Sunday, December 9, 2012

Review: Leatherman Wingman [Multi-Tool]

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool Product Link
Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool Product Link
The Wingman is a newer entry in Leatherman's lineup and fills the budget role with a price point under $25. I own higher end Leatherman models like the Juice, but I bought this one because I wanted a multi-tool I wouldn't feel guilty for beating the snot out of.

This review sample was purchased from Amazon.com.

Product Description

Price: $25-$30

This is a full-size, full-feature multi-tool which is comparable to their more expensive models. Clearly the Wingman is a budget model. It uses lower end steel and parts, but that is about the only sacrifices it makes, as the overall build quality is good.

I'll be honest and say that when I first got this tool, I just automatically assumed it was made in China based just on the price point. But in discussions over at EDC forums, a few people corrected me, and I now understand this whole line is made in the USA.

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Split View

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Side View 1

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Top View 1

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Top View Closeup
Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Side View 2Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Side View 3

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Pliers Open

Official Specs (from Leatherman's site)

Tools:
  • Spring-action Needlenose Pliers
  • Spring-action Regular Pliers
  • Spring-action Wire Cutters
  • 420HC Combo Knife
  • Package Opener
  • Wood/Metal File
  • Scissors
  • Small Screwdriver
  • Medium Screwdriver
  • Phillips Screwdriver
  • Ruler (1.5 in)
  • Bottle Opener
  • Can Opener
  • Wire Stripper
Features:
  • Removeable Pocket Clip
  • Stainless Steel Body
  • All Locking Outside Blades
  • Stainless Steel Handles
  • 25-year Warranty
Measurements:
  • 2.6 in | 6.6 cm (Blade Length)
  • 3.8 in | 9.7 cm (Closed)
  • 7 oz | 198.4 g (Weight)


Note that my scale shows the Wingman at 6.7 ounces.

First Impressions


I bought this Wingman about a year ago at the same time as a more expensive model, the Juice Xe6. I planned to use the Wingman as a backup/beater to the Juice, which I intended to be my EDC multi-tool. The Juice is a fine multi-tool, with a superior fit and finish as well as better materials. But the pliers aren't spring loaded, and it doesn't come with a sheath. At some point I just started carrying the Wingman, using its built in deep carry clip. So, I didn't think much of the Wingman until probably a few weeks later. It's not much for "curb appeal".


Design


It may be a budget multi-tool, but it has a first rate design. The pliers are spring-loaded. The scissors and knife are locking and are located on the outside of the tool, meaning they can be used without opening the pliers. The rest of the tools are located on the inside of the tool. There are 8 Torx head screws holding the tool together, with one of them holding the deep-carry clip on.

I like the design: it puts your two signature tools on the outside with frame locks. The knife can even be opened one handed after some practice.

Fit and Finish


Overall, good. Again, this is not one of their high end multi-tools. The Wingman is not the Charge, and the fit and finish reflect that. My sample had no scratches, nicks, tool-marks or any obvious defects. The knife came with a decent edge, but the scissors came with a barely acceptable edge. Also, the scissors are a little finnicky to deploy; they have to be extended all the way until they "click", at which point the spring deploys and they function properly.

Mine has a little bit of play on the two main pivot screws, as well as the clip. These all perfectly acceptable issues, especially at this price point. But all things considered, this is a well built multi-tool.


Pliers


The Wingman has larger pliers than my other Leatherman models, and it's one of my favorite things about it. They are well machined and are spring loaded, unlike my Juice XE6. The pliers also have built in wire cutters.

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Pliers Closeup 1

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Pliers Closeup 2


Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Pliers Closeup 3

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Pliers Closeup 4

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Pliers Closeup 5


Scissors


The scissors are decently machined but honestly, a little disappointing. They are large, and I like the spring loaded design. But they aren't as tight as they should be, and it's challenging cutting something really thin like paper. Like everything else about the Wingman, the scissors appear to be sturdy.

The scissors feature a locking mechanism which holds the tool open for safety.

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Scissors Closeup 1

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Scissors Closeup 2

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Scissors Closeup 3

Main Blade


The blade on the Wingman has a combo edge, meaning it is plain edge towards the tip and has serrations toward the base--what I would also call semi-serrated. It also features a chisel grind, meaning the edge is only one one side.

