Multitools have been a part of our lives for several decades and have been engineered to be a do it all tool box. Manufacturers include everything but the kitchen sink to ensure that we have the tools we need for any occasion and to keep us prepared. The downside to this is the tool is not specialized for a specific task and this general design makes the tool heavy. It also can be a deciding factor in which tool you purchase or edc if you have a collection like me. Several tool companies are designing tools that are specific to a job title, recreational activity or task and the Leatherman Signal is one of those tools. The Signal is patterned after the Leatherman MUT design and scaled down so it’s not such a massive beast. Weighing in at only at only 7.5oz the Signal is enough tool for the task and light on the tools so it's easy to carry where ever your headed.
Every now and then I see a cheapo tool, and think “that might actually be worth trying”. Sometimes it’s a huge waste of money, and other times you end up with a very useful tool for very little cost. Several months ago, I saw some details of one of these little tempters, but was unable to actually track one down ..... till about two weeks ago. As soon as I saw it, I ordered it. It arrived only a day or two ago, and figured it would be rude not to review it.
Tools are often based on a particular function, be it pliers, scissors, or sometimes even a flashlight. This particular multitool is based on the humble utility knife, known generically here as a Stanley knife. The fact that this is actually a Stanley FatMax model did give me some confidence, as it is a brand I have had good products from in the past.
After Gerber’s sliding plier head patent expired, Leatherman decided to try their hand on this particular design, and their first offering is the OHT. It’s a large tool aimed at the tactical/EMT crowd. Leatherman doesn’t say what OHT stands for, but I’m guessing there probably is a One Hand somewhere. It comes with a MOLLE compatible sheath which will also work with belt.
Most parts of the tool are finished with black oxide coating, and handle scales come in either tan or black. Black oxide finish isn't particularly wear resistant, so expect the black to fade with use. The scales are painted stamped sheet metal, despite my initial impression of anodized aluminum.
Locking pliers are a feature seldom explored by the multitool manufacturers, and not a tool I frequently need – but when you do need them, nothing else will suffice. Gerber entered the fray with the Grappler which features one hand deployable locking pliers (one fixed jaw and one movable one) with anvil style wire cutters. On the outside of the tool are four additional one hand opening tools, which means this was the world’s first full sized multitool where everything can be opened one handed, despite conflicting claims from elsewhere.
So for most of the year now we’ve all been hearing about this new Military Utility Tool from Leatherman. How it’s the greatest thing ever for those who ply their trade with an auto-rifle, whether they be soldier in the field or marksman on the range. And to be sure, servicing “black” rifles, namely the M16/AR15 family of weapons, is what the MUT was designed for.
Sometimes the simplest designs are the best, which explains the myriad of one piece tools on the market these days. The Spare Tool follows that example in spirit if not in form. Technically it has more than one piece in the design, and is somewhat larger than the average one piece tool like Atwood's Prybaby, Gerber's Shard or Raker's Ring Tool. However, it does fit the pattern of a basic prybar, bottle opener and a few other functions rolled into one basic piece of steel like the others.
For years the Leatherman Crunch has been the only player in the folding, locking plier head category- many other companies like Kershaw and Schrade have tried locking plier tools, but none seemed to be that successful, leaving the Crunch the only one available to anyone needing a locking tool. Gerber has now thrown their hat in the ring with a locking plier tool, which also incorporates Gerber's traditional sliding head to boot!
I awaited rather impatiently the arrival of several Super Tool 300s that I had ordered before they came out. As luck would have it, I finally got them, and it is time to write a small review about my thoughts and ideas about Leatherman’s newest addition to the multi-tool family.
The Super Tool 300 is 3rd in a family of large heavy multi-tools. You can see its lineage in the older models. The first Super Tool came out in 1994 and was discontinued in 2001. That was quickly followed by the Super Tool 200 which had a run from 2001 to 2005. At this point, Leatherman produced the Core which was introduced in 2005 and is still being produced although there are talks that it may be discontinued soon, but who knows other then Leatherman. The Super Tool 300 is a 2009 model that had a September roll out.
To better understand the Super Tool 300, you have to examine its predecessors. The whole family is geared towards Industrial/Construction trades, where a larger and tougher tool is in high demand. Special mention should go out to another large multi-tool, the Surge, which will not be talked about in this short review as it belongs to another Leatherman family and doesn’t quite fit into the lineage of the Super Tool 300.
One could almost argue that the Core does not belong in this group, as it came out along with the Kick, Fuse, and Blast, which belong to another branch of the family. These all contain Zytel liners. However, the Core shares quite a bit with the Super Tool 300 as you shall see, and is deserving of its place in this review.
Lets take a closer look…
SOG Specialty Knives and Tools has been one of the top competitors in the multitool market for a long time. In my opinion they are second in status, with Leatherman of course being the top dog. They have come along way since their toolclip and they continue to produce models that are nothing short of unique. SOG is one of those companies however that does not release new models every year and is slower to innovate than most people in the industry today. I believe SOG has the philosophy; that “if it’s not broken then don’t fix it.”
For the longest time we thought SOG would never release anything new into the tool market. Then they totally surprised us with the release of the Powerlock 2.0. The new model was not much different than the original model but had some key features that showed that they were willing to do some innovating. The new Powerlock featured a gear cover, so the teeth don’t dig into the palm of our hands as much and what SOG calls “Piano Keys”. The keys are there to aid in preventing the tools from clumping when getting a tool out of the handles. Both designs that were introduced on the Powerlock 2.0 were a testing ground for a new breed of SOG tool they had in the works. Dubbed the PowerAssist it was to be the first tool in the world with dual spring assisted blades. Needless to say the public was divided in two; those who thought this was a cool idea and those who thought this was just a marketing gimmick from the folks at SOG. Only time would tell if the PowerAssist lived up to the hype and would help launch SOG into a future that is full of mystique.
The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) recently (circa 2007/2008) began issuing a customized version of the SOG PowerLock EOD Black Oxide to its troops. As far as I know, this is issued to ALL recruits entering Basic Military Training as P.E. (Personal Equipment), which means its yours to keep and not something you have to draw and return from your unit's Quartermaster. It can also be purchased from the SAF eMart (SAF equivalent of the PX) if you want it for about S$70, either using your own money or eMart credit. (eMart credit is a credit-only stipend for purchasing military equipment that gets worn out such as uniforms, boots, webbing, packs, etc).
What I've gathered so far is that this is an SOG PowerLock EOD Black Oxide (not the 2.0) that was procured by ST Logistics (Singapore Technologies Logistics) via Sheares Technologies Pte Ltd for the Singapore Armed Forces. Singapore Technologies is a publicly traded company that amongst other things, manufactures arms, ammunition, military vehicles, naval vessels for Singapore's military and for export. Sheares Technologies is a private company with a storefront that deals mainly with the gadgetry most of us are familiar with, such as tactical flashlights, knives, multi-tools, etc.
This is what the package comes with: