Equipped.org has some excellent articles on the Wave series, here are two that really help show the differences between the original model (released in 1998) and the newer revision (released in 2004).
Charge and Wave comparison.
I think the New Wave is a very big improvement in a lot of ways. It's got locks for the handle implements, a significantly stronger plier head and larger blades. Of course the expense is the increase in size and weight. I really prefer the Old Wave, it just carries better and feels better in the hand. The New Wave feels sharper on the corners and just doesn't feel as well-crafted as the older model. This may just be nostaglia though, the Old Wave was my first multi-tool that was actually mine. I was given it by a co-worker while doing some carpentry in 2001. It had a busted plier head, a broken knife blade and some dinged up drivers. It had been used hard and handed down to me and I really found it to be a wonderful item. After a few years I learned of the Leatherman warranty and had it replaced with a newer version of the same Old Wave model, I still find it an excellent design.
New Wave on the left, Old Wave on the right.
Photo set for the New Wave:
Photo set for the Old Wave.
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