Thursday, 13 September 2012

Leatherman Crunch Review

Key Info
  • Locking Pliers (mole/vise grip type). 
  • 420HC locking tools. 
  • Hidden 1/4" bit driver. 

The Leatherman Crunch is a one-of-a-kind multitool, featuring locking pliers. Some other multitools have compound leverage mechanisms (such as the SOG Powerlock), but I am not aware of any that lock on like the Crunch. The tools are made from 420HC Stainless Steel. This is a good blade steel for general use although it is a little rust-prone. All tools lock open on the Crunch, and although the blade is short (5.5cm, 2.2") and blunt-tipped, the locking safety feature makes it illegal to carry in the UK. The locking mechanism is simple. Each blade has a groove in the back, into which locates the spring loaded locking bar when opened. To close simply push on the lock button, lifting the bar clear of the groove and enabling the blade to close. One particularly useful feature is the bit driver, which is somewhat hidden, and located underneath the knurled screw which adjusts the jaw opening. 
As you've probably gathered, the main feature of this tool is the locking jaws. It's fairly difficult to explain how they function but I'll try! - The handles fold into a rectangle like any other Leatherman multi tool. However, when you open the crunch, it has the slightly disconcerting feeling that it has fallen apart! Don't worry, it probably hasn't! What has actually happened is that the two handles have moved completely apart, connected by a central bar, allowing you to access the plier jaws. These are swung up on a pivot at the top of one of the handles. On the side of the jaws is a location point which locates by popping into the other handle. The jaw width can be adjusted by the knurled screw previously mentioned and when the jaws are squeezed shut on a pipe or wire or whatever, they lock like a vice! Clever, and beautifully designed. 

The Crunch comes with a handy belt sheath, much the same as other Leatherman multi tools - not the greatest but functional. 

The Crunch is like no other multitool. Its lockable jaws are really strong, and hold the extremely object tightly whilst you work on it, or grip a tight nut to undo etc. It is not really aimed at the bushcrafter or backpacker, but more the motor engineer, DIY enthusiast, cyclist, hobbyist, handy man etc. I was once attended to by an AA man who swore by (not at!) his Crunch! It really cannot be stressed more how useful these jaws are, and they are even large enough to hold a 1 inch pipe. Hidden within the jaws are, of course, the usual hard and soft wire cutters, which work really well too. The other tools are a useful selection of screwdrivers, a file and a bottle opener, as well as the aforementioned hidden bit driver. The Crunch is also advertised with a 'Pin Vice'. I never could find this tool, but have since learned that it is just a little groove cut into the end of the plier jaws. The Crunch also has a fixed lanyard ring. 

The blade deserves a little more of a mention. Being serrated, it cuts rope etc with ease and doesn't need quite so regularly sharpening. This is just as well as serrated blades are difficult to sharpen at the best of times. However, it is not, as previously said, a bushcrafter's tool, so blade shape and length are utilitarian and functional. Well chosen, in my opinion, for this tool, despite the fact that I normally prefer plain edges. 

The Crunch is unique in the Leatherman line and as such, has its own place in your tool line-up. It is immensely useful around the house or in the car, and as a cyclist, I've found it has got me out of trouble several times. Personally, I find the Crunch invaluable and highly recommend it in your tool collection. You can buy the Crunch from


  1. I think you will find that the pin vice is in fact the small groove cut perpendicular to the teeth on the jaws, (designed to hold any small rod, pin, type thing firmly in the jaws forward and not across the jaws) if you know what I mean?
    Hope that helps!



  2. Thanks very much for the info! I was wondering where the mystery pin vice was!

  3. @john - thank you for that explanation! I never knew what that was until now.


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