Leatherman Squirt S4 vs HX Outdoors keychain multitoolIntroduction
The Leatherman Squirt S4 was part of the original Squirt series. The S4 and P4 were introduced in 2002, and the E4 joined forces in 2003. All three were retired in 2010, and were replaced by the PS4 and ES4. The S4 was considered redundant within the scissor-oriented keychain tools, since the Micra, introduced in 1996, is still in production, and the Style CS4 was also introduced in 2010, along with the S4's replacements. Still, the S4 is perfectly capable and not still here.
My S4 was purchased from E-bay, used but in fairly decent condition. Is was definitely used, but has survived quite well. Hopefully you will still be able to judge and compare the two tools as if they were both brand new.
The HX Outdoors was purchased on e-bay, brand new with a sheath, for $14 US, with free shipping. It is, tool for tool, an exact copy of the S4 in every way. Or is it? Let's see.Dimensions
The HX has a bit thicker backsprings, and is half a mm thicker than the S4, not counting the rivets. Not a deal breaker. Yet.
Almost all tools are of the same thickness on both. Construction/quality
I will admit that they did a half decent job copying the S4.
The backsprings are too strong for such a small tool. Operating the scissors is a bit uncomfortable.
Retention is good. The only tool that is a bit loose is the Philips driver.
Some tools snap into place, some do not.
The riveting process did not go as planned, and has left the handles riveted at an angle, appearing squished at one side.
The rivets are not smooth. They'll catch on strings or fibers.
Rust has begun developing at the inside of the handles of the HX. Notice the smooth LM handle.
The tools are ok, and if it was your first keychain multitool, it would seem quite good. Let's take a look at the individual tools.Blade
Both are the same shape and size.
The HX has a longer and deeper nai-nick, so it might be slightly easier to deploy.
The HX's blade is flat ground with a secondary bevel. The S4 is chisel ground.
Chisel grinds are not as favored as flats, but the S4's blade slices like a razor, compared to the HX's blade, which is just decent enough.Ruler
Same length. The HX's markings are deeper. My S4 was bought used, so I do not know if they wore off with time.
The HX ruler is a bit thinner than the S4, and is a bit bent.File
Though seemingly the same grit, the S4 one is rougher. The HX is not as rough as it should be for fingernails, which is the primary, if not only, use.
Nail-cleaning tips are both great.Bottle opener/large flathead
The bottle opener function is equal on both tools. Not the best, but they'll get a bottle open.
The flathead on the S4 is ground more precisely. The HX one is too smooth and rounded.
Wider nail-nick on the HX.Philips driver
Again, the HX's one is a bit smooth and more rounded at the tip. The tip one the S4 shows signs of wear, but is not bent at all. I do not know how heavily it was used, though. Both get the job done, as long the screw is not too tight.
Nail-nick is wider on the HX. Also, it seems just a hair loose. Not enough to move when shaking the tool, but loose enough to slightly protrude when you snap the tool shut. Eye glass screwdriver
Same story. HX is rounded. Tweezers
The S4 tweezers meet to a point. The HX are squared off. Not a big issue, as these are too thin to provide substantial leverage.
The two parts are of unequal length on the HX, making them all but useless.
SwissChamp helped out a bit. It's not too much of a difference in length, but it's tweezers. It's bad enough that they do not meet at a point and are thin.Scissors
The HX's tips are a bit more rounded, but other than that, same dimensions.
The S4's grind is higher, and more acute. They are considerably sharper.
The S4 can cut tissues, the HX folds it.Sheath
The HX comes with a small sheath. Velcro closure, average quality stitching. Still, nice touch.
The tool sits snuggly inside, which is why I added a split ring to make extraction easier.
It even has a belt loop. Cute.Thoughts
Every off-brand and copy you buy makes you appreciate your proper multitools even more.
They look like a bargain, and decent enough in the pictures, so why not...
Only to receive them and realize that the money you spent could have gone towards the real thing.
Then you get the real thing, and compare the two, and wonder what's wrong with you, falling for the cheapos again.
The HX is no exception. It feel solid, and looks quite nice. But once you have an actual S4, you see that the S4 wins. Quality, performance, feel, everything is there. Scissors and blade are the two main tools for this, and both are excellent on the S4. And the other tools are adequate for many tasks. Which is why HX copied the design. Surely people will assume it is equally good but at a lower price, and go for it, like I did.
I do not regret buying the HX tool. I won't be using it much, since it does not cut as well as my Micra or S4, but it will serve as a reminder. ConclusionPros
• No play, solidly (not perfectly) put together.
• Inexpensive, free shipping.
• Comes with sheath.Cons
• Scissors are not sharp enough to compete with other scissor-oriented multitools.
• Low quality construction compared to most competitors.
• No warranty information.