Extremely Handy, But I Question Some Design Decisions
Reviewed in the United States on 25 April 2019
I'm a big multi-tool enthusiast and I love Leatherman as a brand. I value their quality, as well as the fact that they manufacture their goods (for the most part) in the USA. For context, this is the eighth I have purchased for myself. The tool itself appears solidly made and aesthetically pleasing, with the locking tools offering practically zero wiggle while maintaining a smooth deployment. The build quality is uncontested as far as I'm concerned.
The grey nylon sheath that is included is, unfortunately, Chinese-made, but definitely an improvement over their other nylon sheaths. The material is plenty thick, it holds the tool firmly in place, and I really appreciate that it uses a button clasp instead of velcro. It doesn't have extra pockets for driver extenders or bitkits, but since this multi-tool doesn't use those accessories, it makes sense that they wouldn't include it, even though I made thorough use of the side holder for my pen.
The FREE P4, by far, the most handy and clever tool Leatherman has ever made, accomplishing what the OHT did with significantly more tools, less weight, and fewer moving parts. You can, quite literally, open and close every single tool with only one hand. The pliers are admittedly tricky to close without using your torso or leg, so your mileage may vary, but it's an otherwise flawless execution of its design concept. If we were to take into account the intended purpose of a multi-tool as being a compact and quick solution to common problems that you can carry on your person with little burden, the magnetic locking system and outward tool access is a titanic step towards multi-tool perfection.
Leatherman's choice of tools and the design of said tools, however, is in need of some critique. The forward-cutting can opener, the kind that Victorinox uses in their Swiss Army Knives, is an improvement from the traditional claw-shaped one. I like that they then incorporated the bottle opener into the Phillips screwdriver, as it makes it easier to hook under the cap and it doesn't mangle the cap as much. These aforementioned changes are examples of excellent ingenuity.
In comes Leatherman's bizarre and endlessly frustrating habit of including a ridiculous number of flathead screwdrivers in their tools. This one has three (four if you count the prying tool as a large one, but Leatherman doesn't consider it such in their tool list). This is especially problematic when you consider that the extra-small screwdriver is supposed to double as the tip of the awl. I haven't had a chance to use that tool yet, but I would imagine it would diminish the effectiveness significantly. I could have lived with one or two fewer flathead drivers, and would have instead opted for the package opener tool used on their Wingman and Sidekick tools. That was an extremely effective tool for cutting tape and obnoxious blister packs and I haven't seen it used in any other tool besides those budget options. They claim the pry tool doubles as a "package opener," but I can't, for the life of me, see how it could even come close to being as good as the aforementioned hook-shaped opener.
As mentioned before, I've bought a fair handful of Leatherman products and loved them all, so I was very reluctant to give this such an average rating. In fairness, with this tool being priced at $140, making this one of their most expensive tools behind heavy-duty multi-tools such as the MUT and the Charge+, I expected far more thought to be put into the choices for some of the tools. Consider it a 3.5-star rating with the caveat that I may update this review in the future.
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