Survival Gear Review: Leatherman MUT

The day after Independence Day in 1983, Tim Leatherman and his buddy Steve Berliner formally launched the Leatherman Tool GroupTop Survival Blog Inc. and started selling its first product, the Leatherman PST or Pocket Survival Tool.  From that point on, Tim and Steve’s creation and its offspring can be found in almost every survival kit, bugout bag, and BDU pocket in the world.  The evolution and explosive diversification of the Leatherman line is nothing short of catastrophic, especially to the Swiss Army knife crowd.  From the first model to today’s latest metal miracles, every other blade and tool company seems stuck in a perpetual mode of playing catchup.

By Doc Montana, a contributing author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog

Karambit Knife

Leatherman just keeps upping the ante in the mutitool space, and we continue to plop down the pile of green necessary to get the next best multitool.  I guess you know when you’ve big time when the Simpson’s cartoon spoofs  your product.

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MUT Lowdown

At 11.2 ounces, this Military Utility Tool or MUT is a big dog.  It tips the scales on the higher end for multitools and even with it’s Top Survival Blogtitanium pocket clip, the MUT will definitely test the strength of your Levi seams.  But like any good tool, its high weight was low on the list of concerns, far deeper down on the checklist than quality, function, strength, utility, and even price. Introduced in 2010, the MUT is not for EDC because there far better solutions for the more pedestrian needs.  Instead the MUT is for the battlefield…or range, or for hunting.   I’m not sure that alone justifies the ~$160 price tag, but given the alternative of failure or death, some might think the financial cost is a wash if you really need to pull out all the stops, blades, and tools.

Sale
Leatherman 850021 MUT-Multi-Tool, Black
  • Stainless-steel Body & Handles
  • Bronze Carbon Scraper & Titanium Pocket Clip
  • All Locking Blades & Tools

Last update on 2020-04-08 at 10:38 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The three-inch partially serrated blade is made of uneventful steel called 420HC which is little more than a common inexpensive stainless steel used in average knives.  Of all the places to cut corners, I find blade steel to be one of the most offensive.  Promotional materials for the MUT brag about the 154CM steel of the tiny wire cutting jaws, but in my book 154CM steel would be a good starting point for the MUT’s blade, but S30V steel would be better.  And it’s not out of reach for Tim and Steve since two of my other Leatherman multitools have blades made with just such supersteels.  But then again, the Leatherman MUT is not known for its blade since that is something every non-TSA approved multitool already has.

What the Leatherman MUT does have is a well thought-out complement of tools designed for battlefield chores including wire cutting and stripping, Top Survival Blogpliers for gripping at both finger thickness and items and fasteners requiring the needlenose size.  Opposite the blade on the same handle is a saw that chews through wood and plastic.  Absent is the file and metal saw found on some other models which I personally use on my other Leathermans more than the wood saw.  Drivers include large and small Phillips and slotted bits along with  #15 Torx and a 7/64 hex drivers.  All the drivers are in the form of reversible and replaceable bits that slide in and out of storage bays on and in the handle. Some users have complained that extracting the bits from their storage slot is a hassle. To those folks, I think they forgot that the bits are on the handle of a hammer.  When the push-button release frees the bit, a quick rap on the hammer head into your palm sends the bit down the tunnel and into your hand.

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Like other Leathermans, additional driver functionality is only an accessory or two away.  The Leatherman Bit Kit and Bit Driver Extender adds 42 bit tips and two-and-a-half inches of reach.  The business end of the Bit Driver Extension is the industry standard quarter-inch bit receptacle encouraging the use of any and all bits in addition to Leatherman’s proprietary flat bits.

Platform Dedicated

Of the specialized tools on the MUT, two swing out from the handle including: a bronze scraper and a ⅛ inch round punch.  The scraper leatherman mut reviewis shaped like the classic Swiss Army knife awl.  Bronze metal was chosen so as not to mar the finish of any part of the bolt carrier group for which it was engineered to clean. Death, taxes, and carbon buildup on AR bolts are just the facts of life so having a quality scraper just a multitool away is a good thing. I find the scraper to work quite well despite the size of its 11 ounce handle.  Due to the force that can be easily and unintentionally applied to the scraper, the soft bronze will wear quickly or even break.  Luckily the smart folks at Leatherman Inc. thought of that and provide an inexpensive replacement kit to service the breakable parts of the MUT. The same is true for the eighth-inch punch.

The punch is about two inches long with 1.5 of that round steel, and the remaining half-inchtop survival blog a screw mount that when removed, provides a threaded stump onto which a gun cleaning accessory or bore snake can be attached.  Just next door to the punch is a threaded hole in the middle of the handle.  This particular feature accepts cleaning brushes and any other similar screw-on gun cleaning component. In reality, the threaded hole is located on the side of the pliers head and appears on the handle only when the MUT is folded up.  But there are really two threaded ports, one on each side of needlenose, of which the second port is only accessible with the plier head deployed

Back to the punch, it can also be replaced with a pointy C4 punch if explosives are more your thing.  Of course the other features of the MUT will certainly meet your average bomb disposal needs including wire stripping, cutting, and crimping as well as pliers to disrupt the bomb’s circuitry for when you left your pigstick in the truck.  Leatherman does offer a specific version that has a different pliers blade configuration in addition to the OEM C4 punch.

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Bolt Upright!

Probably the most unique feature of the Leatherman MUT  is the bolt override tool.  There is an auto rifle failure that can occur known asAR15 Bolt Override MUT a bolt override jam. It a situation where a spent casing lodges itself between the bolt and the charging handle.  The old-school clearing procedure was to drop the mag and beat the stock against something hard until the casing is knocked loose.  Another way is to pry the bolt back with your fingers reaching through the mag well. As you might guess, neither method is very effective nor kind to man or machine.  The Leatherman MUT's  bolt override tool is like a small pick-like pry bar on one side of the MUT’s hammer.  To clear the bolt override the operator inserts the the bolt override tool into the ejection port and strokes the bolt back as if the MUT was a side-charging handle. With the bolt yanked to the rear gravity takes over pulling the case free and onto the ground where it belongs.  Since so few AR malfunctions are as final or deadly as the bolt override, having a tool at hand, especially one that is as versatile as the MUT can really be a lifesaver.

Although I carried the MUT on several shooting adventures hoping for a bolt override jam, I never encountered any failure to feed issue with my ARs.  However, I was fortunate enough to have a serious misfeed with a Ruger 10/22 that required using the MUT’s needlenose pliers to extract the bent round from the chamber.  I’ll take what I can get when testing tools.

AR-15 Rifle Tool

The Final Stretch

Leatherman.com lists the MUT as having 16 distinct tools which is close enough when you can count the pliers as two because of their Top Survival Blogvariance in jaw shape moving from tip to pivot, and counting the bit driver as one when it is a minimum of six (included with the tool) with a maximum of infinity if one moves into the accessory bit kit and driver and counts the two threaded cleaning brush ports as one.  However, there are still some tools in need of mention.

A very sharp three-inch long locking saw is buried in the same handle as the knife blade.  The narrow kerf saw is classic Leatherman and performs as such meaning it cuts wood and plastic quite well with a flexibility that matches its length.  The saw blade tapers to a quarter-inch in height at the far end making it useful for reaming and other tight-space work.  The Alternate Top Bevel (ATB) saw tooth configuration borders on Hi-ATB making an excellent choice for fine woodwork and sawing brittle composites. Each alternating tooth is like a tiny knife creating a finer, more chip-free crosscut. [insert pic of cutting paracord]

MUT Cut

Between the hammer head and handle shaft is a cutting hook. It might be surprising that the business end of the cutting blades point Top Survival Blogoutward towards your palm when in the pliers-open configuration since the cutting blade is staring at your fingerprints, but the odd shape of the Leatherman MUT provides for some extra room beyond the traditional-sized Leatherman grip preventing any skin from contacting the razor edge or slipping between the hammerhead and object about to be struck.  My tests with paracord showed the cutters work very well, but with tubular webbing, the cutting was much less efficient.  If trying to slice a seatbelt, the tradeoff is victim safety over speed, but if in a hurry, carefully use the serrated knife blade instead.  Unlike dedicated safety cutters, the MUT cutting hook has a narrow ‘V’ apex that allows very little effective slicing motion which is necessary to cut larger straps and webbing in any reasonable time.  The longer lower blade on the MUT cutter will allow some ripping, but don’t hold your breath too long in a submerged truck. Know when to cut your losses and move to the main blade.  Either way, you can use the heck out of the cutting hook because the blade is user-replaceable.

