My impressions on the Leatherman Surge ("The Silver Crocodile")_Part 1:
I am not a regular review writer and I am not going to start right now, but I would like to give my thoughts on this forum as I may reach someone who might like to know more before he makes a decision (informed) before investing in a large multitool. I don’t want to show a video or project a lot of images showing the features of this tool. You can see youtube videos showing this for yourself as there are several videos showing that. I am also of the opinion that several people try to be the first to review a multitool and then they just show what features are built in, while they have just received the tool and have not used it even. To show only the features is an overview, while a review comments. I am of the opinion some people have not enough experience in their tool before they give a review. That's why I call my review my impressions.
To set the record straight....I bought my Leathermans to use and not to collect.
I have used the Wave for quite some time and I was very satisfied with it. I was not happy with the lack of an awl and I have seen broken pliers of some of the smaller multitools. I have seen several so-called reviews and I have even personally inspected a variety, before deciding on the Leatherman Surge. I decided against any make other than Leatherman as I am living near Leatherman's service centre and there are no other make’s service centre in South Africa that I know of. I bank on the guarantee of Leatherman, not that I have needed it yet. But what I heard from other users about their guarantee experiences I am totally confident with my choice.
I own a Wave, Supertool 300, Micra and MUT to compare against.
My Impressions based on observations and personal use:
Appearance / Finish / Workmanship / Rigidity:
The Surge is neat appearing and I think the finish is outstanding:
I have seen other makes that looks like tin. I consider this as not so important as I want to use the thing when needed and not to display it.
If you keep the tool folded and you hold it in a vertical position with the "L" of the Leatherman Logo pointing downwards (Like if the tool represent a person’s legs), there is minute play when you pull the one leg, not open and close but like if this legs want to walk:
This play is minute and is not bothering me or has any defect in my opinion. I own several knives and I can compare the finish with the better quality of tools. This may also be bothering other users but the play is so little that most people will not even notice it. There are some people who complain about a rattle in this tool, not so obvious in the medium size tools. The play in the pliers hinge may cause the one leg hitting the other leg, where the play get a little more loose over the years of use, but that will only be personal choice.
The Surge is a very large tool and it's pliers head is huge. Due to the so much longer handles you can apply more pressure and that calls for a stronger head. Therefore you can apply more raw power to a task without fear of breaking the tool. The body (chassis) of the tool is very strong and made of enough layers / levels of good quality stainless steel sheet that is bend and folded in the form it is current that it can withstand the forces applied when you tackle a rough job.
The pliers is a sharp nose type, well fitting, with teeth along the straight edges and course teethe inside the rounded piece. There are the cutters inside the jaws of the pliers: the straight edges for softer material and the rounded notch for hard wire. At the bottom of the pliers hinge there is a grooved cutter for hard wire and stranded wire and there is also a notch for crimping purposes.
I have used the pliers’ concave part to loosened the shaft of a stuck water pump and it worked perfectly. I have also used the same to loosened bolts and nuts. There was some marks left on the bolt, but the multitool is anyway only used because the proper tool was not available.
The pliers is also very strong where you pull something with brute force because nothing else is available. The grooves on the inside of the tip blades grip excellently and when you use the pliers to twist sideways it is strong enough to withstand moderate use. The tool’s size also assist because the longer handles give more torque.
The tool is relative stiff to open when I want to use the pliers, but not uncomfortable. When fully opened the resistance is stiff enough to prevent the tool from folding up when you open the handles to use the pliers. It behaves exactly like a non-folding pliers and when you have finished you have to use mild force to close the pliers. The pliers' jaws are big and very rigid. Because of the long handles you can grip something very hard. I have use this tool often enough to wind wire when I wanted to fix something temporary at a camping site or with fencing and the pliers do not give. I have used the pliers as a gripping tool to rotate the shaft of my water pump when it got stuck as I was to lazy to go to the garage to fetch a proper water pump pliers. No problem. The jaws opened up widely enough and I could get a proper grip with enough force to rotate the shaft loose from the rust. There was no damage to the pliers grooves.
