If you only own one multi tool you should have a full-size tool on your belt. Full-size multitools have evolved their capabilities to meet every category of user. From generalist handyman tools to specialist tactical tools you can find one that fits your needs.
- Best Overall: Leatherman Wave+ or FREE P4 jump to section
- Best Pliers: SOG PowerAccess Deluxe and Leatherman Crunch jump to section
- Best Knife: Leatherman Charge+ TTi jump to section
- Best One-Hand Tool: Leatherman FREE P4 jump to section
- Best Screwdrivers: Gerber Center-Drive jump to section
- Best Corrosion Resistance: Victorinox SwissTool Spirit X jump to section
- Best Budget Option: Leatherman Wingman jump to section
Best Overall: Leatherman Wave+ or FREE P4
We put the Wave+ head to head with FREE P4 in our full-size faceoff and for our needs the FREE P4 came out on top by the narrowest of margins – you can’t go wrong with either tool. Users who prioritize one-handed tools should get the FREE P4 (Buy on Amazon) and users who need a bit driver and longer knife blades and file should get the Wave+ (Buy on Amazon).
I carried both tools regularly during all of 2019 to give them a true head-to-head comparison in regular use. The one-hand opening pliers on the FREE P4 are the key feature that makes it stand out from the Wave+. The small differences between the rest of the tools are not that important to me. I rarely use the file or the saw where the increased length on the Wave+ would be important.
The Leatherman Wave+ and FREE P4 have very similar specs and tools, both have one hand opening knife blades. The FREE P4 offers one-hand opening pliers, larger scissors, a pry bar, and awl, and all tools are outside-accessible. With the Wave Plus you get longer blades, a superior file, and bit drivers with access to a large selection of bits.
Best Pliers: SOG PowerAccess Deluxe and Leatherman Crunch
SOG PowerAccess Deluxe
There is no denying that SOG has the best pliers available on a multi tool. Their Compound Leverage system doubles the output from your grip strength compared to normal pliers on other multi tools. Having a mechanical advantage means less hand fatigue which is important when you work in the trades and use your tools all day every day.
The SOG PowerAccess Deluxe (Buy on Amazon) wins this category because SOG uses higher quality 5CR15MOV stainless steel on the PowerAccess series instead of their basic 420 stainless. At 4.5 in long and 8.7 oz, the PowerAccess Deluxe is approaching the size and weight of heavy duty tools but its performance keeps it in the full size category.
The same Compound Leverage system that gives you more force with the pliers also lets you cut wires that are nearly impossible with other multi tools. The PowerAccess Deluxe went through medium-duty nails that stopped us cold with other multi tools. It is important to note that SOG does not have replaceable wire cutters on any of their tools so if you damage the jaws you can’t just swap them out.
There are drawbacks to the PowerAccess. The same Compound Leverage system that gives you great leverage also means the handles have to travel twice the distance to move the jaws. When you are working with the tool in your hand the pliers jaws do not open as wide. The other tools on the SOG PowerAccess are serviceable but not as good as our overall top picks the Wave+ or FREE P4.
We can’t list the best full-size multi tool pliers without including the Leatherman Crunch (Buy on Amazon) because it is the only tool that includes locking pliers. Leatherman used an ingenious folding mechanism where one side of the pliers detaches from the handle and then tucks inside for storage.
The other tools are solid and functional if unremarkable, the star of the show is the locking pliers that can grip 1-inch diameter pipe securely. Removing the adjustment screw reveals a built-in hex adapter that works with standard 1/4 inch hex bits. There is also a package set that includes a bit kit and leather sheath (Buy on Amazon), well worth the few extra dollars for the added functionality.
Best Knife: Leatherman Charge+ TTi
If you want a premium knife blade on your full-size multi tool you only have two options – you can either get the Charge Plus with 154CM or the Charge+ TTi with S30V blade steel.
The top of the line Leatherman Charge+ TTi (Buy on Amazon) uses titanium scales and premium S30V blade steel while the Leatherman Charge+ (Buy on Amazon) uses aluminum scales and upgraded 154CM blade steel.
Leatherman took their winning design from the Wave+ and gave it three upgrades: they added a cutting hook to the back of the serrated knife blade, they upgraded the handle scales, and the biggest change was upgrading to premium blade steel on the main knife.
Best One-Hand Tool: Leatherman FREE P4
When you need one-handed pliers there are several choices from SOG and Gerber but Leatherman changed the game in 2019 with the FREE P4 (Buy on Amazon). The pliers open smoothly every time and you still get one-hand opening knife blades, scissors, and saw – functions you don’t get from SOG or Gerber.
