Review: Leatherman FREE P2 Multi-tool

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Review: Leatherman FREE P2 Multi-tool

When you dig into the numbers, it might surprise you to learn that the most-carried multi-tool in our community by a large margin came out twenty years ago. Despite its age, the Leatherman Wave has yet to be dethroned as an essential EDC crowd favorite. 

So, how do you make what's arguably the best multi-tool even better? That's the challenge the designers and engineers at Leatherman spent the better part of the past five years trying to solve. Their answer: the all-new FREE collection, a complete overhaul of the Leatherman lineup of tools designed from the ground up as a modern evolution of the EDC multi-tool. They're jam-packed with new technology and innovations aimed to deliver unmatched durability, quicker access, and easier operation than ever before. 

After meeting the Leatherman team at their headquarters in Portland, OR for a deep dive into their next wave of tools, we tested our review unit of the FREE P2 for a couple of weeks to gather early impressions. In this review, we'll see if the new Leatherman FREE P2 will really click with modern day EDCers.

Upon first glance, the new FREE P2 looks almost unrecognizable as a Leatherman tool with its shiny, new, futuristic design. It measures 4.25” long, 1.25” wide and about 0.6” thick, weighing in at 7.6 ounces. Compared to say, a Wave, it's a bit longer but overall proportionally balanced and significantly lighter. Despite the lighter weight, the FREE P2 boasts 19 tools total—even more than the beloved Wave—all well-curated to handle most everyday tasks. 

Leatherman's beefy multi-functional pliers are the star of the show, of course, in their complete, top-of-the-line configuration: needlenose and regular pliers, replaceable 154CM steel hard wire cutters, the works. Next, your main cutting implements: a 2.76” long, 420HC stainless steel combo edge blade on one side and large, spring-action scissors on the other. Tucked behind them are your various screwdrivers, openers, and the like. Notice how nearly every implement boasts combined functions like individual one-piece multi-tools—it's a master class in efficiency and consolidation.

It's worth pausing to note here that Leatherman didn't try to reinvent the multi-tool by simply cramming new tools into the FREE P2's feature set. The new FREE series doesn't technically do anything new that their legacy models couldn't, but it's how it delivers that reliable Leatherman performance that makes for a revolutionary user experience that feels decidedly fresh. The all-new design provides so many little quality of life improvements that add up in a big way, one that's hard to quantify off of a specs sheet and feature list. The best example of this is the FREE's ease of access. The pursuit of consistent, effortless operation right out of the box can be seen and felt all throughout the tool as if it was baked into its design DNA from the very start.

Every tool can be deployed from a fully closed position with one hand—even the pliers (more on that, later). Better yet, you don't need to selectively dig out one tool at a time with your fingernail, pulling on nail nicks like you would in the past. Instead, the FREE's tools deploy almost like a front flipper on a knife: you can gently roll the pad of your thumb along the rounded corner of the end of the handle to cascade the tools out. The blade and scissors deploy with the pad of your thumb or finger as well—no more broken fingernails—thanks to roomy cutouts in the handle to accommodate large thumbholes. Once deployed, all of the tools lock with a newly designed cam lock mechanism located towards the spine of the handle as opposed to a liner. This ensures your fingers aren't in the path of the tools as they close, making for easier, safer operation.

If there's one single aspect of the P2's operation that really highlights what the new design achieves in terms of quick access, it's deploying the pliers. As mentioned before, you can flip out the pliers like a balisong from a completely closed position with one hand in a smooth, consistent, satisfying, “where-has-this-been-my-whole-life-I-need-this-now” kind of way. It's fast, it's fun, and borderline addictive.


Fortunately, you won't have to worry about prematurely wearing out the springs in the pliers from deploying them 24/7. Instead of the usual steel springs, which take up lots of space and wear out or corrode over time, the FREE features entirely new non-metallic elastomer springs. As a result, break-in is a thing of the past. The P2's pliers deploy smoothly and consistently right out of the box, indefinitely. Leatherman tested this themselves, simulating deploying the pliers over and over again and comparing it to a brand-new FREE. After being unable to wear out the springs after deploying the pliers literally a million times, they concluded the test.

You might be wondering, how is such smooth operation possible? What technology do we have now that we couldn't have put into multi-tools from the last decade? Well, here's the short answer: magnets. The FREE's new magnetic architecture plays a key role in the overall fluidity of the experience. They're strong enough when the handles are closed to keep them together when it's in your pocket, but once you apply a deliberate amount of effort to separate them, the handles can swing freely, smoothly, and without resistance. They also work together with the cam lock system in a complex balance of mechanical and magnetic forces to do things like keep tool implements from falling out, snap the knife back into a closed position on its own, and so on.

