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Sunday, 24 October 2010 23:35

Leatherman MUT Review

Written by Robert Milliron

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. 

Leatherman MUT review

But what about the guy who doesn’t generate a lot of empty 5.56mm brass? Does the new MUT make sense for him? Or is it just too darn weapon-centric for the average guy’s Every Day Carry tool of choice?

After carrying a MUT around myself for the better part of a week now, I’ve developed a few opinions…
To begin with, it has a hammer!

Leatherman MUT review

That’s right, an actual hammer. That you can hammer things with. Hard. Like a nail for instance:

Leatherman MUT review

Leatherman MUT review

And while I suspect that more than a few of us have resorted to using a multitool as a hammer before, it just works a whole lot better if said tool has been designed to work as a hammer, like the MUT.

The flipside of the hammerhead, intended as “Bolt Override Tool” according to the literature, also makes for a decent pry bar. It works good on nails…

Leatherman MUT review

…and even better on electrical staples:

Leatherman MUT review

But the tip could stand to be beveled a little more on a bench grinder in order to be ideal for most pry bar jobs.

Leatherman MUT review

Tucked underneath the “hammer” head, in a most efficient, near genius use of available space, is a handy dandy cutting hook with replaceable blade:

Leatherman MUT review

This V-cutter is wicked sharp from the factory, and did a bang up job slicing through some braided nylon rope I tested it on:

Leatherman MUT review

Leatherman MUT review

But it didn’t fare as well on a piece of heavy braided strap. The cut started well, but then “bottomed out” at the back of the pocket housing the replaceable blade. I had to finish cutting it the rest of the way through with the main knife blade. 

Leatherman MUT review

One last point about the V-cutter: If you expect to be using it a lot, remove the flat screwdriver bit from its socket and pop it into the onboard carrying slot. This clears the opening of the V-cutter and allows it to be used at a moment’s notice.

Screwdriver at the ready:

Leatherman MUT review

V-cutter at the ready:

Leatherman MUT review

Speaking of knife blades, the one on the MUT must surely be Leatherman’s best multitool blade ever. At a full .125” thick, it certainly is the stoutest:  

Leatherman MUT review

And it comes from the factory shaving sharp.

Leatherman MUT review

A brief observation here about one-hand-opening knife blades and tasks that require knives: They go well together. Where legal, nothing beats the convenience of holding the object to be cut with one hand while retrieving your multitool and flicking out the blade with the other. It’s like poetry, and if done repeatedly throughout the day, the advantages of a OHO knife blade will really make themselves felt.

On the MUT, there is a one-hand-opening saw blade opposite the one-hand-opening knife.

Leatherman MUT review

It too flicks smoothly into action, and like the knife blade, does not have one iota of play in its precise liner lock.

I vigorously tested the saw in a number of different media. It went through a 1” hardwood dowel with no problems…

Leatherman MUT review

…and through green tree branches even easier:

Leatherman MUT review

The teeth are set to cut on the pull stroke, and are razor sharp. I’m certain it would work well as a bone saw on medium size game.

Next up for testing was the MUT’s “replaceable bronze carbon scraper,” intended to remove carbon build up from the actions of automatic rifles without causing damage.

It looks more like an awl to me though.

Leatherman MUT review

And it works quite well as an awl too. The metal is evidently a rather tough bronze alloy, because it stood up well to a number of different awl chores, including screw starter holes in hardwood and locating drill holes in soft pine.

Leatherman MUT review

If your “carbon scraper” should ever become too worn or damaged, not to worry, new ones are available from Leatherman as individual components.

Last but not least in the MUT’s outside opening tool complement is this “firearm disassembly punch.” Truth be told, I couldn’t think of anything non-firearm related to use it for. 

Leatherman MUT review

I guess maybe it would be handy for poking in little holes, or perhaps grind two flats on the end and turn it into a mini-screwdriver? The good thing is, like the bronze carbon scraper and the V-cutter blade, it is 100% user replaceable.

Also replaceable are the hardened tool steel wire cutter inserts. Tested on heavy single strand copper, they work well:

Leatherman MUT review

Oddly enough though, they didn’t work as well on steel wire as I’d expected. They did cut mind you, but the hard wire point on the opposite side of the plier pivot worked far better:

Leatherman MUT review

An important feature often criticized on multitools is the design of their screwdrivers. How does the MUT stack up in this category? Not too badly it seems. Although there are no folding screwdriver “blades”, there are three double ended flat driver bits included. And while some folks don’t care much for the removable bit concept, it does have the advantage of allowing the user to tailor the selection of bits they carry to the jobs they are most likely to encounter. It also allows the manufacturer to use tough S7 tool steel to make the bits from, rather than relatively soft stainless steel. Last but not least, removable bits are also replaceable bits, and new ones can be obtained if the originals eventually become too mangled from use.

On the MUT, Leatherman addressed the concerns some have had about the short length of previous driver bits by including two extra-long ones, each housed in its own clever onboard compartment:

Leatherman MUT review

Push the button:

Leatherman MUT review

Slide the screwdriver bit out:

Leatherman MUT review

Snap it into place in the drive socket:

Leatherman MUT review

Note the extra long reach:

Leatherman MUT review

Last but not least, when it comes to the “carry” part of Every Day Carry, the MUT has got all the bases covered. It comes with a well made and rugged Molle-type sheath, which can be strapped to your gear or carried on your belt either horizontal or vertical. It also has the obvious carabiner, similar to its little brother the Skeletool.

These days however, I tend to prefer pocket clip carry, and the MUT can do that too. It has what looks to be the most rugged pocket clip in the business:

Leatherman MUT review

And to address that tendency of what happens (normally) when you go to pull a multitool out of your pocket?

Leatherman MUT review

Those clever Leatherman engineers have included a little latch, most of the time which goes completely unnoticed, to hold the two handles shut:

Leatherman MUT review

Leatherman MUT review

Leatherman MUT review

So all in all, I’d say the MUT is a fine tool to have by your side, whether you are into military related shooting or not. As far as I’m concerned, any device that combines a hammer, a sharp knife, and a set of pliers into the same tool surely must be one of the greatest inventions ever, right?  After that, all of the other functions are pure bonus.

Leatherman MUT review

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