter on any of my multitool. So while the rotate-able cutter blade are a nice touch they aren’t a deal breaker for me.
just the name gerber loses me. the whored out bear grylls and made in china stuff kills them for me.
everybody strives to beat leatherman and they almost always fail. this looks better than most but i still see it as a pass.
Hmm, you raise an interesting question. Can a company that has arguably been going down the wrong path make a 180 and return to their former glory and regain respect? Gerber used to make quality tools in the USA. I hated the Bear Grylls, made in China, Wal-Mart special stuff too, but I gotta give them some credit for this latest move here. I’ll at least approach this tool with an open mind (but I doubt my Leatherman will be replaced anytime soon).
My experience , is that Leatherman is OK , but mostly ho hum steel , Gerber is monkeypoop . I mostly rock a Victorinox Spirit . Great build quality , functional implements , and high implement density .
BTW , Leatherman bit adapters will work off a Vic. , for me it’s better to just pocket a Klein multibit stubby .
Not bad. Glad to see it’s made in the USA, but, like Leatherman, now that makes you wonder how much of it is really made in the USA.
Looks like a ripof off the Leatherman Signal/OHT type style, but not bad. It gets away from the traditional stamped & formed stainless type tools, but those are hard to beat for value.
I do like the centering of the driver, but it looks a little weird. Also liking the pry bar/nail puller, but wonder if it’s strong enough to withstand actual prying. Overall not the best tool selection for EDC or even outdoor use, especially given the size. Maybe the pliers are really good and these will do well for those who want pliers and a blade and maybe a driver.
I’ve got a Wingman for when I need it and a Wave for when I need more, so I’d be pressed to spring for a $90 Gerber multitool, but I would like to see more serious competition in the multitool market, and Gerber making an entire line of products in the USA. Hopefully there will be more multitools forthcoming.
It says made in USA on the tool, instead is assembled or built in the USA, and so I imagine it’s safe to take that at face value.
The law only says a certain percentage of the materials have to be “made in the USA” to quality for the “made in USA” wording to be used on the item and/or package. Just wondering how much that is for this tool.
I would suspect if it’s 100% “made in the USA” they would use that in the marketing, particularly against Leatherman, which was unflatteringly exposed as sourcing several parts of certain multi-tools from abroad, while silently maintaning the illusion the entire tool was USA-made.
I was sold on it until I watched the videos. Here’s a reality check. They might be rallying the die hard Gerber fans, but they won’t win over any open minded leatherman users with that kind of advertising. I also don’t really care to give a company that churns out ads of what some frat boy with an inflated ego narrates and some desk jockey’s version of the real world. I’m sorry but I do real work and my Leatherman charge does just what I need it to. My blade may be a quarter inch shorter, but I have a Buck for animals. I only need a tiny chunk of blade to strip SO cord or open the packaging for the grinder wheels. I have dedicated knives for when I need a knife because no multitool blade will hold up to hard use. Yes it does have a precision screwdriver and yes it is ridiculously convenient, not a sign of weakness. Sorry Gerber but your ads are nearly as annoying as any automotive insurance radio ad.
Agreed the marketing is nauseating and obnoxious.
Remember contractors, in California this and devices like it are prohibited weapons on any school ground or university under California Penal Code 626.10.
Another reason I’m leaving California.
I’m interested in this new tool….long time leatherman user although haven’t bought a new wave, or skeletool so I’m in the “older” models.
Do the blades lock? Does the screw driver arm lock?
Lots of other sites are excited too…but lots of this type of post is just a press release.
I have been disappointed in Gerber multi tools. The fit, finish and overall quality just didn’t come close to Leatherman.
Regular knife, serrated knife, needlenose pliers, saw, file, scissors and a phillips/flathead attachment make up an ideal multitool for me. This one sounds exciting and is made in the USA, after all. A first truly great product from Gerber in many years, definitely the best multitool they ever made!
And knowing their reach and ties with the government I bet cops and army guys will get it for half the cost and there will soon be other iterations of this tool.
