We get a lot of tools in for review – some more complicated than the others. While we love playing with the big saws and drills and get a real thrill over putting cordless and corded power tools to the test, what is most important are tools that everyone needs. Tools that everyone should own. Sure, they may not be as glamorous as the newest 24v Orbital Action Reciprocating Saw, but they apply to many more of our readers as well.
Leatherman is a name that is synonymous with multitools. Some might say they are the Kleenex of multitools. You may or may not own an actual Leatherman, but if someone asks if that thing on your belt is a Leatherman, you’ll probably say yes. One of the newer entries into the Leatherman line is the Super Tool 300. It started shipping in September of 2009 and sports 19 different functions.
- 420HC Clip Point Knife with Straight Edge
- 420HC Sheepsfoot Serrated Knife
- Needlenose Pliers
- Regular Pliers
- 154CM Removable Wire Cutters
- 154CM Removable Hard-wire Cutters
- Stranded-wire Cutters
- Wire Stripper
- Electrical Crimper
- 5/16″ Screwdriver
- 7/32″ Screwdriver
- 1/8″ Screwdriver
- Phillips Screwdriver
- Wood/Metal File
- Bottle Opener
- Can Opener
- 9 in | 22 cm Ruler
- Awl with Thread Loop
It is often said that you may not need everything the Super Tool 300 can do, but you won’t regret having it around. I found that to be very true. When the Super Tool 300 first came in, I took a few pictures of it, tried out a few of it’s tools, and decided to start the review. Well, as is oft to happen, life intruded and the review got placed on the back burner. Well, since then, the Super Tool 300 has been fishing, it’s done repairs of some cabling in my living room, it’s shot of a model rocket with my son, and it’s disassembled countless toys and devices around the house for repair/battery replacement. I did not realize how much I would use the Super Tool 300 until I had one handy.
As is often the case with Leatherman multitools, the Super Tool 300 is constructed out of stainless steel. While this is a great protection for almost every use and abuse, remember that periodic cleaning and oiling will do your tool good. The tool, at 9.6 ounces, is heavier in your hand than you’d expect at first but it isn’t unwieldy. This is because you look at the size and expect one thing but then realize how much functionality (and hardware) they jammed into a single device. After the first few times of using the tool, you’ll stop noticing the weight.
The Leatherman has cutouts on the handles for easy operation with gloved hands though I found the cutouts useful even without gloves. The handles have rounded corners and edges which allows for comfortable use without gloves even when applying maximum pressure. While not as comfortable as a rounded rubber-coated handle, you’ll probably be surprised at the comfort of the tool. When I first started using the Super Tool 300, I found it to be extremely hard to close after opening it completely. While I felt I could have solved this with a drop or two of penetrating oil, I wanted to see if it would “break in” on it’s own. I spent a few days opening and closing it with little difference to the perceived difficulty. Finally, I put it aside for a few days. When I picked it back up, it was like butter. My guess is that oils from my hands lubricated the mechanism. Either way, once the tool loosened up, it was a joy to open and close.
I used most everything on the Super Tool 300 in some form or another. The saw blade did a remarkable job of cutting through wood. While you wouldn’t want to try to fell a small tree with it, on a camping trip, it would be perfect for trimming down firewood. There is only a single Phillips head screwdriver with three (5/16″, 7/32″, 1/8″) flat heads. I probably would have preferred one flathead and two Phillips personally but I appreciated not having a mechanism to switch bits. With small children about, bits tend to get lost and I would rather have fewer permanent screwdrivers. The knives were very sharp and durable and the pliers were very useful. I checked the measurements on the 9″ ruler. As you might expect, it’s all about how well you place the two handles together. On our test tool, I was only able to get to within a 1/16″ of true on the second handle. Obviously, you wouldn’t be using the Leatherman Super Tool 300 for critical measurements anyhow.
The two things I really want to point out with the Super Tool 300 are the removable cutters and the tool locks. The cutters, located below the pliers, are attached with an Allen screw. This gives you the ability to remove or replace them if you so desire. Second, and more importantly, are the tool locks. The handles contain most of the tools. One thing you don’t want is for a tool to move when you are using it. The Super Tool 300 has a system that locks the tool in place. You then press a button on the handle to release it. While this is important for knives, they also work for all the rest of the tools.
But that’s not the cool part. What I really liked was that you can’t lock a tool in place in one handle if you have a second tool partially extended. The partially extended tool blocks the locking mechanism. This means that you can flip through your tools without worrying about accidental locking. While you can lock multiple tools in the fully extended position, it is often hard to open more than one fully. The release button is easy to press.
The Leatherman Super Tool 300 is a great entry into the Leatherman line. While Leatherman is known for premium prices, they are also known for quality. At an MSRP of $84 it isn’t the cheapest multitool on the block (the street price is often well below the MSRP). The question is, should you buy the Super Tool 300? Maybe. While the tool itself it great, we believe that a multitool is a highly personal thing. Make sure whichever you buy has the tools you use regularly. If the Super Tool 300 fits this description, you’ll be very happy with your purchase and if you are anything like us, you’ll find that you use your multitool much more than you ever expected. For a Performance rating, we gave the Super Tool 300 a 9 as the tool and build quality, the locking mechanism, and the usefulness of the tool were all excellent. We gave it a 7 for Value as there are other quality competitors on the market for less.
Founded in 1983, Leatherman Tool Group is known for
producing the world’s most precisely engineered multi-tools. For more information
about Serac lighting, other Leatherman products, or about Leatherman Tool Group
Inc., please visit www.leatherman.com.