The pliers.This is really the bulk of this review. If you're going to get this tool, it's because you want a really small set of pliers. Well... how do they do as pliers?Here's a pic of the tool in a lineup of other similar tools. Left to right, Leatherman Juice, Leatherman Squirt, The IDL T5 being reviewed, the IDL T10, and finally pliers on a 91mm Victorinox Swiss Army Knife.Here's a look at those same tools from the side view.The important thing to note here is that the pliers on both of the IDL tools are made of thicker material than even the Leatherman Juice. This has a strong impact on their performance, in many aspects.I think the pictured tools are a good representation of what it's up against for real competition. But since the IDL T10 is a close relative, I'll mostly leave it out of the discussion, since their pliers are very similar in how they perform. For the most part, the Juice is too large for comparison, and the Victorinox is too small. That leaves the Leatherman Squirt as the best point of comparison.So let's get some standard stuff out of the way. How does the tool work on screws? Here it is versus the self-tapping screws in my house's ventilation ductwork.It worked pretty well, particularly in grabbing a flush screw head. The only issue is the bigger the screw, the wider the handle splay, causing problems getting a good grip on the tool. Kind of like...That. Yeah. Surprisingly, it will get a good grip and turn a screw convincingly of this size, but that's a WIDE handle splay you're dealing with. And i think this is really pushing the uppermost size screw it would handle. Honestly, though, you can only expect so much from a tiny keychain tool. I was talking about grabbing flush screws, and this is what i mean, compared to a Leatherman Squirt...The fact that the plier head is not flush with the handles on the Squirt means that some screws might be tricky to get a hold of, where the IDL T5 did it effortlessly.One of the things I use my small pliers for is shaping wire, very often paperclips, for various functions. How did it do? Here it is compared to the Squirt making a tight coil/ring.Mm... not nearly as good at the fine shaping as the Squirt.Here's a pic, looking at the nose of the IDL T5 (right), the Squirt (Middle), and Leatherman Juice (left). Even the Juice is going to be better at making tight loops in stiff wire. I guess you kind of have to think of the IDL tools as the blunt-nose pliers of the keychain world.Another task you might find yourself needing to accomplish is wrapping wire around an object, then needing to cinch that wire tight. Here it is versus the Squirt, tightening the wire (steel paperclip) until it snaps.Both will do it, but only the IDL T5 will do it nose-on. In fact, any twisting you do with pliers nose-on is best done with the IDL pliers. They have less flex in them than even the Juice, a much larger tool. I tried tightening the wire nose-on with the Squirt, and feared breakage or permanent deformation, then tried the Juice, and was shocked how easily THEY flexed. Then, absolutely no flex in the IDL T5. I mean, literally, NONE that I could detect.This is a trait that I noticed in my IDL T10. It's THE thing about them that makes me appreciate them. They are the most 'robust' keychain pliers I've ever encountered. Okay, how is the IDL T5 compared to the Leatherman Squirt for wire cutting? I put them both against 12-gauge house wiring, first to strip the coating, then to cut the wire.The Squirt was embarrassingly better at both portions of this task. I don't have any stranded wire to cut, but the Squirt will cut fine receipt paper with its wire cutter, and the IDL T5 will not. I assume this would translate to a clean cut of stranded wire for the Squirt, and not so for the IDL T5. The wire-cutting area on the Squirt is also larger, and the wire wasn't trying to push its way out of them when i cut, unlike the IDL T5.HOWEVER! While the Squirt was 'embarrassingly better', the IDL T5 SUCCEEDED at cutting the heavy gauge wire, and at no point was I fearing the tool breaking. I had to stop this test while trying it with the Gerber Dime, for fear of breaking the plier pivot, it was deforming so badly. And, again, I think this speaks to the robustness of the tool. I don't think the IDL T5 succeeded because it was particularly GOOD at the task, so much as that you could apply a LOT of force to the task without breaking the tool.Ergonomics.There are essentially two issues at play with the ergonomics of the tool in plier mode. First is a pronounced handle splay. Here it is with plier jaws CLOSED, compared to the Squirt with jaws OPEN, and the IDL T10 with jaws closed.The handles simply splay too wide. For me, it really only becomes an issue with larger bolts, but that is for a medium size hand. The other issue is the handles. These are REALLY nice, actually. They are wide enough to distribute grip force without causing too much wear on the hand, and the driver heads mostly don't get in the way, although holding it certain way's might cause the phillips head to dig a bit into your palm with hard grip strength.Frame flex and grip force... The IDL has NO detectable flex while gripping. The IDL T10 has a LITTLE, and when compared to either IDL tool, the Squirt has TREMENDOUS flex. The impression is that the IDL T5, even more than it's bigger brother, is an absolutely rock solid tool. I don't know how much grip force it could handle, but it handled everything I thought was reasonable, and a fair amount that I thought wasn't. I pushed it to the point where it was hurting my hand, by digging the phillips into my palm before deciding I'd gone well beyond 'reasonable limits'. And it took it with no noticeable loosening of pivots.For everything but the most fine detailed tasks, these pliers get a PASS WITH DISTINCTION
Great review! Have you tried Swiss+Tech plier tools, they seem like good comparison.
The drivers....As a Phillips Driver: SOLID Pass.As a Flathead Driver: SOLID Pass.As a Pry Tool: Pass for light duty, at very least.
Great review, thanks Lynn. I might just mention the T7 variant of the T5 tool. It is basically the same tool, but adds a small philips and flat driver that fold out from each handle, so you get 4 different screwdriver ends. There are also versions of these tools marketed by SeberTool (the orginal manufacturer), Craftsman and Harley Davidson.