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The small multitool.

Discussion in 'Multi-tools & Multi-purpose Knives' started by jackknife, Nov 24, 2018.

  1. jackknife


    Oct 2, 2004
    I don't skin buffalo, I haven't seen any hostile Comanche's coming over the hill of late, and I don't hunt. It seems like my need of a large knife is a bit limited to say the least, but that's okay as I've never been one to carry a large knife. I'm probably the only person who looked at the new Buck 110 in 1964, and thought what did I need with a big clumsy single bladed knife like that for? But living in modern 20th and then 21st century suburbia, I seem to have needed a tool now and then, on a pretty regular basis. Opening an accursed plastic blister package that seem designed to defeat tooth and nail of most humans and a good many animals, a nice small sharp blade is a good thing. For most my life I've been a fan of SAK's and they ranged from the little classic that was a constant on my keyring to the old Wenger SI that has been my stand-by old war horse. It's amazing what you can fix if you just have a screw driver on hand. It seems to me that our whole world is now held together with small Phillips screws.

    Growing up, I used to watch my dad fix all kinds of stuff with some really basic things. A sharp little pocket knife like his old Case peanut, a Sears 4-way keychain screw driver, and some of the black electrical tape that was the duct tape of his day. Oh, maybe a paper clip or safety pin. He expressed his thoughts that paper clips were made of some pretty good wire. Dad was one of those old Great Depression era guys who lived through some rough times, then went off to fight a world war and came home and just went about with the business of life.

    Growing up like that, and dad giving me a Boy Scout knife when I joined the Scouts set me to the habit of always having a few tools on my pocket knife. When I got my first SAK, I was really hooked. I can't count the stuff I've fixed out in the middle of somewhere away from home because I had a small SAK or some kind of screws driver on hand, no matter if a Sears keychain screw driver, the butt end of a P-38, or in the past 4 years, a small Leatherman squirt. Clothes drier door latch, Vespa mortor scooter, trolling motor on a boat, door knob mechanism on a family members home down in Florida while visiting, not to mention fishing reels and other stuff. The screw driver tip of the nail file on a Vic classic, the tip of the can opener on a bigger SAK, the little flat chips of the Leatherman squirt. All handy.

    But I have to admit, I used to scorn Leatherman. There, I said it. I still have little use for the big full size ones that weight as much as a small handgun, and cost almost as much. But about 4 years ago I got gifted a micra, and gave it an honest try. It was a good tool, but the thing annoyed me having to pull it open and find the tool I wanted. Then I got a squirt. Whole different ballgame. Just take it out and open like a normal pocket knife. All the tools out there on the outside for the picking, and a good choice of tools. I never expected the small pliers to be so handy, but I have fallen in love with them. Being an old fart with some arthritis issues in my hands from cranking on Bridgeport mills and on lathe handles for many years left it's mark, and the old fingers have a bit of trouble with fine grasping. The little pliers are great.

    I used to be a knife nut. But in my old age I've sort of reverted to a very pragmatic view of life. I've taken to carrying what I really can find most useful in my day to day life as a retired old fart in nice warm Texas, doing a lot of fishing and short over night trips to explore my new home state. The little pliers have been used for things like reaching in and getting a hook out of a fishes mouth to cracking the pistachios that aren't split. The screw driver has sighted in firearms on the shooting range and installed little batteries in electrical devises. The scissors have trimmed fishing line and an occasional broken nail. The knife blade has opened all kinds of packages and cut all kinds of cordage.

    But if there's one spot the squirt fails, it's in the role as a cutting tool. It's a great little pliers with a small knife blade tossed in to give it some cutting ability, but it's not a pocketknife. I teamed it up with a Victorinox executive and it makes a great team. The executive is a pocket knife with a little tool ability tossed in. With two knife blades and a weird little serrated blade and a larger scissors, it sort of takes over a role the squirt can't. They sort of go together like gin and tonic. Or maybe Holmes and Watson. The Leatherman is more tool while the Victoriox is more pocket knife. The squirt rides down in the bottom of my left front pocket and the executive rides in the coin pocket of my Wranglers jeans or shorts. The squirt pops open those cold Modelo's while the executive slices limes for the gin and tonics.

