Back in 2014, when we first decided to take an in-depth look and review the two weirdos among multi-tools – the Leatherman Style CS and PS, we didn’t expect much.
They looked too flimsy and packed too few tools to be any serious competition to the sturdier industry classics.
We were wrong, and every update of the Style CS review keeps reminding us.
Where are we now?
Few years and a few hundred of man-hours later, we are looking at what was hard to imagine back then…when we were young, stupid and weighed 40 pounds less.
The Leatherman Style CS is rated 4.14/5 which makes the two 11th best-rated Leatherman and 18th best-rated multi-tool overall. Depending on how much you know about the industry, this will sound like a big deal or not.
Trust us, it’s a big deal.
Here’s what you’ll see in this review update of the Style CS
- The basics – a quick video overview of the CS and PS (a must-watch to understand the rest of the review)
- We’ll look at the current ratings of the tool in 5 categories we rate
- We’ll compare those and it’s specs and features to the currently top rated piece
- In-depth review of the Style CS
Kicking things off with the Short Video Overview
Quick View at the Features of the Style CS and PS
As you saw the deciding factor between the two will be whether you need the pliers, that is pretty much it. The fact that the PS includes the pliers makes it a bit more mainstream and gives it a little edge in terms of being the better choice for most people if you are looking for an EDC.
Compared the currently top rated multi-tool
When it comes to understanding the advantages and downsides of a tool nothing beats seeing a mano-a-mano comparison.
So, take a moment to analyze the table below where we compare the features and ratings of the Style CS and PS to the top-rated tool overall – the Wave.
Style CS & PS compared to the top-rated piece
Zero shame in “loosing” to the Wave
The Leatherman Wave has been the top dog of the industry for as far back as we can think.
Since the Original Wave was retired in 2004 (first made in 1998) and the NEW WAVE was introduced, it’s been, by far, the most popular multi-tool the world has ever seen.
On our website the Wave has been the top-rated multi tool in the last 14 updates.
The reasons for the dominance might be found in some of the following:
- costs way less than compared to tools of similar quality
- just the right balance between price and functionality
- surgical-grade, heat-hardened 420HC steel used for the blades
- 154CM steel used for the pliers (154CM steel is RC60-61 – the RC stands for Rockwell scale and it indicated the hardness of steel)
So, yes, it seems that this classic isn’t going anywhere any-time soon.
In depth review of the Leatherman Style CS
Enough of beating around the bush, comparing it to this and that, if you are on this page you are probably looking for specific info on the Style CS or the PS.
I’ve just looked it up, over the years we have sent out 8 pieces of this multi-tool to our featured testers.
And these are people from various walks of life, from campers and hikers to handymen.
So this tools has seen it all – used and abused by our testers beyond what 99% of people can ever put it through.
The following review is based on their stories & our testing
Style CS is one of the few scissors-based multitools
Vast majority of full-sized multi-tools are pliers-based, then you have a plethora of Swiss-style knife-based pieces (the best of them coming from Victorinox).
*(something-based is just a way of saying that the “something” is the main tool and everything else in the tool is built around it)
Among scissors-based pieces, only a few are worth mentioning, like the Leatherman Micra and the Squirt S4.
Among them the Style CS really has no competition, it’s by far the best-rated scissors-based multi-tool.
The styling is pretty much a copy of it’s predecessor, the Skeletool, which is currently the second top-rated multi-tool overall.
The design is sleek, modern and definitely eye-catching.
Size and weight – the sweet spot
Closed length of 2.9 inches places the Style CS somewhere between the micro keychain multi-tools and full-sized tool.
Weighing only 1.58 oz, it’s definitely small enough to be a keychain tool.
It’s open length is 4.65 inches.
Tools included – less is more
In day and age when all the inflating the number of tools is pretty much the industry standard of doing things (just yesterday I was writing about a Victorinox piece that claims to have 10 tools in the pliers jaws alone) it’s refreshing to see minimalism and honesty.
As you can see above the Style CS packs 6 tools:
- The knife – 420HC steel (same steel quality and edge retention as in tools that cost trice as much)
- Spring action scissors – we said that the tool is scissors-based, so they were always going to be the best thing about it
- Phillips and flat screwdriver
- Nail file and tweezers
- Bottle opener & carabiner
Pretty minimal, but that’s what the Style CS is about. It’s about not carrying a chunk of metal that will pull your pants down while you’re using only 20% of the tools included.
You’ll use everything that comes with the Style CS. We like that.
Scissors – 10/10
The scissors that came in the Micra, which is an “older tool” worked great and Leatherman didn’t intervene much when it comes to the design of materials of the scissors.
They work perfectly and the fact that the handles are longer and easier to grip, in our opinion, makes them the best scissors in the multi-tool jungle. They hold edge, the body is tight-crafted so they don’t distort or become loose if you try to use them on thicker stuff.
