This tool works overtime

I recently tested the Leatherman MUT (Military Utility Tool), a specialized toolkit for the carbine user.  The M.U.T. looks like most multi tools, but is more modular and has more task specific tools for a law enforcement officer or a military user. 

The Leatherman M.U.T. is a collaborative product of Leatherman engineers, competitive shooters and real world combat veterans. The knife blades are 420 HC steel and the replaceable cutting jaws are made of 154 CM steel.

Probably the most attractive part of this package is the fact that most parts are end-user replaceable. In a perfect world, the excellent tool steels of the Leatherman products could survive everyday abuse. However, this product was built for users who continually push the envelope. Things break. Leatherman knows. Users can remove and replace these parts.


Bits and hammer

A Torx No. 8 tool can mount or dismount all of the commonly used tools. Although a Torx No. 8 is not included in the core MUT kit, Leatherman’s 21-bit accessory kit, available separately, has one.

The Leatherman comes in two models, the MUT Utility and MUT EOD model. Both tools include a three-piece bit kit. The MUT EOD model replaces the regular pliers jaw with a replaceable views/wire cutter and a cap crimper.

The Leatherman MUT EOD has a replaceable C4 punch which unscrews to reveal the same threaded stud, which fits the G.I. (and most standard) cleaning rod threads. I never did like military cleaning rods, but the MUT fits my civilian cleaning rods just fine.

I tested the Leatherman MUT utility version. Although I have had rudimentary training on how to crimp caps, the other tool is best left for the steady hands of the EOD specialists.

Leatherman put their tapered jaws on this device. Having used several different similar multi-tools in the field, I know that this particular configuration offers ample jaw strength and flexibility. For example, it can pull a stubborn firing pin retaining pin. A standard pair of pliers can not. I always liked this jaw configuration for whipping the ends of 550 cord and pulling a taut tripwire. When the original Leatherman tool debuted a similar jaw configuration, I used one to reattach an accelerator cable on 1/4-ton (yes, it was 1/4-ton, not a Humvee) in the middle of a training exercise.

The hammer is a butt stock shaped textured flat surface that protrudes when the tool is closed. It’s not exactly suited to drive in a tent peg, but it is up to the task of driving in an assembly pin or two. The backside of the hammer protects the replaceable cutting hook with the long portion, forming the bolt override tool.

The tool bits are flat and lock into place when inserted into a spring loaded locking mechanism which engages a notch in the bits. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to mount and dismount the bits. They don’t fall out when inserted, and could likely survive jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. The two longer bit sets on board are held in place with a detent plunger that works just like a trigger mounted safety switch. When pushed in, the bit can slide out. If Leatherman intended this to look and feel like a Remington 870 safety, that’s cool. If they didn’t, it’s still cool. The Phillips and flathead two-sided bit is shorter and fits in a different recess than the long ones held in by the cross-bolt safety. 

The bits are thinner than most replaceable bits and don’t add to the bulk of the tool.  The down side is the fact that one cannot just go to the discount rack at the local hardware store for a new bit set like similar models. The up side is that they are interchangeable with Leatherman’s Skeletool system.



Clear a bolt override

Leatherman’s engineering feat on the M.U.T. is the bolt override tool, something no other manufacturer has considered for this venue. It is the hook formed by the extended portion of the hammer.

A bolt override is a failure to feed or eject stoppage, an interruption in the cycle of operation, in which a portion of ejected brass or a live round has lodged in the recess above the bolt. It is almost unique to the AR 15 family because of the space above the barrel extension and gas tube design. It differs from a double feed because a round is tipped up and lodged. This kind of stoppage takes a little more effort to clear than just sweeping brass from an ejection port. A bolt override is fairly uncommon and usually preventable (note: inspect magazines first). It is more complex than a simple failure to feed, but less involved than a case head separation, which requires a specific tool and taking the carbine out of service for a spell.

In order to clear a bolt override, the shooter must select from several courses of action. First, use SPORTS (Slap, Pull, Observe, Release, Tap, Squeeze). Then:

1A:   Communicate to others your status. From behind cover transition to another firearm, preferably a long gun. Clear the carbine when there is a lull in battle.

1B: Communicate to others your status. From behind cover, drop the magazine. Hold the carbine with the charging handle in the trigger hand and the forearm in the support hand. With the muzzle pointing up, and in a “safe” direction, bang the butt stock on the ground while pulling on the charging handle (Collapsible stock users: Close the stock!). Reload and re engage.

1C:  Communicate to others your status. From behind cover, drop the magazine. Tilt the ejection port toward the ground, draw the Leatherman MUT from the harness or remove it from the sheath. Hook the bolt face with the bolt override tool. In a deliberate motion, yank the bolt to the rear while the carbine is still on the shoulder. When the bolt is free, peek in the chamber. Reload and reengage.

There are several similar techniques for clearing this stoppage, depend on whatever system the shooter adheres to. Using the MUT for clearing is efficient and sound. I Found that I could even reach in and grab the scalloped portion of the bolt carrier with the hook of the MUT, depending on what is exposed in the ejection port. One can also use the hook area to pry stubborn parts, if necessary. 

 One can simulate a bolt override using dummy rounds and just about any AR 15 configuration. Do not attempt this exercise with live rounds. Perform this exercise only on a range designed for live fire practice.

Clear the carbine and lock the bolt to the rear. Turn it upside down and place a dummy round in the groove above the chamber. Hit the bolt release. The dummy round should be caught above the chamber. Insert a magazine full of dummy rounds. If the dummy round does not readily log in the chamber, place the tip of the dummy round just above the chamber prior to releasing the ball, holding it in place.


Clean and toss

Bolt override clearing should always be followed up with cleaning and tossing questionable magazines, which will address the most likely cause of the stoppage problem. This is where the MUT excels, and why I recommend this product. 

The scraping tool is simple enough. It has a taper that works in the bolt face and areas where the baked on carbon can get rough. It has just the right hardness to remove the stuff without “brassing” or scoring the parts. 

The threaded stud that holds the firearm disassembly punch (or the C4 punch on the EOD model) has the correct threading for GI cleaning rods and brushes. One can use the tool as a handle, which really speeds things along. 

I never liked GI cleaning rods because they always had an obvious seam where the sections mated. I used to assemble them, then sand the joints smooth, which seemed to help. After, I would color code the assembled sections with a marker. The MUT thread fits some of my civilian cleaning rods, which are one piece. 

Even the sheath demonstrates how much thought was put into the engineering of this product. The MUT has a carbineer clip, which, when used, will free the sheath for carrying a spare M9 magazine. The sheath can be threaded into webbing and the belt loop holds a wrench accessory with 1/2-inch and 3/8-inch heads. This covers almost all the nut sizes for optics mounting systems. Hopefully, it will convince some users to refrain from using the pliers to tighten optics mounts.

The MUT also features a removable 154 CM wire cutting jaw set. The cutters can be re sharpened or replaced. Yes, they can cut through most fence wire in a pinch. Replaceable means one is not reluctant to use this thing for its intended purpose without grimacing. If one cannot get enough cutting action from this tool, the saw, which cuts on the draw stroke, is fairly efficient. What would I add? I would like to see a model with a replaceable file, which I found handy in the field.

The Leatherman MUT is one of the most modular and useable models in the history of Leatherman. It was designed for the tactical user, by real world tactical users. I would not be surprised if this becomes a common agency purchase and a large-scale contract item.