Sunday, January 6, 2013

Review: Leatherman Juice Xe6 [Multi-Tool]

Product Description

Price: $60-$70 online

The Juice Xe6 is a classic multi-tool, made in the USA by the company that basically invented the multi-tool
Leatherman Juice Xe6 Multi-Tool Product Link
Leatherman Juice Xe6 Multi-Tool Product Link
(though you could argue that is SAK.)  It has as many tools as you can pack into that small of a space, and they are all high quality. I would consider this more of a "gentleman's multi-tool" because it looks like it's designed more for a weekend trip than a job site. This is evidenced by the overall design, and well, tools like the corkscrew.

One note is that the tool does not come with a clip or sheath of any kind.

My review sample was purchased from Amazon.com

UPDATE 10/24/2013: I have updated the review with better photos!

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Opened Up
Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Split View Side
Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Split View TopLeatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Closeup Side Corkscrew

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Closeup Knife Nick

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Closeup Bottom

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Closeup Top

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Another Side View

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Another Top View

Official Specs (From Leatherman's Web Site)

Here is a link to the user guide as well.
Tools:
Needlenose Pliers
Regular Pliers
Wire Cutters
Hard-wire Cutters
420HC Knife
420HC Serrated Knife
Scissors
Saw
Extra-small Screwdriver
Small Screwdriver
Medium/Large Screwdriver
Phillips Screwdriver
Diamond-coated File
Wood/Metal File
Bottle Opener
Can Opener
Corkscrew with Assist
Awl

Features:
Lanyard Ring
100% Stainless Steel
Anodized Aluminum Handle Scales
Available Colors: "Storm" Gray and "Thunder" Purple
25-year Warranty

Measurements:
3.25 in | 8.25 cm (Closed)
6.7 oz | 190 g (Weight)
2.6 in | 6.60 cm (Blade Length)


Made In The USA


While I like to judge each tool on its own merits, it is gratifying to see high quality, made-in-the-USA tools like this. I don't have that requirement for purchasing knives and tools, but it's a nice perk.

Overall Design


If I had to describe the overall design with one word, that word would be "compact."  Clearly the goal of this design is to pack the most amount of tools into the smallest possible package, and I think they have done that here successfully. 

The tool layout is fairly straightforward, Every tool that can be realistically accessed from the outside, they put on the outside. This design presents some challenges like some tools being harder to get to than others, and some tools needing other tools open to get to that tool. For example, the saw is very hard to get to without opening the awl tool first.

This design, while being very efficient, also makes it kind of like solving a puzzle to decide where the tool you want resides. But rest assured, every tool you need is there, if you can find it.

One area of the design I was really disappointed with, is the fact that the pliers are not spring-loaded. I thought I read somewhere where Leatherman said something along the lines that it wasn't possible to build spring which was reliable enough for their exacting standards. Which is nice, but it seems like every other multi-tool on the planet has that, including a couple Leatherman's I own like the Squirt and the Wingman

There's also what I would call a design quirk, which is that the can opener seems to get "tangled" in the corkscrew. This is mentioned in a bunch of other reviews. You have to open the can opener all the way to get full functionality of the corkscrew. It's a good thing I don't drink much wine.

It's also curious that Leatherman chose to use rivets instead of screws to hold the tool together, which means it cannot be taken apart. If this were any other tool it would be a deal breaker for me, but Leatherman has such a good warranty and reputation that I'm not worried. If it needs to come apart, it goes straight to Leatherman.

Handle


The Juice has aluminum scales. They almost feel plastic but they are a thin, anodized Aluminum. They feel a little cheap, but that's the only thing about this whole tool that feels cheap. Ok, the rivets too. They are even a little too smooth, giving this too something less than a perfect grip. It would've been nice to see some sort of texturing or knurling.

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Opened Side

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Opened Top View


Knife (plain)


The hollow ground, non-locking, plain-edge knife is easily accessible from the outside and looks to be great quality. Mine came with a good edge that I would expect from an American made knife. I'm glad they didn't do a chisel grind with this knife.

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Plain Edge Knife
Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Plain Edge Jimping

Knife (serrated)


The slip joint serrated blade is made from the same high quality steel, and even has a little jimping on the spine of the blade, though it mostly looks to be for show. Since the jimping is only on the last maybe half inch of the spine, it's hard to hold the tool to where my thumb makes good contact with it. But either way, it's nice to see a separate serrated blade, as I absolutely hate partially-serrated blades, which I think give you the worst of both worlds.

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Serrated Knife View 1

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Serrated Knife View 2

Scissors


The spring-loaded scissors are on the opposite side of the plain edge knife. They are high quality with a sturdy looking spring. The ergonomics are passable. My average size hands can easily accomplish a task like cutting wrapping paper. They are non-locking, which is fine for scissors.

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: View Of Scissors 1

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: View Of Scissors 2

File


The Juice has a first rate file, which is coarse on one side and fine on the other. It's even in a fairly convenient spot next to the serrated blade. Unlike most multi-tools, this is a real file.

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: View Of Coarse File

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: View Of Fine File 1

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: View Of Fine File 2


Awl and Opener


Both fine tools, though I'm not sure they need to be on the outside of the tool. In fact, the can / bottle opener gets in the way of the corkscrew.

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Closeup Of Can Opener

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Closeup Of Awl 1
Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Closeup Of Awl 2

Corkscrew


It's functional, but I don't really like the design. I've only used it a couple times and the best thing I can say is that it was better than not having a corkscrew.

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Closeup Of Corkscrew


Saw


There's a saw tucked away on the outside of the tool, under the awl, which is a strange location to me. The blade looks a little thin, but it has nice, sharp teeth and looks plenty functional, though I think it's almost redundant with the serrated blade. It certainly didn't get much love from Leatherman.

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Closeup Of Saw 1

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Closeup Of Saw 2


Pliers


Other than not being spring-loaded, the pliers are great. The quality of the machining and steel are excellent, and the wire cutters are actually useful. They are a little more narrow then I would expect, but for the most part that has been a good thing, as the thinner pliers get into tighter spaces. But they don't look quite as beefy as other models, so I'm not sure I would use them regularly at a job site or anything.

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Closeup Of Pliers 1

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Closeup Of Pliers 2

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Closeup Of Pliers 3

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Closeup Of Pliers 4
Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Closeup Of Pliers 5


Screwdrivers


There's 3 flat head and 1 Philips screwdriver on the inside of the tool. The location is good and the tools themselves are great. Just like the other tools, the quality of the steel and machining really shines. This is especially important for screwdrivers, where the cheaper ones are more likely to strip your screws. The screwdrivers to me are just another reason why this tool is better suited in an electronics bag then in a shop or on the trail. I would rather use this tool to take apart a computer than any muli-tool in my collection.

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Closeup Of Flathead Screwdrivers

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Closeup Of Large Flathead Screwdriver

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Closeup Of Small Flathead Screwdriver

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Closeup Of Flathead Screwdrivers Folded

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Closeup Of Medium Flathead Screwdriver

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Closeup Of Philips Screwdriver 1

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Closeup Of Philips Screwdriver 2


Lanyard Ring


There's a little fold-out lanyard attachment ring on the inside of the tool. I really wish there was a clip too. But I guess it's better than nothing, and I understand that lots of people are big fans of lanyards. It's easy to miss this little ring if you're not looking for it.

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Closeup Of Philips Lanyard Ring 1

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Closeup Of Philips Lanyard Ring 2


Fit and Finish


Overall, superb. This is a higher-end, American made tool and it shows. My only real gripe is that the Aluminum scales look and feel kind of cheap, even if they aren't. But other than that, my sample didn't have a single flaw that I could find. Both knives came razor sharp, and there wasn't one scratch or tool mark. Whoever made this took pride in its construction. My Wingman, while a great tool in its own right, isn't even in the same ballpark as the Juice when it comes to fit and finish.

