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Is Leatherman quality going down?

Discussion in 'MultiTools and Other Pocket Tools' started by polak187, Mar 28, 2016.

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  1. Alphy

    Alphy Loaded Pockets

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    I have been through 3 Leathermans in the last week. Bought my first Charge TTI got it home and noticed I had a long hair sticking out of my beard. Went to trim it with the scissors and they just exploded. Took it back and got a second TTI, and while I was at the store I bought a Style PS for my keychain. Got the second TTI home and the safety cutter on the back of the serrated blade wasn't sharpened. It was just a hunk of steel. So I took that back and was so upset with their QC I just asked for a refund and not an exchange. The next day at work I went to bend a Benchmade knife clip from a friends knife back into the correct shape (not harping on it I was just giving it a slight twist) and the pliers broke in half. I just threw it right in the garbage and vowed then and there I would never buy another Leatherman. My little brother has had his Wave for six months now and he uses it everyday all day (he is a machinist) and it has worked great, so it goes to show you everyone's mileage varies, but I don't think it was bad luck that I got 3 bad ones in a row. Inversely I bought a Victorinox Spirit X and I have been VERY impressed with it. All of the tools lock up extremely tight and don't have that liner lock play that Leatherman has. The Spirit X just feels so much better made with way better fit and finish and was half the price of the TTI.

    TL;DR Yes, I believe Leatherman has been going in the dumps, but again your mileage may vary.
     
  2. ozbushy

    ozbushy Loaded Pockets

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    I have been carrying a sidekick at work(heavy equipment shut downs) the last 3 years mainly using the the 2 knife blades and pliers, the pretend file with the little screw driver on the end also sees a fair amount of use testing air operated brake solenoids.
    Zero issues so far.
    I've had a MUT for longer but dont use it much
    Was going to upgrade my sidekick to a charge tti but wont be after reading this thread
     
  3. Swe_Nurse

    Swe_Nurse Loaded Pockets

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    It might but be but I also believe that customer standards have increased to a point where some people forget what Leatherman(-type) tools are and what they are not and where they are trying to use these tools in a way they were never meant to be used. Tools are being used in such extreme ways that only dedicated, heavy duty pliers (for example) would be able to stand up to such use. We've become so spoiled with good gear these last twenty years that we expect it to take any kind of use and abuse.

    Look at the original PST for example, it was (and still is) viewed as an alternative to a Swiss army knife, now we're looking at a Surge and see it as an alternative to lineman's pliers, side cutters and heavy duty wire cutter. Which it isn't, it's a compromise of all these designed to be carried easily.

    So while I believe that quality have gone down to some extent there might be other explanations to the amount of people that experience problems with multitools. Not to mention that the speed of information (forums, blogs, video reviews etc.) has changed drastically in the last 10-15 years. It's like crime rate, many people believe that crime has gone up no matter the actual change (increase or decrease) because of the way we consume news.
     
  4. polak187

    polak187 Loaded Pockets

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    Customer standards and expectations should increase when price of the tools goes up and materials used are better than the ones in the past. You would not expect the same thing from a $25 knife what you would expect from $150 one. Same way I don't expect my Wingman to perform the same tasks as my Surge or Supertool. Leatherman customer service is on point. As per tracking my two tools I've shipped to them last week are on the way back and I should have them today. Still I rely on my multitools everyday. And I'm very fortunate that I have a backup and than my backup has a backup. But others may not have that comfort zone. 10 years ago I wouldn't even think of having a backup tool except if I lost my primary one. Failure of a tool was not an option. In my line of work many times you don't have an option to go back to the tool box. If you are on point and stuff goes down you do with what you have and in that I have no problem destroying piece of equipment to save a life to gain access faster. But when a tool breaks pulling a pin out of a shackle it's just wrong. Or when seat belt cutter snaps cutting a belt than its useless.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  5. IHateBottleOpeners

    IHateBottleOpeners EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    A tiny part of the edge of my Wingman's pliers broke off so I needed to round them with sandpaper. Also the scissor's spring broke off my Style PS when they were in my Micro Pocket Organizer and driving in my grandpa's Lada.
     
  6. znapschatz

    znapschatz Loaded Pockets

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    The scissor spring also broke in my Style PS. I was not even using it when the breakage happened, just opened the tool and the broken sprin dropped out. When I sent it to Leatherman warranty for repair, they returned a Squirt PS4, but since the spring is the same, I don't trust it to last long. Both Style and Squirt owners have reported this issue, which I believe is caused by a problematic spring design. Ladas,BTW, are also known to have breakage problems.
     
  7. DCBman

    DCBman Loaded Pockets

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    In general I would say the quality has gone down in some respects. I think this is attributable to two things...

    - LMs used to be ugly and initially there was only one. That one was designed with a single fundamental premise...form following function...and they were bulletproof. Now they're developing all this trendy 'looking' stuff and have numerous models to maintain QC on. So now it's...form following volume of sales (a completely different metric).

    - A little different derivative of the above is trying to appeal to too many people. When a company markets tools that try to be everything to everyone they're bound to sacrifice a little bit of each function in order to still be able to perform ALL functions. It's the old adage of "pleasing some of the people some of the time vs. trying to please all of the people all the time".

    So, it naturally follows in the do-it-all tool category...
    "Hey, I'll buy one of these for my son's Christmas gift."

    "Hey, now I don't need to go buy a whole bunch of tools, I've got my LM"

    "Hey, now I don't need to go get a hammer to do the job properly, I'll just use my LM"

    "Dang it! It broke!"

    I will say though; I really like my LM Skeletool (if I could only find the dang thing!)

    Bottom line: Decreasing quality of parts, vastly greater audience, market pressure from competitors (like Gerber and others).
     
  8. ozbushy

    ozbushy Loaded Pockets

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    I don't expect my leatherman to be as good as a dedicated tool for any given task and wouldn't expect the pliers to hold up if called on to twist anything with even moderate force, look at the way they are designed and use accordingly
     
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  9. IHateBottleOpeners

    IHateBottleOpeners EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    I don't get you or you don't get me, I said that me and my grandpa were driving in the mountains while the organizer was in my bag in the back of the jeep, when we arrived and i opened the organizer, the spring piece just fell off.
     
  10. Swe_Nurse

    Swe_Nurse Loaded Pockets

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    I'm not saying that quality is not going down because I believe it has gone down for some time. I'm saying that the impression that the quality is going down drastically also has to do with the way people use their tools and how failures are broadcasted across the internet. We've come to expect quality on a whole different scale than 10-20 years ago. I also believe that this is something that is true for most gear, flashlights are much better than they were 10 years ago and as such we expect them to be better. If you wanted a $40 light that would fit in a pocket and that sported 100 lumen with a run time of measured in hours you would be dreaming. Today that is not a match for the several high quality makers out there. So while we're in agreement that the quality of Leatherman (and Gerber and SOG and so on) is worse than it used to be I don't believe the lower quality can fully explain what we're seeing online these days.

    I saw a Super tool 200 fail in the exact same way as your tools in 2004, also with fairly light (but twisting) activity. I used my own Super tool 200 during this time for far more taxing uses and it did fine.
     
  11. znapschatz

    znapschatz Loaded Pockets

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    Pardon me if otherwise, but I thought you were on about the spring in your Style PS broke without being used. That was what happened to mine. Not your point? What am I misunderstanding?
     
  12. znapschatz

    znapschatz Loaded Pockets

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    Most of the quality issues seem to be in product finish, not function. My current Super Tool 300 has been as tough as an original ST I used for nine years without breakage, but the blades are bead blasted, and the ruler calibrations not as well done, but both do what they are supposed to. A redesign of the bottle opener makes it impossible to catch a bottle lip without opening one of the handles, an annoyance that hasn't been much commented on. This is also true of the Charge TTi, which has been that way from the first. Other than that (and a higher price,) Leathermen work about the same. In re breakage, there have been no more complaints about that than all before, AFAIR. I don't know if Leathermans are more prone to that than Vic because, after all, LT sells more m-ts in the US than all other makes combined. I'd expect to see more problems because of the numbers sold, if nothing else, while percentages could be more or less the same.
     
