The Swiss Army Knife is probably the most iconic all-around tool of all time. The little red pocket knife proves to be a handy and versatile tool that you can take anywhere – during a day’s hike, a fishing trip, or an overnight camping trip. It keeps you ready whenever you are faced with any task at hand. It also unleashes the McGyver in you whenever you get stuck in a tricky situation – it’s the key to your escape and survival!
The popular name for this pocket knife came during the World War II. It is now a trademark of Victorinox in Switzerland. The company acquired rival Wegner in 2005 and since then, Victorinox has become the sole supplier of the multi-tool pocket knives to the Swiss army. Since 2013, all the Wenger Swiss Army knives have been integrated in the Victorinox line, which is also known as the “Delemont collection.”
Many people can get by with as few as four tools, while others boast with as many as 38! Larger models may include more features that range from a screwdriver to a bottle opener.
As a way to go with the march of time, new technology and the changing preferences of their market, some iterations of Swiss Army knives come with various recent features. They include a ballpoint pen, digital clock, laser pointer, magnifying glass, even a removable flash drive and powerful LED light. There are also specialized variants available for people engaged with specific interests or hobbies. They include models that have a cigar cutter, fingernail clipper, ski wax scraper, orange peeler, glass breaker, whistle, watch case opener, butane lighter, and a lot more.
With so many options available, it is little wonder why the Swiss Army Knife proves to be very dependable and beneficial, especially when you’re in the wilderness, or you’ve gotten into a sticky situation.
But for the most complete Swiss Army Knife iterations are all the tools in there worth it, or are merely adding weight to your pocket?
The tools contained in a Swiss Army Knife perform different functions or jobs. Most of these tools are made of high-grade quality stainless steel. The key to purchasing the ideal Swiss Army Knife for your own use is to exactly know your needs.
Here’s an introductory Swiss Army knife guide. It lists the essential tools that make a Swiss Army Knife worth the purchase, no matter the different configurations
Almost all Swiss Army Knife models have knife blades, although you may be surprised that only a handful of models do not have this feature.
The sizes and shapes of the larger blade may differ according to model. The popular “Pen Blade” has a tip that resemebles a spear blade and a cutting edge which measures 58 millimeters. It is suitable for general cutting jobs. Another large blade, the “Emergency Blade,” features a flat edge and also has a 58mm cutting edge. The shape of this blade is ideal for making straight, precise cuts and incisions.
The smaller blade, on the other hand, has a cutting edge measuring 36 millimeters. It is more suitable for smaller cutting jobs that require a bit more precision.
Scissors are present in almost every Swiss Army Knife model, and one of the defining tools that make the Swiss Army Knife iconic. This pair of scissors is equipped with replaceable spring between blades to open them and to facilitate cutting. When you need to cut strings, snip away stray or overgrown hairs, or unwrap a difficult-to-open package, the scissors prove to be very handy.
The screwdriver is a dependable tool whenever you need to adjust screws or unscrew something on the spot. There are actually various types of the Swiss Army Knife screwdrivers, but the most common and popular variants are the Phillips and the flathead screwdrivers.
4. Nail clippers
At first, the nail clippers in Swiss Army knives seem to be unnecessary or gimmicky. But once you’re out in the wilderness or living off-the-grid, hygiene becomes an urgent concern. Let’s face it, overgrown and dirty nails are yucky. Nobody, not even you, even want to see them. These nail clippers will keep up with your grooming even when you’re out in the boondocks for a few days.
5. Flat head/Wire stripper/Prybar
One of the biggest mistakes when it comes to using any knife is to use it as a pry bar to pull out sunken nails. This is a big no-no. As a result, the blade gets dull and damaged. Instead, use the flat head screw as a pry bar – it is durable, stainless, and provides an excellent clutch. It can also function as a wire stripper, which comes quite handy when you need on-the-spot wiring projects such as rewiring your car stereo.
Imagine you’re in a desert island and find a message in a bottle being washed away to the shore. How do you open it? Fortunately, you have the Swiss Army Knife corkscrew to do that.
Okay, it’s just a romantic thought – besides, where can you find a message in a bottle floating on the ocean these days? But here’s a fact about the corkscrew feature: when it was introduced in the Swiss Army Knife in 1897, it was actually responsible for saving the company. Since then, several wine bottles have been uncorked. But does the corkscrew have other uses than opening a bottle of champagne or Cabernet Sauvignon?
Well, apparently, it does. While many dismiss the corkscrew feature as mostly useless, others have found other surprising things that the corkscrew is capable of. You can also use it in loosening knots, pulling out plug holders in some IKEA furniture pieces, remove cotton wads from pill bottles, and extracting stubs from used candles from the candle holder, among others.
7. Toothpick and tweezers
Aside from the nail clippers and the tweezers, the toothpick feature is an essential tool when you need to keep up with your hygiene when you are hiking or camping out. Or when the restaurant doesn’t offer free toothpicks, or when you head back to a company meeting after lunch, regard it as your savior.
Tweezers are handy for picking up something that’s too tiny for your hands. They are also excellent in removing annoying splinters, or plucking out stray hairs from your eyebrows.
Pliers are actually one of the more recent tools. They first appeared on the newly-launched SwissChamp model in 1985, and they have been one of the essential Swiss Army Knife tools ever since.
They have gone through three iterations. The third and latest one measures 3 millimeters wide and has a couple of extra features such as crimpers and a spring guiding groove.
9. Stainless pin
The stainless pin is also a relatively new feature. It was introduced, alongside pliers and other tools, on the new SwissChamp model in 1985. It is useful for various tasks, including removing splinters and pressing small reset buttons. This tool is included in some Swiss Army Knife variants, most prominently the SwissChamp and the SwissCard models.
Everything goes digital these days. But when you need to type some important things down and your phone runs out of battery? Fortunately, there’s the Swiss Army Knife’s pen to the rescue.
It is a pressurized ball pen which enables you to write at all angles. Some Swiss Army Knife models even feature a retractable pen. The pen proves to be a valuable tool, especially when you’re traveling, hiking, camping out, or just for every day carry (EDC).
11. Bottle opener
The technical name of this feature is actually “cap lifter.” But in some countries like the US, it is popularly known as “bottle opener.” Whatever it is being called, it is deemed useful for opening a bottle of beer when you happen to buy it from a convenience store at midnight.
12. Can opener
The can opener is one of the oldest existing features of the Swiss Army Knife. It appeared on the first Swiss Army Knife model in 1891. The contemporary version of the can opener features a small slotted screwdriver.
13. LED light
The LED light is one of the newest Swiss Army Knife features. It is activated by pressing and holding the shield or logo. Some models, like the Signature Lite, have this feature. It emits white light which is rated at 18,000 millicandelas (MCD). It is bright enough to enable you to read maps or directions when you’re camping overnight, or to help you find your way in the dark.