Best Multitool (TOOL KNIVES)? Leatherman vs Gerber, SOG, Victorinox, DeWalt, Mossy Oak, Ozark Trail
BRANDS TESTED: Leatherman Skeletool, SOG PowerAccess, Leatherman Charge+, Gerber Suspension, Gerber Gear, Ganzo, Victorinox Swiss Army Knife, DeWalt, Hart, Mossy Oak, RoverTac, Stanley, Ozark Trail, Havalon. Tested for initial knife sharpness and quality of knife steel by testing sharpness after coming into contact with aluminum. Phillips and slotted screwdrivers tested for quality and durability. Knife blade locks tested for strength. Tools tested for corrosion resistance—a “subjective” assessment of ergonomics and comfort.
|Very nice but very expensive||Impressive compared to the more expensive||Good value|
|LEATHERMAN, Charge Plus Multitool with Scissors||MOSSY OAK Multitool, 21-in-1||Ozark Trail 12 in 1 Multitool|
In the first test, we’ll see which knife has the sharpest edge. Then we’ll see which brand has the best wire cutters. We’ll see which Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers will outlast the screw and which will fail. Then we’ll see which knife blade locks are the strongest. We’ll compare the closure resistance of each brand.
When I was growing up, my favorite TV series was MacGyver. He could do just about anything with a stick of bubble gum and his Swiss Army Knife. But the question is, which brand is the best? Let us find out.
At around $5.00, the least expensive brand we’ll be testing is made by Ozark Trails—12-in-1 Multi-tool. Longnose pliers, standard pliers, wire cutters, knife, bottle opener, can opener, Phillips screwdriver, awl, file, saw medium slotted screwdriver, and small slotted screwdriver. The Ozark Trails is made in China.
The Ozark Trails weigh 158 grams. I’ll use this BESS-certified sharpness tester to test the knives’ sharpness. The way this test works, the sharpness tester measures the downward force required to cut through the test media. A double edge razor blade is between 50 and 75. The utility blade is between 150 and 200. The high-end cutter is between 250 and 375. Edges need maintenance of around 400. The clips are disposable, so I’ll use a new clip with each test. And the very affordable Ozark Trail knife is very sharp at 175.
At $15 is this HART brand which is sold at Walmart. 18-in-1 capability, the HART brand is made in China. The HART brand weighs 238 grams. And the HART brand performed nearly the same as the Ozark Trail at 205.
At $20, is this RoverTac Multi-Tool. Lifetime warranty. 12-in-1 capability. It is made of durable stainless steel. It claims to be rust-proof and corrosion-resistant; we will test that. The RoverTac is made in China. The RoverTac is by far the heaviest yet at 312 grams. And the RoverTac is less sharp than the Ozark Trail or the HART at 260.
At $21 is this STANLEY brand. 12-in-1 multi-tool, stainless steel construction. Compact and portable. It has a limited lifetime warranty. The STANLEY brand is made in China. The STANLEY weighs 221 grams. The STANLEY is slightly sharper than the RoverTac at 230.
At $24 is this Mossy Oak outdoor survival portable 21-in-1 multi-toolset. The whole multi-tool is constructed of ultra-durable stainless steel. Prevents corrosion, advanced 3D hollow structure, and smooth surface and edge. All the tools lock into position, and a release must be used to fold up the knife. The Mossy Oak is made in China. The Mossy Oak is the heaviest yet at 334 grams. The Mossy Oak performed about the same as the RoverTac at 255.
At $30 is this Gerber Suspension knife. The slimmer design and focus tool pack are ideal for the everyday carry user. The knife blade locks into position. The knife blade release is on the handle. The Gerber is made in China. The Gerber Suspension is light at 191 grams. The Gerber Suspension is the dullest yet at 270.
At $32, this DeWalt MT16 multi-tool: comfortable handles, an easy-access tool, lifetime warranty. Once the blade is open, the blade does not lock into position. The DeWalt is made in China. The DeWalt weighs 210 grams. The DeWalt moves into third place behind the HART at 225.