If you do try to cut heavier materials and it turns out the scissors are not up to it, they simply won’t work, you won’t ruin the tool.
Blade – chisel good with one serious irk
Style CS packs a blade that’s, as we said, is 420HC steel which is the standard used for the blades in much heftier and more expensive tools.
It is chiseled-ground at about 20°, meaning that it’s only one side is ground (like in a chisel).
The bone that we have to pick with the blade is that the nail pick is too darn close to the body, which makes it harder to one-hand open. This aspect of blade design is better in the Micra, where the pick is placed closer to the top of the blade where there’s more “room”.
It doesn’t sound like a big deal but for a tools that’s meant to be used daily for years, it can become irky.
Carabiner – thank you for the side-bulge
The carabiner is better than the initial design of the Skeletool carabiner. It’s because it’s easier to clip on and off because of the side-bulge.
Only goes to prove that design can be improved in ways we would never think of. A small bulge on the side…hm…smart…
The carabiner is also the bottle opener and works just fine, nothing more to add there.
Tweezers – you’ll actually use them
What we liked about the tweezers are the angles. Both the angles of the body and the slant of the tips.
It’s these two aspects that often make the tweezers of a multi-tool.
These ones work just as well as standalone tweezers you’d buy as a separate and it’s all because of the angles.
We’ve heard a few grievances over the years that they are hard to get out of the slot (in the black glass-plastic part).
That did take away a few fractions of a point in the Design category, but we personally have never had a similar issue. In fact, the curvy part at the top makes them pretty easy to take out.
Our best guess is that the issue might come if you have large hands or cut your nails too close.
The file – good for nails not good enough for a screwdriver
We never heard or personally found issues with the file when used as a nail file, but we were never crazy about the tip that’s supposed to be the screwdriver.
It feels less sturdy and it’s thinner than that that comes in the Micra and don’t do a good enough job as a screwdriver. We found that the both the flat and the Phillips drivers are much better built and more usable in the Leatherman Micra.
We keep comparing it to the Micra so let’s do it right.
We’ll take a look at some basic facts and stress the piece-by-piece comparison by marking the better tool with a +. We’ll also see the difference between the tools included.
Leatherman Style CS vs. Leatherman Micra
As you can see the Leatherman Micra style has a slight edge over the Style CS
Aftermath of the review of Leatherman Style CS
It’s hard to top Leatherman Style CS when it comes to convenience. What makes it popular is the fine balance between size and usability.
Go down in size and the tools are hardly usable, go up and you get to full-sized bulky pieces.
People who are going to be interested in the Style CS want neither.
Or, better said, they want both – they want a tool that offers the seamlessness of a micro tool like the Gerber Dime and the usability of bigger tools, like the Skeletool.
The Leatherman Style CS does that, and does it well.
Comments from our featured testers
In the rest of the review, we’ll list excerpts from the comments our featured testers made over the years.
They basically tell the same tale we told in the review above.
PROs from the Leatherman Style CS reviews:
- I work on computers and I needed some small piece I could carry around in case of an emergency. This one does the job, especially the knife blade
- Screwdrivers are for moderate use and the bottle opener didn’t feel so tough but I hasn’t failed me once
- I ordered this one because my other tools didn’t have the scissors I can actually use. I was very carefully when I was choosing it and haven’t regretted. They are great for their size
- Turns out you can cut big things even if you have a small blade sharp as this one is. The stainless steel of the blade really does make a difference
- I have scissors, a bottle opener, a nail file and a small blade with me all the time. The clip-on is really tight. It stays on the belt but is easily detached.
- Considering it’s a clip-on, I want it to look good as well. Style CS gives me functional tool that is an accessory as well
- A little longer and slightly thinner than Victorinox I had, so I’m really pleased
- I like the fact that the individual tools are really easy to use, and it’s easy to access them as well
- Scissors! Nice leverage when it comes to dealing with some thicker items, and they are reasonably sharp
- I had some bad experience with clip-ons being bulky and too heavy. This one is perfect!
- Basically, this is a pair of great scissors with a few extra tools
- My pockets are usually full of pennies and pencils and who-knows-whats, but there’s always Style CS as well. The great thing about this tool is that I doesn’t have one little scratch on it.
- You won’t be going on a Rambo quest with this one, but you will be pleasantly surprised by the amount of thing you can do daily with it
- I open letters, cut taped boxes, strings, and cable ties with it. And it is so well made that I can cut hair with it
- There is a certain substantial feel when held in hand, probably because the steel quality
- I heard there were problems with the tweezers, but I successfully pulled out a tiny splinter
CONs from the Leatherman Style CS reviews:
- It keeps falling off my key ring while in the pocket. It’s confusing because it stays if put on a belt
- Screwdrivers are just not something you should count on
- The steel seems nice but the salt water did some serious damage to it
- Blade is hard to open, but it gets easier with every use
- You might have some issues with the tweezers; they are hard to pull out