Part 4- Other Components
The Leatherman One Handed Tool (OHT) is well known for having all of it's tools accessible with one hand. What they don't tell you is that you still need two hands, because half of the tools are accessible with your left hand, and half of them are accessible with your right hand. Conversely, only the bit driver and main blade on the Center-Drive are accessible with one hand. This makes the first point in Part 4 Leatherman's.
The other functions of each multitool all lock open- on the OHT they lock open with liner type locks while the Center-Drive uses Gerber's patented SAF-T-LOK system for everything but the bit driver that give the Center-Drive it's name. Both are even in this regard- neither one feels flimsy or inclined to fail, both are easy to release when desired
This one is a bit difficult to judge- nothing is as easy as it seems. On the surface, the Center Drive should take this one hands down, as the fold out screwdriver is so integral to it's instant success that it shouldn't have an issue dominating the screwdriver battle.
Without the spare bits the Center-Drive is limited to two screwdrivers, the bit in the driver, and the bit in the carrier inside the handle. With the spare bits the Center-Drive is significantly more versatile, but then the sheath comes in a lot bulkier, but as we determined in Part 1, we aren't counting add on accessories in this competition.
Compared to the Center-Drive's two on board screwdrivers, the OHT has four- three flat heads and a Phillips head. The two dedicated flat heads are not too bad due to the great variation is size, but the third one on the strap cutter (discussed later) is a medium size, and somewhat pointless. I don't see there being many opportunities to use this one that couldn't just as easily be managed by either of the other two. And, there's some concern about twisting the rather thin blade if you put too much effort into it.
And, the dedicated flat heads are a bit stubby, but the Phillips is much nicer, with about an inch and a half of reach to get recessed screws almost anywhere, and being thinner than the bit driver on the Center-Drive it fits more places.
It's a tough decision here, much tougher than it should be considering that this is the main reason for the Center-Drive.
In the end I think this point has to go to Gerber. The bit driver adds versatility as bits are available everywhere, and to a Canadian like me, who encounters Robertson and Torx bits everywhere, that versatility matters. Plus, the Center-Drive ergonomics mean driving long screws is a lot easier on the wrist.
Both tools have gone in very different directions with the bottle openers. Leatherman put their standard can and bottle opener combo tool on the OHT, and, while it can be effective enough, I have never been a big fan of it. As a can opener it functions well enough, but I find that as a bottle opener it tends to just pierce the cap and not remove it.
Meanwhile the Center-Drive suffers from the same issue we looked at yesterday with the serrated blade- you have to deploy the plier head, open the handles, pull out the bottle opener, then close the handles and retract the pliers to use it, then repreat the process to put it away.
In reality it's not that bad, as, unlike the serrated blade, you can use the bottle opener with the handles open. Since it's a bottle opener, you won't cut yourself like you would with the serrated blade, and opening bottles is generally a quick operation.
Further, the Center-Drive opener is a lot more effective at pulling a cap off a bottle, which is largely the point of a bottle opener.
The Center-Drive bottle opener is also a light duty prybar, which is honestly something I personally use more than I need a can opener. One could argue that the flat head drivers on the OHT can be used for prying as well, but it does not have the nail puller notch or the angled cat's paw for leverage.
While the OHT bottle opener is easier to access, the fact that it is barely useful as a bottle opener and my lack of a personal need for a can opener means that the Center-Drive gets this point, despite being more involved to make use of it. The better function makes it worth the extra effort to get out.
It is hard to compare the remaining tools, as they aren't the same. Instead, I will rank them on their own merit, and award points based on whether they are useful or not.
The final tools on the OHT are a strap cutter and a wood saw, both of which are well made enough, although not perfect.
As mentioned above, the strap cutter has a medium flat head at the end, which I find rather flimsy feeling. I can't shake the feeling that the cutout for the blade makes it a bit thin to use as a screwdriver, and the heat treat would either make it too brittle to use as a screwdriver or too soft to have much of an edge on the blade. It really does have to be one or the other, and so while I appreciate the dual functions, I can't help but feel they are at odds with eachother.
And then they put a giant opening hole in the middle of it.
Even more awkward is the fact that the outer point of the cutter sticks out a bit too far. If you try to use this while cutting clothing away from an injury, it seems all too easy to accidentally hook something you don't want to.
