Leatherman is the Pixar of the Gear World--the mainstream loves them and the hardcore appreciates them. They make great stuff, have the best or one of the best design teams in the business, and make everything here in the USA. Their prices are reasonable and you can get one of their best tools, the Wave, just about anywhere in the US with a drive to Sears (or the moribund carcass of Sears), Lowes, or Home Depot. Item for item, tool for tool, Leatherman is hard to beat on price and performance. Add to this their 25-year, no-questions-asked, ship-them-a-bag-of-parts-and-they-will-send-you-a-new-tool warranty, and it is easy to see why they are broadly popular.
The Skeletool KB is a knife (or multitool) reduced to its barest essentials and then upscaled to add a clever bottle opener. The Baladeo knives that were popular a few years ago were really too flimsy to run on an everyday basis, but the KB is actually more than capable of being your EDC. The fact that it is one of the cheapest real knives on the market, and certainly one of the cheapest from a real brand. Consider that it is made in America and the KB really pushes the knife market.
As a side note, I am reviewing this using the Knife Scoring System because, well, its really a knife. The bottle opener works and it is a nice bit of added functionality, but this isn't exactly the most multi- of multitools.
Here is the product page. The Leatherman Skeletool KB costs $24.95. Here is a written overview. Here is a video review. Here is a link to Blade HQ, where you can find the Skeletool KB, and all proceeds benefit the site when you purchase things through this link:
Here is the review sample:
Twitter Review Summary: A challenger to the King of the Budget blades but now its a three-way competition.
First, here it is next to an OG Skeletool CX (as in serrated blade version):
And here the KB is in its natural habitat:
The KB (standing for "Knife Bottleopener") is an excellent EDC knife and a very good hiking knife in large part because of its tiny footprint and feather weight. Its no wider than your index finger and weighs less than an ounce. And, unlike a lot of these ultralight knives, this feels substantial. The frame is made of cleverly folded sheet metal and polycarbonate, resulting in a rigid feel when locked in place. Its not Andrew Demko AD-10 solid, but then again few folders are. Instead, what you get, is an excellent knife that feels like a knife instead of the flexing parts of a bicycle wheel. Its this sound feel in the hand that makes this entire knife work. Without it, the KB would join that growing pile of "knives" that are called ultralight because, apparently, you can sell anything to people with that label. I am sure many backpackers have a collection of label-free soup cans inviting them to play soup roulette for dinner to prove it (more experienced ones might mark them with a Sharpie).
The blade:weight is 2, which is quite good though not the best ever. The blade:handle is .75, which is a bit lower than I thought it would be, but once you look at the rear end of the knife you will see why--there is a bunch of wasted space necessitated by the asymmetric handle scales.
Fit and Finish: 2
There is one big ding on the fit and finish, but I am going to save that for a more specific category. Overall, the knife is very solid, well put together, and functions very smoothly. There are a couple of places where I'd like another once over before it left the factory, like on the spine, which seems unnecessarily sharp, but beyond that its quite good. The difference between the fit and finish here and on a good $50 or $60 is negligible.
This was something of a concern for me, as the knife is so small and slender, but, as you can see, there is a good index notch and the flare at the end of the handle reminds me of something you'd find on a Teardrop Jack. Overall I was very surprised, especially when you consider the bottle opening hook just about disappears when holding the knife.
This is one of those knives that demonstrates why it is irresponsible for reviewers to do "reviews" based on pictures alone. I would have thought, and probably stated emphatically, that the bottle opener hook would have caused a serious problem. But, after a few months of use, I can say that it has been completely invisible. There is simply no impact on carry. It never got snagged nor did it make the knife harder to retrieve. In the end, that concern having melted away, you are left with a damn near perfect carry knife--slim and light. All gear reviews need to be hands on and this shows you why.
I am not a fan of the 420HC here. On a Buck knife, coupled with the Bos heat treat, 420HC is actually pretty good, something like a 1 on my scale and roughly equivalent to VG-10, though a little softer. Here, the 420 HC is just soft. During the testing on the KB I got in a Worksharp and it was amazingly fun to play one. One of the things it allowed me to do, sort of as a side effect, to to really figure out how steels work. The steel here is NOTICEABLY easier to sharpen and grind than the steel on my Buck Vantage. Its not even close. The real world result of this is a knife that needs to be sharpened more often than I'd like. A KB with the 154CM of the original Skeletool CX would be very cool. As it is, the steel is the very definition of meh.
Blade Shape: 2
I always liked the blade shape on the Skeletool CX's knife and translating that over to a knife-only tool hasn't changed that opinion.
Its really quite good, with plenty of belly (for a 2.5 inch blade) and a nice tip good for piercing things like stubborn clam shell packages. I never feel like I am lost when using this knife and I never feel like I need more control. Its just spot on.
I debated giving this a 0. Based on looks alone it merited a 0. The main grind here is a very chunky and rough CNC machine grind. The cutting edge, thankfully, appears to be a hand ground edge. That, in the end saves the knife, because the main grind is so rough that it can impact cutting. You get a distinctive zipping sound on thin tough material, like cardstock. I know that it is done this way to save money and that's why this is a $25 blade, but a little bead blasting or stonewashing could have tamed this down a bit. As it is, the grind works, but is ugly as sin.
Deployment Method: 2
The jelly bean shape is not as aesthetically pleasing as the Spyderco Hole, but it works and works better than an oval. I was really surprised at how smooth the Teflon washers were (they are obviously Teflon, you can see them if you look at the pivot from the correct angle). Deployment was quite surprising here in light of the price tag.
Retention Method: 2
Ignore the bottle opening hook for second, this is a great clip.
It lays flat, is long enough to keep the knife in the right position, and never rolls. Excellent. The hook is there to make you think this knife might not be good in the pocket or the hand, but ignore that too. It just about disappears. Great clip, even if it is a bit long when in use.
There is all sorts of design cleverness here. The collar around the pivot screw acts as an overtravel device (like on the original Skeletool CX). The asymmetric handles make it easy to access the lock to disengage it. And it stays put when engaged. No complaints here at all.
Overall Score: 17 out of 20
In this size the CRKT Drifter is a very good and very traditional choice. The KaBar Dozier and Mini Dozier are good too, but I like the KB better. It just feels a bit more solid and its unconventional design is actually a plus. But these common choices for best budget blade are really challenged by the $35 LA Police Gear TBFK. For $35 you get an S35VN blade with a bearing pivot flipper. That's a game changer. Still, that is a big knife and this is a small one. If you are looking for a people friendly, easy carry budget folder, this is it.