  13. IHateBottleOpeners

    IHateBottleOpeners EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    No, you got it now, I was confused because I thought you said something about the Lada problem witch was not my point at all, I just mentioned as a transporting vehicle. OK doesn't matter, all we both know now is that some Leatherman products break without usage :).
     
  14. znapschatz

    znapschatz Loaded Pockets

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    :)
     
  15. TRUE LIBERTY

    TRUE LIBERTY Loaded Pockets

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    Well I have owned several of the original Leatherman tools and broke them all because of heavy usage. Never bothered returning them just bought new ones back then. Have had the original Surge I beat the day lights out of that thing using it as a hammer to using the pliers for shutting off water mains to homes that stressed the pliers to there max. Eventually that one got stolen. Last year bought the new version of the Surge and I beat that one up just as bad. I broke the flat head screw driver off prying up a kitchen sink with years and years of caulking on it giving it all my strength. I sent it out to Leatherman and they sent me back a new one pronto! It appears to be just as good as the last one in my opinion. Now during those two weeks waiting for my Leatherman to return I have been using and abusing my Swiss Spirit X just as hard as my Surge and what a disappointment that tool is! In less than two weeks it now does not give that solid click when tools lock into place. And they clump when trying to pull a tool out while everything rattles. The Swiss in my opinion don't make a heavy duty tool. Very pretty but not durable. Good for the weekends like I was originally using it for though. But in my opinion the Surge is far better in quality/ruggedness than the original one they first made I used to own.
     
  16. JDay6363

    JDay6363 Loaded Pockets

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    Last week I was bending a really thick nail. My Waves pliers looked like they were going to snap. When I was done, they were just a little uneven, so I did the same thing the other way to even them out.
     
  17. znapschatz

    znapschatz Loaded Pockets

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    Surge and Spirit are in two different size categories. I wouldn't expect the medium size Spirit to perform heavy duty as well as the super size Surge. It's a simply matter of mass; during crunch time, big and hefty beats small but sturdy anytime. But the Swiss do make a heavy duty Swisstool. Many gorilla-like abusers swear by them. Actually, I prefer Leathermans, but I must admit the Spirit's big brother is one tough mother :D .
     
  18. 62Tele

    62Tele Loaded Pockets

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    I was done with Leatherman when the jaws on a Skeletool snapped while I was pulling an 18ga finish nail out of soft wood. Nearly broke a knuckle. Not fit, finish or using it for anything excessive, just a crappy tool snapping under minimal stress.

    FWIW, I've subjected my Spirit X to far greater stresses, which it's taken without a whimper. My old Swisstool was a little beefier, but not dramatically so. When the Spirit isn't enough, I'm reaching for something Knipex.
     
  19. Westerdutch

    Westerdutch Loaded Pockets

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    Another thing that happens more often than most people know is that as the age of a product or model progresses the quality will go down. On introduction of any product they want it to be as good as can be so no corners are being cut in production, material choice or quality control. They need new products to be a success so they sell loads of it and can start making back some money on it. After a while tho its all too common to start lowering the bar significantly and just coast on the success and reputation of the early productions simply to lower costs on a model that's now being sold in lower quantities while still making some profit. This is partly just company policy (if they really wanted to they could produce in the same quality forever) but also a simple manufacturing necessity; Making high quality products requires high quality tooling and once those tools wear out its a case of estimating how much more products you will be making and then get the cheapest tooling that gets the job done until you reach that estimate. Leatherman does the exact same thing. If you buy a first production model (given the model didnt have any significant design errors or flaws) and compare it to one that rolled out of the factory yesterday then im willing to bet money on the fact that the younger one will be crappier in every comparable way, i have seen this happen more than once (skeletools and leatherman micra for example).
     
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  20. polak187

    polak187 Loaded Pockets

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    The warranty is where it's at with Leatherman. No question asked replacement/repair with decent turnaround as well. I think total on my tools was less than 8 days.


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