Rounding out the Leatherman MUT kit as sold is an extra wrench and MOLLE-compatible sheath. WhileTop Survival Blog the sheath is quite nice, the wrench seems a trendy add-on. The the concept of a multitool is to have everything on one thing. If adding a wrench, then why not a few other tools, maybe a little box or bag as well.  In fact, a small toolbox or range bag might be in order. It’s a downhill slope when one adds tools to a multitool, with the Bit Kit the possible exception.  I sincerely hope the Leatherman continues its trend towards specific-use multitools.  There are many exciting spaces that would benefit from a dedicated multitool coming from Tim and Steve.  In fact, I can think of one multitool space that we are in great need of.  I imagine it would be called “The Bugout.”

Sale
Leatherman 850021 MUT-Multi-Tool, Black
  • Stainless-steel Body & Handles
  • Bronze Carbon Scraper & Titanium Pocket Clip
  • All Locking Blades & Tools

Last update on 2020-04-08 at 10:38 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Doc Montana
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20 thoughts on “Survival Gear Review: Leatherman MUT”

  1. I just happy to see there is not space wasted with a bottle opener. A pet peeve of mine is the hardcore survival tools with bottle openers. We have been opening bottles without em forever.

    Reply
    • the cool thing about the MUT is the bottle opener is integrated and out of the way. I know it is intended to be a cap lifter because it has a little picture of a bottle right above it. The lift bar is the same part that is used to remove stuck casings, it is the most easily usable aggresive bottle openers ever and never requires more than one try

      Reply
  2. I didn't mention the opener as it is bundled into the common toolset that doesn't particularly stand out on the MUT, but actually, there is a bottle opener of sorts as part of the carabinier clip.

    Leatherman has included this design on other models as well like the Skelatool. It worked poorly in my tests and I much prefer using the pliers to open my bottles. The clip hooks on the far side of the cap and you rock the opener down and towards you instead of the traditional up and away from from you. It's a little awkward and Ive practiced with it a lot in my research. The good part is that if your beverage has been shaken, the spray will be away from you since the far side of the cap is lifted first. A feature borrowed from Claymore, no doubt.

    Reply
    • Doc, thanks for the review. You brought up a great point at the end of your article. What tools would we(this community) prefer on a multitool? Blade steel improvements are a must, of course; but, what other bugout/prepper specific items could we as a large consumer base ask for without getting too "Swiss Army"?

      My first request would be a removeable and serviceable/replaceable ferrocerium rod and/or magnifying glass(actual glass). I like the threaded holes and attachments for gun cleaning, so I would personally keep those on board because they are easily integrated into the tool. A #2 Phillips head and a couple flat head options come in handy. The file, serrated blade, stamped ruler, and needle nose pliers can stay on my model. An awl with an eye for threading might not be a bad addition for my Danny Boone friends but ditch the bottle opener in exchange for the p38 style can opener(use mine almost daily). An included wood saw wouldn't hurt my feelings either. I like the MUT's cutting hook but not entirely for its mentioned use for cutting cordage or straps. I think it may make a great skin zipper(gut hook). You didn't specifically mention it but did you happen to test it for that purpose? I would also adopt the carabiner-style clip(bottle opener design optional). I would like the cutting/utility blade to be polished stainless instead of coated(possible signaling uses). I'll take serviceable wire cutting blades and a couple standard hex/allan keys for scope rings, rail mounts, and the like as well. Lastly, integrate a crimping tool into the backside of the pliers behind the fulcrum point for making a proper wire snare.

      I know weight is a concern but I am willing to sacrifice an ounce or two for multitools that can add a layer of redundancy and diversity to our particular market niche. Just keep the bright red plastic, after-thought tweezers, scissors, and plastic toothpicks in the Eurozone, please. As for the sheath, integrate a couple slots or a small pocket for stashing a couple of the tiny goodies we tend to conceal as part of our EDC(handcuff shims, lock picks, micro sd card, etc.).

      Anyone else have suggestions or inside contacts in the Leatherman engineering and marketing departments?

      Reply
      • Great list Travis. You've obviously put some thought into it.

        Couplathings….

        I have a SA knife with magnifying lens. Very handy but the rest of the tools were not as functional so it is rarely handy.

        Having inspected many broken Leathermans, it seems there is a great need for some sort of prybar, and I agree.

        When the article went live, I sent an email to Leatherman's ideas contact with a link and the suggestion that LTG consider a tool called the "Bugout"

        Love the firerod idea. Definitely!

        Never used the cutter as a gut hook. As you know from your clarification, true gut hooks are just smooth hooks like a tiny coat hanger. This The blade shape and being perpendicular to the handle makes it much larger and less efficient than a traditional safety cutter. It should zip skin, but with a bottle opener and hammer along for,the ride.

        I prefer the black blade but 154CM or S30V steel is essential. I have two skeletools, one with with a 420c blade and one with a 154cm blade. Huge difference. I'm always touching up the 420 blade, but rarely the 154cm. Got a Charge TTi with an S30V blade and like that one even better.

        Weight is not a concern until it threatens the function and carry-ability of the tool, which I beleve is still a ways away.

        Reply
        • Awesome! Glad you contacted them. I just hope they don't jump on the "Zombie" bandwagon with marketing and aesthetics. Nothing against the concept except that people using multitools are almost always more concerned with utility and function, instead of a personally significant theme.

          My other reason for not favoring a blade coating is cleaning. It just seems a bit easier to clean a polished stainless blade in the field than it does a coated blade. I'm not totally against coatings, though. My CRKT FE7 and a few others are coated and that's fine for reducing glint and shine but I also prefer my utility blades to be polished because a scratched or chipped finish is something of a personal irritant.

          I also think a pry bar of sorts is in order. I just don't want to see it evolve into some sort of "claw-hammer-infected, as-seen-on-TV" gimmick like you find in gas stations.

          A streamlined front sight tool may be a handy addition but there are other ways to adjusting your front post, so that my be overkill.

          Reply
  3. What bottle opener? My Supertool 300 has a CAN opener, as has had all of my previous leathermen. It works on the principle of the p-38 opener. I use it quite a bit when out in the field.

    Reply
    • No can opener on the MUT. Just a tool that can remove bottle caps. As noted in the article, the MUT has it's strengths in the gun world, not the EDC world.

      Reply
    • True. Got one of the TSA approved Styles as well. However the opener is smaller than a bottle cap and I consider it an emergency bottle opener, which I have used instead of my other option of a large screwdriver. And frankly, I prefer a small screwdriver over the Style's bottle opener to open my bottles.

      Reply
      • I've never used it personally though, I would rather have a bottle opener than a
        can opener as I already carry a p38 can opener, and they don't make an easy to carry hand held bottle opener.

        Reply
  4. Leatherman makes great products and I’ve been dying to pull the trigger on this one. If it was in the $90 range I wouldn’t hesitate. However, it’s $130 for a tool that is designed for my AR carbine. I have 2 Leatherman and just love them. I just can’t justify buying a new one. I know all about the bolt override and it is very nasty. I’ve been using an M16/M4 almost ½ my life and I’ve never experienced one yet and hope I never do. However, a bolt override can be cleared with your knife just as quick or quicker. So what it boils down to is buying a tool that I already have for one use. I just wish my Leatherman wave would break!

    Reply
    • Hate to tell you this Rick but you will have to lose your Wave. If you break it Leatherman will replace it for free.

      I also have a Wave and it feels like a multitool. The MUT, on the other hand, feels like a tool.

      Reply
  5. Sorry to be a party pooper at the Leatherman parade, but I have carried for 10+ years and still carry a ChinaMart multitool. It's made of 420 SS and has a 3 inch knife blade, a sheeps-foot blade (saw-edge), a small & large flat tip & small cross-tip heads, an old-style can opener, needle-nose pliers w/ wire cutter, no unnecessary jig-saw folding handle (weak-link), a serviceable (now defunct) cloth sheath and best of all it cost $7 + tax! So of course, I bought 6 more (before they disappeared) since they did everything that I needed a multi-tool to do without the 'buy USA' rip-off price! If I ever lose or break one, I just pull another one out of storage, not have to shell out $160 (***) for another Leatherman; if you can find one! I wear (on belt) a multi-pocket tool pouch (w/2 complete spares, just in case) holding the pre-mentioned multi-tool, a 1095 steel 3" folding knife, a blast match, a 6" shear/scissors, and a 6" LED (2AA battery) flashlight; these tools have served me well for many years and total cost of all was about $80, half of the MUT's inflated price! I have multi-tools that have ferro rods imbedded in them but they work very poorly, so from my experience, the blast match (after several disposable lighters) is IMHO the best! Good Luck!

    Reply
    • No poop on my parade Roger. I'm glad your multitool choice is working out for you. I guess it just all comes your needs. If an expensive tool performs to your liking, then good. But if your experiences with the cheap tools were less than satisfactory as my have been, then I think we can all agree that having the high end options is just important as having the low end ones.