The wire cutters are adequate for my applications. I have not damaged them yet, but I am trying to not abuse the tool.
The one Surge I have played with prior to my purchase had a lot of play in as the owner don't care for it. He already had the tool rebuilt four times and when I saw it the big flat screw driver was broken off and the tool in a general abused state. However I could also see that the tool can take abuse.
The pliers head is well designed and excellently finished off. The teeth grip exactly on each other and there is no play in the hinge of the head. The wire cutters can even cut paper and I am very satisfied with it. The front wire cutters can cut also thick wire. At the rear, between the handles there is a stranded wire cutter and also a crimper that works very well. The design also include wedge shaped slides that forces the spring leaves aside when opening so that the knife blades can not be opened when the pliers are extended. This safety feature is also a big plus for me and show that Leatherman have designed this tool properly and not just another model to make more sales.
This tool is not for display but to use. Although the appearance (when new) is good enough for display, this tool can satisfy the most demanding user.
Good and much bigger that those of the Wave. I can cut heavier stuff with it. The scissors is functioning well and I have the confidence that if I break them that Leatherman will repair them for me. The negative comments that I have seen in reviews about this tool is not valid for me. This tool is designed to use when you urgently need scissors and you don't have it with you. If the job is too thick, use the knife or wait until later. When I am working in my garage to sew a tarpaulin ground sheet, I am going to use heavy duty upholstery scissors and not my leatherman.
The cosmetic finish of this feature is not 100% as you can see the break / stamping roughness on the outside part of the handle next to the finger nail notch. This is cosmetic only and does not affect the feature at all. The scissors is not one hand opening and you must use your finger nail to open it and you must continue with the opening action until the scissors click open and then you are ready for some serious cutting.
The finger nail notch is easy on your nail and easy to open. The scissors is very sharp and this feature works as designed. You user does not have a feature in looks only but also in ability. It can be used for those jobs when needed.
3. File / Saw:
Here I think Leatherman have excelled in this design. I have now the file and the wooden saw blade in only one slot. I have also bought a metal saw with the same mounting configuration. This tool can accept Bosh mounting blades. The ability to saw metal can save you in those impossible situations. I have sawn wire that I thought too thick to cut. I have also cut a plastic pipe when I was digging a foundation trench and it was possible to do the task by just reaching for my side. With the wave I would have had to go and fetch a proper saw.
You even get ceramic blades and quite a variety of other wood and metal saw blades. The best of all is the Bosch blades are cheap.
I have used the supplied wood saw on camping trips to cut branches as well as for some pruning tasks at home and the tool have never let me down yet. The wooden shavings (wet / green) do not built up in between the teeth as you should expect from a regular saw. And so far the plant sap have not yet stained the blade as would have been the case with regular carbon steel.
It a previous "braai" (barbeque evening), after alcohol had it's effect a guy used my diamond file to file a spot on his tooth. I don't know if there really was a spot or if he just showed off.
I also use the diamond file to repaired a nick in the blade of a Micra.
You can also touch up your knife blade with this feature because it can be used separately from the tool.
Bosch blades also come out in longer lengths as the supplied blade. I will not carry such a blade as EDC, but it is a nice to have when on a safari trip as you can fetch it from the vehicle tool kit and will then be able to saw bigger branches than previous possible. It is of importance to note that the Bosch blades is in profile of the same fitting as the Leatherman blades but thinner and therefore there will be some play. To fix just use some tape to make it thicker and saw.
4. Knife Blades:
This blade is adequate for most jobs and stay relative sharp for a long time. It is made of 420C Satainless steel. It is not the best steel available to Leatherman, but good enough for hard use. It is easy to sharpen again.
