By its very nature, a good multitool should be a jack-of-all-trades, suitable for the pockets and purposes of greenhorns and journeymen alike. Whether it’s a daily taskmaster or a just-in-case companion, multitools typically don’t discriminate. They’re a helper for almost everyone.
But while Leatherman boasts a faithful following of both experienced tradespeople and weekend warriors, its latest multitool caters to a more discerning audience. The 20-tool Arc marks the brand’s most expensive — and arguably advanced — EDC ever. Not only does it boast more implements than almost any other Leatherman (the Surge edges it out by one), but it’s also the first production multi from Leatherman to carry a MagnaCut blade, the current darling steel of the knife industry.
I received an early sample of the Leatherman Arc. For a couple of weeks, it remained my pocket companion and served duty when called to action for everyday tasks.
In short: If you can stomach the comparably hefty price tag ($230), the Leatherman Arc serves as a fantastic multitool that everybody would enjoy. But its premium steel and thoughtful design elements are more likely to be appreciated by serious DIYers and EDC enthusiasts. In other words, the Arc is more appropriate for those who will have it in hand more often than its sheath.
- Blade Length 2.76 in
- Closed Length 4.25 in
- Weight 8.6 oz
- Overall Thickness .68 in
- Width 1.3 in | 3.4 cm
- Blade MagnaCut steel
- – Needlenose Pliers / Regular Pliers
- – Replaceable Wire Cutters / Replaceable Hard-wire Cutters
- – MagnaCut Knife
- – Spring-action Scissors
- – Saw
- – Pry Tool
- – Awl
- – Can Opener / Bottle Opener
- – Wire Stripper
- – Wood+Metal File / Diamond-coated File / Edge File
- – Electrical Crimper
- – Large Bit Driver / Small Bit Driver
- – Large Screwdriver
- – Impact Surface
- Price $230
- Extremely versatile
- MagnaCut steel
- One-handed operation
- Great for outdoor use
Leatherman Arc Review
Design & Features
Right out of the box, the Arc strikes a dramatic pose. Unlike the stainless steel or black oxide finishes most Leatherman multitools carry, the Arc combines both into a sharp, high-contrast package.
Overall, the Arc builds off the P4 FREE platform. So it provides all the one-handed, fidget-friendly flickability of Leatherman’s other magnetic FREE multis. And while, like most Leathermans, it still hides a multifunction pliers base tool when closed, the Arc actually revolves around a different implement: a 2.8-inch MagnaCut steel, modified drop-point blade.
Lauded for a veritable holy trinity of corrosion resistance, edge retention, and toughness, MagnaCut has spread like wildfire as the material du jour among knife makers. Here, the knife takes center stage and stands out from the 19 other implements. Not only does it boast a striking black finish, but it also carries a (much appreciated) thumb stud as opposed to a cutout nail knick.
And while the MagnaCut blade by itself could mark a significant upgrade, Leatherman packed extra workload into the Arc with a 20-tool swappable driver. These are a double-ended mini-bit driver, multi-edge file, saw, spring-action scissors, medium flat-head screwdriver, awl, bottle and can opener, pry, an assortment of crimpers, cutters, a wire stripper, and an impact surface for hammering.
Leatherman Arc: Tested
Thanks to my work (not to mention my love of EDC implements), I have a variety of Leatherman tools. I have an old Sidekick, a Bond, a P4, a P2, and, until it tumbled out of my pocket one fateful afternoon, a K4X.
Any of those tools could serve as a worthy EDC. But the Arc feels objectively different. Perhaps “substantial” is a better description. Tipping the scales north of 8.5 ounces, it outweighs all except the P4. But when you add the nine-piece bit driver set (weighing 1.5 ounces), the full Arc arsenal in the sheath feels like the brand’s most serious multitool to date.
I won’t go into the nuances of the magnetic FREE platform here, but suffice it to say, the Arc carries the torch. Its one-handed operability is in line with the brand’s other FREE multis.
