The Victorinox Swiss Army Knife Is An Icon. The Small Red Knife Has A Remarkable History And Is Popular All Around The World
Few knives are as immediately recognizable as the Swiss Army knife. The small red multi-tool has been manufactured for over a century and is known around the globe for its versatility and durability. Still made in Switzerland today by Victorinox, the Swiss Army knife has evolved as a tool since the founding of Victorinox in 1884.
History Of The Victorinox Swiss Army Knife
Victorinox was founded in the small town of Ibach in the canton of Schwyz in central Switzerland by Karl Elsener. It was initially just a small cutler’s workshop run by Karl and supported by his mother Victoria.
Just seven years later, Elsener was able to deliver his first major batch of knives to the Swiss military, and six years later patented the original “Swiss Officer’s and Sports Knife. That set the stage for a whole range of knives, each of which would be included under the umbrella name of Swiss Army knife, or SAK for short.
The Victorinox brand name came into existence in 1921. After Victoria’s passing in 1909, Karl chose her name as the brand name, but 13 years later the innovation of stainless steel swept through the knifemaking world. At the time the steel was known as “Inox,” and by combining that with his mother’s name, Karl created the brand name of Victorinox that has endured for more than a century.
After World War II, American GIs stationed in Europe took a liking to the Swiss Army knife and bought many of them, turning them into a popular souvenir to bring back to the states.
Since then, and the brand has continued to grow. Victorinox now makes other types of cutlery along with outdoor gear and watches. Rival maker Wenger, which also made a claim to the Swiss Army knife, was acquired by Victorinox in 2005, and its knives were absorbed into the Victorinox brand eight years later. The Wenger brand lives on through watches and other licensed products.
In 2017 the company produced its 500 millionth Swiss Army knife, a testament to the quality and popularity of the brand.
What Is The Best Swiss Army Knife?
That question depends on what you want out of your knife. Most all operate the same way, a slip joint with tools coming out of both ends of the knife thanks to a special spring system innovated in 1897 that every Swiss Army knife still uses today.
If you’re looking for a tool that can solve simple, everyday problems, there are many smaller models that will handle your needs. Many of those even fit on a keychain.
If you’re more of an outdoors person or just want something more rugged and diverse, there are many models that have dozens of different tools in them. You’ll see one with 73 tools in it shortly. Regardless of your wants or needs, Victorinox will have a knife for you.
Swiss Army Knife Options
The Victorinox Swiss Army knife is a living, breathing tool. New models come out regularly, and the team in Switzerland continues to find ways to create new tools and designs for the knives. Below are a trio that shows off what the SAK is capable of, from something simple to the opulently extravagant.
This is a prime example of how much can be deftly fit into a space so small. The Signature Lite is 2.3 inches long and weighs just .8 of an ounce. Even in those tiny dimensions, there are seven tools including a ballpoint pen, screwdriver, knife blade, and scissors. This is a quintessential Swiss Army knife. It can fit on a keychain and follow you wherever you go.
The Trekker shows how robust a Victorinox Swiss Army knife can be. This model features a dozen tools including three different screwdrivers, a can opener, and a wood saw. It’s designed for the outdoorsman, the hiker, the person camping under the stars. The Trekker does have a keychain loop although it’ll probably be better folded up in your pocket. At 4.6 ounces it’s far heavier than the Signature Lite but still far lighter than many other factory knives.
Swiss Champ XXL
Last on our list is the most expensive model sold by Victorinox not including limited edition pieces. The XXL has so many tools in it that it doesn’t feel real. It’s 3.6 inches long, and in that space there are 73 individual tools. That’s not a typo. 73 tools.
Seven screwdrivers. Six blades. Three wire strippers. Too many wrenches to count. All that’s missing is the partridge in a pear tree.
The XXL also features some of the most unusual Swiss Army knife tools made today. That includes the pharmaceutical spatula, watch opener, fish scaler, and hook disgorger.
At 12.5 ounces it is a beast, and it even comes in a lined, branded case. While it might not be necessary for you, the Swiss Champ XXL flexes the design and manufacturing capabilities that Victorinox has developed in its decades of existence.
MSRP: $379Editor’s Note: This post was written by Mike Ableson.
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