Usability


Overall, good. Day to day it's a little quirky as an EDC, but all the tools are there, even if you have to fumble with a few of them. The knives would obviously be better with locking mechanisms, but this doesn't take as much away from the tool as I thought it would, maybe because I always have a dedicated EDC knife too.

There's a couple things that take away from a perfect usability. First, put a spring in the damn pliers. Seriously. If Leatherman did that, this would probably be my permanent EDC. I could live just fine with the other flaws.

Second, it really needs to come with a clip or include a sheath. I made the mistake of not purchasing one separately the same time I bought the Juice, and I never seem to get around to ordering one. Every time I pick up the Juice and think that I need a sheath, I just put it down and clip the Wingman to my belt instead. But I don't really like being nickel and dimed with a product, and I think that Leatherman should include a sheath or at the least a removable clip. It's not an optional accessory if not having it makes the tool much less useful.

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool: Closeup In Hand


Conclusions


I'm really on the fence about this tool. It's so well made and such high quality that I naturally want to carry it. But every time I leave the house, I clip the Wingman to my belt instead, because it has the convenient deep carry clip. And every time I need a pair of pliers, I grab the Wingman first as well, because it has the spring loaded pliers.

I think once I get a sheath for the Juice, then it will live in my electronics bag with my laptop, tablet and all my other gizmos and doodads. The Juice to me is more nerdy than it is outdoorsy. For camping I still prefer the much cheaper but still capable Wingman.

But all things considered, the Juice is a fine multi-tool and it's ingenious in the number of tools it packs into so small a space. I'm not sure what role it will play in my collection, but I know that when I need it, then it will be up to the task. And either way, I'm going to have a Leatherman as my EDC. I think I will try the Charge Ti next...

Gallery


Leatherman Juice Xe6 Multi-Tool on scale
It's a pretty good chunk of steel!





Leatherman Juice Xe6 showing closeup of pliers
Closeup of the non spring-loaded pliers. Other than that one detail, they are excellent quality




Leatherman Juice Xe6 multi-tool showing closeup of awl and saw
Closeup of the Awl and Saw tools. You have to open the Awl to get the Saw out



From top: Leatherman Squirt PS4, Leatherman Juice Xe6 and Leatherman Wingman multi-tools
Blades out, from top: Leatherman Squirt PS4, Leatherman Juice Xe6 and Leatherman Wingman multi-tools



Leatherman Juice Xe6 multi-tool showing spring loaded scissors
Closeup of the spring-loaded scissors

Leatherman Juice Xe6 multi-tool showing closeup of scissors
Closeup of the spring-loaded scissors. They have an acceptable feel to them


Leatherman Juice Xe6 multi-tool showing closeup of Philips screwdriver
The Juice has a nice, beefy Philips screwdriver - none of that semi-flat crap you see on most multi-tools

Leatherman Juice Xe6 multi-tool showing closeup of corkscrew and bottle/can opener
Closeup of the bottle/can opener and corkscrew - opener has to be open to access the corkscrew

Leatherman Juice Xe6 multi-tool showing another closeup of corkscrew and bottle/can opener
Another closeup of the corkscrew.

Leatherman Juice Xe6 multi-tool shown with Ka-Bar Becker BK14 Eskabar
Shown with a Ka-Bar Becker BK14 Eskabar fixed-blade knife - made in the USA, baby!

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool Shown With Squirt PS4 Multi-Tool

Leatherman Juice XE6 Multi-Tool Shown With Squirt PS4 and Wingman Multi-Tools













3 comments:

  1. The can opener is supposed to be used with the corkscrew to lever against - like a waiters penkife.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yeah - this is something i think people don't understand because they are so used to other can openers....

    ReplyDelete
  3. I just can't stop drooling over that brushed steel look - leathermans are so SEXY!

    ReplyDelete