The legendary Swiss army knife… As long as I’ve known myself, this pocket knife was always at arm’s end. You probably think there is nothing special about it. I wouldn’t even say that it is an eye candy, too. But the fact remains – it’s always there: in a glove compartment, a jacket, a pouch bag or a backpack. The thing you realize in time – we actually rarely notice the most essential tools in our everyday life. Same goes with the old good Victorinox. It is budget, high-quality, useful, you should have one and there is about a million other things I want to say about this knife. But first, let’s draw the line between this blade and other EDC knives we are well familiar with.
A peculiar thing I notice about Victorinox army knives: people sometimes call them multi-tool blades. And they are right. Well, almost right. Truly, the earliest contemporary examples of multi-tools were supplied by Victorinox and Wenger. Although, later on Tim Leatherman presented his first folding Pocket Survival Tool with pliers and stuff. Since then, the term ‘multi-tool’ shifted from a classic Swiss army knife to the goods produced by Oregon Company. The overall aesthetics of a Victorinox pocket blade indicates that it is a Knife first of all (not a bunch of attached metal objects). Hence, the title remains – Swiss army knife.
Now you definitely think, why would I talk and talk about the definitions and all that boring stuff and never get to the good part?! Glad you asked. You see, knowing the definition bears the understanding of matter. And by that, I mean the benefits of having a blade like this (with all the tools). Now you think why would I want a pocket knife with so many functions and not even the pliers? For that I’d rather advice you buy a pair of pliers and a good Swiss blade. Don’t ask why. Just hold a while, take a deep breath and move on to the interesting part of the review.
There are many reasons for owning an original Victorinox. First of all – you don’t see that many knives with a toothpick and tweezers. Actually – there are none. Well, except for numerous china replicas. But, trust me, you don’t want a knife fail on you during some emergency. Let alone an ugly Victorinox knockoff like that. Secondly, every Swiss knife has a blade, sharp as hell and cutting even when dull. I’ve been using my SD model for years, opening boxes, cutting cardboard, carving wood. Heck, I don’t recall honing it ever once. The rest of the tools vary, depending on what model you prefer most. And we’ll talk about it later.
Another nail in the coffin of the cool and funky EDC knives is the blade material. Million times, I have praised those expensive steel grades. Obviously with, for example, S30V you get a superior cut and edge retention. It is, however, the basic Sandvik, 8Cr13MoV or carbon blades that I just love working with. Besides, a premium grade is always a chore to sharpen. When in Rome, do as Romans do. So you can’t just go, take a ceramic rod and hone a knife like Spyderco Manix. You need at least a Spyderco Triangle. And that is just another 100 bucks in the sack. You get the idea. With Sandvik on Victorinox it is always a pleasure to sharpen and maintain the blade. And for daily chores it is more than enough. Not that you need a freaking Kryptonite blade to cut a letter open.
A thing I couldn’t help mentioning is the overall quality. Man, you can doubt Spyderco or Ontario knife quality, but just try and find a failure in a Swiss blade from the box. They are all literary the same. Every time you buy a Swiss army knife, you can forget about the assembly or grind work on the blade. Because they are perfect and will serve for years to come. Speaking of which, I got my first Victorinox Climber from dad. And it was my grandfather, who bought it long ago on some exhibition in London. All in all, the blade has been serving its owners for the whole 3 generations. Nuff said.
I’ve recently been arguing with my friend. He told me, only few people need knives. Yes, people don’t need many EDC blades, but they do need a Swiss army knife. To make things clear, there are hundreds of Victorinox models. Still I consider even the basic ones worthy enough to be in your travel bag or pocket. Whether you are an office worker, an engineer or a tourist – having a tool like that will definitely come in handy. Sooner or later you will have to use a screwdriver, a pair of scissors or basically a knife. And when that time comes, the Swiss army knife will be there to make job done. So when people say, they don’t need knives – that is because they don’t have a Victorinox, yet.