Like the scissors, the blade features a locking mechanism which holds the blade open for safety. Definitely a nice feature to have.

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Blade Closeup 1

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Blade Closeup 2


Screwdrivers


For screwdrivers, the Wingman gives you one main Flathead and Philips. The file/ruler also acts as a smaller Flathead screwdriver. These screwdrivers are surprisingly decent and get a lot of use around my house. One of the problems with Chinese tools is that the softer steel makes for OK knives but lousy screwdrivers, and the Wingman gives you the best of both worlds: cheap with decent steel.

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Screwdrivers Closeup

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Philips Screwdriver Closeup

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Flathead Screwdriver Closeup

Other Tools


The Wingman doesn't give you a huge selection of fancy tools like their higher end models. So beyond the basics like the blade, pliers and scissors, there's not much in the way of fluff. The file, has a ruler on the flip side, unlike most multi-tools which give you two different textures. The bottle/can opener is also pretty basic. The package opener is neat but it's on the inside where it is less usable. If I use my Wingman to open a package, I just use the main blade which is on the outside, and also happens to be locking.

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Closeup Of Ruler

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Closeup Of File And Opener

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Closeup Of Opener

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Closeup Of Ruler

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Closeup Of Can/Bottle Opener

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Closeup Of File


Usability


Day to day, the Wingman is a little heavy. But then again, all the full size multi-tools are. Also, the Wingman is only 1/10th of an ounce heavier than my Juice Xe6. So, this is my usability gripe against this whole class of tools.

Clipped to my belt, I like carrying the Wingman better with its built-in clip than with a separate sheath or pouch. It's a very usable tool. The pliers are full size and the knife has a half serration on it, which I kind of like but I know will be a hassle to sharpen. It's easy to get at the knife and scissors, though I wish the scissors were better. They are definitely bigger than the ones on my Juice, but they are slightly less usable. But overall, acceptable.

Conclusions


I have carried this tool for the better part of a year, and it's seen extensive use both in the outdoors and around the house and on road trips. Going camping? Clip the Wingman to my belt. Someone's car broke down? Clip the Wingman to my belt. The remainder of the time it sits clipped inside my EDC backpack, ready to go.

The Wingman is a great multi-tool and a great value. I still have a hard time comprehending how this thing could be made in the USA and still be under 30 dollars. It does not compute. If there's a way to get a better multi-tool for this kind of money, I sure haven't heard of it. I would rank this value up their with other gems like the Spyderco Tenacious, or the Sanrenmu 763.

Gallery


Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Shown With Spyderco Delica 4
EDC Friends: Shown with Spyderco Delica 4

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Opened Up

From Top: Leatherman Squirt PS4, Leatherman Juice XE6, Leatherman Wingman
From Top: Leatherman Squirt PS4, Leatherman Juice XE6, Leatherman Wingman

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - In Medium Size Hand
Shown in my medium sized hand

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Next To Quarter For Scale

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - On My Digital Scale
A little heavy but not unreasonably so

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Open In the Snow

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Front View In the Snow

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Blade Open In the Snow

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Back View In the Snow

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Shown In Maxepedition EDC Organizer
The Wingman has a permanent place in my Maxpedition EDC organizer

6 comments:

  1. Very disappointed with this product. The scissors are defective as: 1. the spring loaded mechanism that returns the scissors to the open position does not work; and 2. the mechanism that locks the scissors in place does not work. In my opinion this may indicate poor quality control, poor design or both. On this basis I would not recommend this product and will be replacing it with a better made brand of multitool.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, I thought mine had the same issue but when you just push the scissors a bit more open, they click to the locked position like they're supposed to and the spring load kicks into action!

      Delete
  2. I would return it, as supposedly even the very low end of their lineup like the Wingman has a 25 year warranty. But yeah, the Wingman is their low end.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The spring for the scissors does not work until the scissors are locked into place, when they get locked the spring locks and everything works as it should.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Find out if the Leatherman Wingman multi-tool is for you. A product review of a versatile multi tool that meets some expectations and falls short in other areas.

    ReplyDelete