macgyver holding missile

Skeletool CX Review: Using a Multi-Tool for EDC

kershaw cryo ii pocket knife vs leatherman skeletool cx
The Kershaw Cryo II with a deep pocket clip is much more concealed than the beefy Skeletool CX despite being similar in size when laid on the table

Skeletool CX Cons

The price tag on the CX model is a bit high. I bought mine in early 2017 for just over $80. Were I to do it again, I think I’d take a longer look at the basic Skeletool model for $50.

Here’s why:

The Skeletool is not a knife. It has a knife, but a KNOYIFE (in the voice of Crocodile Dundee) it is not. It’s truly a multitool even with the respectably sized 2-inch blade. It won’t be getting batoned through wrist-sized logs, but will work for small kindling in a pinch. It’s main purpose is to be useful for every-day tasks, like box cutting or cutting through paracord. For the everyday stuff, I don’t find the 154CM blade upgrade of much use. Sure, it’ll last longer, being made from the same steel as Benchmade knives, but I’m around a sharpening stone enough to keep a regular blade sharp. It is definitely cool to have if you do spring for it, though.

Aside from blade steel preferences, the real con is the lack of a spring-returning set of pliers. The pliers are stiff out of the box. They aren’t naturally one-hand operating when they are stiff and don’t have a spring-assist, which isn’t to say they CAN’T be operated one-handed. It’s just not natural to do so. I can see the pliers smoothing out over time, which should open one-handed operation up.

Carrying in the pocket is big, as mentioned. While the Kershaw Cryo II looks to be similar in size when placed on a table, the size in pocket is much different. The Cryo II can be carried deeply in the pocket with it’s deep pocket clip and isn’t noticed even with skinny jeans. The Skeletool CX is noticeable from both bystanders and the wearer.

The 154cm blade doesn’t have an efficient 90-degree angle for striking a ferro rod. I actually haven’t found a piece on the tool as a whole to strike a ferro rod on that works well enough. I imagine this won’t be solved with the basic model, but it is something to consider.

Other drawbacks of a multi-tool as an EDC:

The blade doesn’t flip naturally out. With a pocket knife, you get used to whichever opening mechanism pretty quickly, as there’s only one function. My Benchmade Griptillian didn’t take more than a few days of getting used to manually opening the knife one-handed when switching from my Kershaw Cryo II spring-assist. After owning the Skeletool CX for a month, I still need two-hands to navigate the tool. With a multi-tool, there’s more to think about.

Skeletool CX Pros

The 154cm blade needs less sharpening than plain stainless steels. My 440c knives feel like they degrade with every use. The Skeletool CX is sharp and usable out of the box, but could use some work. I like my knives to be able to push-cut circles in paper after I’ve worked on them. This slices, but could use a bit of sharpening to be scary sharp. It still is sharper than most production knives straight out of the box.

Having pliers, wire cutters, wire strippers, and a bit driver are much more useful for everyday use for obvious reasons. The Skeletool covers the basics and not much more. The bonus to only covering basic tool is the size.

With just the Skeletool, I can take apart my car’s door panel and rewire my speakers without having to reach for secondary tools. Having two sizes of each a phillips and flat-head screw drivers is much more useful to me than trying to use the tip of a knife (not recommended). Having pliers enhances tasks that requires heavy grips and can even be useful when you don’t have a wrench on hand.

The bit-driver and bits on this tool is designed perfectly for it’s own ecosystem. There are two bits, with 4-heads in total that are of use. There is one bit compartment that locks in the bit you aren’t using, while the but that is in the bit-driver stays hidden when the tool is closed. The negative side of this bit design that it requires bits made for it. I can’t use the bits from my drill and use those. The mating between this tool and most tools is completely different. You can, however, buy bit kits specifically made for Leathermans like you would chicken nuggets: 5-piece, 21-piece, 21-piece with a side of extender. The Skeletool comes with 2 of the most useful bits out of the 5-piece kit, which is more of a replacement. It should be noted that each “piece” is two-sided, so the 21-piece set covers 42-tools.

This is a damn useful thing to carry around as an EDC since it crosses the size threshold for carry. I’ve been able to fix cookware handles in the kitchen when I noticed they were loose without having to find the right screw driver. I’ve adjusted the suspension settings on my car with it. I’ve used the pliers, the knife, and zip ties in my trunk to hack a length of jumper cable wire to my battery when my battery terminal clamp rotted off. I wouldn’t have been able to do this with just a knife.

To channel some MacGyver stuff, I can also bend paperclips to makeshift other tools (like a lock pick set).

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