Leatherman Free T4 Review – Magnetic Locking Multi-tool

By | Last Updated July 5, 2020

With the Free T4, Leatherman is seeking to create the pocket tool for the 21st century that the classic Swiss Army Knife was for the 20th. It combines modern styling with the most advanced multi tool systems plus the basic tools that made Swiss Army Knifes famous. Follow along as we pop the hood on this fascinating new knife and see if it can actually live up to the hype.

Leatherman Free T4 Review

Leatherman Free T4 Overview

The Leatherman Free T4 is an integral part of Leatherman’s latest Free series of advanced multi tools. Built around an innovative one-handed opening system, it gives you all the same tools and capability of the larger butterfly fold Free P2 minus the plier section.

At first glance, you can see the influence classic folding knife design had on Leatherman’s thinking. The Free T4 is just 3.6 inches long and well under an inch thick. It weighs just 4.3 oz yet packs in 60%-70% the utility of its larger cousins.

The combination of excellent ergonomics and totally revamped folding knife design intrigued us, let’s dig a little deeper to see how well Leatherman executed their vision.

Leatherman Free T4 Tools

The first thing you’ll notice about the Free T4 is that it uses the same buttery smooth thumb roll opening system of the Free P2 and P4. You can reliably access any of the tools with one hand, and lock/unlock them with the flick of your thumb.

It comes with 12 total tools, including a classic pair of metal tweezers, each of which is identical in shape and function to their counterparts on the Free P2. The sole exception to this is the knife blade.
We’ll cover that more below.

Knife

The knife on the T4 is a 2.2 inch long 420HC straight edge blade. It uses drop point blade architecture and comes from Leatherman razor sharp.

It’s the outermost tool on the body of the T4 and incorporates a generous thumb hole combined with a cutout along the scale. It allows you to flip out the blade as easily as you would with a modern folding knife while still protecting your nails from painful chips and breaks.

Spring Action Scissors

The spring action scissors use a blunt architecture identical to those on the P2 with a rounded tip. They’re more than capable of slicing through cordage, cardboard, paper, and anything else you need to open up.

They’re definitely on the small side, but overall do a great job.

Screwdrivers

The T4 has the same number and type of screwdrivers as found on the Leatherman Free P2. There’s a single Phillip’s head driver and three different flat head ones. These are medium, small, and extra-small in size and work just as well as they do on the P2.

Like the P2, the T4 lacks a bit driver and is limited to the screwdrivers built into its body.

Pry Bar, Bottle Opener & Package Opener

The pry bar and package opener are both built into the same tool piece. The pry bar is one and the same with the medium flathead screwdriver while the package opener shows itself as a sharpened edge along one side of the screwdriver.

The bottle opener is located on the Phillip’s head screwdriver and works as well as any we’ve seen. You’ll have no problem cracking open an ice-cold beer or old fashioned soda with this bad boy.

Awl, File, Tweezers

The awl includes a thread hole but notably doesn’t have a pointed tip. Instead, Leatherman combined the extra-small screwdriver with the awl for a chisel style tip. This hasn’t exactly been a popular decision, but it does still work alright for punching through leather and other heavier materials. We had no problem adding a loop to a standard thickness leather belt.

The wood/metal file, like the one found on the P2, is a bit of a disappointment. It’s quite a bit smaller than those found on previous full-size Leathermen and is really only good for smoothing very small surfaces.

The tweezers, though, we love. They’re functionally identical to those that have been found on Swiss Army Knives for generations and work perfectly for pulling out splinters or grasping small items securely.

Leatherman Free T4 Multi Tool

Leatherman Free T4 Review

When we first picked up the Free T4 we really weren’t sure what to think about it. It looks more like a pocket knife than a classic folding multi tool, yet once we fanned out the tools we were pleasantly surprised by just how capable it is.

Packed within its 3.6 inch body are the prying, turning, snipping, and opening tools that people choose to carry a multi tool for. It lacks pliers, sure, but for a lot of people the pliers and especially the wire cutters aren’t tools they often find themselves using.

This is the multi tool for those who want to be able to turn a screw or pop open a cold beer without having a half pound brick of steel on their hip. It fits easily into your pants pocket and has accessibility features other knives and multi tools can only dream of.

In short, the Leatherman Free T4 is the multi tool designed for those who thought they couldn’t carry a multi tool. It packs most of the utility of a butterfly fold multi tool into a smaller, easier to carry, and intuitive to use tool.

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Leatherman Free T4 Pros – Things We Liked

  • Full-size tools
  • Half the price of full-size multi tools like the P2 or P4
  • Tools are easy to open one handed
  • Attractive modern styling with multiple color options
  • Locking system holds tools securely but releases immediately

Leatherman Free T4 Cons – Things We Didn’t Like

  • Knife blade definitely on the small side
  • File too small for serious use

Who’s The Leatherman Free T4 For?

At first glance the Free T4 seems like a really weird product, but once you play around with it a bit its true value shines through. It’s a multi tool without the pliers, without the bulk, and without the complications.

It packs the essentials of a multi tool into a package about the size of a standard Swiss Army Knife, yet with the tool quality and overall styling of a cutting edge Leatherman. If you’ve always wanted to carry a multi tool but didn’t see yourself using pliers for much, this is the multi tool for you.

Leatherman Free T4 Multi-tool accessories and extras

As a relatively new multi tool, the Free T4 doesn’t have the long list of accessories and add-ons many of Leatherman’s older products do. There are still several options and choices you can make for various things though.

Sheath / Holster / Pouch – As it currently stands Leatherman doesn’t offer a sheath or holster specifically for the T4. That’s not to say there aren’t sheaths you can get for it. Given its diminutive dimensions, it fits okay in most Leatherman sheaths, including their modern nylon and heritage leather ones.

That being said, it works best as a pocket knife and doesn’t really require a sheath for most uses.

Pocket Clip – The Free T4 comes with a really nice pocket clip attached. It’s the same type of clip found on the Free P2 and Free P4, and is one of the best that Leatherman has released. It sits on the upright side for right pocket positioning and unfortunately doesn’t allow adjustment for lefties or those who would like a different configuration.

Replacement Parts – Currently there are only two replacement parts you can order specifically for the T4. These are replacement tweezers and a replacement pocket clip.

If you have other issues with your Free T4 we highly recommend you send it off to Leatherman. They back all their products with a 25-year warranty and have always been extremely generous in what they consider covered repairs.

Trust us, Leatherman will take care of you.

Different Colors – If you’re the kind of person who loves to really make a tool your own, you’ll love the options available with the Free T4. It comes in four different color choices, stainless steel, crimson, navy, and evergreen. That allows you to pick the color you like the most and help distinguish it from other tools.

Bit Driver – The Free T4 doesn’t come with a bit driver, but there is an easy way to give it one. Leatherman sells a removable bit driver kit designed to slip over the Phillip’s Head portion of your multi tool. It lets you add as many standard ¼ inch bits as you need.

Leatherman Free T4 Vs Comparable tools

We really like the Free T4, but there are plenty of comparable tools out there from Leatherman and its competitors. Here are a few head to head comparisons from tools we think really line up well against the T4.

Leatherman Free T4 Vs Free T2

The Free T2 is effectively a smaller and even more compact Free T4. It offers eight tools instead of the T4’s twelve, sacrificing the scissors, tweezers, file, and small flathead screwdriver to reduce size and weight even further.

The best way to describe it is as a standard pocket knife that also includes extra tools. It’s an ounce lighter, about a tenth of an inch thinner, and has a slightly different geometry to the blade handle.

It’s a great tool if you just want the basics of a multi tool without the extra bulk and weight. For those who already carry a pocket knife the T2 is a great option as it’s just about the same size as most modern pocket folders yet offers substantially more utility.

Leatherman Free T4 Vs Free P2

When you compare the Free T4 with the Free P2 you can see how much they have in common. The T4 is effectively the same as the P2, just without the tools contained in the pliers.

Comparing the two really comes down to whether or not you see yourself using the pliers frequently. If so, go with the P2 or its bigger brother the P4. If not, the T4 includes all but two of the tools contained within the P2’s handles in a much more compact and easy to carry form.

You can find out more about the Leatherman P2 in our full review found here.

Leatherman Free T4 vs Free K4

The Free T4 and Free K4 are effectively cousins with just a slight difference in focus. The T4 was designed to provide all the value of a butterfly fold multi tool just without the pliers. Looking at the K4 it’s as though someone combined a standard pocket folder with the most in demand tools found on a multi tool.

It’s built around a 3.3 inch long 420HC combo blade, comparable to those found on most full size pocket folding knives common among the EDC movement. It ditches the tweezers and file, but otherwise gives you the same utility of the T4.

If you want more of a stripped down multi tool experience, go with the T4. If you want something that can take the place of your EDC pocket knife and multi tool, the K4 is a really nice product.

Leatherman Free T4 vs Victorinox Huntsman

We started this review off with a direct reference to the classic Swiss Army Knife, so it’s only right we should compare the T4 to a top of the line Victorinox Huntsman. When you look at the two next to each other you’ll immediately see the similarities.

The Huntsman was the clear inspiration for the T4, and its basic utility is still obvious. It’s a great tool that’s been used successfully for decades, yet compared to the Free T4 it definitely has a few flaws. To start with, none of the tools on the Huntsman are locking.

Then there’s the fact that they open in the traditional style with the nailbreaker crescents that make picking out just the right tool a two handed job pretty much always. That’s not to say it’s a bad tool. Quite the opposite in fact, we think the Swiss Army Knife Huntsman still has a lot of value.

What it comes down to though, is that the Free T4 offers everything that the Huntsman does, plus modern ergonomic and utility touches that blow it out of the water. Unless you really want the heritage feel of a classic Swiss Army Knife the Free T4 is the way to go.

Leatherman Free T4 vs Wave+

The Wave+ is the best selling multi tool of all time and has been Leatherman’s unofficial flagship tool for over a decade. It’s big, it’s durable, and it’s packed with excellent tools. Comparing it to the Free T4 is difficult since they’re truly different tools for different purposes.

Despite its lack of the magnetic closures and latest gen opening systems, the Wave+ is still one of our favorite multi tools. It’s loaded down with high-quality tools, including full size knife and saw blades plus multiple sizes of bit drivers.

The T4 is an EDC tool great for casual users or people who need a more compact set of everyday tools. The Wave+ is a fully loaded multi tool that packs everything you need for hard use on a daily basis.

What it comes down to is that the Wave+ and Free T4 have different use cases, with most people seeing plenty of utility from the T4, while those with more advanced needs getting better service form the Wave+.

You can find out more about the Leatherman Wave+ in our full review found here.

Conclusion – Final Thoughts On the Leatherman Free T4

The Leatherman Free T4 is the multi tool designed for those who thought they couldn’t carry a multi tool. It packs most of the utility of a butterfly fold multi tool into a smaller, easier to carry, and intuitive to use tool.

If you’ve always wanted a multi tool but were put off by the large size and weight, the Free T4 is the tool for you.

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