The Ultimate Guide to Swiss Army Knives

The Swiss Army Knife is a popular multi-tool pocketknife manufactured by Victorinox. It is among the most versatile pocket knives on the planet. This is because, in addition to being a pocket knife, you can also use it as a screwdriver, wire cutter, can opener, toothpick, corkscrew, and more. Today, you will be able to find many different kinds of Swiss Army Knives in the market, and each of them is made for different scenarios.

Swiss Army Knives were named as such by the American soldiers after the Second World War because they found it difficult to pronounce the German word “Offiziersmesser,” which means “officer’s knife.” If you are looking into learning more about them, you’re in the right place. Today, we are giving you the ultimate guide to Swiss Army Knives.

The Origins of the Swiss Army Knife

The Swiss Army Knife was commanded to be invented by the Swiss Army to solve a problem that they were facing. In the late 1880s, the Swiss Army was looking for a knife for their soldiers, which can open cans and disassemble the Swiss service rifle, the Schmidt-Rubin, since it needed a screwdriver to be disassembled. 

In 1891, the knife was finally provided a designation of Modell 1890. It was the knife that would eventually become the Swiss Army Knife that we know today. It featured a can opener, screwdriver, knife, reamer, and grips that were made out of dark oak. During those times, the Swiss did not have any means to manufacture the knife. With this, the early version of the Swiss Army knife was given to Wester & Co., which was a German knife manufacturer. 

Later in 1891, Karl Elsener, owner of a company that made surgical equipment, decided to try and manufacture the knives in Switzerland. By the end of the year, he made it a reality. After that, he started a direct competition with the German company, which, at that time, was still manufacturing the knives. It was not long until the German company started to stifle his production as they could create the knife for a lot less. 

When Karl Elsener was on the verge of bankruptcy, he created a new and improved knife. It featured tools attached to its sides via a special mechanism. This allowed him to use the same spring to hold the tools in place. 

The new knife was patented on June 12, 1897. It featured a large blade, a new smaller blade, wood fiber grips, and a corkscrew. Even though the Swiss military did not use the new knife that Karl made, it was still successfully marketed internationally.

If you are looking for more information about the origins of the Swiss Army Knife, you can also read our article, History of the Swiss Army Knife.

The Popularity of the Swiss Army Knife

When the Swiss Army knife was created, it has become popular almost immediately. However, it became more popular when it was used by the character MacGyver in the hit 1985 television series. In that series, the main character named MacGyver used a Swiss Army knife to save himself and others from tough and dangerous situations. He was able to use the Swiss Army knife to create cool gadgets, defuse bombs, and ultimately save the world. This television show made the Swiss Army knife something that people dream of owning.

If you are looking for reasons to own a Swiss Army knife, you can learn more by reading our article, 10 Reasons Why It’s Useful to Carry a Swiss Army Knife.

The Features, Tools, and Parts of the Swiss Army Knife

a Swiss Army knife with four tools

The Swiss Army knife comes in different models and tool combinations. Victorinox does not create custom knives, but they have made many variations to suit individual users and scenarios. Read on to learn about the tools that you can find from Swiss Army knives. 

Main Tools:

  • Large blade
  • Small blade
  • Nail file
  • Wood saw
  • Fish scaler
  • Scissors
  • Wire scraper
  • Pruning blade
  • Cuticle pusher
  • Bit driver
  • Pliers
  • LED light
  • USB flash drive
  • Philips screwdriver
  • Magnifying lens
  • Can opener

Smaller Tools:

  • Corkscrew
  • Reamer
  • Chisel
  • Keyring
  • Multipurpose hook
  • 2mm slotted screwdriver
  • Mini screwdriver

Scale Tools:

  • Toothpick
  • Tweezers
  • Digital clock
  • Thermometer
  • Pressurized ballpoint pen

Locking Mechanisms

There are some Swiss Army knives that feature locking blades to prevent accidental closure. Some large Victorinox and Wenger models feature a locking blade secured by a slide lock that is operated with an unlocking button joined in the scales. There are also some that have a double liner lock that secures the cutting blade and a large slotted screwdriver/wire stripper/cap opener combination tool made for prying.

If you want to learn more about the features, tools, and parts of Swiss Army knives, you can read our Tool Use Guide for the Swiss Army Knife.

Different Styles of Swiss Army Knives

different tools of a Swiss Army knife

Today, there are different shapes and sizes when it comes to Swiss Army knives. In addition to that, they also come in different colors and designs. Most of the time, when people think of a Swiss Army knife, they automatically think of the classic red pocket knife. But did you know that Victorinox, which is the manufacturer behind the popular Swiss Army knife, makes lots of different knives?

Swiss Army knives range from small multifunctional knives to larger Swiss Army knives with more tools. If you are looking for some examples, you can check out the following product reviews:

Things to Consider When Buying a Swiss Army Knife

lots of Swiss Army knives

If you are looking into buying a Swiss Army knife, there are two important things that you need to put into consideration. One is the situation where you will use it, and the other is the size that you need. 

Where or how do you plan to use the Swiss Army knife?

If you spend a lot of your time outdoors, or you enjoy adventures like hiking, mountain climbing, or camping, then it is wise to choose a Swiss Army knife that features a saw blade. If you enjoy traveling to different countries, you can get a Swiss Army knife that includes a pair of scissors, in case you might need a pair. Or, if you love backpacking and visiting remote areas, choosing a Swiss Army knife that features a flashlight and sewing attachment is a good idea. 

As we’ve mentioned earlier, Swiss Army knife brands like Victorinox offer a wide range of options. Their Swiss Army knives are made for different uses. Therefore, choose one that features tools that will be very useful for you. 

What size of Swiss Army knife do you need?

The other important factor that you need to consider when buying a Swiss Army knife is the size. Pick one that is small enough to carry comfortably in your pocket but big enough to hold lots of functions. For an average person, a Swiss Army knife that has a few attachments will work fine. But if you love working on things, building, or fixing stuff, then you might want to invest in a Swiss Army knife that has more tools. 

If you need more ideas when it comes to buying a Swiss Army knife, the following guides might help you:


Swiss Army knives are indeed one of the most useful and compact tools that you can own today. They are very handy, especially during emergencies and other situations wherein you need tools. We hope this helped you learn more about Swiss Army knives. You can also check out these related articles for additional information about Swiss Army knives: