Sunday, February 15, 2015

Review: Leatherman MUT Vs. Wave Comparison

Because every loadout needs a multitool....
So a year ago I started searching for a mutitool to complement my other gear. A lot of folks say if they’re going to carry tools they want real full-size tools. Well, I agree with that sentiment, but carrying a tool box on top of pounds of other “mission essential” gear is just unrealistic. So as limited as they are in capability, a multi-tool is the only really portable thing that gives you at least some chance at fixing small day-to-day problems in the field.
I did as much research as I could (and being an OCD sonofabitch it was a LOT) on every multitool that I felt fit my needs, and originally settled on the MUT. It was a close tie with the Multitasker, but as the MT is more expensive, and since I wanted something a little more “general purpose” I went with the MUT.

It’s a nice tool, seems well built, but I immediately noticed a number of things that I really hated about it. So it was back to square one, more research, which led to the decision for the Wave, (and a close tie with the Charge), which has most of the same features of the MUT that I liked, but without some of the issues I found with the MUT.

So let’s get an in depth look at some of the pros and cons of each tool;

Leatherman MUT

The MUT has some really unique features that set it aside from other multitools- most have been covered ad nauseum elsewhere, so I’ll be brief;
It’s got your usual pliers with the replaceable cutting bits, a 50/50 serrated knife blade, a saw blade, punch and brass carbon scraper.
It also has a built in safety cutter, carabiner-clip-slash- bottle opener, "hammer", and bit driver with 3 onboard double-sided bits in commonly used sizes. 

On the pro side, I like the knife blade. It’s a good size, and even though I really don’t like 50/50 serrated blades (actually, I really hate them) this one seems to do a good job of feeling like I still have a usable portion of each section, unlike a lot of others that are all serration or all blade. And it’s stupid sharp from the factory (more on this later…)- some other blades on multitools I’ve owned in the past from lesser companies where so laughably dull it wasn’t even funny.
Further the blades lock, which is huge for a multitool, since back in the olden  days, the non-locking blades led to them snapping closed on many unhappy fingers when used in unconventional ways. Thankfully…. said knife blades were generally pretty dull…

The integrated safety cutter is a pretty good idea too- I can save myself a little extra money and weight with this feature, which I know some folks prefer to shears for quickly accessing combat injuries, chopping seatbelts, etc..
I also like how they integrate the included screwdriver bits into the tool for immediate onboard carriage and access. That, I think, is probably the coolest feature of this tool, and 2 of the 3 bits are “extended” so you can get a little better reach.
Also, you can’t really tell in the picture, but unfolded, the “handles” on the MUT are slightly different in length, with the pocket-clip end being longer and with a slight curve to it. When using the pliers, if you rest your fingers along this portion, if feels like you can get more leverage and power on your grip.
It’s kind of hard to explain, but it does seem to make a difference. 

Ok, so to start, the glaringly obvious issue:

Yeah, the thing is hefty, as you can see it’s about ¾ of a pound with the included sight/wrench tool, which you need to, you know… actually make the thing useful for gun-related use (more on that later).
Without the tool it weighs 0.68 Lb. 

And then, there’s this massive fucking pocket clip sticking off the side of the thing like the horn on a rhinoceros. Worse, you can’t take it off. Oh joy.
But it’s titanium! ERHMAGHERD!
I mean, really whose idea was this thing? It catches on everything, and adds a lot of excess width to that area which can be a bit of an issue depending on the pouch you want to stick it in…

The counter question to the integrated safety cutter is, will the tool be accessible when you need that feature? If you carry the MUT tucked away in a general purpose pouch somewhere, maybe it’s not so useful, but on the other hand, the thing is to damn big to wear accessibly on the front of your LBE like a a Benchmade 7-hook or similar safety cutter. Something to think about.

And then of course half the tools that make the “gun-centric” selling point for the MUT aren’t even attached to it. The 3/8” wrench and Front Sight adjust tool are combined on a separate tool.
And it’s annoying. Not only is it slim and slick very much a potential loss hazard, but the front sight adjustment portion is extremely pointy and sharp. In fact, you should strap it to the front of your LBE and use it as an improvised weapon. It would make a very effective “get off me bitch” eye stabber.
But in a pouch, especially one that uses thinner material (300 denier nylon or similar) for the internal organization pockets, it will likely stab right through it and tear shit up.

And then there’s the “hammer” portion- I mean, how hard are you really going to be able to hit something, using an object that weighs half a pound and only has a narrow impact section?
Honestly I can’t see this doing any better of a job than an improvised rock hammer. 

