Going Small..... (LM Micra and Squirt P4)...the quest for the ultimate keyring setup

Joined
Jan 7, 2006
Messages
611
I've been looking for a decent multitool to pair with the Spyderco Jester on my keyring, i basically was looking for a good set of scissors, some jewelers screwdriver sized drivers, maybe a small set of pliers......

there's no way any keyring multitool can compete with the Jester for sharpness and cutting prowess, so the knives on the multitools will be regarded as a backup to the Jester, or maybe a novelty, they won't be intended for any serious use, the Jester will handle the knife needs....

i started off with a Wenger Esquire, once the newness factor wore off, i was rather underwhelmed with it's overall performance, the scissors were okay, the blade was nice and sharp once i had run it over the Sharpmaker, the nailfile thingy was useless, so it was time to replace it.....

i found a Leatherman Micra at the local K-Mart for $20, so that was a given, i've read good reports on it's scissors, so i gave it a chance....

the Micra's scissors were very solid, well built, and durable, i especially like the spring-loaded design, no fragile Victorinox-esque spring to break, the fine-point screwdriver on the caplifter was the perfect size to tighten the screws holding my belt buckle on my belt, as they back out over time, with the Micra i can snug them back down.

i like the integrated tweezers, no tiny part to fall out, the flat phillips looks somewhat gimmicky, and the blade, the blade is laughable, in it's stock form, i could open the blade to locked position by pushing down on the *"sharpened"* edge ferchrissakes.... and what's with the chisel grind?, it took me about a half hour on the brown Sharpmaker stones to even put a basic *usable* edge on the chisel side

looks like it's time to spend some quality time with my Lansky coarse hone to reprofile the edge to a more conventional edge

still, i purchased the Micra primarily for it's scissors, which *do* function as expected, and the screwdrivers will likely be useful

While i was playing around with the Micra, i also thought that a good set of mini-pliers might also come in handy, so i stopped off at the local sporting goods shop and picked up a LM Squirt P4, primarily for the folding pliers, nice spring-loaded action, just like the Micra, however, the screwdrivers are even *stubbier* than the already miniscule tools on the Micra, the blade does seem marginally better though, still has a chisel grind, but seems marginally sharper (still able to open the blade by pushing on the sharpened edge though), i'd give the accesory tool edge to the Micra, and the blade edge to the Squirt....

Overall ratings;

Leatherman Micra;
Pros; excellent scissors, best set of small scissors i've used yet, sharp, nonserrated edge on the scissors, positive spring action, cuts heavy material (upholstery leather) just as well as paper, smooth, clean cuts, nice set of small screwdrivers
Cons; knife blade is laughable, needs major reprofiling just to achieve a *servicable* edge, chisel grind on a knife blade makes no sense, it's a *knife*, not a chisel....
Scissors rating (out of 10); 8.5, loses points for not being able to open all the way when resharpening becomes neccecary
Knife rating (our of 10); 3, poor out-of-box sharpness, chisel grind on a knife blade makes no sense

overall rating; 8

Leatherman Squirt P4;
Pros; nice set of spring-loaded "needlenose-esque" pliers, great for those hard to reach spots inside computer cases, solid construction, less flex than the Micra, tools accesable from the outside, no need to open the pliers to access the blades or screwdrivers
Cons; as with the Micra, an absolutely pathetic knife blade, poor out-of box sharpness, stupid chisel grind
Pliers rating; 7.5, these are clearly light-duty pliers for small jobs
knife rating; 3.2; slightly sharper than the Micra out-of-box, but not by much, chisel grind makes no sense

overall rating; 7.5

the knife blades on these tools are a non-issue, if i want to cut something requiring a *blade*, i'll use the Jester
 
Joined
Jan 18, 2006
Messages
3
Nice review. I own both mini-tools, and think they're great for what they are - light weight, emergency tools. I use mine for backpacking, where weight matters, and repairs don't require much tool strength. I also agree the blades are OK for only the smallest cutting jobs. Forget cutting rope. String is fine, and they do open plastic (food) containers. For bigger jobs you will need a decent folder.
 
Joined
Jan 7, 2006
Messages
611
Review update;

the Micra is performing great, i've used the scissors to cut thick cardboard, leather upholstery fabric, paper, index cards, my fingernails, and a little impromptu surgery to cut off a flap of skin on my foot (note to self, don't step on claw hammer nail pullers in bare feet, the edges are sharp.....) so i could put one of those newfangled "second skin" plastic/silicone bandages on the wound....

the scissors have performed flawlessly, i'm upgrading their rating to a 9, still loses points for not being able to open them all the way to resharpen them, not that they need sharpening yet...

the flat phillips *works*, it fits the lower case screws in the first-gen iMac G5's and the phillips screws holding the PCI expansion slot blanking plates on in the G4/G5 towers...

the bottle opener works well too, it doesn't grab bottlecaps as well as the SAK opener, but the SAK opener is meatier, i rate the bottle opener higher than the contents of the bottle i opened**, Budweiser Select....(i don't normally drink, but i *had* to research it somehow, right? ;) )
Bottle opener rating; 5.5
contents of bottle opened rating; 2

haven't used the tweezers, nailfile, or the larger flat-blade screwdrivers, don't imagine i will, it was purchased for it's scissors alone, the flat-phillips and the mini-flatblade were pleasant surprises, the blade is servicable if i have nothing else to use, that'll be the extent of the tools i see myself using....

