Saturday, June 12, 2010

Near Perfect EDC Companion - Leatherman’s PS4

I’ve been carrying and using Leatherman Tools and their subsequent clones on and off since the mid 1980’s. I never found “just the right one” to satisfy my needs without a lot of extra fluff - until now. A few months ago I saw a forum post where there was mention of a new mini Leatherman Tool being introduced, called the PS4. Investigation ensued and then the seemingly endless wait until it became available. I recently took delivery of a PS4 from my friend Roger at The PS4 seems the near perfect EDC companion, with scissors and pliers mated in a very pocketable miniature sized tool frame. Pay particular attention to the size and weight dimensions below.

Here’s the specs from Leatherman:

420HC Clip Point Knife
Spring-action Needlenose pliers
Regular Pliers
Wire Cutters
Medium Screwdriver
Flat/Phillips Screwdriver
Wood/Metal File
Bottle Opener
Stainless Steel with Anodized Aluminum Handle Scales
Stainless Steel Body
Outside-accessible Tools
Key Ring Attachment
Available Colors: Red, Black, Blue
25-year Warranty
2.25 in (closed)
1.9 oz

After opening the box, I rushed to find my glasses and good lighting for the PS4’s initial inspection. Fit and finish is great. Blade walk and talk is better than average - good tool snap into the open position, albeit a tad less snap on closing. A good thing - its not quite so prone to bite the fingers when closing the tools.
Care is out for a few hours, so I immediately set out to begin the process of testing.

First up was the scissors. They’re similar in design to the Wenger scissors, working from a frame mounted spring bar. Among the hundreds of obvious uses for scissors, I need to EDC an implement with scissors on board to take care of errant facial hair, cut fishing line, and to make steri-strips for first aid applications. PS4 and glasses ready, to the bathroom I head. Trim up the facial hair with ease. Search the medicine cabinet for a Band-Aid. Trim up a series of steri-strips from the Band-Aid with ease. The scissors are sharp and very effective at both tasks thus far. Now for the serious test. We head to my shop and dig out the tackle box. Out comes the ultimate scissor test - Spiderwire Braided 20lb test line. To my amazement, the PS4 sailed through the test with 20 quick, clean cuts in Spiderwire Braided line. Test over. This happy camper heads back upstairs for round two of my testing protocol.

I own a number of Photon 2 flashlights, which require a small Phillips screwdriver for battery changes. I dig out a Photon that I know needs a battery change and grab a set of fresh batteries. I sit at my desk with a small parts tray handy and use the PS4’s Phillips driver to make the change. No problem whatsoever. While it’s right there and handy, I grab and make safe my Ruger LCP .380 caliber pistol. I use the PS4 phillips driver to lever out the disassembly pin. Again, no problem whatsoever and no telltale marks left on the weapon. Gun cleaned and lubed, then made ready for “the next day’s business.” Back off to continue the PS4’s testing protocol.

I grab my test Ferrocerium fire starter rod and some tinder, then head to the front porch with the PS4. I open the file. To my surprise, the file only scraped a mediocre spark from the ferro rod. The spark was adequate to ignite TinderQuik and Coghlan’s Emergency Tinder. However, I knew the ferro rod was capable of producing much better sparks. While waiting for the ignited tinder to die out, I used the file for a personal manicure. Performance was up-to-par on this test. While out there, I remembered that the camper’s electrical connection needed to be cleaned up. The small file worked like a charm and did a stellar job at that task. I also grabbed the machete out of the camper and used the PS4’s file to touch up a flat spot on the blade’s edge. It was a bit short for such a task, but it performed well for its size. Time to find another tool and task.

Out comes the blade. Slight disappointment ensues. The blade, although razor sharp, is chisel ground. I will change that to a double bevel grind when time permits. Slight disappointment is overcome when I discover the blade spine has a sharp, clean 90 degree edge. Out comes the test ferro rod and another piece of tinder. Hot sparks fly and bounce everywhere, bursting the tinder into a ball of flame. I’m made very happy again - the blade‘s square spine maximized the ferro rod‘s capability to produce. I now decide to cut up the USPS shipping box that the PS4 was delivered in. I make 27 clean slices in the cardboard before the edge starts to drag. A quick inspection reveals a very slight edge rollover occurred. I grabbed my strop off the desk and remove the rollover, post haste. The edge is back to grabbing free standing hair sharpness in seconds. I can live with that for the time being. A double bevel applied by my diamond Lansky hones will cure any edge ills. Back down to the shop we go.

Pliers are something I rarely use in the field. When I do, it’s usually to pick up something I don’t want to touch with my hands, disgorge fish hooks or to make a snare. Digging through my workbench, I find copper wire in 22 and 26 gauge and stainless wire in 19 gauge. I cut a few lengths of each easily with the PS4’s wire cutters. I then use the pliers to twist those lengths into snare material, without problem. Not the most comfy pliers I’ve ever used, but they certainly did the job required of them. Then I remembered the first aid applications. Out comes the tackle box again. I pick out several hooks and use the wire cutters to cut them. The small, standard sized freshwater hooks were no problem. Big hook removal, however, may be quite the exercise is torture and futility. The wire cutters would not pass through the big stuff - take note of the scarring damage on the red hook, just below the barb. The pliers slipped off and would not cut the thick, hardened stock. The blood blister on my hand at the base of my right index finger will remind me of this for a few days to come. Regardless, I declare passable performance achieved - it is a small tool and the big stuff is simply out of its realm. One last set of tools to test.

Out comes the medium slotted screwdriver / bottle opener. A trip to the safe is in order. I pull out a number of firearms I have available. Where a slotted screwdriver is called for, the medium screwdriver works. It’s a tad small, but with some extra care, I managed to avoid slipping and damaging the guns and/or the screws. The PS4’s lockup is unaffected. Firearms checked and returned to the safe and secured. The last was a very important step. Now it’s time to find my olde friend, Samuel Adams. I’ll finish the review and summary tomorrow…

Very passable performance was achieved with the bottle opener and I had the opportunity to bond with an olde friend.

Within it's design limitations, the Leatherman PS4 is a very good performer. It has earned a spot in my EDC rotation and I like it so much, I ordered another for Care... M


Perkunas said...

That looks nice,i could think myself replacing my older plier-squirt with that new model indeed.

HBlaine said...

Reading your post made me get my PS4 out and carry it for a little quality wandering time. They are great little tools to have in the pocket. I ended up teaming it with a Leatherman e33B knife. That combination could pretty much handle any odds-n-ends jobs that came along.