Punch- I’m not entirely sure what they were intending this to be used for, but there’s nothing on my AR that it fits… there’s an associated anecdote related to this tool that pretty much sums up my  experience with the MUT;
At a previous MVT class, I pulled out the MUT to make a quick front sight adjustment, folded out the punch- no go, it’s too thick. And since the stupid separate wrench/front sight adjust tool is a PITA to carry, I had left it elsewhere. So I had to borrow a fellow student’s tools.
Now tell me, how useful is a tool you don’t carry?

On to the WAVE;

The WAVE has your pretty standard mutitool suite of tools, but with some interesting features.
Again, beat to death elsewhere, but a brief look includes needlenose pliers with wirecutters, a saw, serrated, and plain edge blades, a file, bit driver holders, can opener, integrated rulers on the grips, scissors, etc, so forth and so on. 

Separate plain and serrated blades.
As a hater of combo blades, this is great. And they didn’t do it at the expense of a saw either.
Granted, I would have liked to see something like the serrated blade with the hook cutter like the Charge has, but see my previous thoughts on the usefulness of a safety cutter on a multitool.
Also, did I mention the blades on these things are sharp? The knife on this tool sailed through the “single sheet paper cut test” even better than my ESEE did. And ESEE puts a good edge on their knives from the factory…..
While wiping it down (more on that later) I handily stabbed my finger with it, and successfully confirmed that it is sharp enough to cut just about anything I could want to cut.
Well, you know how it is- it ain’t yours until you’ve cut yourself with it. 

Double sided file- a lot of files I’ve seen on lesser multitools in the past had one middle-of-the-road textured side on the file. With the Wave you get a fine and coarse option. 

No stupid pocket clip. There is a separate kit with a clip and lanyard loop you can buy elsewhere if one is so desired. Of course, it wouldn’t have hurt for this to be included…. but it’s not a big deal. 

Locking tools.
In addition to the locking blades and files (yes, they all lock. THANK YOU Leatherman!), the internal tools lock as well. There are these really great tabs on the sides of the handles than you can then depress to unlock them when finished. This is such a great option, I don’t know why every multitool doesn’t have these locking tabs.


A mere half pound. Yes, it’s still half a pound, but this IS a full-size tool, with all the options that implies. And it’s still a quarter pound lighter than the MUT. This means that if you want, you get to carry an extra accessory (like a handheld light, or separate safety cutter) for free.

It would have been nice if you could depress the tool locking tabs to pop up the tools to get to them better. It you don’t have a bit of fingernail to pry the internal tools up, you’re screwed.
The rulers on the sides- not really a con, but not sure how useful they’re going to be. And of course in Black they’re damn near invisible on the tool- may want to mark with some white paint pen.

Non-replaceable wire cutters- would have been a nice touch to have the replaceable cutting bits, but I guess unless you’re an electrician, not a big deal.

Black shit everywhere.
So, if you opt for the black version of the WAVE, expect to spend a good half hour wiping the thing down. For some reason the coating they use, when straight from the factory, rubs off all over the place. So if you want to use it right away, your hands will be black about 3.1 seconds after pulling it out.
The good news is, it washes off your hands very easily, and simply wipes off the tool with a paper towel.
It is going to take a bit of effort to get it all off (see the half hour time as stated), and this is also a prime time to test the sharpness of the blades on your fingers, so use some caution.

So now that we’ve covered the basics of each tool, let’s talk about how to carry the things.
If this is going on your LBE, then it’s easy- stick it in an appropriate pouch. Flapped pistol pouches are great for this, as well as something like a Taco pistol pouch, if more immediate access is required.
There are also a good number of general purpose or admin pouches that either have some internal organization that work well with these (and helps prevent all the clashing and banging and general mixing up of your stuff…), like the Milspec Monkey/Tactical Tailor Stealth pouch, or similar.
That being said, we’re going to take a quick look at the included pouches from Leatherman.

Here you can see the sheaths side by side- the WAVE sheath is on the left, and the MUT’s is on the right.
Both will get the job done, but neither are really spectacular, and I’ll tell you why in a second.

As you can see, the WAVE’s sheath is a pretty minimal bit of extra weight, compared to the MUT sheath;

There’s nothing really special to say about the WAVE sheath other than what I don’t like about it, so we’ll get that out of the way first;
Yes, it’s light, yes, it will get the job of carrying the WAVE done, but…. For one it seems very lightly built. And the edging around the opening is that awful paper-ish stuff which likes to crack and break after minimal use, not standard edging tape.
Further the fit of the WAVE in the sheath is terrible. The flap is way to long, and the internal fit reeks of a sheath designed for a “universal” fit for any multitool.
There is some sort of internal elastic band in the sheath- I assume it may be for adding a Bits set, but it seems a bit small. If it’s not for that, I have no idea why it’s there because it serves no purpose otherwise. 