At $50 is this Ganzo brand: knife hardness, HRC 58. The knives and the pliers are replaceable. To use the screwdriver does require some assembly—blade release lever. The Ganzo is made in China. The Ganzo weighs 275 grams. And the Ganzo is the dullest yet at 335.
At $64, this Havalon brand includes a knife, holsters, extra blades, and blade remover—the blade change removal tool. The Havalon comes with six replacement blades. The Havalon does have the belt clip. The Havalon is made in Taiwan. The Havalon is light at 186 grams. The Havalon is incredibly sharp at 135.
At $80 is this Leatherman Skeletool CX, an ultra-light full-size multi-tool. Includes knife blade made with premium 154 CM steel—25-year warranty. The Leatherman Skeletool is made in the U.S.A. The Leatherman Skeletool is the lightest yet at only 146 grams. The Leatherman Skeletool performed very well at 190.
At $90 is this SOG brand. SOG stands for studies and observation group. The patented gear-driven leverage mechanism features twice the cutting and gripping pair of conventional pliers—center access Magnetic Hex Bit driver for enhanced capability. The knife blades and tools lock securely in place once open. The SOG is designed in Seattle and made in Taiwan. The SOG weighs 305 grams. The SOG is pretty sharp at 210.
At $105, is this a Victorinox brand? Very nice sheath. They are made in Switzerland. The Victorinox weighs 210 grams. 270 for the Swiss Army knife, the same as the Gerber Suspension. At $121 is this Gerber Gear. The plier knives on the Gerber Gear are replaceable. Blade release lever to retract the pliers; push the lever and return the pliers to the original position. The Gerber Gear is made in the U.S.A. The Gerber Gear weighs 281 grams. The Gerber Gear is slightly sharper than the Gerber Suspension at 250.
At $140. The Leatherman Charge Plus multi-tool is the most expensive brand we’ll be testing. The blade is made of 154 CM. The knives and the pliers are replaceable. The Leatherman comes with 12 different bits. Blade release lever. It also comes with a belt clip. The Leatherman Charge Plus is made in the U.S.A. The Leatherman Charge Plus weighs 237 grams. The Leatherman Charge Plus is sharper than the Swiss Army knife at 265. If multi-tool weight is a factor in your purchasing decision, the Leatherman Skeletool is the lightest at 146 grams, Ozark Trail at 158 grams, Havalon at 186 grams, Gerber Suspension at 191 grams, and DeWalt at 210 grams. The brand with the sharpest blade is the Havalon at 135, but the affordable Ozark Trail performed well at 175. The Leatherman Skeletool did well at 190, HART 205, and SOG Power Access 210.
While initial sharpness matters, so does blade edge durability, which has much to do with the type of metal used. Blades steel should be a lot harder than aluminum. The same downward pressure will be applied to all the blades to ensure a fair test. So let’s see how well the blade holds up after we drag the aluminum across each blade ten times.
On the left is the blade before coming in contact with aluminum, and after aluminum on the right. There’s quite a bit of wear that’s taken place with the Ozark Trail. And the Ozark Trail went from 175 to 325, which is a 46% loss in sharpness. The HART looks to still be in excellent condition after exposure to the aluminum, and the HART went from 205 to 240 after the aluminum only lost 15% sharpness.
Even when the RoverTac blade was new, it didn’t look sharp. And the RoverTac started at 260 and dulled quite a bit to 370, losing 30% sharpness. The new STANLEY blade is on the left and is visibly sharper than the used STANLEY blade on the right. The STANLEY started at 230 and dulled at 350 at 34% loss and sharpness.
The new Mossy Oak blade does look slightly sharper than the used blade. And the Mossy Oak started at 255 and dulled 18% to 310. The Gerber Suspension looks like the aluminum dulled the blade quite a bit. The Gerber Suspension started at 270, dulled 45% to 495, and moved in last place.