Leatherman made a great tool with the FREE P4 but for me it really needed a sheath for belt carry. I replaced my Skeletool CX with the FREE P2 (Buy on Amazon) for my EDC after testing it. The FREE P2 is slimmer than the P4 because it drops the saw and standalone serrated blade, but otherwise it is the same tool (it does switch to a combo edge knife blade however).
Best Screwdriver: Gerber Center-Drive
Gerber built the Center-Drive (Buy on Amazon) around the bit driver and it easily wins this category. The bit driver on the Center-Drive outclasses every other multi tool on the market for this function.
As its name implies, the bit driver is centered on the long axis of the multi tool for more natural motion when twisting, the bit driver is nearly as long as the handle itself and gives a full 3.1 inches of reach instead of the measly 1-2 inches that is typical. Definitely get the bit kit with the Center-Drive, after all the bit driver is the main reason to buy this multi tool.
The Center-Drive also has a one-hand opening knife blade that is made from 420HC stainless steel with a straight edge and drop-point design. Inside the handles are a file, serrated blade, pry bar tool, and an awl – all quality-made tools that function well.
Just a flick of the wrist and the pliers slide open from inside the handles. The jaws are beefy and up to heavy duty jobs, but we can’t say the same for the wire cutters.
The replaceable carbide blades have a major design flaw because they are supported by the hex screw in the center instead of pushing into the v-shape cutout. The blades shattered and sent sharp splinters flying when we cut a simple wire clothes hanger – not a heavy duty task by any means. If you do purchase the Center-Drive use the hard wire cutters with extreme caution and always wear eye protection.
Best Corrosion Resistance: Victorinox SwissTool Spirit X
All of the major multi tool brands make their tools from stainless steel and there isn’t that much difference in the materials used when it comes to corrosion resistance. We also investigated the difference between standard stainless steel and black oxide coated tool performance in this post. But Victorinox multi tools perform significantly better when it comes to corrosion resistance for one reason – their polished finish.
The Victorinox SwissTool Spirit X (Buy on Amazon) is a full-size multi tool that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Victorinox made their first entry into multi tools with the SwissTool in 1997 and five years later in 2004 they took all their learning and put it into the SwissTool Spirit.
One thing they kept was the characteristic mirror polish finish that gives all Victorinox tools their corrosion resistance. The smooth finish performs much better than the rough surface from bead blasting used by Leatherman, SOG, and Gerber.
Of course, all stainless steels can corrode if neglected enough. Be sure to follow our recommended cleaning procedure to keep your tools looking and functioning great for years and generations to come.
Best Budget Option: Leatherman Wingman
The Leatherman Wingman (Buy on Amazon) is just that – your go-to multi tool for projects around the house or on the job. Leatherman features spring-action pliers and keeps the tools you use most frequently on the outside for easy access – namely the knife blade and scissors.
With plenty of handy tools, and backed by Leatherman’s 25-year warranty, this was one amazing value when it launched for around $30 in 2011. At current retail prices of around $60 the value isn’t the same anymore, consider looking for a used Wave+ on eBay for the same cost.
Full Size Multi Tools Explained
These multi tools don’t leave anything out, most people will carry them on a belt sheath or tool bag. I prefer to pocket carry my EDC multi tool but when I know I’m going to be working on a project I put a full-size multi tool on my belt. Once you get longer than 4 1/4 inches the tool just doesn’t fit well in a pocket and anything heavier than 8 ounces is much more comfortable in a sheath, even when wearing jeans.
Full Size Multitool Styles
Although there are still some extreme designs out there (we’re looking at you RoverTac and Mempa), the industry has consolidated full-size multi tools into two main designs – the standard butterfly opening models and the sliding jaw design.
The majority of full-size multi tools are butterfly opening because it works well. The plier jaws fold into the handle and there is still room for full-length tools.
Butterfly Opening Full Size Multi Tool Product List
- Leatherman: Free P4, Wave+, Charge+ TTi, Charge+, Sidekick, Signal, Wingman, Rebar, Crunch
- Gerber Gear:
- CRKT: Technician
- SOG: PowerAssist Deluxe, PowerAssist, PowerPlay
- Victorinox: SwissTool Spirit, SwissTool Spirit X
Sliding Jaw Design
The sliding jaw category is dominated by Gerber. Their patented sliding jaw design is on several of the multitools, including the Center-Drive, Diesel, and Multi-Plier 600.
Sliding Jaw Design Full Size Multi Tool Product List
- Gerber Gear: Center-Drive, Diesel, Multi-Plier 600 (MP600)