So I’ve carried a leatherman on my hip everyday from about age 16 until I got my current job and now I only carry it on weekend and when I’m on vacation.
I grew up on a small farm out in the boonies and went to a school in a town that used to be a farming town but was transitioning to manufacturing and growing into a suburb. The town still very much had farming in it’s heart though and since this was nearly 20 years ago they figured it was still ok for kids to carry pocket knives.
I digress - so I’ve been a leatherman fan for a while and got a marketing email from them talking about their ‘Free’ series of tools and was particularly interested in one they call the Free K2. It’s a knife with a 3.3 inch blade and a few tools that don’t require a thumbnail to open. They also make a K4 which has a few more tools but a shorter blade is thicker, I figured for that I’d just as well carry my existing leatherman.
It was bit expensive at $80 MSRP but since I’ve used and abused leatherman tools for 20 years I figured it was worth it and really liked the look and the form factor so I ordered it in green.
Saturday it finally showed up
Generally I like it, though it’s a bit heavier than I was expecting and nearly as thick as my giant original Surge. Counting the pocket clip it is thicker.
One handed open works well enough with the knife but one handed closing is tricky yes as it doesn’t have the usual spring lock in the handle, but a small mechanism you press with your thumb up near the blade. It works well but requires pressing it with my thumb in a place I don’t have many callouses so it’s a bit painful if I do it several times in a row.
Here’s it compared my fully open giant original Surge. I love the giant Surge, it’s an amazing tool that I’ve had about 7 years after I broke the blade on the Wave I had since I was 16. It’s a very large tool but I’m a big guy and the pliers do not flex or stretch at all like my Wave did and the flexibility of the interchangeable bits on the Surge are amazing. I’ve done entire laptop disassembly and repair with just the Surge for tools. Those scissors are also amazing, they’ve been my primary fingernail and toenail clippers since I bought it.
Anyway back to the Free K2, the green cladding on the knife is colored aluminum which doesn’t look anodized but also doesn’t feel like aluminum in my hand. The coating makes it feels like a high end plastic, I do not know how it will hold up, but we’ll see.
All in all I like the tool. It isn’t a replacement for a full leatherman, but it is a nice step up in capability from a standard pocketknife. I also have a hard time recommending it at $80 unless you’re after that specific set of tools and only that in it. I’ll try everyday carrying it for a while and see how it fits my usage. I’ve already liked it over the weekend.
Just opening the inside tools on my Surge I broke a thumbnail and it had made me appreciate even more the new opening mechanism for tools. You press on the top of the tools with your thumb which opens them partly and you push the desired tool the rest of the way open like you would a blade and close the rest. It locks in place all without breaking a nail.
Once I go back to working in the office it has to stay home though. I go through a level of screening that’s pretty much TSA Precheck to enter my office building. My bag gets run through an X-Ray machine and I step through a metal detector with a bomb dog and her handler standing nearby. I can get tools through this with a thorough inspection and usually a conversation between the officers and my manager to confirm what I’m doing but that does not allow any bladed tools.