Reviewing Leatherman-style multi-tools is always a tricky proposition. They are essentially pliers with extra tools tacked on as an afterthought and in the case of the Gerber MP600, I found myself struggling with the performance of the pliers (wire cutters, specifically) and indifferent to the extra tools provided, which basically guarantees a less than positive review.
Personal taste and comfort will of course impact your own view of these tools, but pragmatically, performance relative to bulk is all that really matters in multi-tools, and that is why I am possibly a smidgen more critical/dismissive than I would be with a knife review.
The first thing to mention before talking about the performance is how sexy this multi tool is. I am a sucker for black oxide, and if you had to rank a multitool on sheer badass’ness, the MP600 would win hands down. I also love the deployment system of the pliers: 2 lil’ buttons, and you can pop the pliers out like a switchblade (minus the spring). Very cool, and admittedly very useful, as it’s trivial to whip out the pliers, use them and finally put the tool away in a handful of smooth motions.
The nature of the design means that the rest of the tools are relatively accessible (quickly), so the real advantage is being able to use the pliers on the go without spending too much time faffing around.
In terms of torque and using them to loosen bolts, I had zero issues, but the carbide wire cutters, despite looking badass and being removable were useless for cutting sheathed wires.
They didn’t cut, but rather – just bit into the rubber. Didn’t matter how much torque I cranked out, the result was the same – never a clean cut.
Even using both hands and cranking down with the alignment “perfect”: still a no go. I reckon it would be fine with thicker gauge wire, but for electrical wire, I found the Gerber MP600 disappointing. Maybe I got a lemon and all others work fine? Who knows, but as this is the primary purpose of the tool (for me), I don’t have much interest in finding reasons to defend the performance.
The frustrating thing is that the cutters look high performance. Believe it or not, they are carbide. The tool generally speaking is very well machined.
I did experiment: removed the cutters, rotated them on a fresh face (the nature of the triangular design means you can rotate it in case one side dulls – great design… in theory). Still no change. Refused to cut rubber housing, and in this day and age, that’s a big problem as I very rarely deal with naked wires.
I have the blade-less model of the MP600 that comes with a Remgrit carbide saw. Works decently, and whilst I can’t think of a situation where I would need one and not have a dedicated tool, the reality is that if I ever did need it, I know it’s reasonably dependable.
Another positive is that it’s replaceable, so I imagine with some searching you could find and/or make alternative blades like a fine-toothed wood saw, perhaps?
In any case, options are always good and coupled with the lifetime warranty, I do feel like the only tools that would get chewed up are replaceable. So all in all, the design makes sense.
The needlenose pliers have perfect mating at the nose (literally perfect). Super nice construction that is on par and perhaps, even a touch better than the Leathermans I own. Sadly let down by the wirecutters though.
All of the secondary tools lock using a pull tab. It’s very large and easy to actuate – with or without gloves. I can definitely see people who work in hostile environments being a fan of this Gerber. Very smooth and the design looks (to me) resilient to dust and debris.
I tested out the secondary tools just to see what was up, and as expected, everything worked out just fine. The ergonomics and performance will always be a let down with multi-tools because at the heart of it, the design is a compromise. The best screwdriver is a screwdriver and the best pair of pliers is a pair of pliers.
When you take 2 or more tools and mash them into one, obviously some performance is going to be lost as well as comfort. This is not a criticism, just me being pragmatic.
I do wish the screwdrivers had more variety or were removable, like in the Leatherman Wave, but what you get is what you get. They work, but wouldn’t be my first choice.
So what do I use this type of multi-tool for, you ask? Honestly, usually just for the pliers themselves. I don’t want to deal with getting wrenches out and if the pliers have nice sharp ridges, I find that unless the bolt or screw is rusted tight, I can usually go vertically and unscrew them with minimal risk of damage. I like them for working in tight spaces, like under the kitchen sink, as I have been doing over the past two weeks.
The pliers themselves folks, are damn nice. I own the M.U.T., Rebar, Wave, Skeletool, etc. etc., and this is by far my favourite pair of pliers. They are tough, sharp (they hold onto to bolts like a damn vice), and actuate very, very smoothly.
The body is also well machined and I imagine can withstand considerable torque. I mention this because I own the much smaller Gerber multi-tool (the Dime) and I damaged the handles/body by adding too much pressure.
I am not saying this tool is literally bombproof, but you would have to actively try and break them to get catastrophic failure.
As for the other secondary tools, there are surprisingly few of them taking into account how large and bulky the Gerber MP600 is. We have:
- Heavy-duty scissors (not like the delicate Victorinox ones) that were extremely sharp (easily cut cleanly through toilet paper).
- A steel file that is basically useless beyond filing teensy tiny imperfections, which frankly I could just cut off. The issue is the teeth are always too shallow and get gummed up in zero seconds.
- 4 screwdrivers, that as mentioned, work but are nothing special.
- A basic can opener.
Nothing special here folks.
The tool itself is made in the USA. The black oxide finish is drop dead gorgeous and will wear really nicely. I have owned it for nearly a year, and in that year I have used the pliers a crap-tonne. The secondary tools I’ve used maybe 2 or 3 times.
At the end of the day – it’s 300 grams for a nice pair of pliers, wire cutters that don’t cut, and a handful of other tools that frankly are just not that impressive.
What I really want is these needle-nose pliers on the Leatherman Rebar (minus the crappy wire cutter), and that beautiful oxide finish.
As a stand alone multitool, I don’t think the Gerber MP600 is particularly high performance and consequently, I would recommend going with a Leatherman Wave instead. Much better wire cutters, and secondary tools that are actually high performance.