The DeWalt still looks in good condition after coming into contact with the aluminum. And DeWalt did an excellent job of holding its edge from 225 to 255, a loss of only 12%.
The Ganzo, both new and used, looked pretty dull. And the Ganzo started the dullest of all the brands at 335 and only dropped to 340. The Havalon started the sharpest, and the used blade looked dull. The Havalon started at 135 and is now the dullest blade at 650.
The Leatherman Skeletool looks very sharp before and after exposure to aluminum, very sharp at 190, and only experienced a 5% loss to 205. Very impressive. The new SOG looks pretty sharp, but there’s visible wear on the used blade. The SOG started at ten and dulled to 255, an 18% loss in sharpness.
The new and the used Victorinox looked to be nearly the same sharpness. Victorinox started at 70 and experienced an 11% loss in sharpness to 305. The new and the used Gerber looked to be about the same sharpness. The Gerber started at 50 and only dropped 7% to 270.
The used Leatherman Charge Plus looks to be about as sharp as when the blade was new. The Leatherman started at 265 and experienced a 10% loss in sharpness at 295 after knife blade exposure to aluminum. The Leatherman Skeletool has the sharpest blade at 205.
However, the HART performed well at 240, DeWalt and SOG 255, and Gerber Gear 270. The red line indicates sharpness loss, and the blue bar indicates the initial sharpness score.
Knives that start relatively dull, like the Ganzo, are less likely to experience severe dulling than knives that start incredibly sharp, like the Havalon. However, knives that use premium steel are more likely to hold an edge over knives that use less expensive steel.
More expensive multi-tools generally held a sharp edge better than less expensive brands.
So, let’s test the performance of the wire cutters, cutting through a six-penny nail. I’ll first place each multi-tool in this holder. I’ll then use a hydraulic press and a weight scale to measure the squeezing force required to cut through the nail, beginning with the Ozark Trail brand.
I’ll place some locking pliers on the end to keep the nail from becoming a projectile. The Ozark Trail needed 59 pounds of squeezing force to cut through the nail. The nail did cause a small amount of damage to the cutting knives. It took a little more effort for the HART to cut through the nail at 67 pounds—no visible damage to the cutters on the HART.
Cutting through the nail with the RoverTac 105 pounds took much effort. However, the cutters did survive without any visible damage.
The STANLEY needed 70 pounds of force to cut through the nail. The cutters still looked to be as good as new. The Mossy Oak cut 65 pounds and moves into second place behind the Ozark Trail. There’s a small amount of wear to the cutters. The Gerber Suspension did slightly better than Mossy Oak at 61 pounds and moved into second place—no visible damage to the cutters.
It took 78 pounds of force for the DeWalt to cut through the nail—no visible damage to the cutting knives on the DeWalt. And the Ganzo struggled to cut through the six-penny nail 129 pounds. There’s no visible damage to the cutters. And the Havalon moves in the first place, cutting through the nail at only 44 pounds.
The cutting knives in the Havalon are still in great shape. It took 91 pounds of force for the Leatherman Skeletool to cut through the nail. The cutters are still looking as good as new. The SOG did very well at only 51 pounds and moved in second place behind the Havalon.
The cutting knives look as good as new. The Victorinox performed very well at 58 pounds—no visible damage to the cutting knives. The Gerber Gear made a popping sound at 43 pounds of pressure. Unfortunately, one of the cutting knives and the pliers broke. However, the cutting knives are replaceable, but the Gerber Gear did not come with an extra set.
The Leatherman Charge Plus performed well at 48 pounds and moved into second place behind the Havalon—no visible damage to the cutters. So, the Havalon came in on top at 44 pounds, Leatherman Charge Plus 48, SOG 51, Victorinox 58, and Ozark Trail 59.
Let’s test the strength of the Phillip screwdriver next. I’ll place the Phillip screwdriver in a faster socket. A torque adapter will keep track of the maximum torque. I’ll use a drill press with a wheel attached to the lever arms to apply downward pressure.
I’ll attach a 10-pound weight to a rope around the wheel, which will apply about 70 pounds of downward force. I removed the drill press belt to ensure we got accurate test results.
And the very affordable Ozark Trail performed reasonably well at 48-inch pounds before it finally came down—a minimal amount of visible wear to the screwdriver. And the HART did quite a bit better than the Ozark Trail at 59-inch pounds before the screw broke—no visible damage to the driver.
The RoverTac made a popping sound and suddenly camped out at 45-inch pounds. Unfortunately, the Phillip screwdriver was ruined at 45-inch pounds. The STANLEY camped out at 51-inch pounds and moved into second place behind the HART brand.
Unfortunately, the screwdriver bit on the STANLEY experienced quite a bit of damage. And the Mossy Oak easily outlasted the screw. And the screw finally broke at 95-inch pounds, with no visible damage to the Mossy Oak screwdriver bit. And the Gerber Suspension did a great job avoiding cam out, but the bit suddenly snapped at 61-inch pounds.
Phillip’s bit is ruined. And the DeWalt camped out at 55-inch pounds, but there’s no visible damage to the DeWalt. The Ganzo outlasted the screw, making it 70-inch pounds. However, the Ganzo did experience some damage to the flutes. The Havalon did great until the tool’s rivets suddenly broke.
I continued to test until the screw finally broke at 79-inch pounds, with no damage to the bit, but the Havalon multi-tool is broken. The Leatherman Skeletool performed very well, with the screw finally breaking at 60-inch pounds—no visible damage to the screwdriver bit.
The SOG outlasted the screw. The screw broke at 59 inches pounds, and the screwdriver has no visible damage. Victorinox easily outlasted the screw. The screw broke at 58-inch pounds, and the screwdriver looks as good as new. The Gerber Gear outlasted the screw, and the screw finally broke at 70-inch pounds.
Unfortunately, all four flutes on the screwdriver are bent. The Leatherman Charge Plus outlasted the screw, and the screw finally broke at 59-inch pounds. The screwdriver looks as good as new. The only brands that outlasted the screw and didn’t experience any visible damage to the Phillips head screwdriver include the Mossy Oak, Havalon, Leatherman Skeletool, HART, SOG, Leatherman Charged Plus, and Victorinox.
Let’s test a flathead screwdriver, beginning with the Ozark Trail brand. And the Ozark Trail came out at 37-inch pounds. And the Ozark Trail is pretty severely bent. The HART camped out at 34-inch pounds or three-inch pounds, less than the Mossy Oak. The HART is severely bent.
The RoverTac did the best yet at 44-inch pounds, but the screwdriver is damaged. The STANLEY did the best yet at 55-inch pounds. The screwdriver did experience some damage.
The Mossy Oak did by far the best yet at 82-inch pounds before camming out. There is some damage to the bit, but the bit can be easily replaced. The Gerber Suspension performed nearly as well as the Mossy Oak at 74-inch pounds. The screwdriver did experience a slight bend.
The DeWalt performed the same as the HART brand at 34-inch pounds before camming out. It has some damage to the screwdriver. And the Ganzo did the best yet at 90-inch pounds before finally giving up. There’s a small amount of damage to the bit. Since the Havalon multi-tool is broken,
I’ll use two locking pliers to keep the multi-tool intact. 75-inch pounds for Havalon, and there’s no visible damage to the bit. Unfortunately, the Leatherman Skeletool didn’t have a full-size, flat bit, which broke at 14-inch pounds.
The SOG camped out at 46-inch pounds. Unfortunately, the screwdriver blade is pretty severely bent. The Victorinox made it to 60-inch pounds before camming out. There’s a tiny bend, but it’s still in much better condition than most other brands.
And the Gerber Gear did a terrific job at 79-inch pounds and moved into third place behind the Mossy Oak. Unfortunately, the Leatherman Charge Plus broke at 53-inch pounds. And the Ganzo came in on top at 90-inch pounds, but the Mossy Oak performed nearly as well at 82. Gerber Gear did well at 79-inch pounds, Havalon 75, and Gerber Suspension at 74-inch pounds.
