Today’s multitools are a significant purchase so you want a brand that stands behind their product. We compared the warranty terms and turnaround time for service from all of the major manufacturers.
Which multi tools have a lifetime warranty? Leatherman is famous for their 25-year warranty but Gerber, Victorinox, SOG and CRKT multi tools all come with a limited lifetime warranty. How each manufacturer handles their warranty claims and service turnaround are equally important.
At first glance, Leatherman has the shortest warranty coverage of all the major brands in North America but this doesn’t match with their stellar reputation. We dug deeper to understand why and looked at four key factors:
- Warranty coverage: What exclusions and restrictions are included in the warranty terms?
- Warranty service: Are warranty terms strictly applied or does the brand make every effort to make it right for their customers?
- Warranty turnaround: How long does it take to send in a multi tool under warranty and get it back?
- Additional factors: Are services such as sharpening, non-warranty service and replacement parts available?
Comparison of Warranty Terms and Coverage
All manufacturers exclude loss or theft and damage caused by normal wear and tear, misuse, abuse or modification from their warranty coverage. All except Victorinox also restrict the warranty to consumer use, industrial or commercial use are not covered. Additional coverage terms and exclusions are summarized in the table below.
|Gerber||Lifetime in N.A.2||Original||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
1CRKT specifically excludes blade tip breakage from their warranty coverage.
2Gerber has a 25 year warranty outside of North America.
3SOG and Victorinox do not specify that warranty coverage only applies to the original owner. However, the SOG claim form requires date of purchase and name of retailer (details only the original owner would know) and Victorinox requires proof of purchase.
Beyond the standard exclusions, the warranty terms for Leatherman, Gerber and Victorinox are essentially equivalent. They each guarantee their products to be free from manufacturing and material defects for as long as the original owner has the multi tool.
CRKT is close behind with the additional exclusion applied to blade tip breakage:
This warranty does not cover breakage or failure due to misuse of the knife. Knives as good as ours rarely break or fail because of a defect. Usually they break or fail from what we call “tool abuse”—using them for unsuitable tasks like prying or pounding. Therefore, blade tip breakage is not covered by our warranty.CRKT Warranty Terms
SOG has has their warranty information spread across multiple pages on their website and in a confusing FAQ format. The SOG warranty form directly states that only their multi tool handles and plier heads are covered by warranty.
Disassembly or severe modification of your SOG product voids your warranty. Otherwise, your SOG product, if purchased from SOG or a SOG authorized seller, is covered by a lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects in materials and workmanship. On multi-tools, this applies only to the handles and the plier head, not the individual tool components or pouches.SOG Warranty Form
Comparison of Warranty Service and Turnaround Time
Lawyers are always involved with writing warranty terms to give the company an ‘out’ so they can prevent abuse. What really matters is how claims are handled – do they really stand behind their products in borderline cases? To answer this question we relied on our own experience as well as online research including the Better Business Bureau and forum discussions.
We were surprised to find that none of the big five brands are BBB accredited. All of them have been in operation for multiple decades with very few complaints so we are not concerned. We included details below for completeness.
- Columbia River Knife & Tool Company has an A+ rating with zero complaints.
- Gerber Legendary Blades has a B rating with two complaints.
- Leatherman has an A+ rating with one complaint.
- S O G Specialty Knives & Tools LLC has a D- rating with two complaints.
- Victorinox Swiss Army, Inc. has an A+ rating with 11 complaints.
Leatherman Group Warranty Service
Leatherman is a standout multi tool manufacturer that does what it takes to make it right for their customers. Forums are full of praise for how easy it was to get questions answered and how Leatherman gives the customer every consideration to solve their issue. Complaints are not common, it was actually difficult to find examples of negative experiences with their customer service process.
Unique among the major brands, Leatherman gives a lot of flexibility in their warranty process. If you want your tool returned you can select the Repair or Replace submission path on their webpage. This path has three options:
- Repair or Return Only. It has sentimental value and I want it back
- If it cannot be repaired, send a comparable model
- OK to substitute with a different model
For example, if you received a Leatherman as a graduation gift engraved from your father you would select option #1. They will repair it if possible but no matter what you will get the same tool back. For options #2 and #3, if Leatherman can not repair your multi tool you can select what level of substitution is acceptable. Most users report getting the same model back, but if that model has been retired you will receive the updated version. We didn’t come across any complaints of Leatherman giving them a ‘downgrade’ and most forum comments were about a surprise upgrade. If you have any questions or concerns you can call Leatherman to clarify and include comments on your warranty form.
Leatherman also has their e-voucher program that launched in early 2018. If your multi tool is part of the 42 currently qualifying models, you can opt to receive a credit towards a purchase on Leatherman.com. They give estimated values for each model right on the submission form. After Leatherman receives your tool the confirm it is covered as a warranty issue and do an inspection to determine final value. This is not a tool exchange, only defects covered by warranty are eligible.
