Leatherman Wingman Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Inexpensive, well-made
Cons: Hybrid blade is short
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
Leatherman's Wingman tool is an out-of-the-park swing at their competitors that are offering "budget" multi-tools. Leatherman brought their long lineage to a less expensive offering.
Besides some very unique options, every award winner in our test has scissors built into the model. Now, all of these award-winning tools are great in many ways, but it is the presence of scissors that seems to differentiate the competitors. If that holds up to scrutiny, it must follow that the Wingman is above par concerning features. Its scissors are among the largest in our test, and they are precise and sharp. In the pocket knife world, Victorinox sets the standard for compact scissors on folding tools. Their scissors are indeed excellent. Further, the primary hinge on Victorinox Swiss Army Knives scissors is a screw. With usage and wear, the tension on the scissors can be adjusted. We wish multi-tool manufacturers would follow suit. All of our tested tools with scissors, including the Wingman, have riveted hinges, so the user cannot adjust the scissors at all.
In another relatively minor complaint, particularly at this price point, the Wingman comes with a single blade equipped with a hybrid straight/serrated edge. The steel is good and the edge is sharp, but we wish it were just straight. Or, better yet, omit something else and include two blades. While we're discussing the Wingman's blades, it must be noted that the blade is a half-inch shorter than those on Editors' Choice winning Leatherman Charge TTI. In many ways, these few small gripes merely explain the lesser cost. We couldn't gush on and on about the low price of the Wingman without pointing out what it'll cost you.
Perhaps the most unique feature on the Wingman is the package opener. This small, unassuming sharpened hook is purpose-built to tear into those plastic "blister packs" that so many small electronic devices come in. One can cut into the package without worry for damaging the contents. The package opener can also safely cut the packing tape on cardboard boxes. For many, this feature alone will seal the deal.
There are tools with more features, but the features on the Wingman serve most users. For an even more robust feature set, a set that approaches that of the top of the line Leatherman Charge, we granted another Best Buy award to the Leatherman Wave+. The Wave is higher-end than the Wingman, with twice as many features, better blades, and Leatherman's proprietary bit driver. The Wave is also much more expensive than the Wingman but is half the price of the Charge TTI.
The full steel construction of this Leatherman inspires confidence and will last you a long time. The blade will need to be sharpened, just like any other knife. Sharpening the straight portion is relatively straightforward. However, resurfacing the serrated portion requires special skill and equipment or professional assistance. If you anticipate significant and extended cutting, consider this additional complication in your purchase decision. In short, we had absolutely no issues with the construction quality and durability of the Wingman. And that is the best endorsement we can give.
Certainly, the top-end Leatherman Charge TTI uses more sophisticated materials and construction. For the price, however, the Wingman is very well made.
The Wingman has a modern, asymmetrical, and contoured shape. The scissors and main blade can be engaged without folding out the pliers. These outer tools lock into place with a "liner lock" style tab. The inner tools engage with definite and clear fingernail slots. Our testers like that the Wingman comes equipped with a secure pocket clip. It would have been even better if the clip were turned 180 degrees. As it is, pulling the knife out to use the main blade requires flipping the tool in the user's hand first. The spring-loaded pliers make extended usage less tiring on the hands.
A tool earns high scores in ergonomics with smooth contours, compact pliers handles, and tools that are accessible with as few hands and steps as possible. The Wingman is smoother on the outside than many. It also has a more compact plier-in-fist profile than the bulkiest options and has more tools accessible from the outside than most older designs. As a bonus, there's a one-handed blade that rivals the convenience of a dedicated pocket knife. In short, the Wingman has much in its favor, ergonomically.
To save money, the Wingman ships without a belt sheath. If this is your preferred way of carry, factor in the cost of a holster. As mentioned above, the pocket clip is a welcome addition. Anyone on our test team accustomed to carrying a pocket knife in a pants pocket easily transitioned to carrying the Wingman the same way. The Wingman is also equipped with holes in the frame that can take a lanyard cord. All edges of the Wingman are rounded to save wear and tear on whatever pocket or bag you carry it in.
Size wise, the Wingman is at the low end of "full size". It is more than twice as big as the Top Pick Gerber Dime, but is considerably smaller and lighter than the other award winners. Some testers that found the Editors Choice Charge (and others) too big for pocket clip but indicate that the Wingman is enough smaller that this sort of transport is reasonable.
Earning our Best Buy Award, the value of the Wingman should speak for itself. It hits a price point with plenty of competition. However, none of the competitors stack up. Leatherman is head-and-shoulders above the rest when it comes to well thought out tools. And the Wingman is no exception. If the selection of tools works for you, and you anticipate light to medium usage, the Wingman will serve you well. If you anticipate significant cutting, both with the blade and wire-cutters, something like the other Best Buy Leatherman Wave+ may be worth the additional cost. Overall, the Wingman does surprisingly well. In a ratio of overall score to price, the Wingman is well ahead of the pack. For this reason, it earns our Best Buy award. A couple years ago we said "in fact, at this score, and don't tell Leatherman this, it could be priced even higher and still win our award. It's that good." Apparently someone did tell Leatherman this, as they have raised the price of the Wingman. Worry not, as it is still worth the slightly higher price.
If your wingman needs to be solid without flashiness and pretentiousness, a tool by the same name should fit the same description. Leatherman's Wingman hits the nail on the head, so to speak. Use your wingman for some heavy lifting, and then trust it to disappear in your pocket without running up the tab.
— Jediah Porter