Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Miscellany: Leatherman Blast review

Leatherman has introduced a lot of neat innovations to the multi-tool world (the replaceable wire cutters in the Super Tool 300, the Crunch's ingenious vise grip plier design), but they still make some basic, meat-and-potatoes tools for the budget-minded. One model that's seen a lot of use here at Shangrila Towers is my Dad's Leatherman Blast:

The Blast is a midweight multi-tool, weighing in at 6.9 ounces. It's not quite light enough to carry everyday; on the other hand, it's heavy enough to tackle most jobs. The opening and closing mechanism isn't as slick as a SwissTool (look for a review of my new SwissTool Spirit in the coming months), but overall, the fit and finish is several notches above the nameless Chinese imports that cram the big box shelves nowadays.

The Blast packs a regular clip point blade (420HC steel) and a saw blade (very nice to have, especially if you plan on cutting wood). Both are functional, though you may wish for a tool with a one-handed opening knife after messing with the clunky Leatherman locking system.

On one side of the tool, you have a set of scissors and a file. The scissors are a little spartan, but comfortable enough to use. The file is good; as is typical with Leatherman files, the texturing runs up all the way to the edge.

I like the pliers on the Blast. The narrow head size really comes in handy for the kind of prying and gripping tasks you use a multi-tool for. I haven't used the wire cutters extensively, but they're designed the same way as every other tool.

The Leatherman can opener is a little controversial to some folks. I do like the Victorinox/Wenger design better, but the Leatherman certainly works. Rather than a passel of interchangeable bits, the Blast uses dedicated drivers for all but the eyeglass driver. Check 'em out:

The Blast comes in a basic sheath that can be mounted on a belt via a simple loop. Considering the price point, it's not surprising they skimped on the sheath, an item that most users will want to customize anyway. All in all, this is a good basic multi-tool and a great last-minute gift idea for any mechanically-inclined guy or gal.


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