New from the Oregon tool manufacturer, this is one in a range of four K- variations in the Leatherman Free collection… but is it a knife or is it a multi-tool, questions Mike Gormley?
The Leatherman name is synonymous with the multi-tool and over many years I have reviewed a good selection of the company’s products. I think really the FREE K-range is both knife and multi-tool, though the manufacturer describes it as a multi purpose knife.
I must say for me a multi-tool has pliers, but this is really based on my personal preference and in my general use of them which invariably means using the pliers. The online info really sets the FREE K4X and its stablemates on the mid-line, with a foot in each camp. For me I would say it is a very good knife with a very useful selection of tools, and being predominantly a knife it is less bulky than most of the true multi-tools.
All the tools in this top of the range K4X (other models are K2, K2X and K4) are bunched together and accessed by the thumb on the raised element of each item. When in position these tools lock into place. Here I got to know a new term – haptic feedback – which in this case means it has a positive click and feel when it locks in, so the user knows it is secure and safe to use without looking. The same applies to the blade. To release the tools and blade there are dual-sided levers which, in the case of the tools, can be operated single-handed. In addition to the primary knife blade and a good pair of sprung scissors, the K4X variant has three more tools which between them provide Awl, Pry, Package Opener, Bottle Opener, Phillips Screwdriver, Medium Screwdriver and Extra-small Screwdriver functions. A useful selection for anybody.
The 420HC stainless steel combination blade, which is near sheepsfoot in shape yet still pointed, is a good one – as is to be expected on a Leatherman. It is 3.3 inches (84mm) long and intensely sharp, part serrated with a slight point at the end of the plain section. The body of the K4X is made from anodised aluminium and every element of this tool is well up to the customary very high level of engineering expected of a Leatherman tool. The K4X has a proper belt clip, which is removable or switchable to the other side, but personally I would get a belt pouch as I know if I carry one of these valued items in a belt pouch it is taken out, used, and put back safe for the next time. It is too easy to miss a pocket or for it to slip out for someone else to pick up.
I recall talking with Tim Leatherman some years ago and he told me a significant number of their sales were from people who lose their tools. Perhaps this is why there is not a pouch as standard (though as pocket-carry work knives, frowned upon in the UK, are favoured in North America and across much of mainland Europe I suspect this may just be a cultural thing, Ed.)
- Click here for a recent review of the FREE T2 and T4 models.
[images © Mike Gormley]