In the next test, we’ll see how much pressure it takes to fold the blade. The Ozark Trail has no blade lock and only took four pounds of pressure to fold the blade. The HART doesn’t have a blade lock, and the blade is folded at only two pounds. The RoverTac blade lock gave up at 29 pounds.
Unfortunately, part of the blade lock mechanism for the RoverTac broke off during the test. Without a blade lock, the STANLEY folded at only two pounds. The Mossy Oak’s blade lock gave up at 17 pounds. No visible damage to the blade lock mechanism on the Mossy Oak. T.
The Gerber Suspension let go at 26 pounds. The blade lock on the Gerber Suspension still works, but it experienced some wear and tear. And the DeWalt refused to let go and made it to 82 pounds. The blade lock mechanism on the
DeWalt experienced quite a bit of damage, and unfortunately, the blade lock release is no longer working. And the Ganzo performed very well at 77 pounds. The blade lock on the Ganzo was still working, but there was some wear and tear. I didn’t test the Havalon since the multi-tool is already damaged.
The Leatherman Skeletool let go at 22 pounds. The blade lock mechanism for the Leatherman Skeletool, unfortunately, experienced quite a bit of damage. The SOG did very well at 57 pounds. Unfortunately, the blade lock mechanism on the SOG didn’t survive the test.
The Victorinox performed nearly as well as the SOG at 55 pounds. The blade lock on the Victorinox no longer works. The Gerber Gear let go at 31 pounds. The blade lock on the Gerber has been damaged. The Leatherman Charge Plus gave up at 55 pounds.
The blade lock on the Leatherman Charge Plus is bent pretty badly. The blade is stuck in the open position. The DeWalt came in on top for knife blade lock failure load at 82 pounds, but the Ganzo performed very well at 77. SOG performed well at 57, Victorinox and Leatherman Charge Plus 55 pounds.
In the next test, I’ll apply a very aggressive rusting agent with hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, and salt, and we’ll see which of these brands is the most rust-resistant. It’s been about 12 hours since the test began, so let’s take a closer look at each brand.
There’s quite a bit of rust on the Ozark Trail, and almost every tool has to rust. Even though the HART has quite a bit of rust, it seems better than the Ozark Trail. The level, as well as the intensity of the rust on the Mossy Oak, is about the same as the HART. The RoverTac is about the same as the HART brand.
The Gerber Gear did better than the Ozark Trail. Some of the metal on the DeWalt has been painted, but the areas that need to be painted have done better than some of the other brands.
Most of the metal on the Ganzo has been painted, which helped the Ganzo avoid corrosion. The unpainted areas of the Havalon perform about the same as the Gerber. The amount, as well as the intensity of the rust on the Leatherman Skeletool, is more than it is on the Havalon.
Unfortunately, the amount, as well as the intensity of the rust, is pretty significant with the SOG. The Victorinox has quite a bit less rust than average. Unfortunately, the painted and unpainted areas of the Gerber Gear experienced quite a bit of rust. The Leatherman Charge Plus did better than average.
Ergonomics and comfort are highly subjective, but it’s something to consider. Unless you’re wearing some gloves when using the pliers, the affordable Ozark Trail and STANLEY brands are very uncomfortable on the hands. The best brands with the most handle comfort include the Leatherman Charge Plus, Mossy Oak, SOG, and Victorinox.
The ease of use or the ability to access tools is another factor to consider. For example, you just about need a screwdriver to access the knife on the Ozark Trail, and all the tools are very stiff. On the other hand, the Gerber Gear offers effortless access, and all the tools move very freely.
My subjective assessment is that the Ozark Trail, STANLEY DeWalt, and the Ganzo will take much more effort to deploy the tools and are less ergonomically friendly than the Leatherman Skeletool, SOG, Gerber Gear, and Leatherman Charge Plus.