For a long time advances in multi tool technology have been incremental and largely unnoticed by the average user. There have been jumps forward sure, but the basic shape and function of a multi tool hasn’t changed much since Tim Leatherman invented the category in the 1980’s. With the Leatherman Free line all that is about to change. Today we’ve got a comprehensive Leatherman Free P4 review for you. It will cover the highs and lows of this exciting new product and help you decide if you need to upgrade.
- 1 Leatherman Free P4 Overview
- 2 Leatherman Free P4 Tools
- 3 Leatherman Free P4 Review
- 4 Leatherman Free P4 accessories and extras
- 5 Leatherman Free P4 Vs Comparable tools
- 6 Conclusion – Final Thoughts On the Leatherman Free P4
Leatherman Free P4 Overview
In designing the Free series Leatherman combined decades of experience with feedback from tens of thousands of customers. One thing they noticed was that people sending multi tools in for a tune up or repair would consistently ask that the tool not be modified.
Once it was ‘broken in’ they didn’t want Leatherman resetting it to factory tolerances. With this in mind Leatherman designed the Free P4 with a revolutionary magnetic architecture.
Not sure what that means? We weren’t either at first.
After we played around with it for a bit we realized just how groundbreaking the Leatherman Free P4 really is. Our review will help you understand how the Free P4’s upgrades affect its functionality and whether it’s worth it to upgrade your own EDC multi tool.
On to the basics. The Free P4 is a 4.25 inch long, 8.6 oz multi tool. This puts it firmly in the full size to heavy duty class of multi tools and gives it substantial capabilities.
Leatherman Free P4 Tools
Leatherman is well known for the quality and durability of their individual tools. Our experience with the Free P4 has shown that they’ve kept this dedication to quality while upgrading the overall experience.
The first thing you’ll notice with the Free P4 is that Leatherman kept the classic butterfly fold design. Even more fitting, the use of a magnetic clasp system actually allows you to swing the P4 open just like you would a butterfly knife.
Other than the pliers and wire cutters all the tools on the P4 are outside access and can easily be extended with one hand. With the magnetic architecture you can also access the pliers just the flick of your wrist.
The advances don’t stop there. Instead of the sometimes frustrating thumb pull tabs commonly used on multi tools Leatherman included a magnetic release system. This allows you to easily fan out the tools on either handle of the Free P4 and choose the one you need.
All tools lock open securely as you’re using them for safety’s sake. There are 21 individual tools on the Free P4, befitting its status as the largest and most robust multi tool of the Free line.
Pliers, Wire Cutters and Electrical Crimper
The pliers, wire cutters, and electrical crimper on the Free P4 are the only carryover from Leatherman’s previous line of products. They contain both needlenose tips and a regular plier below them.
One thing we loved about the Free P4 was the inclusion of replaceable wire cutters. As with previous multi tools Leatherman included hard-and soft-wire cutters as well as a threaded wire notch. The wire crimper is located in the jaw of the pliers as with previous Leatherman’s.
The biggest change with the plier assembly on the Free line is the use of elastomer springs. Leatherman claims they’ll open and close more than a million times before they need to be replaced. One thing we noticed was the satisfying haptic click you felt when the pliers locked into place.
There are two knives on the Leatherman Free P4. A straight blade and serrated blade both made from Leatherman’s signature 420HC stainless steel. They’re each 2.76 inches long and open on opposite handles.
They’re the only tools that don’t immediately pop out with the magnetic release. Instead you use a large thumbhole located on either blade to swing them out when needed. We found them to be amply sized for most regular tasks and extremely sharp. 420HC steel is corrosion resistant but still able to take and hold an edge well.
The saw blade on the Free P4 is similar in size to the knives and easy to access. It locks open securely and is just right for sawing through medium thick branches, small pieces of plastic pipe or tubing, or a bit of wood for a project.
We’re big fans of substantial scissors on a multi tool and the Free P4 doesn’t disappoint here either. It provides a large pair of spring action scissors that showcase the same epic haptics Leatherman is so proud of.
You get a very satisfying click when they lock open and a smooth cutting experience as you use them.
There are four screwdrivers on the Leatherman Free P4. Three are flatheads of different sizes and one is a medium/large size phillips head. We found the shape and design of these screwdrivers to closely resemble those found on the Wingman or Sidekick multi tools.
The phillips head had a flattened profile and each of the flatheads came up from a very angular protrusion. They all worked well for their intended purpose. The extra-small screwdriver was especially useful as it fit perfectly in eyeglasses screws.
Pry Bar, Bottle Opener and Package Opener
The pry bar, bottle opener and package opener are all built into a single piece on the Free P4. The pry bar is quite small and surprisingly doesn’t double as a screwdriver in Leatherman’s breakdown of tools. It’s good enough for light prying but we wouldn’t want to put too much pressure on it.
The package opener is basically just another use for the pry bar. It does exactly what you need it to do and easily cuts through packing tape and cardboard. The bottle opener is, well, a bottle opener. It’s great for opening up cold beer or soda and generally helping quench your thirst.
Awl, Wire Strippers, Can Opener, Ruler and File
The final tools are located on the three remaining flip out tools. The awl has a thread loop but actually uses the extra-small flathead as its tip. This worked surprisingly well when we tried it out. It had no problem going through leather and thinner pieces of wood.
The can opener is a stand alone tool that was easily able to cut through the can we tried it on. The ruler and file felt a lot like the one found on the Wingman. The ruler is significantly shorter than we would have liked at just 1.41 inches. The file is your standard wood/metal file and worked as well as any we’ve seen.
The wire stripper is located on the back of the wood/metal file and designed to quickly strip multiple sizes of wire. We were pleasantly surprised at how well it worked. In the past multi tool wire strippers of this type were quite underwhelming but Leatherman really seems to have figured it out with the Free line.
Leatherman Free P4 Review
With the Free series Leatherman sought to once again revolutionize the multi tool world. Overall we think they did a pretty good job of it. The Free P4 in particular is one of the easiest multi tools to open and use that we’ve ever seen.
We love how securely the magnets keep the P4 closed and how easy it is to swing it open when you need it. The method to open the outside accessible tools is honestly inspired. We’ve personally lost several fingernails to older nail nick opening systems and appreciate the thought that went into this.
Now to the real question: Is it something you need to buy right now?
The best answer is maybe. We love the advances Leatherman made with the Free series but overall the actual tools remain the same.
Everything is a little easier to access and use but you probably don’t need to run out and buy a Free P4 if you’re already happy with your Surge, Wave+, or Charge TTi. This is especially true given the premium price of the P4.
If you’re already on the prowl for a new multi tool though you should seriously consider the Free P4.
Leatherman Free P4 Pros – Things We Liked
- Magnetic closure is secure yet easy to open
- The flip open design is really useful and honestly kind of fun to play around with
- Contains large and capable knives
- All tools accessible from the outside with a single hand
- Tool lock is secure yet easy to release when you want
- Replaceable wire cutter blade
- Rugged design
Leatherman Free P4 Cons – Things We Didn’t Like
- Magnetic closure can attract small metallic debris
- Ruler too small to be really useful
- No bit driver
Who’s The Leatherman Free P4 For?
The Leatherman Free P4 is a larger and more robust version of the Free P2. Think of it as the Surge to the Wave+. It contains a large array of useful tools and opens easily when you need it. It’s great for handymen, contractors, EDC enthusiasts, and pretty much anyone who wants to carry a multi tool.
It’s well built, highly advanced, and has the latest features in multi tool technology. Just about anyone can benefit from owning a Free P4. The exception to this is someone who frequently works around metal dust or small debris. If you’re a machinist or someone who works with ferrous materials it can be extremely difficult to clean them off the magnetic closure of the Free P4.
Leatherman Free P4 accessories and extras
The Leatherman Free P4 is a great multi tool on its own. As anyone who’s ever owned a multi tool can tell you though, there’s always an accessory or add on that will make it a bit better.
Sheath / Holster / Pouch – The goal with the Free line of products was to totally revamp Leatherman’s image. In keeping with that they’ve replaced their black nylon sheath with a bright gray nylon sheath. It looks sharp and does a good job holding your P4 securely.
Clip – As originally sold the Free line didn’t come with a pocket clip. After considerable customer outcry Leatherman began including a pocket clip standard and sending one out to any Free early adopter who wanted one free of charge.
Replacement Parts – As with all their products Leatherman covers the Free P4 with their 25 year limited warranty. They’re well known for the commitment they show to the quality of their products and to customer satisfaction. If you have any problems with your Free make sure you send it in. Leatherman will take care of you.
Different Colors – As of right now the Free P4 is only available in stainless steel. It’s likely Leatherman will offer more color options as they work out any kinks in the Free series manufacturing process.
Bit Driver – One of the design compromises Leatherman made with the P4 was removing the bit driver found on the Wave+ and Surge. This wasn’t an incredibly popular decision among heavy-duty users, so Leatherman also created a fix.
Their removable bit driver kit gives you the ability to slide an adapter over the Phillip’s head screwdriver on your tool and access any ¼ inch bit you like.
Leatherman Free P4 Vs Comparable tools
As a new tool the Free P4 has a lot of stiff competition. As the successor to Leatherman’s stellar lines of multi tools it has even more to live up to. Let’s see how the Free P4 compares to other similar multi tools.
Leatherman Free P4 Vs P2
In most respects the Free P4 and P2 are nearly identical. They’re both 4.25 inches long and are just one ounce apart in weight. The P4 has 21 tools while the P2 only has 19. You give up the saw and the second knife blade but otherwise have an identical tool loadout. They’re also priced very close to one another.
What it really comes down to is whether having a saw and two knives is important to you. If it is, go with the P4, if it isn’t, go with the P2.
Leatherman Free P4 Vs Wave+
The Wave+ has been Leatherman’s flagship multi tool for over a decade. It’s a large and fully loaded tool that gives you everything you need to solve most problems. It packs 18 tools into a 4 inch body and includes previously top of the line features like bit drivers and removable wire cutters.
What it lacks is outside accessible tools and the P4’s revolutionary magnetic closure system. This probably won’t be a huge deal for people who already own and love a Wave+ but for new buyers it bears consideration.
Leatherman Free P4 Vs Charge TTi
Up to this point the Leatherman Charge TTi was without a doubt the best general purpose multi tool around. It’s a full size tool made from high-end materials that packed all Leatherman’s knowledge and manufacturing prowess into a single tool.
It contains 19 tools to the P4’s 21 but includes things like multiple bit drivers and premium blade steel. If that’s important to you then the Charge TTi is still going to reign supreme. If you prefer the easy open design of the Free P4 and like how intuitive it is to use you’ll probably prefer it to the Charge TTi.
Leatherman Free P4 Vs Surge
The Surge is Leatherman’s closest comparable product to the Free P4 from the previous generation. It’s a large and robust heavy duty multi tool designed to take a beating and keep on ticking. It contains the same number of tools with roughly the same functionality.
One thing to keep in mind though is that the Surge is significantly heavier and more robust than the P4. It has a full size bit driver along with several other removable/replaceable tools that the Free P4 lacks.
This one really comes down to your own personal preference. If you want possibly the most rugged and capable multi tool on Earth you should go for the Surge. If you’re wowed by the next gen functionality of the P4 it’s a great option to go with.
Conclusion – Final Thoughts On the Leatherman Free P4
Leatherman has been the undisputed king of the multi tool world for decades. They’ve kept this position by constantly pushing the limits of what a multi tool is and can do.
The Leatherman Free is without a doubt the biggest change in multi tool technology since Tim Leatherman came out with his Pocket Survival Tool all those years ago.