What I like about the cutting edge is that it is flush with the bottom side of the tool (handle) if the cutting edge is pointing downwards, unlike some other multitools:
A Well defined Blade, even to knife standards:
When the knife is closed the kick prevents the cutting edge from hitting the frame and damaging the cutting edge:
At the back side of the Pliers there are wedges:
The wedges force the safety pin sideways:
When the pliers are open the safety pins are forced sideways and then the knife blades are locked and cannot be opened and you will not cut yourself:
The knife blade lock is of a simple, but trustworthy design and easy to operate:
The lock spring stops against the washer, a guarantee that it will not slip past:
The serrated edge blade is also of a very good quality. The knife is only sharpened on one side, and is easy to re-sharpen. The tip is of an upside down lambsfoot design so that you can use this to cut safety belts without fear of injuring the patient or damaging the object. The first part is smooth and helps with cutting open plastic wrapped parcels:
Both blades come shaving sharp from the factory.
Here I am also confident in the replacing guarantee of Leatherman should I damage the blade. The blade is sharp tipped and can easily be used to pierce a plastic can if you want to cut off the top half to make a bucket. (I have done this twice: have used the awl to drill two holes and use the pliers to make wire handles from).
The serrated edge blade has the same type of mounting and is extremely sharp. With the proper sharpener (Buck diamond, taper stick) I can maintain the sharpness without damaging the serrated profiles. The sheep foot end make it possible to use this blade to cut off ropes and binding without damaging the item that is bound. I can also use this item to cut off a seat belt on an accident scene should the need arises. (I never had to do this yet but I have seen a Metro Ambulance Medic did it).
5. Tin Opener / Bottle Opener / wire stripper:
The wire stripper works very good. I only use it occasionally when I am not at home and must do a wire repair job:
The tin opener works satisfactory, as well as the bottle opener.
All ”from inside opening, in-handle tools” lock with the same lock:
And the tools each feature the same notch (very effective):
6. Small bit driver:
The bit can be reversed by pulling it out and re-insert it reversed for Phillips.
I have not used this feature more than once yet. I am wearing spectacles and the one nose rest broke off and I just removed the screw.
Apart from that I used the flat as a small awl when I just wanted to deflate a plastic bag after I have sealed something in it with a cable tie. However this feature may come in handy in future.
7. Large Flat Screw Driver:
This is a very strong blade and I have also used this feature to pry and to force open cable ties where I could not get the pliers in underneath the plastic, or to open paint tins. I am always nursing the knife blades (cutting edge) as I am very fond of knives.
Also this bit is wider than the flat loose bit:
The configuration for proper torque:
To get even more torque:
8. The bit driver:
The bit is reversible:
Bit removed, the retaining spring can be seen. The bit holder is solidly made:
The longer MUT bit is fitted and can reach in deep and narrow holes:
I have bought the bit kit and with that added I have a variety of functions I can do. My last use of the leatherman involved the tightening of an Allen key grub screw on a door handle. The Handle came off when I wanted to close the door. I noticed that the thread in the aluminium handle was stripped. I had the file off the tip of the grub screw so that it could be screwed deeper, into the thread are that was not damaged and I did that with the course file. The Allen key driver could tighten the screw and "Bob's your uncle". Still working.
I have not the bit extender yet but that is cheap or easy to make and that will assist you to reach deeper into areas currently unreachable with the standard configuration.
There are also several other bits available that is not part of the leatherman bit kit that can widen your possibilities. There are also several DIY bits made by other users and published elsewhere in this forum.
I have the Leatherman Universal Adapter and now I can also use regular 1/4"drive bits should the need arises. For convenience the tool can be used on its own.
Leatherman Universal Adapter (Sold separately by Leatherman and work on most medium and large mutitools:
The Leathermans are designed to stretch:
In goes the adapter:
45 degrees angle:
90 degrees angle:
9. The Awl:
The awl is the highlight of this tool. The absence of an awl on the Wave made me migrate to the Surge in the first place. The awl is very sharp wit a proper cutting edge and fitted with a thread hole. It is not designed for sewing designer clothing but to sew a tarpaulin in a survival situation or to bor small holes to thread wire or rope trough.
Very sharp tip and very sharp cutting edge:
10. The lanyard clip and pocket clip:
The lanyard clip and pocket clip must be bought separately from Leatherman:
The clips can be clipped into the small slot next to the scissor’s bolster:
It can just be pressed in. Either the lanyard clip or the pocket clip: