Review: the Leatherman MUT is a multitool in search of a problem
Here are all the household items that I destroyed to prove how durable this thing is.
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Many U.S. service members carry a multitool with them in the field, and oftentimes it’s a Leatherman. However, when Leatherman introduced the MUT, their intentions were clear: this was going to be the military multitool, and it was even in the name. The Leatherman Military Utility Tool, or MUT, is a multitool with a toolset that’s specifically designed for military use, specifically pertaining to weapons maintenance. Featuring things like a bronze carbon scraper, a bolt override tool, a bore brush attachment, and many others, it is all designed to take the place of most, if not all, of your cleaning kit.
Editor’s note: the Leatherman MUT also made Task & Purpose’s roundup of the best multitools of the year.
This tool is a massive, aggressive, and overtly tactical package, complete with a tan MOLLE pouch to hold it (and its accompanying ⅜-inch wrench and front sight adjustment tool) and leaving no question in the mind of the user that this is absolutely the Military Utility Tool. But for nearly $160, taking up considerable physical real estate and claiming features like one-handed opening alongside its decidedly military feature set, the MUT has some big shoes to fill to convince people to buy it.
Weight: 11.2 oz
Material: Stainless steel
Tools: Needlenose pliers, pliers, wire cutters, hard-wire cutters, stranded-wire cutters, electrical crimper, saw, 420HC combo knife, cutting hok, hammer, bolt override tool, bronze carbon scraper, #8-32 cleaning rod/brush adapter, firearm disassembly punch, carabiner/bottle opener, large bit driver
The MUT comes in a large yellow paper tray with a white plastic insert, covered by the generic Leatherman instruction card, and all enclosed in the gray paper sleeve with the yellow Leatherman “L” on the top. Inside the white plastic insert is the tool itself, the included MOLLE pouch, and the ⅜-inch socket along with the front sight adjustment tool. One of the first things that popped out to me was how much lubricant the MUT came soaked in, likely for rust protection in transit. However, this left a blackish residue on the tray that the tool lay in, and required me to wipe the tool down thoroughly to avoid getting whatever oil this was on the rest of me.
The MUT is large, at almost 6 inches in length and over 4 inches in width while closed, and weighing in at over 11 ounces, making it a tool that’s prominent in the hand and lends itself more to carrying in a MOLLE pouch rather than using the included pocket clip. The included pouch is very sturdily made of tan nylon, featuring a Velcro closure, and a front slot for you to store the wrench/sight tool combo. For those who prefer a more traditional pouch, the MOLLE pouch comes in black nylon, so no joy for those of you who were hoping for a return to the classic Leatherman leather pouch.
The MUT’s tool repertoire is downright exhaustive, with a claimed 16 tools, and the possibility for further expansion with aftermarket accessory kits. In addition, basically every tool is easily replaceable by the user to increase longevity. From head to toe, we’ve got the traditional Leatherman pliers, since the vast majority of their tools are centered around pliers. Of note here is the fact that in addition to the typical needlenose/standard combination pliers, there are replaceable wire cutters on either jaw made of 154CM. This choice of super steel means that in addition to the MUT being great for trimming standard copper electrical wire, it’ll eat through things like barbed wire and chain link fences like they aren’t even there. Nearly every tool apart from the pliers can be used without having to open the MUT, either opening on the outside of the tool, or being readily usable with no extra action from the user. The tool features a combination knife and saw, both made of 420HC, which gives them a reasonable level of durability and edge retention in between sharpenings. The other tools that fold out of the handle are the bronze carbon scraper and the detachable disassembly punch. The bronze carbon scraper uses the material that it does for two reasons: first, because bronze is softer than steel, so there’s no risk of you marring the finish of your weapon; and second, because carbon doesn’t bond to bronze the way that it does steel, which means that cleaning the freshly-scraped carbon off of the MUT should be as simple as wiping it down. The disassembly punch is useful in the event that you encounter stubborn receiver pins on an M16/M4/AR-15, or even the slide retention pins on most semi-automatic handguns.
At this point, I haven’t even opened the MUT and we still have more tools to go through. At the opposite end of the tool from the hinges for the pliers, there’s a strike plate to use as an improvised hammer, which is also right on top of the replaceable strap, or line-cutting hook. An odd tool is the bolt override tool, which is the extended portion of the strap cutter, on the underside of the hammer. This is used to clear double feeds, brass above the bolt, or other serious malfunctions, and there’s an additional extendable arm to aid with this. On the outside of the tool, immediately next to the strap cutter, is the combination carabiner and bottle opener, which like the Leatherman Skeletool that I reviewed, is easily accessible with no extra steps, being the most important tool on any multitool. On the arm of the pliers that features the knife and saw, there’s a plastic slot for storing extra bits for the screwdriver socket, but more on that later. On the scraper tool and disassembly punch side, there’s a hole for the user to connect cleaning rods to, turning the entire multitool into a handle for pulling stubborn bore brushes out, or whatever else. Immediately below the bottle opener and carabiner, there is a cross-bolt bar that blocks two screwdriver bits, one on each side. These are both longer than the standard screw bit and are handy for removing parts that are recessed. One bit features flat and Phillips head screwdrivers, and the other features a hex key and Torx bit. The screwdriver bit is nestled inside the strap cutter and features a passive locking system that keeps it fairly secure unless you pull on it. However, I found this screw bit to be very sticky, and at one point it required me to pull the installed bit out with a pair of pliers, which is a very bad sign if the MUT is going to be your pair of pliers in the field. Finally, to round out the external tools, the MUT features an incredibly robust pocket clip, which is not only fittingly aggressive and brash in terms of style but is also reinforced with a rubber spacer to allow some flexibility and prevent breakage.
How we tested the Leatherman MUT
The first test I always do with any bladed instrument is to see if the factory edge will slice paper on the bias and shave hair. The blade on the MUT practically flew through paper and shaved hair handily, and upon closer inspection showed a very even edge with no sign of burring or dull spots. Additionally, since this is a military-themed tool, I sliced open an MRE bag with the blade, which obviously worked very well. Nice, mkay.
I tested the saw attachment by slicing through a bamboo spatula right below the head, which took only a few seconds, showing that you could feasibly cut wood with it, which is obviously the purpose of a saw. To test the wire cutters, I skipped straight past the copper wire that we all know this thing could cut and proceeded to cut through steel wire coat hangers, one after the other, without any sort of issue. I bumped that up to cutting the steel head off of a wooden coat hanger, which snapped just as easily as the wire coat hanger. The bottom line here is that this thing will cut through most metal wire, and even if you do break the cutting blades, you can always buy new ones. The strap and line cutter shredded an old backpack strap and some loose MOLLE webbing I had lying around. It sliced through one strap of Cordura, but not a double strap. For that, I had to use the saw blade, but I could still get the job done with tools on the MUT.
The screwdriver? I don’t know what you want me to say, it screwed screws, but the carbide bits present a bit of a problem, since they’re harder than most screws and will likely strip them if you apply too much pressure. The disassembly punch on the MUT is a bit on the small side for pushing out the retainer pins on my AR, but I understand that it has to be smaller for other weapon platforms, as well as for the trigger housing group pins, and in the end, it worked. The bronze scraper performed exactly as advertised, and its irregular shape actually helped me get into some of the more troublesome areas, like inside the bolt carrier and in between the teeth of the bolt of my AR.
The bolt override tool was an interesting one to test, as I had to basically artificially induce a double feed with my AR, and then attempt to clear it. While it worked, I found it to be less natural than my usual immediate action drill for clearing double feeds, and I can basically only see this being useful in the event of a malfunction where you physically cannot operate the charging handle. The bottle opener opened a bottle of beer, that’s a pass. The hammer plate is not something I’d ever want to use, especially without gloves. There’s no shock absorption of any kind, and you feel every hit, which makes this a tool that I don’t really care for. Another tool that I don’t care for isn’t a tool: the pocket clip. This thing weighs over half a pound, and using the pocket clip is not comfortable or practical, even in the reinforced pockets of my Arktis C222 Ranger pants with cordura panels specifically designed to hold up knives.
On normal pants, the weight of the tool will actually drag the edge of your pocket down, which in addition to being uncomfortable is just unsightly. This is a tool that demands to be carried in its included pouch, likely webbed to either your plate carrier or to the outside of a pack. The ⅜-inch wrench works as advertised, but the front sight adjustment tool is a bit of a niche item, given modern weapons advancement. The need to adjust the front sight on an AR is a very uncommon issue these days, as at least in the Marine Corps, all rifles feature some sort of optic, most commonly the TA31 RCO. This makes the need to adjust your front sight for elevation a niche concern, especially considering that you can do the job with the tip of a 5.56 round. I understand why they included this tool, but it’s not something that I could ever see myself using, considering that my personal AR is a free float design and lacks a front sight post.
What we like about the Leatherman MUT
To call the Leatherman MUT “full-featured” is an understatement. This thing is ready for every challenge that you’d ordinarily throw at a multitool, and then some, with tools that some people will never even use. The construction of this thing is rock-solid, and several parts, like the wire cutters, go above and beyond what they’re expected to do. The MUT is also designed with longevity in mind, featuring fully modular tools, so that in the event that you do break a tool, you can easily replace it without any hassle. This is a purpose-built multitool, designed specifically for the military user, and it succeeds in that design so well.
What we don’t like about the Leatherman MUT
This is where we get into the territory of anecdotes. A few armorers I know have MUTs, either that they’ve been issued or that they’ve bought themselves. All of them have the same attitude towards the MUT (and to a lesser extent, its cousin, the MUT EOD) which is “I mean, it’s $160 on a multitool, and I won’t even use most of those tools.” This leads me to the statement “a solution looking for a problem.” The MUT feels like a tool looking for a problem, because most people who use one won’t need to use things like the bolt override tool, or use the socket for cleaning rods. I can only complain so much about the size and weight of the thing, but once again, it’s almost 6 inches long while folded, and weighs over 11 ounces. The Leatherman MUT is excessive in so many ways, and due to that, probably shouldn’t be your first multitool.
The Leatherman MUT is a tool that’s designed for a specific end user in mind, which is someone who does a lot of weapons handling and needs what amounts to a pocket-sized cleaning kit. If this is you, and you can spare the cash, purchase the MUT. It will last you forever as long as you keep track of it and replace the tools when they break, if they break. I can admire how cool the MUT is, but it’s not something that I would find more useful than a normal cleaning kit.
A fun anecdote about the MUT that I couldn’t find anywhere else to put in the article is a ringing endorsement by a close friend, a former Huey door gunner who served in Afghanistan. He says: “I have carried the Leatherman MUT since mid-2010 and my first foray into the month-long Mojave Viper training evolution. As a door gunner, being able to break apart machine guns in flight was a top priority and this tool does just about everything for that purpose and more. It has been through my time in service including six more trips to the western U.S. for training, and seven months of combat in Afghanistan where it was used almost daily.” However, he does acknowledge that the MUT was the right tool for his job, but not for everyone else. In any case, here’s a photo of him using it circa 2010.
FAQs about the Leatherman MUT
More questions? Here’s Task & Purpose’s additional brief.
Q: How much does the Leatherman MUT cost?
A: The Leatherman MUT currently retails for $159.95 on Amazon.
Q: Is the Leatherman MUT worth it?
A: That depends. You have to ask yourself if it “fits your mission,” so to speak. If you think you’re going to use the weapon-specific features often, then absolutely. If you’re in the military and you maintain a crew-served weapon a lot, absolutely. If you just want the coolest, most tactical multitool ever, absolutely.
Q: What is 154CM Steel?
A: 154CM steel is an alloy that’s often used for knife blades, featuring reasonable hardness, good toughness, and good resistance to corrosion. In general, it’s regarded as being very balanced between the various attributes that people seek in a knife. In its use here as the wire cutting jaws, it will chew right through the soft steels that most barbed wire and chain link fences are made of.
Q: You said it was the coolest, most tactical multitool ever. But like, HOW tactical?
A: Put it this way, this thing is so motivated, it bought a Camaro at 32 percent APR in Oceanside, married a 19 year old that it met last week, and is already saving for a sick full-body American flag tattoo. Tactical enough?
Got questions? Comment below & talk with T&P’s editors
Matt Sampson is an 0861 in the Marine Forces Reserve and a Virginia native. In his past life, he worked in tactical gear retail and is an avid firearms enthusiast. The farthest the Marine Corps has sent him from home is Oklahoma.