This is my very first review so please do feel free to post anything that I have put that is incorrect and I will re-look and change what is necessary.
As a few of you may know, I have been a Leatherman fan for a long time. My first multitool was a PST which I carried for around 4 years before I stumbled across the forum and discovered that there was much more to offer. I later purchased an Original Supertool in BO finish as I wanted a larger multitool for more heavy duty tasks. I quickly fell for this tool and it quickly became the one I would carry where legally possible.
After reading many of the posts and different threads, it became clear that the Swisstool and probably most commonly, the Swisstool X, was regarded as being a very fine tool and one of the best in it's class. Having being very fond of my Victorinox SAK's I was keen to give a Swisstool a go and after a very kind gesture from a fellow member I now have the chance to see what all the hype is all about.
After opening it's sheath it is clear that this is a serious tool that oozes quality. But is it better than my beloved Supertool? I thought I would run a few tests to find out...
The first thing you notice between the 2 is that the Swisstool is packed with a few more implements than the Supertool. Below is a list of the implements on each of the tools.Supertool;
Clip point knife blade,
Serrated knife blade,
3 X flat headed screwdrivers,
Can / bottle opener,
Flat headed screwdriver,
Can opener/ flat head,
Bottle opener/ flat head,
Both tools also have plier heads that have wire cutters for both regular and hard wires, and electric crimpers. They also both have ruler measurements on them and have attachments for lanyards.
As you can see, they have a similar tool list as each other, the Swisstool X swapping the serrated blade (available on the standard Swisstool) for a pair of scissors and having the addition of the crate opener. The Swisstool also has separate can and bottle openers that have flat headed screwdrivers on the ends, while the Supertool has a combo bottle and can opener and has additional dedicated flat heads.
Let the comparison begin!
(Please note that the Swisstool X is in a far newer condition than that of the Supertool so that is sure to affect some of the results in the tool comparison tests, especially those with regards to the blades.)Pliers;
The first obvious difference is that the Supertool comes with a needle nosed plier head whilst the Swisstool comes with a blunter nosed head. This results in having less reach with the Swisstool and also a larger tip which means that smaller areas are not as easy to access. The pliers open wider on the Supertool as well making them just that little bit easier at grabbing larger objects.
Using the pliers on these tools is a pleasure. Both are large and therefore grab really well, and both are comfortable to use. The Swisstool however I find to be more comfortable to use. This is due to the handles, the Swisstool having nice rolled edges giving a nice comfortable grip whereas the Supertool is made with just sheet metal edging to the handles which isn't uncomfortable but not as comfortable as that of the Swisstool's.
One thing I did find interesting was that there was a very small amount of play in the Swisstool head but none in the Supertool's. Considering the difference in usage you would expect more play in the Supertool but this is not the case.
Overall I prefer the Supertool's pliers. Sure the handles are more comfortable on the Swisstool, but I feel this doesn't make up for the lack in plier length which I find very useful in that of the Supertool.
So that's 1 for the Supertool and 0 for the Swisstool.Wire Cutters
The wire cutters on these tools are very similar. Both have the regular wire cutters with the hard wire cutters located near the pivot of the plier head. The main difference here is that the cutting edge on the Supertool is over twice the length of the Swisstool's. This proved to be very critical in my tests where I cut an RF cable to see which was the best. Both cut cleanly and easily but due to the Swisstool's smaller cutting surface, the wire had to be cut twice to cut it through completely (See picture below.)
Overall there was not a lot of difference between the wire cutters. Both cut cleanly and very easily. I would say that for hard wire, again because of the rolled handles, the Swisstool might be slighter more comfortable but for actual cutting I would have to award the advantage to the Supertool, that larger edge proving valuable in cutting larger gauge cable.
So that's Supertool 2, Swisstool 0.Crimpers;
The crimpers on each of the tools are again very similar. I do find though that the one's on the Supertool are better. This is mainly due to visibility. I feel the handles restrict vision on the Swisstool when in use, where the Supertool's are far more open and visible(See picture below.)
Supertool 3, Swisstool 0Rulers;
I often use the ruler on a multitool (usually when I am looking at the dimensions of another multitool
) and find it a handy feature to have. The winner here for me is the Swisstool. As the Swisstool's handles “snap” open, the ruler remains fixed in place rather than flopping around like that on the Supertool. The Swisstool also has the dimensions written on the side which I feel is a lot easier to use when measuring against a wall etc.
So the Swisstool finally gets off the line with Supertool 3, Swisstool 1.Knife blades;
For this test I simply cut paper to see what cut the easiest and the clear winner here was the Swisstool. It cut with ease and although the edge on the Supertool would have dulled with age and use, from previous experiences with Victorinox and Leatherman blades I have always found Victorinox to be sharper and retain a sharper edge for longer.
Supertool 3, Swisstool 2.Awls;
I am not exactly the biggest awl user and don't think I ever will be. As a test however, I used each of the awls to make pilot holes in wood and again the clear winner here was the Swisstool. The Supertool I feel performed pretty poorly here due to it's unsharpened edge, whilst the Swisstool's sharp awl cut through very easily.
