Thursday, February 7, 2013

Leatherman OHT - Initial Review

In all my years of owning Leatherman tools, I have been faced with a choice: one-handed tools or one-handed pliers?  I couldn't have both.  Back in January of 2012, Leatherman introduced the OHT (One Handed Tool) at SHOT show in Las Vegas.  This tool caught my eye, as my gripe about the other Leatherman's in my collection was that none of them opened with one hand very well. Usually, when I find myself needing a Leatherman is when one hand is occupied with something else.  Over the years, I've developed a clumsy sort of way to flick open my Wave or, more recently, my Supertool 300.  Mimicked after the opening of a balisong (that's a butterfly knife to you muggles), I grab one side of the pliers body and give it a sort of flick and twirl, and the pliers are out, for the most part.  If I get lucky, I don't catch my knuckles or pinch my index finger in the process.

In comes the OHT.  With this tool, you just grab hold of the handle and give it a healthy "flick," and the pliers fly out willingly.  Let one of the handles go, and the spring action opens them all the way up, and you're ready to go to work.  Oh yes, unlike other competitors, these are spring loaded for ease of operation.  When you are done, you simply grab the release buttons on either side and turn it over to allow the weight of the tool to close in on the pliers, or use your pinky to push the handle up over the pliers head.

When it comes to all the other tools, it's one-one handed as well.  Need your screw drivers, or a knife?  Just orientate the tool to access the component you need and use your thumb to release it.  I've practiced with it, and it works alright.  The tools are really stiff, but I imagine they will loosen up a bit with use.  Oh and every tool is liner locked, so the chances of the knives or screw driver bits folding in on you are minimized.  The tools lock with a solid "click" that I can hear and feel.  I'm very confident in this arrangement.  You can see a 2.37" long blade, a serrated knife, wood saw, hooked strap cutting tool with built in O2 tank wrench, can/bottle opener, #2 Phillips screw driver, small, medium, and large flat blade screw drivers.  All of these tools can be accessed, as said above, by orientating the tool in your hand to access what you are looking for.  And did you see the coyote tan body?  It has each tool shown in a sort of pictograph so you can easily identify it until you memorize where they are. Is it necessary to have this?  No.  But it does at some cool form factor to it.  Boasting a total of 16 tools, if you count the usual suspects on the pliers head - needle nose pliers, regular pliers, removable wire cutter, and hard wire cutters, you have a formidable tool to conquer 95% of the tasks you would employ it for.

Closed up and ready for deployment.  It's a good looking tool open or closed.    Notice the black oxide coating over the stainless steel body.  The coyote tan color comes from the cerakote finish Leatherman employed to this tool.  The  hardware on the end of the handles are tamper resistant torx screws and the hardware used to hold the smaller tools on the pliers head side are standard torx screws.  The pliers themselves are attached to the handle and slide up and down on tracks.  In the picture on the left, you can see a locking tab at the bottom, which locks the pliers shut.  This is really useful if you are using one of the other tools and don't want the pliers jaws coming out and deploying the tool on you.  I'm glade Leatherman thought of this.  Closed, the tool is 4.5" long, which is the same as the Supertool 300.  The weight of the OHT is 9.9 ounces, so just over 1/2 lb.  It's not a bad weight though.  A tool this size, with this much surface to grip, is going to be hefty.

If you want to impress your friends with your Leatherman's primary knife length, get another tool.  The OHT employs an unusually short knife (2.37") for the size of body it rides in.  The clear winner, in this pic, is the daddy of them all, the Supertool 300, with a respectable 3.2" blade.  The downside to the Supertool 300 is that the blade is facing the wrong direction. Then again, the Supertool 300 isn't an one-hander in any sense of the word.  Coming in a close second to the Supertool is the Wave with it's respectable 2.9" blade.  I think the most interesting knife in this photograph is on the Juice S2.  Look at that thing next to the OHT!  At 2.6" long, it spanks the OHT in length.  Of all the tools present, however, the OHT's blade has the better profile for my kind of use.  All blade steels present are 420HC, which is okay, but not my favorite.  Normally, I have a dedicated knife for my cutting tasks, but should you want to rock the OHT's blade all the time, Leatherman has a 25 year warranty, so cut away!

When you talk about overall sizes, the Wave on the left is definitely the runt.  The OHT is smaller than the Supertool 300, though it weighs more.  The Supertool is the hog of the group.  The head on the Supertool's pliers is also larger and seemingly more durable, but the outer dimensions coming to the tip of the needle nose pliers allows it to get into tighter spaces.

Folded up, the OHT and the Supertool 300 are the same length.  I also included the medium duty Wave as a comparison because it's the size of your more classic Leatherman.  Including fasteners, the Supertool 300 is about as wide as the OHT, though it feels smaller in hand.  As far as which Leatherman gets the most use, I'm going with the one not pictured: the Juice S2.  It's also my favorite tool for that same reason.  It goes everywhere with me and sees a lot of use on small to medium tasks.  The Supertool 300 is my working tool, and has seen some hard use in the generator repair industry, and has been a champ.  The OHT fits somewhere in between.  Yes, I intend to put the ST 300 down for awhile and put the OHT through it's paces.  As this is my initial review, I will have an update in 3 to 6 months with some good hard use under its belt.  Should it fail before that, you will know.  But I have high hopes for this tool because I really like it.  I've used it a bit so far, and I can see it and I having a good working relationship.

I have included a video with a lot of the same information above, but it also shows a demonstration of tool operation, as well as one-handed access to the various tools around the handle.  I also compare the Supertool 300 and the Juice S2 in a 3 dimensional format instead of the usually pictures I normally take.




  1. Hi James, with it being a couple of weeks now since you posted this, how is it faring so far? I've been looking at getting the Wave (but the military one like this - do you think it compares with the OHT based on your initial thoughts or should i be looking at something else? thanks, Kris.

  2. The wave certainly is a good tool. I have and older bright stainless version of it. The main differences between the Wave and the OHT are not the kinds of tools they employ, but their strength. The OHT is a heavy duty multi tool, while the Wave is a medium duty tool. For everyday use, the Wave is an awesome tool because it will get the job done in style. The OHT, however, is something to carry when you are being paid big bucks to work on some heavy industrial stuff, like I do. I've been using the OHT religiously in the field, and it is a first rate multitool. I like it for working better than the Wave.