The Swiss Army Knife has been popular since the end of the Second World War when the US soldiers stationed in Europe brought home the so-called ‘Swiss Officer’s Knife’ with them as souvenirs. It is amazing how it managed to last the test of time.
However, it is not a miracle that we still consider the SAK one of the best pocket knives. Have you ever wondered whether you should carry a Swiss Army Knife or some other pocket knife? In this post, we discuss the five most important reasons for the Swiss Army Knife’s popularity, and why you should carry one.
1. Ease Of Carry
This is perhaps the most important reason why many people carry a Swiss Army Knife.
Swiss Army Knives, with their ergonomic design and smooth edges, are easy to carry, be it in the key chain, in your pocket, or your bag.
The slightly oval design and the form factor make it easy to hold it in your hand, put it in your pocket, in your toolbox, or in your bag.
Just take a close look at any medium-sized Swiss Army Knife. There are no sharp corners or edges. Nothing to get tangled up easily in your pocket or your bag. The scales provide a comfortable grip. The red color also makes it readily distinguishable, especially when you are looking for it among a heap of other things kept together.
Add to this the variety of models available. If you don’t like the weight of the SAK in your pocket, you can get a different model that is much lighter.
There are even smaller and lighter models that you can attach to your keyring or key chain.
Swiss Army Knives don’t have pocket clips, but you can always attach one. Some models are small and thin enough for women to carry in their purses. Some models are big enough that a woman may not be able to close her hand around. There are also models available in colors other than red. And then there are those Alox models that are stunning to look at.
SAKs are lightweight for the number of functions they can do and take very little space. The ergonomics, simplicity, and the variety of available models makes the Swiss Army Knife one of the most comfortable knife to carry with you wherever you go.
Why would someone carry a Swiss Army Knife rather than a dedicated pocket knife?
A Swiss Army Knife is a pocket-sized assortment of tools that can do much more than a dedicated pocket knife can.
The reason is simple. A Swiss Army Knife is not only a knife, it is a multi-tool that has a lot of other functions. Experienced users have realized that a SAK will take care of more day-to-day activities than a dedicated folder ever will. After all, not everything can be done with a knife blade!
There are, of course, excellent folders that may function much better than the blade of a Swiss Army Knife. But you have to admit that a blade, no matter how good it is, can’t do certain cutting tasks as easily as a pair of scissors. Also, you cannot use a blade to loosen or tighten Philips screws. And if you ever had to make extra holes in your leather belt, you would admit that an awl does it much better than the knife blade.
I never thought that I would use the toothpick and the scissors in my SAK as frequently as I do until I started carrying a SAK as an EDC. The tweezers have come in handy multiple times. And I always get curious looks from friends while using my pocket SAK on beer bottles and food cans. These are situations where a blade will be of little use, no matter how sharp and strong it is.
The versatility of a Swiss Army Knife has to be experienced to be fully understood. It is not a pocket knife; it is a pocket-sized assortment of tools that serves as your do-it-yourself solution for a variety of daily tasks.
3. Universal Acceptance
Common people are afraid of knives. And not without reason. A knife poses a threat. And so does someone who carries a knife.
The popularity and the familiar look of a Swiss Army Knife make people perceive it as a tool rather than a weapon. This makes the SAK more socially acceptable than any other knife or multi-tool.
Unless you are out in the wild camping or trekking, people will always be apprehensive around someone with a knife.
But surprisingly, a Swiss Army Knife does not freak out people as much. People are so accustomed to the familiar look of a Swiss Army Knife that they immediately perceive it as a tool rather than a weapon. Probably the rich history of Victorinox and the ‘Swiss Army Knife’ brand play an important part here.
When you take out a SAK from your pocket, the general perception is you are about to open a package or help someone else do it.
The SAK is as sharp and capable as a similarly sized pocket knife, but not as scary in the minds of the common people.
In certain countries, some rules prohibit carrying concealed knives in public places. In such situations, a Swiss Army Knife is your best option. A SAK also fulfills the criteria of the non-locking blade in a pocket knife, another rule enforced in some countries.