Supertool 3, Swisstool 3.Flat headed screwdrivers;
Although the Swisstool has the same amount of flat headed screwdrivers as the Supertool, the Supertool has more dedicated flat heads, which is what I feel to be more useful. Overall, the reach of the flat heads on the Swisstool is greater than that of the Supertool's, but when actually being used there was one clear winner, the Supertool. The Supertool's screwdrivers fit better in the screws I tried (various wood screws in door frames) and they offered more bite as well, making it able to turn the screws with ease.
Supertool 4, Swisstool 3.Phillips screwdrivers;
I have never been too fond of the phillips drivers in any of my SAK's so I didn't hold much hope on the Swisstool's either. Sadly my thoughts were confirmed when I first tried the driver, it just had no bite and often slipped out of the screw head. This was not the case with the Supertool, the phillips biting in well and turning the screw very easily. As a big phillips user this was a little bit of a let down for me.
Supertool 5, Swisstool 3.Files;
The file is one feature that I specifically look for in every one of my multitools and is the main reason why I was interested in getting a Swisstool X (The RS model is available with a belt cutter instead of the file). The files on both of these tools performed pretty evenly and to be honest I could not really choose between them. Both were comfortable to use and did the job well. So I have declared this as a draw.
Supertool 6, Swisstool 4.Can & bottle openers;
I have had great pleasure in testing these bottle openers and from my tests I felt that the Swisstool had a slight advantage here. Both worked easily but the Swisstool did less piercing and more lifting than the Supertool. This was the same with the can openers, the sharp edge on the Swisstool's cutting through a lot easier. I will therefore award the Swisstool with another point.
Supertool 6, Swisstool 5.Saws;
To this day I have never really had the need to use a saw on a multitool. I just never find myself in a situation where I need one and if I ever do, I just reach for a full sized saw and do the job in half the time. I have tested both of these saws, both have very similar length and as for the cutting, both cut well and as easily as expected. As a limited user of these tools I feel incapable of seeing any real differences and so I have again awarded another draw.
Supertool 7, Swisstool 6.Other features;
The thing I have found with Leatherman is “what you see is what you get”. The tools are dedicated tools that work really well, but this limits their function. After making SAK's for years, Victorinox are experts in squeezing as many tools as possible into their products and this is again reflected in the Swisstool X. Not only have they managed to add a pair of scissors (admittedly in place of the serrated blade), a chisel and a crate opener to a tool which is similar in size to the Supertool, but they have also added features like wire strippers and scrapers. The scissors work really well and are a nice feature to have as is the crate opener which I have used for light prying. The wire scrapers etc I feel have little use to me. As an ex-electronic engineer I have learnt to use a set of cutters for all cable preparation work so these features are surplus to requirement to me.
Overall just for the sheer number of features, I will have to award the Swisstool another win giving a total so far of: Supertool 7 Swisstool 7.Sheaths;
When I purchased my Supertool it came without a sheath, so I bought one off of Ebay. It is a genuine Leatherman one that was made specifically for the Supertool but I can not guarantee that it is the same as the one it would have been sold originally with. Using that sheath as a comparison with my Swisstool one however, the Swisstool one wins hands down. It is far superior in it's quality and feel and it holds the tool snugly without it causing any problems on it releasing the tool when it is needed. It also has a velcro close which I tend to prefer over the snap close as it is far easier to close then it is attached on your belt behind you.
The clear win here puts the Swisstool in front with: Supertool 7, Swisstool 8.Build quality and feel;
From just holding the 2 tools it is clear that the Swisstool is a more quality tool. The polished surface is superb and all the tools lock and unlock with ease. The locking feature I feel is the Supertool's downfall. Sure it works and works very simply, but there is a high risk of cutting your fingers with it.
To unlock the Swisstool, you simply need to pull downwards on the metal sliding tabs and then the tool folds away smoothly. On the Supertool however, you need to pull out another tool in order to release the lock, making a greater risk of injury to the user. Although the Swisstool's lock is better, the lock up on the tools I feel is not as good as that on the Supertool, as there seems a bit more play in the tools. This is not excessive, but it is noticeable.
So overall with regards to quality, the point must go to the Swisstool with its great feel, smooth opening and also lack of tool clumping which is highly apparent in the Supertool.
Supertool 7, Swisstool 9Overall comments;
Overall the greatest difference between these tools is the way the tools can be selected. The outside opening of the tools on the Swisstool makes tool selection that bit faster and easier which I feel is an important quality to have in a multitool.
For me though, I like a plier tool to butterfly open so that items can be held in one hand whilst the pliers are opened in another. This is a big set back in my opinion for the Swisstool and in jobs that involve ladders and heights, I would probably chose the Supertool over the Swisstool for this very reason. I also prefer “dedicated” tools. Sure you can pack more tools in by doubling up on functions but as with the bottle/ can opener with the flatheaded screwdrivers on the Swisstool, I feel you use a little bit of function in this.
For these reasons I am going to give the Supertool another point giving a total of: Supertool 8, Swisstool 9.Conclusion;
As you can see from above, my total scores were 8 for the Supertool and 9 to the Swisstool making the Swisstool a winner but with the Supertool a close second. This I feel is a fair score as I think both tools performed very well and neither really leave the owner wanting more. The Supertool I feel does have better implements on it, but with the far easier locking release, the outside opening tools and the superb build quality, the Swisstool deserves to win and I feel will be very commonly EDC'd from now on even though it weighs more than it's rival (279.9g compared to 248.9g). If you are thinking about buying a Swisstool, do it, you won't regret it.