Leatherman is complimented for their quick service, users frequently report having their tool back in their hands within 7-10 days after mailing it out. Typical turnaround is within 3 weeks.
Gerber Gear Warranty Service
Gerber’s warranty submission form is straightforward, simply provide your personal information followed by basic information about the tool and service to be done. They have an option to designate a sentimental tool and if Gerber is not able to service it they will contact you to determine how to proceed.
User satisfaction with Gerber warranty service is high in the forums. In fact, many people commented about how they were disappointed with their multi tool quality but Gerber replaced it under warranty with no problems.
Gerber doesn’t get as many compliments as Leatherman for their quick turnaround time, but they are no slouch either. Their FAQ page lists typical service within 2-4 weeks and forum comments match that timeframe.
Victorinox Swiss Army
Victorinox handles their SwissTool warranty service using the same process as their Swiss Army Knives. The first step in their process is to setup a repair order and provide information about what service is needed. Their system has a lot of flexibility to set a tool as sentimental, evaluate a tool for warranty service, require an estimate for service work and provide a pre-approval amount. Victorinox does require you to upload proof of purchase when submitting the repair order and they have a $5.00 processing/handling fee.
After Victorinox reviews your submission the second step starts when they send you a packing list and instructions for how to send in your tool. Their form further clarifies their warranty:
Warranty Repair: Any defects in material and workmanship, broken components such as blades, scales, springs, damaged interlocks of lock blades will be repaired free of charge.
Non-Warranty Repair: For damage found to be caused by normal wear and tear, misuse or abuse that are not covered by this warranty, an estimate of repair costs will be emailed to you.
Forums make note that Victorinox can be a black hole after your multi tool is sent in. They do a good job to collect the necessary information up front but after that they don’t provide updates unless you contact them. Turnaround is typically from 2-6 weeks but can be longer.
Columbia River Knife & Tool Company
CRKT is noted for not surprising their customers during the warranty process. They are up front with their restrictions and exclusions and execute to those criteria. CRKT has moved away from the multi tool market segment in recent years, with only two pliers-based multitools currently on the market. Recent warranty turnaround information is sparse for their multitools separate from their knives and other products.
SOG Specialty Knives & Tools
SOG warranty terms are intimidating, and we don’t know if it was intentional but the result is that users think twice trying to get their tools covered under warranty. The forums are full of comments similar to ‘my knife blade (or pliers) broke while I was using it in a tough situation but it doesn’t look like it will be covered under warranty’. If they update the post after sending the tool in, the typical result is that SOG DID cover the repair so their customer service must have some decision flexibility. It is unfortunate that their warranty language scares people off.
SOG made internal changes in 2018 to align their customer service and warranty teams with their sales territories. Turnaround time for warranty work is now typically 2-4 weeks.
CRKT offers a number of replacement fasteners and pocket clips free of charge on their website.
Gerber has a sharpening service to restore the factory edge for $10 ($5 for sharpening a single edge blade and $5 for return shipping). They will not sharpen serrated blades however.
Leatherman does not offer sharpening or other services. Tools covered under warranty will be cleaned, serviced, and sharpened before they are returned. They have a limited number of replacement parts available for purchase, generally consisting of pocket clips and accessories.
SOG offers free sharpening service. If you are unable to use a local knife shop you can send your tool to them and they will sharpen, service, and return it to you at no charge (return shipping is free). SOG will send a free replacement pocket clip on request. SOG is also notable in that their multitools are designed to be customized by the user so a certain amount of disassembly is permitted without voiding the warranty. Different than other brands, SOG offers a wide variety of blades and tools that can be swapped in to customize your multi tool.
Victorinox has the widest array of options available on their service form. You can send in your tool for broken blade/pliers/tools, adjust hard-to-open tools, bent screwdrivers, missing items, as well as have Victorinox clean and sharpen your tool. Victorinox does not have any user-serviceable parts on their SwissTools but you can order a replacement toothpick or tweezer for your SAK.
Overall Warranty Summary
|Brand||Warranty Terms||Warranty Service||Turnaround Time||Additional Services||Overall|
Considering all the important factors Leatherman comes out on top. Lets be honest, if a tool hasn’t failed in the first 25 years of use then the problem is not a material or manufacturing defect. Leatherman lives by the statement on their FAQ: Our warranty is simple. You broke it, we’ll fix it.
After doing the research and digging through all the information, there was less separation between companies than we expected. Each of them are trustworthy and stand behind their products.
One takeaway is clear, if you have a multi tool that is damaged or needs service get in touch with their customer service teams. As long as you are friendly and considerate they are likely to help you out even if it technically falls outside their responsibility.
Multi tool manufacturers are trying to prevent people from buying a bunch of multitools at the swap meet and then taking advantage of the warranty program to fix them up and make a quick buck. But all of them want to keep their customers happy and loyal to their brand for repeat business.