I have carried both on three continents in all sorts of circumstances. Although they advertise "multi-tool" I have found that neither does all jobs equally. I like the Gerber for the pliers and the Leatherman for the blade and other tools.
I would easily recommend a Gerber IF the model in question is made in the USA, their imported models are the same if not worse than Leatherman (broken). I have been testing a few more models lately in relation to a poll question I asked on this site, seems everyone wants multi-tool tests. The long version will be in the articles section sometime in the future, and the short version is this: A Gerber USA (400 series compact sport) versus a Leatherman wave (Or similar) the Gerber will be stronger in all aspects including the blade and sharpness. The most common problem relating to knife and edge issues is the end user not realizing how to properly sharpen a knife. Most claims about breakage are apples/oranges comparisons because the cheap Gerber in wally world is made in China, compare the real Gerber USA to a Leatherman and you will not carry a Leatherman for more than a month or two at most. It is a personal preferance of course, but I think this speaks volumes about Gerber (just found this out) http://www.gerbergear.com/governmentsales.php Mil-spec tools, something Leatherman has never attempted (that I know of).
5110-01-425-7570 Leatherman supertool silver with black pouch
5110-01-430-5039 Leatherman supertool black with black pouch
5110-01-474-0894 Leatherman Crunch with black pouch
5110-01-456-0578 Leatherman Wave with leather pouch
those are the NSN's for several Leatherman tools.
there are probably 50 more
I like the Leatherman Wave personally and have three ( 1 original with the leather case, and two of the newer models with the black case).
The gerber felt cheaper in my hands, and i didn't like the "flick to open" pliers. The 400 sport or whatever it's called is what most of my scouts carry because of the cost and it fits little hands better. they all want the Wave or 600 because it's bigger. I wasn't aware that some were made in china and others not, that sounds kind of weird.
I got the Leatherman wave at the advice of badkarma, and I've been really happy with it. It is smaller than some of the other leatherman models which I like. A good compromise of size and function I think.
I own a Leatherman Wave in black and it does the job,I was a little sceptical about the jewlers screwdriver and wondered what that was doing on an outdoor tool untill I used it to put the lens screw back on my wifes glasses. Rugged and reliable.
I have three leathermans and one gerber. I use the gerber on my bike and like it becuse it has the flatnose pliers and the sockets. My favorite is the leatherman wave. I also have the leatherman origional and the supertool.
I've had 2 Surges. The first one would drop the spring that retains the large screwdriver insert, and the smaller driver broke. The large screws that hold the thing together would back out with the opening of the knives and other large accessories.
I replaced it with another, and found that the scissors are hard to lock. I expect that problem to resolve as I work it in. The loosening screws are a problem on the new one as well, but some loktite will fix that.
Not sure about the spring retainers.
Aside from that, I like it fine! To be fair, I REALLY worked that small screw driver over hard, and the tool was never oiled at the trunions as it should have been (even though I think the factory whould do that). Good little /big tool, just have to work with it a bit is all.
Owner of 2 leathermans here. One is a wave. The tip of the pliers on the older leatherman broke off as did one knife blade tip. However, I abused this poor set really bad by using it to pry when I should not have. Can't really fault them for my stupidity. The wave is performing well. Don't know about Gerbers. Never had one.
I have a Wave ( as does half the world), Thing is this : I used to have the original wave , when it got "loose" (it feld like the main lugs needed fastening) I went to a shop where I never had purchased anything , they sent it to the import company , abou 2 weeks later I recieved a brand new upgraded Wave free of any charge , I dont know about gerber , but thats the kind of service a man likes ( apart from the occasional beer , apported by a woman that happens to be in my house a lot , dunno its not my mom )
I have two leathermans: Original PST and Squirt P4.
I have used PST something like 10 years and it´s still going strong.
P4 is little helper that always goes with me, incredible strong and small tool. Both feel real quality and I have never even thinkabout changing my multitool brand.
One month ago I saw special discount Gerber suspension & shortcut multitools together 59 eur! Checked those on the shop and broke my finger nails when trying to open and close blades. Feel of them was like gas station noname multitools!
Victorinox > Leatherman or Sog > Bag of individual tools > Nothing > Gerber
This is how I would rate multi-tool brands based on what I've owned. I broke a gerber multi-plier 600, got it replaced from where I had purchased it, then broke the replacement two months later. This was the first and last gerber multi-tool I'll buy. Haven't had much better luck with their knives.
I use the heck out of my tools but I've never had any issues with my swisstools. I broke the scissors onece on my leatherman charge while closing the tool. leatherman send me a brand new one with which I've had no issues.
My SOG para-tool and Powerlock have always worked flawlessly and are tough as nails, but I like to be able to get to the implements without opening the pliers, so my SOG's don't see as much day to day use.
I personally would rather carry nothing than carry a tool that fails when you need it most.
I've had a leatherman supertool for 12 years, and it's been flawless, although I haven't used it in "hard use" scenarios. I do carry it whenever hiking, backpacking, etc. I tend to use my regular tools instead when I need pliers, a file, a punch, etc.
I do have the sense that IF I used too much force, like trying to use the thing as a pry bar, that the blades or the bolt (if that's the word) might break. It works fine as a quick-fix screwdriver and knife.
So, I can't say anything bad about the Leatherman.