Love my 06 10th anniversary plain auto, 06 convo edge auto and 06 Tanto! If this tool is as good as their knives… I will switch the day it goes on sale, even if it doesn’t have the scissors that my Surge has.
Interesting but no scissors is a deal breaker I use them often on my Surge
Just bought one direct from gerber. Recommended very highly the build and usefulness of this tool is outstanding. Fits the hand very comfortable and all tools lock the thumb rest may not seem like much but overall seems to add a lot of grip. Right amount of common sense tools bit driver is a real asset.
Wonderful looking tool can’t wait to grab one. I was really hoping the price was 89.99.
Been using now for 24 hrs. Wow redefining the multitool. I have been a staunch leatherman devotee for years?? sorry tim the construction and commonsense behind this tool out ways a lot of the leatherman tools. My opinion OK not trying to start a fight. Use what you prefer. Gerber has WINNER here???
The more I use the center drive the more I am impressed. Used it today for some plumbing jobs. Fairly heavy duty use
Not a problem. One feature that seems to help with grip and hand ergonomics is the inner tool lock thumb rest simple yet this simple concept sets this tool apart. Thanks gerber ???
Every multi tool has it’s plus’ & minus’, I saw the ad by Gerber and I think its unfortunate and unprofessional to product bash Leatherman. If it wasn’t for Tim Leatherman inventing the multi tool in the first place it wouldn’t be in existence. Tim Leatherman even brought the idea to Gerber who rejected it, then once it became popular, Gerber copied much of the idea but changed enough of it they didn’t get sued. I have 4 Leatherman multi-tools and one Gerber multi-tool, rest assured the Leatherman tools are superior in my opinion, and given the latest bashing campaign ad by Gerber, I won’t spend any money on their products. I respect those that defend the multi tools they own, I respect a company that stand behind their product and don’t take cheap shots in advertising at the competition.
Looks cool. looks military. But will it hold up.
They are pretty strong but it has a lot of weight to it.
Leatherman does seem to be the name to beat. Or to try, at least. I love my Skeletool, just wish it didn’t have the silly tiny holes in the blade that just clog up with dirt/food!
I also love the Swiss Tool products. A.k.a. Swiss Army Knife. I have one of their extra large units, which I take if going camping. Very high quality parts. I use the Skeletool as EDC.
I am glad Paul mentioned Swiss tools. I can’t seem to find anything better than my Victorinox Spirit X. I have the bit kit and ratchet. The thing that keeps me looking is i want something that has a pocket clip as well as a one hand opening knife. Other than that its perfect.
I purchased the Leatherman Signal. I hate it. The tool has rough edges and feels cheaply made. The saw compared to the Spirit is flimsy as well as the awl. Putting a hole in drywall with the Signals awl i felt like i was going to break it. I don’t have that problem with the Spirit. I liked the bit driver until i went to use it. Too short… plus the pummel gets in the way. They dropped the ball on the Signal.
My concern with the Center Drive is the size. Its bigger than the Spirit and no pocket clip… I don’t have one, but i love the idea of the knife, and bit driver.
Having used the center drive for a few months now I am still impressed. Still going strong no problems with the wire cutters. Love the full size bit driver. Use what tools you wish. Not dissing anyone elses choice.
I am not a multitool user. I had a Leatherman Supertool for 2 months back in 1996 or so. I recall I once saw a friend use a Gerber and I thought the quality looked baaad! However, back then I must have overlooked the one-hand style – that is style is super addictive except for low-weight scenarios. Being a bushcrafter I prefer simple, durable, and maintainable over fancy features.
However, also being a soldier I need a solution that is as robust and hands free as can be – one hand being minimum, so one hand is my goal. I have seen many use the Leatherman OHT and I bought it. But I´m annoyed by multiple details, first being bad build quality of pliers fit. I switched it in the store and now the pliers are ok, but the serrated knife is scraping on the side in a way that feels cheap.
While trying to find out more about this tool, I fell over the Gerber Center Drive. As I have yet to get hardcore mussel-memory I quickly ordered the Gerber Center Driver and a Gerber MP 600 bladeless. Will sell those I do not like. The Nuntfancy review of the Gerber MP series seem so blatantly fanboyish and without reallife experience, that I will ignore his review.