That being said, with the addition of the sheath it makes only a minor change in the overall weight of the WAVE, bringing it up to what the MUT weighs by itself. 

The MUT sheath is way more solid and overbuilt, but… stupidly. As if the person who designed it didn’t really have a clue what features would actually be useful, or how they should work, and just went for making it “look” tactical, instead of actually being worthwhile (actually, the whole MUT tool feels a little like this).  Because of this, while it seems a lot more durable, there’s also a lot of needless extra weight, as you can see from the previous scale picture.
Here you can see the internals of the pouch with everything included;


So what’s wrong with this picture;
For one, the elastic bands on the side of the pouch do absolutely nothing- they don’t stretch and therefore they don’t compress the pouch at all like they’re supposed to, to help hold the tool in. Now granted, the MUT fits the pouch as-is pretty tight (thanks ginormous pocket clip!), but how the bands SHOULD properly work is to create pressure to hold the tool in if the pouch flap is left open- the pouch should be somewhat compressed when empty. This it does not do. Whatever brilliant genius designed this thing, they sewed the elastic bands at the pouches’ widest setting, so they do nothing, other than add useless extra weight.

Moving on to the front of the pouch, in order to attach the Velcro for the flap closure, they sewed on a doubled over piece of webbing with the Velcro sewn to the front. This does one thing very well- it adds a good bit of thickness to the pouch. Other than that, I’ve just go to ask “Why?” 
At least the closure flap isn’t as ridiculously long as with the WAVE pouch, but didn’t they look at any other tactical pistol-type pouches before designing this behemoth? Pretty much every pouch, including the high-end companies, have the Velcro sewn directly to the front of the pouch. If Leatherman just HAD to have the extra webbing, they could have simply used a single strip, instead of doubling it over.
The grand irony here is, if you look at the pouch from the side, you can see that there isn’t even any need for the massive piece of velcro-equipped webbing on the front in the first place, as the pouch is deep enough to support a Velcro flap without it- they could have just sewn the Velcro to the front of the pouch.

Finally, because of the way the front Velcro is sewn on, it created two small pockets at the front of the pouch. Now, this would seem to make a great slot for the separate wrench/front sight tool, as you can see in the previous picture here.
You’re wrong.
They’re too shallow to allow the extra tool to be inserted, and therefore it sticks up causing the closure flap to ride up over it excessively instead of fitting securely around the whole package. Yes, you can insert the tool and make it work, but after a while you’ll see why this is annoying.
You could also insert the extra tool into one of the side elastic bands, but it does not hold tightly enough to ever be trusted to not lose the tool under aggressive movement.
So at the end of the day, you’re left with a sheath that, while it does work, really just adds significantly to the overall weight;


Long story short, if you find either of these multitools interesting, get a different sheath.

Final thoughts;
Now, here’s where the MUT get’s absolutely slaughtered by the Multitasker 3-series;
That stupid pointy separate wrench/front sight adjustment tool- Not an issue with the ‘Tasker since it’s already attached. Knife? Check. Replaceable wire cutter bits? Check. Punch? Check. Carbon Scraper? Check. Ability to use changeable screwdriver bits? Check. Plus a few other gun-centric tools on the Multitasker.
So if you take all that away from the MUT and put it on the Multitasker, where it’s all included a little better into one package, then what do you have left with the MUT?
A saw blade, a carabiner/bottle opener, a safety cutter, and hammer of dubious use. Oh, and a really. Fucking. Annoying. Pocket clip, that you can’t get rid of- at least the ‘Tasker’s clip can be removed.
Granted, the Multitasker does weigh a bit more- about a pound with the included screw bits. This may put it over the top, weightwise, for some folks.

But here’s the thing to think about at the end of the day- are you looking for a general-purpose tool, or something to address gun-related issues?
If you’re focusing on getting your rifle running again after having to field-fix an issue, in my opinion, the slight extra weight of the Multitasker is a fair trade for a better integrated tool suite, since the leftover add-ons of the MUT tool set aren’t really enough to call it a more “general purpose” hybrid tool.
If more general purpose tasks are your goal, then the WAVE , (or a similar tool like the Charge), is where it’s at- you’re still getting all the “everyday useful” features of the MUT or Multitasker, but for about half a pound and 30-60 bucks less.

But that’s just my opinion- mission dictates gear choice.    

