Leatherman Charge Changes
The cast titanium handles on the current Leatherman Charge Ti and XTi will be replaced by smooth 6061-T6 aluminum with a black Type III hard anodized coating. The Leatherman logo is engraved onto a polished stainless steel insert that is riveted to the aluminum handle.
I was told that weight is virtually unchanged. The Leatherman representative said the reason for the change is the significantly higher price of titanium since the Charge models were first introduced. If they continued with titanium, they’d have to raise prices on these models. With the change in handle material come new model names; the Charge Al and ALX (Ti and XTi replacements, respectively)
On the other hand, the titanium handled Charge isn’t disappearing entirely. The new Charge TTi retains the same titanium handles, albeit at a higher price, though we were unable to get anyone to commit to exact pricing. This new model is based on the original XTi, with notable changes. Its configuration is reported to be the result of all those letters, emails and forum posts many of you have made asking for this particular combination of tools. The pliers’ jaws retain the crimper of the XTi, but one of the bit driver holders is replaced with the scissors from the Ti. Even better, steel for the plain edge blade is upgraded to Crucible’s CPM S30V. As for the small driver that many find little use for, that’s still there.
So, the full list of features for the TTi reads: Titanium Handles, Needlenose Pliers, Regular Pliers, Wire Cutters, Hard-Wire Cutters, Crimper, S30V Clip-Point Knife, Serrated Knife, Cutting Hook, Saw, Wood/Metal File, Diamond-Coated File, Scissors, Large Bit Driver, Small Bit Driver, Large Screwdriver, 8 Double-End Bits, Ruler (8 inch/19 cm), Bottle/Can Opener, Wire Stripper, Fixed Lanyard Ring, Quick-Release Lanyard Ring, Removable Pocket Clip.
Availability for all three new models was given as “early 2007.” If you are a fan of the titanium handled models, like me, and like the tool configuration of the Ti and XTi, I’d definitely suggest you put them on your shopping list before they disappear.
Leatherman Goes Hunting.
We also got a preview of the new line of hunting knives from Leatherman. The new hunting knives are unigue in many ways, proof that new management at Leatherman is thinking way outside of the box.
There is both a one-hand opening (right hand thumb stud only) lock-back folder and a “fixed blade” in two series, the Ukiah and Nehalem, Steens and Klamath respectively. The lower priced series features 154-CM steel and molded glass reinforced nylon handles ($90 and $110, folder and fixed blade). The higher end series ($110 And $130, folder and fixed blade) has S30V steel and polished aluminum handles with rosewood wood inserts. Other than that, the knives are identical. Both handles were comfortable, with a decent half guard, but neither knife is a lightweight.
The folders have a 3.75 inch (9.53 cm) blade, the fixed blade is 4-inches. Weight with GRN handles is 7.2 ounces (204 g) for both, with aluminum handles it is 8.16 and 8.64 oz (231 g and 245 g), respectively.
Both knives incorporate a gut-hook. In the folder, it slides out from the butt of the knife handle. It books rather awkward to use in that configuration, but we’ll hold off on a judgment until we have a chance to try it out to see if, as the Leatherman spokesperson showing it off declared, it is a “natural.”
In the fixed blade access to the gut hook is similar to SOG’s Revolver with its saw. Release the button plunge lock and rotate the blade into the handle and the “tang” which includes the gut hook rotates out to lock in place at the end of a long arm. As with the Revolver, “fixed blade” in this case may be something of a misnomer in the traditional sense.
The fixed blade also incorporates a unique bone saw that folds out from the handle to cover the edge of the blade using a thumb post (right hand only). There are two rows of teeth with a spacer. Leatherman claims it cuts better, and that wouldn’t surprise us.
The flat ground blade has a step in it for the bone saw to slip into, with the top of each blade settling into this cutout. We’ll have to see how that works in the real world. For simple slicing chores it seems like it might be a problem in some situations with some things you might want to slice up around camp. We were told it hasn’t been a problem in their field testing. The plunge lock also locks and releases the bone saw.
Both knives also come with a diamond sharpener. I like the concept, but wonder how many hunters today actually know how to sharpen their blade with a straight rod? In my experience, very few. I suppose that it will be better than nothing, even for someone who hasn’t the experience to use it expertly. In the case of the folder, it slips out of the spine of the handle, held in place with o-rings. The same sharpener is held in a loop on the sheath of the fixed blade. You pull the sharpening rod out from a stainless tubular handle, also held in place with an o-ring. The sharpening rod itself appears to be identical to the EZE-LAP S model with a “D” shaped rod and a fishhook sharpening groove that according to the Leatherman literature is “an additional groove…ideal for fine-point work.”Speaking of sheaths, there’s no clip on the folder so a sheath is required. The GRN handled knives come with Realtree camo ballistic nylon sheaths, the higher end come with dark bridle leather sheaths with a stainless post fitting for retention. The folder sheath has elastic sides like the latest Leatherman tool sheaths. They are pretty classy looking.
Neither folder nor fixed blade has a lanyard hole, a definite shortcoming in my opinion. We’re looking forward to putting these novel designs through their paces out in the field.