    They seem to make a fine dynamic duo!
    chris97, GABaus, mqqn and 19 others like this.
  2. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel

    Feb 11, 2016
    Very well said as always.

    I to have always thought of a Victorinox as a knife with some tools while a leatherman is definitely a tool that happens to have a blade in case you need it.

    I'm still a young man at almost 24, but since I was probably 13 I've had some form of small screwdriver on me every day and wouldn't have it any other way way.
    I had a Swiss card that broke and it's quatro screwdriver became a handy necklace pendant, then I was given a leatherman Micra my grandmother never had a use for and both were everyday companions for years. ( The Victorinox driver still is )
    We had a Goodwill down the street and when some kid with well off parents got bored with that latest and greatest electronic toy or gizmo, they were mine for the picking at a reasonable price with my occasional allowance.
    The screwdrivers from the Micra or the the Victorinox 4way were often used to check for old batteries or corroded terminals before I bought anything.

    That's what first kept these tools on me, but I noticed the usefulness of these small tools in many situations and just can't imagine being without them.

    With the squirt I just got I've already noticed the benefits of the outside opening tools and have actually used the knife a few times already when I thought I wouldn't.
    I reached into my pocket where I've also got a Buck 283, and the squirt was what my hand found first so I just pulled it out and used it because it's got a sharp blade that's just as acessable as any dedicated knife.
    I'll always love the Micra, but the Squirt definitely has some advantages in many ways besides having pliers.
    I can see the Phillips fitting a wider array of sizes, the standard driver is broader and of course it's got a file good for other things than just fingernails.
  3. Pilsner

    Pilsner Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Oct 28, 2017
    A really beautiful thread, OP, I enjoyed reading that. :thumbsup:

    I was converted to Leatherman by my wife, before which I had never seen one! They are far less common in the UK for some reason. She is an eminently practical woman and had decided, before we met, that she would be better served with a really good multi-tool than investing in a large tool box. Most of our possessions are ‘our’ stuff, and we share finances etc. However, her Leatherman has remained her Leatherman, like my knives are my knives! Therefore, I own two of my own Leathermans, a Charge Ti and a Skeletool CFX. The Charge Ti is a boat anchor, I’ll admit, but the Skeletool is negligible weight to carry.

    All that being said, what with this thread and another, my Vic Classic is now being considered for a vacation. I am beginning to think I might give the Squirt a try... ;)
    HwangJino, NirreBosse, Smaug and 2 others like this.
  4. jmh33

    jmh33 Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 16, 2003
    I have had an Squirt P4 on my house key ring for the past 15plus yrs.. And to be honest, have used it very little.. This past spring I put a Vic Classic on my truck key ring and have used that a whole lot more.. There have been a few times (such as now) that I have thought about removing the P4 from my ring but I guess it has been there so long it will stay..:D John
    Superdave1, NirreBosse, Smaug and 2 others like this.
  5. jackknife


    Oct 2, 2004
    Pilsner, that boat anchor weight, was what kept me from ever trying the Leathermans. I figured that I didn't need a heavy duty pliers with a few tools tossed in as I went about my everyday life. It seemed like a solution to a non existent problem. Since I keep a tool kit behind the seat of the pickup, and another in the trunk of the Camry, I had tools. I much prefer full size 'real' tools if I have to fix something.

    But the small pocket size tool like the squirt, was a game changer for me. It's like a small sub compact pocket knife like a Case peanut or Victorinox executive vs the full size knife like a Buck 110. Much easier to have with you all the time, and with a little care they will get it done. Always being a minimalist, I appreciate the small item that you can forget about in the pocket. That was why I was always a huge SAK fan, they were easy to just drop in a pocket and mostly would get it done. If the small pocket tool isn't enough, then it's time for a real tool. The once or twice I have run into something the squirt couldn't deal with, a larger Leatherman wouldn't have done either. I ended up using a full size large vice grip and a large Snap On Phillips driver from the truck kit. But for small jobs like repairing an electric pencil sharpener or G.E. Toaster, the squirt was fine. And it's a great fishing companion.
    GABaus, NirreBosse, Smaug and 2 others like this.
  6. Pilsner