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Last Word On The Drama

Per the recent drama on WRSA and elsewhere....
I was put in mind of this scene;

Get Smart Briefing Room

Meanwhile on the other side of town....I can envision the NSA/DHS trolls cavorting about and gibbering gleefully amongst themselves as that went down.
And we wonder why TPTB feel no need to slow their steamrolling of our rights and liberties...

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Thought Of The Day + Update

And the band played on....

Actually, on a similar but more humorous note;

Meanwhile on the other side of town...
There will be more material here soon- have a couple gear reviews that I've been working on, one of which should show up within the next week. .
Probably find something to rant about sooner or later.
There's actually some short story material in the works, but I've been so mentally spent after work it's been shelved for  while. And I totally suck at writing anything other than boring ol' data and facts, so... there is that too...

Monday, January 12, 2015

In Case You Hadn't Noticed....

So two brothers and a homeless guy walk into a newspaper office.....

No, I'm not starting a new "joke of the week" section, although there is one element of the past weeks terrorist attack in France that is laughably obvious;

Gun restriction won't save you.
Three guys with automatic rifles and allegedly an RPG walk into a newspaper office and kill a dozen people.
Nobody stops them. Not even the police, some of whom left the scene because they weren't armed. Because we all know in our future utopian socialist societies there will be no need for scary guns. We'll be far to civilized for that.
Oh wait, here come three assholes to shoot you in the face.
How's all that gun restriction working out for you again?
Go ahead. Tell me all about how great it is when guys who give no damns about playing by your "civilized" rules can waltz into town and not even the police can stop them, let alone a well-meaning peas-er-civilian. Tell me how much safer we all really are.
I triple dog dare ya!

This has nothing to do with "high capacity assault clips" or "evil scary ghost guns" or "ease of access" or any other bullshit argument the gun haters want to throw out. It doesn't even have anything to do with the argument of "if someone wants to kill you they'll find a way".

So what happens when these assholes decide to hop over the pond?

"....Short version: all of the weapons used in today’s attack in Paris were illegal, very hard to get in France, and yet it did not matter. So when something like this attack happens here – on churches, schools, malls, wherever – and the cry for gun control once again reaches a national level, over the din of sheep begging to trade their liberty for a sense of security, remember Charlie Hebdo...."

Further, it seems that in spite of the glaringly obvious, some folks still don't get it (maybe their ears are still ringing from the shooting?).

"Speaking of those terrorists, not only did they avoid a police encounter due to France's gun-phobia, they were - almost miraculously - able to bring machine guns into downtown Paris.  How that's possible, given the country's strict gun control laws, is a question that has baffled former DNC chairman, Howard Dean.

 The interesting thing here, is we talked about guns the last time in regarding the United States, regarding how guns get in the hands of the kind of people that kill the two police officers here two weeks ago. France has tremendous gun control laws, and yet these people are able to get Kalashnikovs. So, this is really complicated stuff, and I think you have to treat these people as basically mass murderers....."

No you nitwit, it's simple. Fucking assholes don't give a fuck about your stupid rules, and simply ignore them at will, while those who abide by the law are at the assholes' mercy.
As The Colonel would have said, " The rifle (or pistol, shotgun, crossbow, axe, nunchaku, etc.) itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles.”

The above quotes were derived from two good articles worth sharing around. Maybe they'll listen if it's from a news source? Nah who am I kidding...

CainTv- Paris Attack Highlights Gun Control Futility

Moderno- Gun Control Will Not Save You

Standby. We'll have some more useful info coming through shortly.

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Merry Post- Christmas

If you've had enough of the hellacious Holidays, and are starting to feel the post-Christmas blues kick in, here's a little something to brighten your day. Of course it's NSFW.... did you really have to ask?

Twas The Night Before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring.... except a few girls who seem to be having a real hard time getting through a very simple book....

In other news... the Grinch finally got his this year. I heard there will be movie deals- Zero Grinch Thirty or some such. 'Merica.

Merry Fuckin' Christmas, ol' chaps!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Steal A Gun For Safety

I'll just leave this here- do watch the whole thing, and remember that that when the "crazy tinfoil hatters" are blathering on about schools brainwashing your kids.... they're 110% right.

So basically, have your kid steal their parents' guns, bring them to school, and then pull it out after class and hand it to a teacher... So.... exactly how does this mesh with that "zero tolerance" policy about guns in school? If having a gun in a school is SO inherently unsafe, even with a person who has been trained to use one can't handle it, then how does that make having a kid who has no clue what the fuck they're doing with it carrying the thing into the same place right? Further, since the kid likely has no clue what he's doing with the gun, since he's scared to death of them and therefore has probably never had any familiarization with same, what happens when he pops one in his leg, or some other kid when he's carrying the thing around the school? I mean, he didn't even check to see if it was loaded before slapping it in the pack with no trigger protection device (yep, that means a holster, or something similar). Come on.
Further, this ad is supposed to stop gun violence. Clearly his mom looked like a real serial killer, and should never own a gun. I mean, I could see the way she was reading that newspaper- her very body language just screamed "kill kill kill!!!"  Clearly owning a a mere pistol for home or personal defense is evidence that she plans to murder people secretly since it could be so easily concealed and makes less noise than a rifle or shotgun. I bet it even holds more than the recommended safe capacity of ten rounds.Or is it five now?
Oh, wait I know- the mom is just a clueless bystander- it's the FATHER's gun in that drawer full of dresses- very clever hiding place- she'll never think to look there!
Because it's all the violent men's fault, right?

Coming soon to your town.
Seriously, if you haven't watched that series go do it. The part with the younger kid in school is apt right about now...

Friday, December 12, 2014

Budget Gear- Links For Everyone Part 1

Part 1 of a 5 part series covering a few basic sources of quality gear for those on a tighter than average budget, and opening up for further reviews and comparisons that will be coming up her on the blog soon.
Keep scrolling down for parts 2-5

A long time ago in when I was involved in another sport I ran across a fellow who was having some issues with gear. He was using a battle-belt-ish setup, and was contemplating a third belt, the first two having had material/workmanship related failures, as they were of unsound quality manufactured by a company that apparently sold things more for looks than to actually use. The only thing I remember thinking listening to the problems he was having was “why would you go back and buy a third of the same proven mediocre product, when you already broke two? “
When I got into the good ol’ “Merican past time of “guns and gear”, I saw the same things happening- from guns to optics to gear, and everything in between, it was almost like people seek out the junkiest stuff they can buy, and somehow think they got a good deal, solely because it was cheap and looked cool (or whatever the reason). Thankfully, after making a few of my own mistaken purchases, I learned my lesson, started doing research, and was saved by some really helpful folk elsewhere on the internet.
But it was clear that the misplaced trust in “cheap” gear was indicative of a larger problem- people just don't know what they're looking at or for. 

Because I try not to be one to complain without offering a solution, here are some solutions for those that are budget conscious, but still want quality gear.

Many people look to surplus stores for gear, and this is a great approach, but often you can do better than the old ALICE kit (unless you’re a fan) and get modern gear, by simply buying “last gen” stuff, or things in less desirable colors…..

First off, retail gear.

If you’re on a budget and haven’t shopped with Tactical Assault Gear  (TAG) yet, then you need to. Quality stuff, and for plenty reasonable prices. Their MOLLE strap attachments can be a little clunky because they use doubled webbing, but as long as you stay away from the open-top bungee pouches it should be ok.
Their Banshee plate carrier is widely regarded as one of (if not *the*) best budget PC on the market and it’s currently only $115 bucks. You can’t do any better than that for a decent PC.

For around $270 for kit in Coyote Brown,  you can get  the Banshee, a flapped triple shingle (M16) rifle magazine pouch, double pistol pouch, a pair of GP/IFAK pouches, and a spare $25 budgeted for either a small GP/Radio pouch, or extra single double-mag M16  pouch, or a little less for a grenade pouch if you’ve got those. That’s a pretty good start to any PC, and you’re still 30 bucks under what many big-name Plate Carriers START at.
If it was me personally I’d also add the Zipper Kangaroo Pouch, and *maybe* a basic admin panel (as well as a water bladder carrier, but not from TAG, +$30-ish) which would raise the price to around $344- still under what a more expensive PC would be able to be outfitted for.

However,  by picking stuff in ACU/ABU most of which is currently HEAVILY discounted at TAG right now (for example the linked GP/IFAK would drop from $32 to $13), it would allow for a few other accessories if needed, like a can of krylon.
Total for the entire thing in ABU with optional accessories (less the water bladder bought elsewhere) would be $224, or $198 without the optionals.

TAG gear as mentioned;

Rifle M16 Flapped
Double Pistol
Low Profile GP/IFAK 

If plate carriers aren’t your thing than a couple of TAG’s chest rigs are worthwhile- the Marine Gladiator w/ Bib is currently about $67 if you don’t mind ACU. I don’t feel like it’s worth the extra money in any other color, but YMMV. 
The Phalanx Type 2 MOLLE is probably their most promising design (even though I don’t like some of it),and also currently $59 if you don’t mind ACU/ABU, which is cheaper than the basic Gladiator. It would run $160 in any other color, which may still be worth it.