Monday, January 30, 2012

Leatherman Squirt PS4 Review

Imagine this: you go to the car dealer looking for a sports car but knowing the significant other (and comptroller of the household finances) will only approve a gas sipping leaf mobile.  You arrive and the dealer tells you that the sports car you want gets better gas mileage than the gas sipping leaf mobile.  Perfect.  Sold.  Done deal.

Well for a long time in the world of keychain multitools there was nothing that had both pliers and scissors, well nothing made by Leatherman.  Then last year, they released my dream keychain tool--the Squirt PS4.  it is the sports car with leaf mobile gas mileage. 

A search of quality tools shows that few if any had both a nice set of needle nose pliers AND a pair of scissors.  It was like Kafka rewrote Goldilocks and she never finds the bowl of porridge that is just right, instead she finds hundreds of bowls of porridge that are almost perfect (and since this is a Kafka version of Goldilocks, because of her delay in sampling hundreds of bowls of porridge, she is still awake when the bears get home and they eat her, and then she wakes up and she IS a bear...).  Victorinox didn't give us the PERFECT set of tools (why, why do they have that stupid corkscrew?).  SOG didn't either.  And Leatherman kept teasing us.  I like the Micra.  Its nice.  But pliers are so helpful.  

Then the PS4 was born.  The clouds parted, heaven erupted into a choir of angels, and multitool perfection was delivered.  As you can tell, I like this tool.  I like it so much that I once decided to see just how much I could do with it.  Using only a PS4 I replaced the electrical ball chain toggle switch in a ceiling fan.  All of the screws, all of the electrical wires, everything with just the PS4.  And it worked well.  The small sized saved my shoulders.  It wasn't fast, but it definitely worked.  

Here is the product page for the PS4.  It comes in a bunch of colors, blue, red, know.  Here is a written review.  Here is a video review.  Here are the Amazon reviews.  It has a score of 4.34 stars out of 5 on Amazon with 93 reviews.  And here is my PS4:


Design: 2

The PS4 is impeccably designed.  Every tool is well-placed, well-sized, and easy to use.  The tool's lines are hand friendly and pocket approved.  The torx bits for user servicing are a welcome though probably unnecessary touch (especially given the price).  Everything is very accessible.  It is not as unconventional as the design on the Skeletool, but this is an expertly envisioned mutlitool. 

Fit and Finish: 2

As nice as the design is, the translation to real life parts is equally good.  The corners are rounded and the nail nicks work well (and are really the only feasible opening method).  The pliers aren't beefy, but they are stout given the tool's overall size and they are spring loaded.  Really nice tool.  Oh and it is less than $25. 

Theme: 2

Imagined as a keychain multitool, the focus is excellent a good selection of nicely sized everyday tools.  The tool collapses into a very pocketable size and everything is super non-threatening.

Grip: 2

There is plenty of grip in most using positions thanks to stout little handles and a very textured aluminum shell.  In pliers mode, the handles flex a little, but that happens on almost all small and medium sized multitools. 

Carry: 2

I am sort of infatuated with the coin pocket on jeans. This little guy just falls away in there.  It is beautiful.  I can carry around a good portion of a toolbox, miniaturized, in my jeans pocket and still have the regular pocket free.  I also like the keyring attachment.  It works very well, especially with the coated mechanics cable I use.  It is also no so big as to be bulky when it lives on your keychain.  

Materials: 2

The aluminum's nice and the blade is made of 420HC.  Not the finest steel in the world, not by a long shot, but in its class, there is nothing better anywhere.  Sure I'd like S30V, but it is neither necessary nor practical.  Given that most multitools in this class have "mystery steel" 420HC is top of the class.  It is also super easy to sharpen.  

Deployment/Accessibility: 2

All of the tools but the pliers are externally accessible.  All of them have good clearance for your nail to get in there and pop them out.  Excellent all the way around, especially consider the diminutive size. 

Retention Method: 2

It is a keychain multitool and the keyring attachment split ring is nice and beefy.  I don't use it, but it is better than a lot of them out there.  Also the attachment point on the PS4 rotates around one of the pivots for a little more wiggle and flexibility. 

Tool Selection: 2

You get all of the most used items: pliers, scissors, Phillips and flat head (I have always called them "plus" and "minus" ever since I was kid; it just seems more intuitive and expressive); and a decent little blade.  The file is...I guess useful, but seems a bit out of place.  That said I have actually used to a couple of times.  If I were to build this thing from scratch though I'd install the very handy looking clam shell opener found the new Sidekick instead of the file.  Still, everything I'd want with a toss in tool that isn't that bad. 