I’ve been using my Victorinox as one and only EDC blade for a long time. Well, yes, I sometimes through a Spyderco into the pocket. Still the only knife that travels with me constantly everywhere is the Spartan and the SD I bought about 5 years ago. I also owned the 110 mm versions like Nomad and Trailmaster. Size wise they just didn’t work for me (for a bigger blade I can switch to Spyderco Tenacious with a longer cutting edge and one hand opening). So I finally decided to stick to the basic 91 mm (and less) Victorinox knives.
First of all, Victorinox Spartan has been used as a tool around the house a LOT. What can I say – it is perfect. Screwing the loose bolts, opening wine bottles, prying nails are among the things I did with a little fellow like Spartan. Secondly, the knife works perfectly while camping or kayaking. You don’t have to worry about rust because of the overall stainless construction. Plus, tools like can opener, piercer and corkscrew help out a lot in the wilderness. Same goes with the two blades. The smaller one is used for more precise work like carving or package opening. The bigger blade can deal with the rest. The SD mini Victorinox is always there on the key chain. With the scissors it makes a good addition to a Spartan bigger sized knife.
Top 3 Swiss Army Knives
To be honest, making the top 3 knife list has never been so difficult. With Swiss blades it’s always hard to decide what to buy, let alone choose the best three to offer. Because they are all different and awesome at the same time. Anyway, after some thinking time, I finally came up with the top three knives by Victorinox: the Spartan, the Huntsman and the Bantam.
You’ve probably guessed already, Victorinox Spartan is my favorite blade of all three. It is compact, dirt cheap, quality made and is a real workhorse. Practically every tool of this knife will find its use and will do the job. Victorinox Spartan has two blades, a piercer, a corkscrew, a bottle and can opener. Which in turn include the flat and Philips head screw drivers. Additionally Swiss Spartan has numerous handle scale variations to choose from. Whether it is classic red, sharp black or military camouflage, you can always pick this top selling Victorinox blade in any color you like.
The Huntsman model is a horse of quite a different color. This here chunky blade is a real savior in the wilderness. Compared to the Spartan, Victorinox Huntsman additionally has a saw, a hook and a pair of scissors. Not much, but when it comes to bushcrafting this knife shines at its best. The saw is one of the sharpest you’ll find on the market. It goes through wood like knife through butter, and in about a minute can saw down a 2 inch branch. Originally created for carrying heavy parcels, the hook can also be applied to bending knots. The scissors on the Huntsman are bigger than on the Classic SD model and can easily cut paracord. In general this knife feels like a substantial step from the Spartan model with a design suitable for camping and backpacking. Victorinox Huntsman is available in a number of gloss handle colors. However I’d recommend choosing the Eco-Lite version with scratch resistant sand-paper- like red scales. Looks cool, functions even better.
Now it’s Bantam time!!! The dictionary gives the definition of bantam as following: a small and feisty or quarrelsome person. Well, indeed – it is a small and hell of a feisty knife. Being an 84 mm smaller blade than classic Spartan, Victorinox Bantam is the best entry level urban Swiss knife you can think of. It includes only the blade and the opener. But, trust me, there is a lot more you can do with it than cut things and open tin cans. At least I managed to remove cable isolation and level up the tiles with it. And for its price, I guess you won’t find a more useful EDC blade ever.
With Swiss army knives it has never been the number of tools that defined the awesomeness. No matter what blade length your knife has, whether it has lock or one hand opening, it can be legally carried absolutely in every state and country. It is plain, simple and friendly. The shape and form factor of the Victorinox makes it clear for everyone around – what you have is no tactical blade with gimping and stuff, no panic on board. In a nutshell, if you want a reliable pocket tool for commuting, backpacking or daily chores – there isn’t actually much to think about and look for. Hopefully my review will help you save time and choose the most suitable Swiss army knife for your purposes. Good luck and stay sharp.