i reprofiled the blade as best i could, it's now less of a chisel grind, and now more of a normal-ish grind, it's as sharp as i can concievably make it, i'm coming up against the limitations of the steel itself, for purposes of comparison, if a Spyderco Jester rates a 10, the reprofiled Micra blade rates a 3 in stock form, after my reprofile/resharpen job, it rates a 5, not up to my standards, but better than it *was*

then again, i don't see myself using the blade on the Micra, the Jester handles the jobs i need a keyring knife for, there's no way the Micra's blade can even compete with the Jester, it'd be like comparing a Geo Metro with a sludgebox transmission to a 6-speed manual Dodge Neon SRT-4, yes they're both small cars, but the SRT-4 handily outperforms the Metro

the Squirt P4, however, was a dissapointment in actual *use*, i know it's a light-duty set of minipliers, so i didn't have my standards too high to begin with, however, when it utterly *failed* to perform the duties i assigned to it (unscrewing a G5 processor stand-off bolt), i downgraded it to "car duty", i mean, after all, a similarly sized set of small needlenose-esque pliers performed marginally better, and a co-worker's Juice CS4 had *no* problem undoing the bolts

undoing G5 standoff bolts isn't a tough job, the bolts are long and have a split friction-collar at the top, so you have to grip them midway down on the gripping surface, it just requires torque and a little leverage, the regular pliers worked, but i had to force them really hard, the Squirt failed utterly, it couldn't even budge them

i'm downgrading the Squirt's ratings accordingly;
Pliers; 5
Blade; 3.2 stock, 5 after the Sharpmaker treatment

So, since the Squirt was a failure for *my* purposes, instead of putting it on "Car Duty", i'll give it to Dad, *he'll* use it, brilliant!

(don't get me wrong, it's not a bad tool, just doesn't fit *my* needs.....)

So, since the Squirt P4 didn't fit my needs, i had an excuse to (Oh JOY!!!):D buy *another* multitool to replace it.....

i chose the Letherman Blast, as i like the idea of locking blades and scissors and such

i haven't really used it yet, so i'll simply write a capsule review of my impressions so far;

Pliers; nice and meaty, heavy duty, G5 standoff bolts *beware*!....
Blade; Woohoo!, no stupid chisel grind, a little dull in stock form though, a quick Sharpmaker session got it shaving sharp though
Scissors; Meh... the Micra has better scissors, the Blast's scissors do gain points for opening all the way to facilitate sharpening though....
Phillips-head screwdriver; finaly, a decent Phillips, puts the phillips on my Vic. Spartan Lite to shame, more usable length, and it locks open

stuff i probably will never use;
the file, the sawblade, the flathead screwdrivers, and the lanyard ring, oh, and probably the rulers too, but are those even considered a tool?

pleasant surprises;
the "eyeglass" screwdriver, the perfect size for removing some of the tiny PowerBook screws

Blast review forthcoming, once i've had some time to actually *use* it......

(**Bud "Select", as a non-drinker, i thought that "select" implied a higher quality product, not in this case, the kindest review i can make of Bud Select is that it's basically water with slight beer flavoring, this non-drinker rates it as a 2 on a scale of 1-10)
 
Joined
Feb 7, 2000
Messages
6,554
I got a Micra for Christmas and have found myself, over the past few months, using it more than any other knife I have. In fact, many days it's all I carry, period. Of course, going on a hike or camping trip, I'd pack something a little more substantial. But for an office-bound desk jockey like me, the Micra really serves my needs.
 
Joined
Jan 24, 2005
Messages
2,783
When first getting acquainted with a Leatherman Super Tool in 1996, I thought it was the bee's knees. It was, in my estimation, an almost perfect mix of tools and portability. The only thing missing was scissors. Then, @ 1.5 years later, when the Micra came out, my joy was complete. For the longest time I was so happy with the combo, Micra attached to micro light carried in my jeans watch pocket and ST on the belt, that I was out of the market.

Then, about 2 years ago,, during a Target clearance sale, I picked up a Squirt S4. Although it was in some ways more elegant, I preferred the Micra scissors, cap lifter and screw drivers. The blades were marginal on both, but good for opening letters, packages, cutting coupons etc., all I needed much of the time. Even though the Squirt tools opened more conveniently, I was so used to the Micra by this time that it was not an issue. So the Squirt got recycled and I went back to the Micra. Possibly those not having much experience with the Micra might decide otherwise.

One thing I very much like about the Squirt; it is a great finger toy (not that there's anything wrong with that :D ), so much so, in fact, that I recently sprung for a P4, used seldom, fondled often :) .
 
Joined
Nov 6, 2005
Messages
16
MacTech: buy a Squirt S4... and review it!

honestly, i loved your reviews.. i own both a jester, a micra and a squirt s4. and a vic classic (alox)... all great mini tools.

all of them better paired with a photon light.
 

Vivi

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Joined
Dec 4, 2005
Messages
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I was gonna pick up a Micra today at walmart for 15$, but I only saw scissor versions on their display counter and didn't ask if they carried the pliers model. Might check up on that later.

I can open all my knives by pushing on the edge. The factory edge Spydercos, shaving sharp convexed edge SAKs and Opinels, my incredibly stiff buck 110 that seriously needs lubed etc. Though I don't care for chisel grinds either. I'll be re-profiling the Micra if I pick one up.
 
Joined
Jan 24, 2005
Messages
2,783
Vivi said:
I was gonna pick up a Micra today at walmart for 15$, but I only saw scissor versions on their display counter and didn't ask if they carried the pliers model. Might check up on that later.

There is no pliers version of the Micra. Did you mean "Squirt?" I'd buy an S4 for $15. Most places they sell for $25 or more.
 
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