How to Choose the Right Swiss Army Knife: A Complete Guide

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A Swiss Army knife is one of the most versatile pocket knives on the planet. A Swiss Army knife is much more than just a pocket knife, a Swiss Army knife can be turned into a screwdriver, can opener, wire cutter, and a ton of other things! As a kid, my first pocket knife was a Swiss Army Knife.

When choosing a Swiss Army knife, you need to start by identifying the situations you’re going to be using your knife in the most. The reason for this is Victorinox makes a TON of Swiss Army knives, and they’re all different. If you spend a lot of your time in the wilderness, you’ll want to pick one that has a saw blade. Or, if you’re someone who stays inside for the bulk of your time, you might want to trade out the saw blade for scissors.

The Origins of the Swiss Army Knife

The Swiss Army knife was led to be invented by none other than the Swiss Army. Shocker, right. But, like many other things that were and are being invented, the Swiss Army knife was created to solve a problem the Swiss Army was facing.

During the late 1880s, the Swiss Army needed a knife for their soldiers that was capable of opening cans and disassembling the Swiss service rifle, the Schmidt–Rubin, since it needed to be disassembled with a screwdriver. In 1991, the knife was finally given a designation of Modell 1890. This knife, which would eventually become the Swiss Army knife, had a blade, reamer, can opener, screwdriver, and grips made out of dark oak. At that time, the Swiss had no means to manufacture this knife. So, the early version of the Swiss Army knife was given to a German knife manufacturer called Wester & Co.

Later on, in 1891, a man by the name of Karl Elsener decided to try and manufacture the knives in Switzerland himself. At the end of 1891, he eventually made it a reality. He began a direct competition with the German company, who were still manufacturing the knives. It wasn’t long until the German company began to stifle his production since they could manufacture the knife for a lot less.

Right as Karl was on the verge of bankruptcy, he developed new and improved knife. This knife featured tools attached to both sides of the knife using a special spring mechanism, allowing him to use the same spring to hold them into place.

This new knife was then patented on June 12, 1897. This new knife featured a large blade, a new smaller blade, a corkscrew, and wood fiber grips. While the Swiss military did not use Karl’s new knife, it was successfully marketed internationally.

How was the Swiss Army Knife Made Popular

The Swiss Army knife was a popular knife all own its own, however, it was made even more popular when the Swiss Army knife was the knife of choice for the character MacGyver in the 1985 television series. In this TV series, the main character MacGyver used a Swiss Army knife to get out of all kinds of tough situations.

He would use his Swiss Army knife to defuse bombs, get out of dangerous situations, construct cool looking gadgets, and ultimately to save the world. This television series made the Swiss Army knife the knife of every kid’s dream.

A Swiss Army Knife vs A One Bladed Pocket Knife

Swiss Army knives are very different than traditional knives. While a traditional knife will only have one or two blades, a Swiss Army knife can have 10+ attachments.

There are definitely some pros and cons between a Swiss Army knife and a one bladed pocket knife. For an obvious reason, a Swiss Army knife has many more attachments than a one bladed pocket knife. Depending on what Swiss Army knife you have, if you need to saw something, you can saw something. If you need a screwdriver, you have a screwdriver. On the other hand, depending on what pocket knife you get, a one bladed pocket knife can come with a harder blade than the Swiss Army knife. A harder blade means your knife will keep an edge longer. With a Swiss Army knife, you’ll be sharpening it more often.

RELATED POST: Top 13 Best Pocket Knife Sharpeners: If it isn’t sharp, it’s useless.

Unique Ways to Use a Swiss Army Knife

The reason why Swiss Army knives are so unique is that they’re basically portable toolboxes. Have you ever saw someone trying to unscrew a screw with a single blade knife only to snap off their tip? Yep, that’s the worst. Or, what about someone struggling to cut a small sapling? These are only a few things that the Swiss Army knife not only helps with but specializes in.

The Victorinox Swiss Champ XAVT has 83 different functions! Although this is a very impractical pocket knife when it comes down to having to fit in your pocket, it would be a really cool addition to any Swiss Army knife collector. View the Swiss Champ XAVT on Amazon.

A Swiss Army knife can be a small lifesaver in many situations. For example, if you’re outside, whether in the wilderness or working on a wood project in your back yard, and you get a splinter, just pull out your trusty Swiss Army knife. Instead of having to painfully dig out the splinter with a knife blade, you can use the tweezers that are included in almost every Swiss Army knife.

Some Swiss Army knives even hold a sewing attachment, measuring rod, flashlight, and even a magnifying glass!

Different Styles of Swiss Army Knives

Swiss Army knives come in all shapes and sizes. When most people think of a Swiss Army knife, they automatically think of the classic red Swiss Army knife.

Victorinox, the manufacturer behind the Swiss Army knife actually makes a ton of different knives. They range from small multifunctional Swiss Army knives to one blade pocket knives. If you’re someone who doesn’t really like carrying around a multi-functional knife, but still want to wield the Swiss Army brand, these one blade Swiss Army knives may be what you’re looking for.

Here are a few examples of the different knives Victorinox makes.

How to Choose the Right Swiss Army Knife

There are quite a few things to consider when it comes down to deciding on a Swiss Army knife. The reason is, Victorinox makes a ton of different knives as we’ve seen above. The top 2 things to consider when purchasing a Swiss Army knife are:

  1. The situation you’ll use your Swiss Army knife in.
  2. The size of your Swiss Army knife.

The situation you’ll use your Swiss Army knife in

If you’re someone who spends a lot of time outdoors, you’re going to want to get a Swiss Army knife with a saw blade. However, if you’re someone who travels out of the country frequently, you’ll want to get a Swiss Army knife that has a pair of scissors, you never know when you might need a pair. If you love backpacking into the wilderness, get a Swiss Army knife that has the sewing attachment or a flashlight. Even though the flashlight will not be as bright as a normal flashlight, you can use it as a backup.

The size of your Swiss Army knife

This is one of the most important factors when it comes to purchasing a Swiss Army knife. You’re going to want a Swiss Army knife that is small enough to comfortably fit in your pocket, yet large enough to pack a lot of functions. For the average person, a Swiss Army knife with a relatively small amount of attachments will work just fine. On the other hand, if you are someone that loves tinkering with things, building things, or taking stuff apart, you might want to think about investing into a Swiss Army knife with a little more attachments.

If you’re looking for something relatively small, yet packing a great supply of tools, I’d go with the Swiss Army Fieldmaster or Sportsman.

If you’re looking for something with a bit more attachments, then try going with the WorkChamp XL or Hercules.

If you’re not into the whole multi-functional thing and you just want something slimmer, you might like the Victorinox Hunter Pro M Alox.

Swiss Army knives are not just one of the most versatile knives on the planet, but one of the most sentimental. Imagine being able to hand down your trusty Swiss Army knife to your child or grandchild.

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