      Reply
  6. Appreciate the review, and follow up comments. Roger hits on a very critical point at the end of his post…that is, ferrous rods that didn't work too well on a multi-tool. Now broaden that line of thinking a bit. We would be well served to remember that ANY tool hooked on a fold-up "do everything" platform is a poor excuse for the dedicated tool we are trying to replace. If I wanted a saw to cut wood, I should get a freakin saw (or axe). Same with the screw driver, etc. Instead of trying to find a MT that packs every conceivable gadget on a hinge that we might one day find a use for, stick with a tool that fills the absolute critical gaps. I promise you this: a fir trapper or frontiersman in the 1700's or 1800's didn't carry a multi-tool, and got by with a lot LESS gear and a lot MORE knowledge. This, like a lot of stuff we surround ourselves with, is a solution looking for a problem.

    Reply
  7. I am always torn these are great if you have a seconday tool to backup another tool like using the needle nose to hold a piece of wire as a nail now you need a hammer and it's on the other end of a tool your already using.

    Unless your a hands on type you won't realize your mistake on having one tool I like the vice grip Crunch model.
    A need to hold or trap with no effort is a plus in some cases.

    Again nothing is perfect but if you have foresight you can accesorize and have the other tools to make this a
    complete package.

    tools are regional as well fencing pliers are more rual a multi wrench for cities but a hammer is a must
    then again do you need a wood construction tool or a destruction or blacksmiths hammer like a shop or ball pien
    if your in a desert all this is different to a degree weight length and multiple usage.
    consider well and you will be better for it.
    In a desert a post hole digger would allow you to find deep water with less effort also it makes a good shelter support for shade with some modifacation it can be taken down to make a shovel or 2 posts..

    Multitools are a must it is the configuration and accesories to suit your situation are you working on small engines your bicycle or using it to fild strip your weapons systems takes a different tool set.

    Reply
  8. Nice article.

    I have the MUT and love it… I made a couple of modifications to mine which suit my needs…

    1. I unscrewed the punch-pin, and replaced with a ferro rod that I drilled out to make a thread so it can screw into the leatherman where the punch used to be. Works great, but the threaded end has snapped a couple of times. I need to have a metal threaded ferro-rod-holder fabricated but do not have the tools. If I could obtain such a piece, I would simply glue in the ferro rod to the fabricated part, which would allow me to easily replace, and metal would not chip/crack like drilled ferro-rod.

    2. The brass scraper. I drilled a hole in it and sharpened the point. can now use as an awl if required.

    3. (Still working on this). Replace the Leatherman saw with a file of same dimensions.

    If I were to start my modifications from scratch, I would try to get a ferro rod shaped like the bronze scraper. I would use a diamond file shaped the same but to replace the leatherman pin-punch, so it could be unscrewed and used to touchup a damaged edge on the knife or other filing needs. I would replace the saw with a serrated sheepsfoot blade, and replace the standard blade with a straight edge. Ideally both the serrated and straight blade would be made of much better steel like 20cv, s110v or similar. Serrations in the blade would match the diameter of the diamond file. I would use a basic grinder to produce a sharp edge on one of the screwdriver bits to use as the ferro-rod striker. (currently I unscrew the ferro-rod and use back of saw to scrape)

    If I were Leatherman and could make this modification, I would also have a tiny carbide tip/point extruding from the tip of the pliers, to use as a glass breaker. Wouldn't affect plier functionality but certainly add a little extra functionality to the tool. (similar to what they do with the glass breaker in Skeletool rescue model.

    I keep a cheap fresnel lens in the Leatherman's Molle sheath… weighs nothing and a pack of 10 on ebay is only a couple of dollars.

    Doc, I totally agree with you re Leatherman Knife steel. I understand being cost-conservative on base models, but there is really no excuse on their high end (expensive) models. I have a leatherman knife in 154cm and it is great. I have S110, 20cv, H1 and S30/35v in other knifes, and it's like comparing a racecar to a corrolla.

    On a side note.. I have never understood a can-opener on a multi-tool. I figure if one can pack heavy bulky canned food, one can find space for a tiny P38 opener somewhere in their kit.When I go camping I tape a P38 to each can I take, and try to remember to bring the P38s home with me. They are cheap as chips, and usually have a couple scattered throughout my kit regardless of whether I am carrying canned food or not.

    Also, there was an earlier comment about cheap tools. Hey, if one is happy with them, great, why not grab a few for very little money, but I would only use those at home. When out hiking or bug out scenario, I would feel more comfortable with a single more reliable tool, as I wouldn't want to carry half a dozen as backups.

    Reply

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