All in all, I really can't give them a point for the cutter. I think it was a good idea to have one, I just think this is the wrong way to do it.
So, that brings us to the OHT's wood saw. It is a typical Leatherman saw with good, bi-directional teeth and it cuts well. It does however suffer from being stubby, as many tools on the OHT do. Still, it is functional, despite not really being able to get a good draw on it, so Leatherman gets a point. You can see in the above photo that my OHT saw has been well used, most recently with drywall!
The Center-Drive actually has either two or three other features, depending on whether you count a lanyard attachment. Ordinarily I am not a fan of plastic lanyard attachment points, but this one does seem about as solid as it could possibly get, and so I am forced to admit that it's a good thing on the Center-Drive. And, if like me, you aren't likely to use it as a lanyard attachment point, it makes a very handy ramp to make it easier to pull out of the sheath, especially when you carry it horizontally in the sheath. Point for Gerber.
Inside the handles you have an awl, which is very robust and pointy and a two sided file.
The awl is not bad, but not good either. It is very thick and comes to a really wicked point, but it isn't sharpened and it doesn't have a sewing eye, two things that would have been very easy to include. I also find it a bit on the bulky side, and honestly I am not sure what use I would get out of it- because it's so hefty, I can't help but feel that I might as well use the blade, which is much easier to access. Sorry Gerber, no point for you!
Lastly we have the file. As has been speculated before, the Center-Drive is meant for mechanics and tinkerers, and so the file is a good thing to have. Personally I rarely find myself using the file for much of anything, and when I do use them, I am usually kind of picky. I would have loved to see a diamond file on this one, and, if not a diamond then at least put metal saw teeth on the bottom, like other manufacturers do with their saws. It seems that, without a method of cutting PVC, aluminum or light gauge steel pipe that this one really missed the mark, especially considering the target market. Honestly, I would rather see a nice pair of Fiskars scissors in there- Gerber doesn't seem to use that resource as much as they should these days.
I really want to award this point to Gerber since the file is absolutely good for what it is and what it is meant for, but like the awl, I would have liked to have seen something better or something different. Harsh I know, but again, I just can't give it to them.
Part 4 Summary:
There you have it- a dead tie.
Yeah, it surprised me as well.
I personally would never choose the OHT as I really don't like it. It is absolutely not Leatherman's finest creation by far, and, while it seems like I have been against Leatherman from the start of this, the fact is, even when they don't make a good tool, they make a good tool. There are lots of other Leatherman models that I do like (very much) so I am not a Leatherman hater by far- I just don't like this particular tool. But, in the end, it put up a good fight and has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
The Center-Drive is a tool I like, and I enjoy using. It has quickly become a part of my regular rotation, right up there with the Leatherman Surge, which is one of those models that I alluded to when I said I liked Leatherman products very much. What Gerber has produced here is an excellent tool that I fully recommend to anyone, both because it is a solid tool, and because if you did have problems with it, Gerber's customer service has proven time and again to be absolutely top notch- not to suggest Leatherman's is any different, but again, I don't care for the OHT and (personally) wouldn't recommend it to anyone, despite it's excellent showing in the above examination!
In the end, you really can't go wrong with either of these tools, if I'm to be honest. As we've seen, they both have their strengths and weaknesses, and my best suggestion if you are trying to decide between these two is to read through the detailed analysis I have posted above, decide which functions you need or want, and make your choice based on which one has the most strengths that go in line with your needs. Then, if you have the opportunity, handle both of them and see which one you are more comfortable with.
As much as I personally prefer the Center-Drive to the OHT, I really wouldn't be upset if I was stranded somewhere with either of them- because honestly, I would rather have either of them than nothing else, and both will do almost any job you need doing.
There you go- I hope you all enjoyed reading this series as much as I enjoyed writing it. It originally was supposed to be one post, but as I started really looking at things and picking out details the post just kept getting longer and longer and longer. Still, getting all the photos together, organising my thoughts, searching through the tiniest details and following up on getting accurate details was a lot of fun even though it was also a fair bit of work.
And, I just finished the write up an hour or so ago, and I am just as surprised by the outcome as anyone! If you have any comments, questions or to have your own say on this, we have a great forum for that!