Leatherman FREE Multitool

New design enhancements make the Leatherman FREE the best multitool ever.

Leatherman FREE Multitool

Leatherman FREE Multitool

SOURCE:Dealer Search or Leatherman Direct
Overall Length:4-1/4"
Blade Length:2-3/4"
# of Tools21
Materials:420HC Stainless Steel and Stainless Steel
Weight:8.6 ounces
Sheath:Ballistic Nylon with Rivet Snap Closure
Warranty:25 Years

Leatherman isn't the only brand name when it comes to multitools – but it's arguably the most popular. After all, Leatherman invented the tool, and since introducing their first model in 1983 they've had a long history of innovative design enhancements. The Wave+, which I recently reviewed, is Leatherman's flagship full-size multitool with 17 tools crammed into its superbly designed body. After having used the Wave+ for the better part of two years, I wouldn't have thought that Leatherman could improve on it. That's until now. The new FREE P4, with its cluster of 21 tools and ingenious magnetic opening and closing mechanism, has certainly set a new standard against which all multitools will be compared.

The FREE P4 is only slightly longer than the Wave+, and about the same thickness and weight. It sports a dimpled surface that looks great, and gives a slightly better grip than the smooth surface of the Wave+.

What really sets the FREE P4 apart are its magnetic opening and closing mechanism and the external access to all the components.

Neodymium magnets on the end of each handle hold the two arms securely closed, yet you can easily open the arms with the fingers of one hand. According to Leatherman this design allows for reduced friction when opening and closing the handle arms, and the magnets will never wear out. While the magnets are powerful enough to do the job for which they are intended, they won't affect mobile devices, credit cards, or pacemakers.

Unlike any other multitool, all the tools are accessibly without opening the handles – this is a huge convenience. The only reason you need to open the handle is to use the pliers or wire cutter. To access the smaller tools you simply press your thumb with moderate pressure over the levers at their base, choose the tool you want to use and fold it outward. Its very intuitive and can be done with a single had. In fact, with a bit of practice, all the tools can be accessed – both opened and closed – with a single hand.

The plain edge knife has always gotten the most use on my Wave+. The blade has a slight upward curve at the tip, which I quite like. It's flat ground and easy to sharpen. The FREE P4 features more of a drop point style blade that's hollow ground. Both blades are made of 420 high carbon stainless steel that has high amounts of carbon and chromium to increase hardness and corrosion resistance but is still easy enough to sharpen and takes a good edge. The hollow ground blade will be somewhat easier to sharpen, but because of its thinner profile more likely to chip if used on hard or fibrous material.

The scissors are slightly larger on the FREE P4 than on the Wave+ but otherwise provide the same functionality.

The FREE P4 lacks the large 2-1/2" diamond coated file found on the Wave+, which I always found convenient for touching up cutting and scribing tools, awls, and the like when away from the shop. What you do get are 1-1/2" metal and wood files.

Another tool that I really liked on the Wave+, but is lacking on the FREE P4 (you get a Phillips screwdriver plus medium, small, and extra small flat head screwdrivers), is the two sided bit driver, which I've used quite a lot. Leatherman sells an optional kit of 21 double-ended bits, which gives you 42 bit driver options. For anyone who frequently uses screwdrivers this is the cat's meow.

The FREE P4 has a removable lanyard loop and it comes with a durable ballistic nylon sheath with a rivet snap closure that works well. There is a belt loop on the back of the sheath – though I would much prefer a belt clip.

If you have a pocket-size Leatherman and are thinking of moving to a full-size model, or if you're thinking of buying your first multitool, definately check out the FREE P4. However, iIf you feel that the FREE P4 offers more tool components than you'll likely use, there is also a new FREE P2 with 19 tools. Later this year there will be 4 other FREE multitools to choose from, featuring 8, 9 and 12 tools. Check out the full line here.


The new Free P4 (top) is only slightly longer than the Wave+ (bottom)

Virtually the saw thickness

On the FREE P4 (top) tools are accessible without opening the handle; on the Wave+ (bottom) you need to open the handle to access tools.

The FREE P4 (top) has a hollow ground drop point style blade; the Wave+ (bottom) features more of a straight back blade that is flat ground.

Open the knife one-handed.

Quick blade lock release.

Moderate thumb pressure flips open the smaller tools.

Pliers feature replaceable cutters.

The file on the FREE P4 (top) is half the size of the file on the Wave+ (bottom).

Slightly larger scissors on the FREE P4 (top) than on the Wave+ (bottom).

The FREE P4 lacks the diamond coated file found on the Wave+ (shown).

You get a Phillips screwdriver on the FREE P4 (top); the Wave+ (bottom) has a two-sided driver bit.

Very similar serrated blades, but on the FREE P4 (top) there is a beveled cutting edge on the top of the blade.

The ballistic nylon case has a rivet snap closure with a belt loop on the back.

The FREE P4 is one super multiool.

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