But I found the quiet star of the show was the knife’s thumb stud. Up until now, Leatherman’s blades have largely carried a cutout to pry open the blade (as opposed to the nail nick commonly found on Swiss Army knives). But the thumb studs are an outstanding addition for a Leatherman. Not only does it further support single-handed action, but it also helps the Arc’s MagnaCut blade look and feel like a true pocket knife — rather than an also-ran implement.
Arc MagnaCut Blade
I’ll take an extra beat to touch on the blade since it is the star of the show. I spoke with Leatherman’s design team about the choice to use MagnaCut. As with other brands, the Leatherman team agreed this steel has the most to offer most users. Its toughness will stand up to many tasks beyond its intended use, to which many users subject their blades (think prying with the blade rather than the pry bar).
Its superior corrosion resistance also means users can wipe down their blade and shove it into the sheath, without too much worry about a proper cleaning to prevent rust. And MagnaCut’s respectable edge retention means it should sustain a good deal of use without requiring proper honing or sharpening too often.
This does not mean anyone should try to pry open a particularly stubborn lid or leave their blade open to the elements without a care in the world. But the steel on this knife should have noticeably more life and resilience than the typical Leatherman blade.
“So much thought and purpose went into this tool,” Adam Lazenby, Leatherman senior product designer, said on a conference call. “It is one of the most consumer-influenced products we’ve ever made.”
According to Lazenby, the use of MagnaCut required all new manufacturing techniques to meet the precise tolerances. And it shows.
Out of the box, the blade is seriously sharp. In addition to processing some cardboard, which failed to dull the edge, I prepped some dog treats for my three pups. They happen to think carrots are the greatest indulgence on Earth. Here’s where I noticed a particular quirk to this blade over other Leatherman blades.
When chopping up bite-size morsels, the blade acted less like a hot knife through butter, and more like a semi-automatic splitter. Compared to other blades, which required more pressure and resulted in slower, more deliberate cuts, the Arc’s MagnaCut blade pierced through the carrot with very little pressure and quickly “popped off” a segment before cutting all the way through.
This could owe somewhat to a slightly dull blade on my other Leatherman knives, but it’s also a testament to the sharpness and grind on the Arc. As is, it’s less of a finesse blade and more of a get-shit-done knife. I appreciate this and look forward to observing just how long the MagnaCut maintains its edge.
Leatherman Arc Tools
Once you get over the excitement of MagnaCut, you can enjoy all the Arc has to offer. A nearly comprehensive driver kit can tackle a wide array of Phillips, flat head, Torx, square, and hex bit needs. These were simple and quick to swap.
A small-bit driver marked one of my favorite implements here and is great for sunglasses or small electronics. The rest of the implements should look familiar to any Leatherman faithful: replaceable wire cutters, crimper, pliers, awl, saw, file, and more.
I’d give a special nod to two other tools here. First, the spring-action scissors. It may seem a bit redundant to add another cutting surface into the mix, but for all the glory of MagnaCut, sometimes basic scissors are the best tool for the job. Second, the impact surface. This sits on the bottom of the Arc — a hard, flat, steel surface that’s ideal for basic hammering tasks. I used it to hammer in stakes; it’s a nice touch.
All this, including the bit driver kit, packs into Leatherman’s standard gray nylon sheath with a belt loop.
Leatherman Arc: Conclusion
If reading this, the Arc doesn’t seem like too much tool, and if the $230 price tag doesn’t scare you off, then you’re probably the prime target for this EDC. Having spoken to the Leatherman team, I can tell you it’s a marvel of engineering and design.
Beyond that, it’s just one helluva versatile, tough tool. From big tasks to small tweaks, the Arc has an implement to meet the job. And with a combination of premium materials and thoughtful design — you can use two hands, but you’ll only need one — it makes for a terrific DIY companion.
The Leatherman Arc will be available to purchase on Oct. 17 for $230. Learn more and get yours at Leatherman.