Leatherman Signal ReviewJuly 29, 2015
- Overall design and build
- Tool can be locked closed
- Multiple carry options
- Diamond-Coated knife sharpener
- Ferro Rod doesn’t throw a large spark
- Whistle is tricky to use
- Parts easy to lose
- Cannot be closed when using internal tools
The Leatherman Signal was designed to be a survival tool, and it delivers on all fronts. There are some concerns about the longevity of the ferro rod and the knife sharpener as they may be easily lost—though it wouldn’t affect the overall function of the tool and both can be replaced. The Signal offers the right selection of tools without any unnecessary bloat, and the added benefit of the DLC coating helps to justify the spike in cost. I would suggest this multitool for anyone in the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, or anyone looking for a premium multitool with an over-abundance of easy to use tools.
CONSTRUCTION & MATERIALS
Common to Leatherman tools, the Signal is built off of two durable metal arms that act as a frame and are stylized for comfort and weight reduction. The arms are also DLC (diamond-like carbon) coated for added scratch and corrosion resistance. The Signal features oversized and adjustable Torx head bolts on the pliers pivot, security Torx bolts on the tool side arm, and the hammer is riveted into place insuring years of piton and stake hammering.
The Leatherman Signal features a liner lock for its saw and knife blades, a lock back lock for the bit driver, can and bottle opener, and an awl. The lock back lock also acts as a retention device for the knife sharpener. In testing, both lock systems worked exceedingly well, but the liner lock required a little breaking in due to the tight tolerances and DLC coating.
The Signal boasts 154CM steel and 420HC, both of which get the job done—especially the 154CM steel on the wire cutters. I would have liked to see the 154CM carried over to the combo knife blade as it’s superior to 420HC in durability and retention, but it still held up well in testing.
Because of the common hardware used and the cutouts in the handles, the Signal is very easy to clean and maintain. Because they are easily removable, the whistle/ferro rod tool and the knife sharpener may have to potential for getting lost after a wild excursion, but I have not lost them yet. I had initial concerns about the durability of the rivet holding the hammer in place, but those are long gone—it’s built to last.
Like most other Leatherman tools, the Signal is built to be used and will take a beating in any environment. I was initially concerned about the functionality of the hammer, but it easily hammered nails and tent stakes. The DLC coating on the arms is more durable than most other coatings used on multitools and knives, but it can chip, especially on hard edges.
Even after a bevy of twists and turns on some stubborn bolts and nails, the pliers have stayed aligned and only show scratches from the abuse. The replaceable wire cutters sheared ten penny nails in half (like they were paper clips) and still look brand new.
The usual suspects—bit driver, can opener, bottle opener, and awl—on the Signal are off-the-shelf parts and are on par with Leatherman’s exceptional quality. The foray into the whistle/ferro rod combo and knife sharpener is a little dicey, however. The whistle itself has a bit of a learning curve to it and the ferro rod will probably only last a few outings—if you can get it to throw a decent spark. The knife sharpener works quite well, but can be easily lost. These parts (thankfully) are replaceable from Leatherman directly.
DESIGN/EASE OF USE
Survival tools are usually used in extreme circumstances, and it’s obvious that the Leatherman Signal was designed with that in mind. There are multiple carry options and all of the tools are easy to access—even with a gloved hand. One thing that was initially apparent was that the tool cannot be closed when using the can opener, bottle opener, bit driver, or awl. One feature that aids in carrying and using the hammer is an extendable tab that locks the tool closed—it’s a small little thing, but it makes a world of difference.
The saw and combo knife blade on the Signal are made from 420HC which can be hardened to 56-59 HRC. It can be sharpened like a scalpel and will hold that edge for a fair amount of time, but not as well as 154CM. In testing, the knife did dull some but the saw blade held up exceptionally well.
Replaceable 154CM Wire Cutters
Replaceable 154CM Hard Wire Cutters
420HC Combo Knife Blade
1/4” Hex Bit Driver (built into frame)
1/4” Box Wrench
3/16” Box Wrench
Diamond-Coated Knife Sharpener
25 Year Warranty