Any time you handle the tool, the magnets combined with the new lock create this symphony of clicks. Leatherman proudly dubbed this effect “epic haptics” to describe the tactile and auditory feedback you get when everything falls into place with a confidence-inspiring snap. It's almost like a hidden bonus function: a Leatherman fidget tool, anyone? 

Before we move on from magnets, you should know the ones here are working on a very small scale, shielded in a controlled space. According to Leatherman, they shouldn't interfere with things like your cell phone, pacemaker, credit cards, and so on. Metal shavings from filing do collect onto the outside of the magnets, but that's a better outcome than gunking up pivots and moving parts. The filings clean up with a quick wipe, anyway.

I've only been using the FREE P2 for a couple of weeks since receiving my early sample from Leatherman. So far, I've managed to use the pliers to fix my window that wouldn't shut, the screwdriver to replace a wobbly doorknob, and the pry tool to unbox a few packages here and there. The tools performed as well as past Leathermans I've used, only this time getting to them was quicker and smoother. But not initially. The biggest hurdle I had and suspect many of you might run into is simply the learning curve of using this tool: new deployment, new locks, new positioning and asymmetry to commit to muscle memory, and so on. It's unlike any multi-tool before it, but I'm confident with some patience and time it'll be worth it. Despite the steep initial learning curve, it simply feels fun and rewarding to deploy and fidget with, so I don't mind all the practice.

The FREE P2 doesn't come with every function under the sun, but I appreciate that restraint. It feels curated to just the essentials for everyday tasks. It's slim, light, and easy to use enough to justify keeping it in my pocket and not relegated to a drawer in the kitchen. I don't miss corkscrews and bit drivers and diamond-coated files in my day-to-day. The FREE P2 isn't meant to be a toolbox replacement, but rather, a daily companion.

They say the best things in life are free. The P2 might be the best multi-tool for EDC to date, but it's priced accordingly as a premium product with an MSRP of $119.95. Its bigger sibling, the P4, launches alongside it at an even higher price of $139.95 and comes with more blades. For the money, you're also getting a nylon belt sheath, made-in-USA construction, and peace of mind from Leatherman's 25 year guarantee. 

If you're looking for your first serious multi-tool, the P2 could be worth the price and learning curve as it's on the cutting edge of technology and should last you decades. If you're holding onto the same Leatherman at your side for years, the FREE P2's overall improved experience alone might be worth the upgrade. 

For those of you who prefer something other than a pliers-based tool, stay tuned for more tools in the FREE collection coming later this year.

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Disclosure: I received this product at no charge courtesy of the manufacturer for editorial consideration. That doesn’t, however, affect my opinion of the product as stated in this review.

#leatherman-free-p2 #leatherman-free #reviews #multitools #multitool #leatherman #leatherman-free-review #free-p2 #leatherman-p4-vs-p2 see all



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Discussion (16 total)

Too bad they used low end 420HC and left off the bit driver. For everyday use the Skeletool CX is likely still a better option.

Do the handle tools open when you swing open the pliers? I saw that happen on a video.
Yeah the bit driver is a trade off that I’m sure some people would miss. The handle tools swing open if I really snap the final click to lock the pliers open, but the tools don’t get in the way. I had a hard time replicating it but it did happen to me a few times
My tools pop out every time.
"Notice how nearly every implement boasts combined functions like individual one-piece multi-tools—it's a master class in efficiency and consolidation".