Have been using the L OHT for 3 days with at least a 2.5 hour session of knife carving. I seem to use a different way of opening the pliers then most others, where I hold the lock buttons (even from closed) and by rapid moving my hand in either open or close direction. This works superb! It seems to be 50-50 if I get the knife, or the hook – super annoying. Also I use screwdrivers seldom, and constantly have to return the tool to get the knife, saw, hook, and serrated blade. (Maybe I should move tool groups even though the symbols would be off…) The 3 guys I know who use the OHT all need new sheats, and the tool does not fit into a normal pistol mag pouch. What has happend is that the pliers tend to slide out and dig through the pouch. The spring is a little weak and I have to handle it a bit careful when I open my hand quickly. For this reason, it does not become an extension hand – I am constantly reminded that I have an extended hand with some less than intuitive handling.
This morning my Gerber Center Drive arrived and I INSTANTLY found the strangely named “reverse something” so intuitive that I always turn it by instinct and then have the knife as wanted. The single thumb opening now makes me do a combined swing and simple thump stroke which makes the pliers spring open. I am very impressed. The screw driver and knife is very tight, way too much. I gave it some oil and the screw driver is now superb. I guess I need to loosen the knife a little. Wow, the knife actually feels like a real knife, and not some small substitute. In this situation I will be ok with not having a dedicated knife on me all the time. The amount of spring is just a tad more than on the OHT, and I like it! It feels like my dedicated electrician pliers. Not that I need it, but my G CD opens higher than the L OHT. I like the fact that the Center Drive has a file and an awl – –
wow that awl is both pointy and sturdy, but I miss a hole for sewing. I think it is less than optimal to have to dig the tools out of the inside but to my suprise – compared to the Victorianoxes – they actually stick out and are very easy to get out. The big space between the handles of both OHT and the CD feels suboptimal, but in the Centre Drive, this allows for easier grip. The pry bar is of “triple width”, is joint-structurally beefed up, and has a roughly 30 degree bend so I not need to put something under to pry. Except for on big flat surfaces were the “reverse thumb sadly cancels the angle out, the pry bar actually seem real-world (ab)usable! The plier hides behind joint very nicely – not as in the pictures of the MP600
When closing the pliers hard, the CD has the edge, and a small corner, of the screw driver that is feels a bit sharp – not so with the OHT. Here OHT wins. However, the situation is reversed when using the knifes tip on a cutting board etc.
The pry bar is an actual tool in the Center drive. While some seem to think the Leatherman series flatheads could be used for prying, I do not think they even compare!
The reverse-thumb-whatever combined with the less curvy edge makes it possible to actually – and easily – use the tip during cutting on boards/tables.
I do not really have an opinion on the sheaths yet, but this is currently my opinion (both nylon)
OHT: closes up nicer/intentionally. There is no doubt about where the MT goes, and what the small slot is for. Eyes free, the Leatherman sheath seems to guide all tool handling naturally. First “sample” delivery was without a grommet, and fabric torn.
CD: Nice with elastic side and open bottom – no grommet needed. The flap is a bit short, requiring the CD to be inserted perfectly every time. This is sometimes hindered by the screwdriver pushing down the thin/soft compartment divider.
The tolerances in the Gerber Center Drive is much tighter! This feels like the complete opposite of what the rumor says. Both good, but I am likely to either use the CD over the OHT.
Lanyards seem possible with the Center Drive and not-so-much for the OHT. Yes there is a spot, but it seems to interfere with the long tools, and it has sharp edges. If long /short tools were switched, this would be possible though.
I think the pouches makes the contenders to visible/geeky for EDC – but superb for Getting Things Done. A clip-option would be nice.
My reason for having ordered a MP600 (bladeless) is to check if it can be field stripped easily. I dislike the OHT and CD so far in that they are hard to actually clean and dry in the field, as if they are only designed for the suburban environment.
Going to give it a shot. My leatherman oht didn’t last long. It was awesome til the jaw broke. (Pushed the usage too far). I own several sog multitools and they are ok. Just curious how the Gerber stands.