Swiss Army Knives are just cool and unthreatening enough to avoid attracting undue attention.
4. Build Quality And Longevity
Throughout its history of over 130 years of making Swiss Army Knives, Victorinox has never compromised on quality.
The Swiss Army knife has impeccable build quality, especially compared to any other tool of similar capability. It is an authentic example of swiss engineering and craftsmanship.
It is because of this focus on quality that Victorinox has been the official supplier of SAKs to the Switzerland Army for so long. This exceptional quality is what made US president Ronald Reagan order 2000 SAKs to be given as gifts with his signature imprinted on them.
Even hunters who mainly use large fixed blades as their primary knives usually keep one or more Swiss Army Knives as backups. It never hurts to be prepared, and packing a Swiss Army Knife is widely considered the first step towards adequate preparation.
The quality of a Swiss Army Knife is evident as you use the various tools in it. Each tool opens and closes with a snap. In the open position, the tools have no movement or sideways play. The back springs are strong, supporting an excellent slip joint mechanism.
The dense plastic or Aluminium scales that Victorinox uses are meant to last long. The individual tools, made of stainless steel, stand up to hard work and resist corrosion. Yes, you can use SAKs in the water with no concern. This makes it quite suitable to be used in the kitchen, and also by the fisherman.
The special steel that Victorinox uses in the blades of Swiss Army Knives takes a great edge and is very easy to touch up and re-sharpen. On the rare occasion that you break the blade, it doesn’t cost much to replace it.
The build quality of the Swiss Army Knife is the reason for its surprising longevity. SAKs have been passed on from one generation to the next as mementos. Such a ‘gift’ usually has a lot of sentimental value and pride attached to it. Only the impeccable build quality of Swiss Army Knives has made it possible to last for multiple decades and passed on from father to son or daughter, and beyond.
I have explained everything about the stainless steel alloy that Victorinox uses in Swiss Army Knives in this post.
Victorinox, over its long history, has gone through many ups and downs but never ceased making pocket knives of impeccable quality and durability. Even today, they make all Swiss Army Knives in their factories in Switzerland.
Victorinox Swiss Army Knives are inexpensive. The standard 91mm model, Spartan, costs around $25. The popular Classic SD costs less than $20.
The Swiss Army Knives are one of the most affordable pocket multi-tools available in the market.
Of course, the prices will fluctuate a bit based on availability. If you ask me, these are dirt cheap prices, especially if you consider the quality of the tools. It Is very unlikely you will find anything cheaper than a SAK with the same quality.
The affordability factor has, in fact, kept the Chinese fakes at bay.
The Chinese Swiss Army Knife copycats are cheaper, but they fail so miserably in the quality department that you would rather pay a few dollars more to get the real thing.
There are two reasons how Victorinox can afford to sell Swiss Army Knives at such affordable prices.
- With their experience of manufacturing SAKs for so long, Victorinox has perfected the art of maintaining the quality while producing in large volumes.
- They use a cheaper variety of steel compared to some of their other famous competitors, thus reducing the manufacturing cost. But their patented martensitic steel alloy achieves a perfect balance of hardness and usability for a pocket knife.
The above two reasons have enabled Victorinox to produce vast quantities of Swiss Army Knives and export them throughout the world.
The five reasons discussed above combine to make Swiss Army Knives the best choice for a pocket knife for almost anyone.
These are quality products at affordable prices. You won’t realize how much you will use a SAK until you have one with you at all times. And did I mention SAKs make for an excellent gift item?
I have always been carrying at least one Swiss Army Knife with me for more than a decade now (except in places where it is restricted). So far, these have served me well and have withstood the test of time.
In case you are looking for a pocket-sized Swiss Army Knife, do read this article where I have identified the best 3 SAKs that would be a perfect EDC for almost anyone. You won’t find anything else that packs so much versatility into such a compact and ergonomic form.
Go get one. You will use it more than you think!