Tool Performance: 2

The pliers are really great.  They are narrow enough to do detail work and are more robust than the tweezers on the Micra.  I really, really like them.  I also like the tiny blade.  I have used it for all sorts of tasks and it does them well.  I wouldn't cut thick cardboard or drywall with it, but for everyday tasks, you can't complain.  It also doesn't look like a weapon which is a plus, unless your a mall ninja.  If you are, then your probably looking for a multitool like this

Overall Score: 20 out of 20

This is the perfect keychain multitool.  There is nothing out there even close.  At $25, it is a steal, an absolute steal.  If you have no EDC stuff (why are you even READING this blog?) then start here. It was the winner in the $50 max recommendations.  Everyone, everywhere should have one of these.  If you are in pure survival mode, the negligible weight and tiny pliers make it worth it.  If you are an urbanite where "adventure" means a new coffee flavor at Starbucks (Where the fuck is my white chocolate candy cane latte? I NEED one.), this thing is great at severing clam shells.  If you are a suburbanite like me, this guy is great--repairing ceiling fans, cutting twine at the lumberyard, or fixing a kid's toy, this thing does it all.  If I were issuing standard EDC for everyone, this would be one thing in the kit.  Plus it disappears in jeans coin pockets.  I LOVE THIS TOOL.    


  1. I love my Squirt too. Always in my pocket and gets used all the time.

  2. I think you pegged it well! I bought my PS4 as a lark, and am starting to notice how often I actually use it.

    I agree that the big wood file is the one oddball choice on the PS4. Why not a dedicated nail file / emery board? Much more appropriate for a keychain MT. Fortunately the tiny scissors are sharp, good for nail trimming.

    I thought the wee cap lifter would suck, but it works fine with proper technique.

    I gravitate toward the scissors over the pliers in any small multitool. I miss the S4; it had my perfect tool set, but was discontinued before I discovered the joys of EDC. I have never even used the PS4's impressive pliers, though I just used the wire cutters for the first time!

  3. The PS4 is also really good as what I call a "tool extender."

    This is when you take a very small EDC item (e.g., Spyderco Ladybug, various 1xAAA keychain lights) and keyring a second small tool to the back of it, giving you a flexible combo tool with a longer area to grip.

    I got this idea from Spydercollector. His site has a great pic of his huge, totally color-coordinated collection of 10 Ladybug-linked-to-Victorinox-Classic combo tools. Epic male accessorizing. :)

    I combo my Leatherman PS4 to the back of a AAA keychain light. It aids retrieval and makes the tiny light sit better in the hand during use.

  4. This review really intrigued me, Tony. I'll admit I don't own many multi-tools, but it sounds like this one has a lot going for it and the price is right. I don't think I would mind 420HC on this one (for the blade) as it wouldn't be a primary knife for me. Maybe I will pick one up.

  5. As I use the PS4 more I am having trouble finding anything that the little chisel grind knife blade is good for. It seems kind of useless. It is a big step down in practice from even a small SAK blade. Can't cut paper well, too short for food prep; doesn't cut straight b/c of the chisel grind. It even struggled cutting the soft wax off of the cap of a bottle of balsamic vinegar!

    What do you use the PS4 blade for? I like the PS4 very much overall (esp. the scissors, cap lifter, and drivers) but so far I think the blade is a washout. Would be better as a bladeless multitool because then you could carry it on a plane (right?).

  6. I use the blade a lot to cut twine and similar sized rope. I also use it quite a bit as a scoring instrument or mark in wood working, especially in places I couldn't reach with a small chisel or scoring knife. It also works well cutting open packages, clam packs, and mail. I actually like it a good deal. As a woodworker it is a great scoring tool.

  7. Interesting. I have had very poor results using the PS4 blade to open mail, even compared to my SAK Cadet blade. Maybe it's a technique issue.

    Opening clamshells and cutting twine, I could see.

  8. They dropped the torx bits in the current PS4's - Sean

  9. Playing devil's advocate, I'm fairly certain TSA confiscates scissors too so even breaking off the knife blade would still qualify the PS4 for the taking, yes?

  10. The perfect pocket multi-tool? Hmm. I would be interested to know how you think the Squirt PS4 ranks compared to the SeberTech M4 -- the OLD version, before the design was sold to IDL Tools. I know the M4 is out of production, but since I currently carry an M4, I'd be interested to know if you think the PS4 is actually better. The M4 doesn't have scissors, but I suspect it may be equal-to or better-than the PS4 in all other respects.

    1. This little MT looks really clever. Here is a review over at,3088.0.html

      I am going to track one down now.

      Two things though, one, I am going to amend the score here in light of the Gerber Dime. Two, I really like scissors on my multitools.

      That said, this is totally worth finding.

  11. Great blog. All posts have something to learn. Your work is very good and i appreciate you and hopping for some more informative posts. Cheapest PS4

  12. Thanks again for this review. I've had my Squirt for almost two years now. The problem I've had is that it's TOO handy. Specifically, I'll use these pliers rather than spend 60 seconds getting a proper set of pliers for a job. As a result I just broke the pliers for the third time applying too much force.

    Leatherman repairs them every time no questions asked, but I think break #3 means it's time to look at a Skeletool or Wingman; the pliers on those look more substantial.

  13. I like multi-tools too and it's Christmas, so if you want to get the best for you, you should look at Swiss Army Knife
    and Leatherman

  14. I like multi-tools too and it's Christmas, so if you want to get the best for you, you should look at Swiss Army Knife
    and Leatherman