There are FOUR flat-head screwdrivers. The awl doesn't even come into a point because they had to stick a flat-head on it. Also for some reason they took away the 8 inch ruler along the handles and added it as a 1.4 inch separate tool.
Just got mine yesterday and honestly I really like the design. Having all the tools externally accessible pretty great too. my wife will occasionally need to use my multi-tools and has had issues with getting the tools out that she needs and the free's design works really well if you hand it off to someone and they aren't as used to multi-tools( as shocking as it is, we all know those people). All in all I would say this is a decent tool for edc.
I have had a P2 for a few days and have used it at work. A little background, I have used Leatherman tools since the late 80s and still use a couple of early PSTs. I have an original Wave, newer Wave, a crunch, skeletools, Supertools and a wingman in the mix. I currently daily carry a charge TTI+ Damascus.
With this said I am severally disappointed in the P2. Honesty it’s the only Leatherman I’ve ever felt was overpriced, and I carry a $300 Charge TTi. I see the P2 compared to the Wave and charge, I just don’t see it. The tools in my P2 look nothing like my Wave/Charge, they look like the wingman tools.
It seems to me that every tool Leatherman made prior to this met a work function.
The Free P2/P4 is a hipster status symbol.
You can open it with one hand, well I’ve been able to one hand open all my Leatherman tools since I was a kid.
You won’t break your nails anymore, this has never happened to me or any Leatherman owner I’ve ever known, including women.
The gray sheath shows off that you have a FREE. Why would I carry a tool I can put in my pocket on a sheath? Because the P2 clip is at a wired angle and will wear on my pocket? Because the tools pop halfway out in my pocket or whatever I pull it out?
The best selling multi tool on the market has a bit holder, yet the Free has Wingman style screw drivers. Why? Well the Wingman tools are cheaper to make and hipsters aren’t actually going to use this for work.
Every other full-size Leatherman has a ruler stamped into the body, but the Free has a very short, useless ruler printed on a bit. But wait, the Free has the same type of edge that the Wave/Charge have it stamped on. Won’t a printed rule rub off but a stamped one won’t? Just more proof of hipster status here. The printed on rule is more noticeable even though it’s almost useless.

The people reviewing the P2/P4 are really funny, by that I mean kill their own credibility.
They say that the P4 is larger than the P2 like the Surge to the Wave. Yeah, the Surge is just thicker with two more blades.
On the P4 reviews I keep seeing these guys say they like the straight blade hanging out like it does so they know which blade it is. These same guys claim to own and use the Wave and hate that they don’t know which blade they are opening until they open it. Yeah, well someone in the Pre hipster Leatherman era put jimping on the spine of the serrated blade for that very reason.
One guy describes the blade locks on the Wave as really weird. I guess he hasn’t seen many knives in his day since liner locks are very common.
A lot of these reviewers spend time talking about “these little tabs sticking up on the handles”. They focus on weather or not they will poke your hand. One guy even recommended to file them off. It’s pretty obvious that they are alignment tabs, they are needed to line the handles up when closing due to the excessive play.
These guys notice the little bitty tabs, but miss the huge hot spots created bu the locks on the handles.

The bottom line to me is that this tool is not for the working man to buy and use. This tool was made to show off “hey guys look what I have”. People with 120-140 to spend on a tool to use will buy a Wave or Surge, maybe a charge. People with 120-140 to show off will buy a Free.
I bought one of these and love it! Never owned a Wave, but I do have a Surge and a Wingman. Love my Surge, but it's too big and heavy for EDC, and the Wingman has always felt like a little toy to me. This is the sweet spot. Magnets keep all the external implements and pliers closed until needed. It takes just a little bit of pressure with your finger tips to overpower the magnets and get to the tools. The P2 is about the same weight as the Wingman, but its longer so it fits my hand better. It also feels much more sturdy.
I'm quite tempted to get one of these. I have more Leathermans around than I need, but I love to learn new gadgets (that's why I'm an EDC person). One thing that the Wave lacks is outside-accessible scissors. Its scissors are okay, but they are small and tucked a way inside, and I've never felt that two blades are necessary. I'll still keep my Surge in the drawer (too heavy to carry regularly, but it has the tool set needed for home owner/ urgent toy repair needs) but I'm keen to take this P2 for a spin. Anybody wanna buy my MUT or my Wave?
My bf used to own a leatherman but lost it unfortunately. Thinking of getting this a replacement. He works in the hvac industry and used to use his leatherman on the job at times for those odds and ends. Would the free p2 be too lacking in tools compared with the surge? I intend on subtly getting more info from him ruining the surprise, just thought while I'm here I'd ask around for thoughts and input from anyone who happens to work in hvac or has used both. Thanks :)
Based off of what you said I recommend that you get another Surge for him. The P2 is a fidget spinner and the Surge is a workhorse.
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Now if only they can use decent metals so the tools don’t snap after the first couple uses. Letterman and Gerber both love to you junk 420 for knives and I don’t even know what junk metal that snaps so easily for screwdriver and pliers. I’ve owned at least 4 of each brand. They are over priced junk.
It’d be even better if we could pick the tools that came in it.
Should I worry about my automatic watches around those magnets?
I asked that when I was at Leatherman and they said they didn’t explicitly test that, but as far as I know it shouldn’t affect the watch unless you open the FREE handle and rub the end of it to the back of your very old watch that doesn’t have any anti magnetism components. The strength we’re talking when dealing with external metallic objects is like.. you can make a small uncoated paperclip flinch on a desk. In most general cases like, watch on your wrist, tool clipped to pocket, hand in same pocket, it shouldn’t be an issue.