    Pilsner Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Oct 28, 2017
    Words of wisdom indeed, sir. I have succumbed and, thanks to you, have just ordered a Squirt PS4. :D
  7. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel

    Feb 11, 2016
    I will always love my leatherman fuse and will carry it on my belt often, I just don't always need a multitool that's full sized when I'm at home.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2018
    Pilsner likes this.
  8. TrainedBullets


    Apr 23, 2017
    I’ve come to roughly the same conclusion - a keychain sized leatherman (Squirt PS4 - I constantly use the small pliers) and a keychain SAK (Manager) is a nice EDC combination.

    I typically add in a small (sub 3”) fixed blade for better cutting/working ability and a keychain sized flashlight.

    When I’m out of the home, I add in a real pen (Hinderer Investigator in my wallet).
    Smaug and jmh33 like this.
  9. James Y

    James Y

    Feb 18, 1999
    I have and used to carry my Victorinox Spirit multi-tool, but haven't for some time. It's my favorite 'full-size' MT, but now only use it when doing work around the house/yard.

    For many years, I carried a Micra in my gear bag, but rarely ever used it. What really bothered me about it (and many of the older Leathermans) was having to open the whole tool just to access any of the implements. I do have an old P4 Squirt that sees some use around the house. But now that I've checked out the PS4, IMO it looks more useful than my P4.

    If I do buy a PS4, it would never replace my SAK Executive, but as jackknife says, a PS4 would make a good partner to my SAK. For that matter, I would still also carry my Spartan (or my Pioneer) in my left cargo pocket as well. They're all small and compact enough to not get in the way.

    Thanks a lot (I think ;)), jackknife and Pilsner.

    Last edited: Nov 26, 2018
  10. Smaug

    Smaug Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 30, 2003
    This is the best part: trying different combos of MTs and knives.

    For my daily office carry, I like a Vic Manager in my pocket and a small folder (< 3.25" blade) ON my pocket. Sometimes, I admit to myself that I don't NEED the folder and just carry the Manager.

    When I don't have a SAK on me, I miss the toothpick immediately.

    Today, I heading to Poland for a trip. I've got a Cyber Tool M in the luggage. And a small folder, in case things get rough or fast. Then, a bladeless Wenger Esquire in my coon pocket.

    If you don't have a Cyber Tool, check one out. That long driver with all the bits... It's just brilliant. In Europe, they love their metric Allen and Torx head screws. I wish we had more Torx here.
  11. A.L.


    Jun 27, 2007
    Great writing jackknife, I really enjoyed that! :thumbsup:

    The only time when I really prefer dedicated pocket knife instead of multitool is when I'm at work where I need to do lots of little cutting tasks. That's where I prefer to have small pocket knife that I can access and open more conveniently. Where ever I go and don't honestly need the knife so much, I much prefer to go with multitool that offers more versatility and features.
    Storm 8593 and NirreBosse like this.
  12. jackknife


    Oct 2, 2004
    [QUOTE="Smaug, post: 18579025, member: 128153"

    If you don't have a Cyber Tool, check one out. That long driver with all the bits... It's just brilliant. In Europe, they love their metric Allen and Torx head screws. I wish we had more Torx here.[/QUOTE]

    Give it time. I've seen from when I was a kid, everything was regular flat screws, then in the 60's it slowly changed and became all Phillips screws except for firearms and some woodworking. You almost never needed a Phillips screw driver in the 50's or even 60's. Now we're slowly seeing more Torx heads in the U.S. and it will slowly take over. By the time a few other generations come and go, they'll probably have anti matter fasteners. :eek:
    GABaus, NirreBosse and Smaug like this.
  13. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel

    Feb 11, 2016
    Give it time. I've seen from when I was a kid, everything was regular flat screws, then in the 60's it slowly changed and became all Phillips screws except for firearms and some woodworking. You almost never needed a Phillips screw driver in the 50's or even 60's. Now we're slowly seeing more Torx heads in the U.S. and it will slowly take over. By the time a few other generations come and go, they'll probably have anti matter fasteners. :eek:[/QUOTE]
    This is off topic, but you reminded me of something.
    Last summer my uncle came to help redo the roof, and he went on a rant when he noticed that I had used some standard screws to attach the latch to my gate or something.
    He told me they were totally worthless to never use them, and I assume it's probably because they don't play well with power drills but he merely expressed his distain without explanation.

    Anyways he's a plumber and when I acquired an early Treemont pipe wrench a few months back I decided to Clean it up and mount it to a plaque as a gift for him,
    In the process made sure to use standard screws to attach the wall mounting bracket to the plaque and it made for a good laugh.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2018
    NirreBosse and Smaug like this.
  14. Pilsner

    Pilsner Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Oct 28, 2017
    My PS4 arrived today. First reaction is: I like it! I made the swift decision that I will keep the Vic Classic on my key chain and just slip the PS4 into my pocket. Now I have the best of both worlds. :thumbsup:

    EDIT: I am a dreadful person. I have put one of my very useful Victorinox lanyards on my PS4. They are great for fishing a small item out of a deep pocket. It is all kinds of wrong, I know, but it is now perfect. :p
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2018
  15. jackknife


    Oct 2, 2004
    I think you will find that the squirt is like the Vic classic and Case peanut; the more you use it in your everyday life, the more you will love it. For the 'normal' everyday things most people encounter in a suburban/urban environment , the little squirt has a huge amount of versatile mission capability.

    What was it that Bogy said at the end of Casablanca?

    "I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship."
    Storm 8593, NirreBosse and Pilsner like this.
  16. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel

    Feb 11, 2016
    I was out in the garage working on something when I discovered that my adjustsble shop stool had gotten a long piece of string caught up in one of it's caster wheels jamming it up , as it turns out the squirt pliers were actually the only pliers thin enough to fit between the wheel and body to get that string pulled out.
    That is unless I wanted to go back inside and fetch the hemostats from my house box.

    The screwdriver also came in handy yesterday in changing the circular bulb in the hallway.
    I got on top rung of the step stool, removed the glass cover, and then discovered there was a Phillips screw to deal with. Of course I could have stepped down and grabbed a screwdriver from my house box but this was right there in my pocket and perfectly adequate for the task.

    The scissors are a given, I used the scissors on my Micra an Vic classics all the time.
    They work fine, but nothing works as well on stray mustache hairs like the Vic classic scissors.
    NirreBosse likes this.
  17. Loulasher


    Jul 29, 2013
    The PS4 is arguably the best keychain tool for the weight available to the world at this time. I have tried and used more keychain sized tools than I care to admit. Gerber offerings pale in comparison as far as longevity and quality is concerned , and saks though highly polished and fit and finish second to none do not fit the exact tool set as the ps4. If you only had what was on your keys to use in a pinch the PS4 is probably the most capable 2 oz piece of metal you could wish for. In an attempt to simplify before I walk out the door I grab three things in a hurry- phone , wallet, keys. If I remember the knife great....but if I don’t , the PS4 is on the keys- I don’t feel anything else is necessary 98 percent of the time.
  18. tiguy7

    tiguy7 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 25, 2008
    C7B3474A-1A5E-4FF1-AB96-852A9D78A189.jpeg Spydie SAK MiniChamp
  19. TrapperMike

    TrapperMike Basic Member Basic Member

    Nov 23, 2016
    @jackknife great story. A few small tools can really help you out in day to day life. My recruit works great. I have never tried the squirt but I do like the Leatherman skeletool. It is larger than the squirt but doesnt take up to much room. I like it because it has the normal tools I use most and nothing else. It has pliers, a bit driver with a double sided philips and a double sided flat head that is stored in the handle. It has a knife blade and the carabiner doublws as a bottle opener. It has been a nice little tool for about 95 % of my everyday needs.
    Storm 8593 and NirreBosse like this.
  20. jackncoke

    jackncoke Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 10, 2008
    I loved reading that OP. A very pragmatic and practical view on what we actually need and use. In a world of abundance and choice, it’s nice to hear stories, like your father’s, of the depression era generation making due with what they had available. Till the day he died, my grandfather never threw anything away and always made due with what he had.

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