How different is a Swiza pocket knife from a Swiss Army Knife (SAK)? I have been asking this question to myself for months. Well, now after using the Swiza D04 for over a month, I think I have a fair idea. Swiza has tried a lot to be different from the Swiss Army Knife, and in some aspects, it has achieved its goal.
So does the Swiza pocket knife compare favorably to the ever-popular SAK? Well, both yes and no. I have compiled a list of 17 differences comprising of each and every aspect of the Swiza D04 with the Victorinox Super Tinker. Go through these and then judge for yourself.
Note that the Super Tinker is a 3 layer tool whereas the Swiza D04 is a two later tool. Hence, I will keep the comparison limited only to the common tools between these two Swiss pocket knives.
1. Swiza Knives are not SAKs
This is probably the most obvious difference, how the two pocket knives are perceived and addressed by the people in general. Many people still make the mistake of calling Swiza knives as Swiss Army Knives (or SAKs). Currently, only pocket knives produced by Victorinox can be called as Swiss Army Knives, because they are the official supplier of pocket knives to the Swiss Army.
Earlier, both Victorinox and Wenger had that privilege, until Wenger went bankrupt and Victorinox bought Wenger and merged it with itself.
Both Swiza and Victorinox are based in Switzerland. So a Swiza knife is a Swiss pocket knife, not a Swiss Army Knife. A Victorinox knife is a Swiss pocket knife as well as a Swiss Army Knife (SAK).
2. Number of Models and Tools
Swiza has about 10 pocket knife models in the market as of now. Victorinox has more than 100!
Honestly, Victorinox (along with Wenger) has had so many models of SAK over the years, most people have not even heard of some of them. Some models have also been discontinued. Again in some models, the tools have been redesigned to improve the functionality. With time, the tool arrangement has also changed in some of the models.
Victorinox has more options in models, as well as more tools in their pocket knife models compared to Swiza. For example, the Swiza D10 (the one with the most tools as of 2020) has nine tools in it as per their official site. One of the most popular Victorinox SAK models, the Swiss Champ XLT has 49 tools as per the information provided on the Victorinox website.
If you are thinking of any specific tool, it is very likely that a Vic SAK model has it.
3. Design and Colors
A Swiza knife looks very different from a small or medium size Victorinox SAK. Swiza has a distinct curved design which looks more ergonomic compared to a SAK with its traditional straight design.
However, bigger SAKs are more ergonomically designed and provide a much better grip. But these bigger SAK models are too big to be carried in the pocket and hence cannot be compared with Swiza pocket knives.
Swiza pocket knives are found with scales mainly in seven colors: red, black, white, blue, yellow, olive, orange, and pink. Mult-colored scales are also available. Though Victorinox SAKs are also found with scales in multiple colors, the predominant color is red.
The Swiza colors are also much lighter than the Vic colors. The red in Swiza almost looks like dark orange, whereas the red in a Vic looks like maroon.
4. The Scales
The plastic scales on a Swiza pocket knife have a rubbery feel. The scales give the handle a soft feel, hence the official name ’soft-touch’ handles. In most Victorinox SAKs, the scales are made up of hard shiny plastic material (called Cellidor). Even though SAKs are also found with aluminum (Alox) or nylon scales, Cellidor is the most common material for SAK scales.
The soft rubbery material in Swiza knife scales provides better grip and comfort than Cellidor or Alox scales in SAKs.
However, I have found that the Swiza scales are easier to take off compared to Vic scales. This may be a good or bad thing depending on your preference and usage. Personally, I like scales that do not come off easily.
Also, notice that the Swiza scale is made up of two layers. The outside layer has a soft rubbery feel while the inside layer is hard plastic. The SAK scale is made of one single layer of Cellidor.
5. The Blade
The Swiza pocket knife has a locking blade. It has a liner lock that can be unlocked by a button (marked with a + symbol) on the handle scale on one side. This is in sharp contrast to a medium size SAK where the blade is held in place only by slip joint.
The locking blade in a Swiza pocket knife is the strongest feature when compared to a Victorinox SAK. Though some bigger SAKs also do have locking blades, this feature is impossible to find in a medium-size SAK that you can comfortably carry in your pocket.
This is perhaps bad news for someone in Europoean countries where locking knives are banned in public. For those, you may try looking for a non locking version of the Swiza which also exist but a bit difficult to find in the market.
The blade in the Swiza is also bigger. It is longer and broader than that of a Vic SAK of comparable size. However, the thickness is almost the same. The lesser thickness compared to the length makes it bend much more than a SAK blade while doing heavier tasks, like carving or slicing wood.
The Swiza blade has a forward angle when open, compared to a Vic SAK where the blade opens straight. This design makes the Swiza feel better while cutting something drawing the knife backward, towards you. The SAK’s straight design gives an equal grip during forward or backward motion.
6. The Blade Steel Hardness
Swiza pocket knife blade steel has a hardness of 57 HRc, whereas Victorinox SAK blade steel has a hardness of 56 HRc.
The hardness of the steel determines how long the blade will hold its edge. The harder the steel, the longer it will hold a sharp edge. But it will also take more time and effort to resharpen it once it becomes dull.
7. Holes in the Tools
Almost all the tools in a Swiza have a small hole in it to aid the opening of the tool with your fingernail. This is in sharp contrast to Victorinox SAK tools where you will find small nail nicks.
It is much easier to open the tools of a Swiza pocket knife because of the inbuilt holes. Also, the holes enable the opening of the tools from both sides. SAK tools can be opened only from the side in which it has the nail nick.
However, the holes also make the Swiza harder to keep clean. A SAK blade with nail nick can be cleaned by wiping it with a cloth once or twice. However, cleaning a Swiza blade will require more effort if dirt or gunk gets collected in the hole.
Both Swiza pocket knives and Victorinox SAKs are very compact and fit a lot of tools in a small space. However, a SAK appears more compact and more efficient in its use of space.
The tools in a SAK more or less remain within the handle in the closed position. However, the Swiza tools stick out of the handle a lot even when all the tools are closed. This is perhaps a design choice to make the hole in each tool more accessible.
However, this ‘feature’ creates an issue for the Swiza knife. It is difficult to hold it tightly in your grip because of the tools sticking out.
For example, when holding the knife, the inside of your middle finger will rest on the bottle-opener and can-opener tools. These tools will dig into your finger as you take a strong firm grip.
In the Swiza, there is a small gap on either side of the separators of the blade. The gaps are obvious enough as you can see light pass through them. You can even push a thin sheet of paper through these gaps.
There is absolutely no gap between the separators and the tools in a SAK. Everything is as compact as possible.
9. The Toothpick
The Swiza pocket knives do not have a toothpick. This is in sharp contrast to a SAK. All Victorinox SAKs which have Cellidor scales almost always have a toothpick.
A toothpick could have been easily added to the Swiza knife since it does not take up any extra space. However, Swiza has probably decided to skip this tool from their pocket knives.
The Swiza pocket knives do not have a keyring. This is again in sharp contrast to a SAK. I haven’t seen a SAK yet that doesn’t have a keyring or lanyard ring.
11. The Tweezers
Both Swiza pocket knife and Victorinox SAKs have tweezers. However, the tweezers in the Swiza look and perform better than the one in the SAK. The Swiza tweezers have slanted tips which aid in a more accurate grip.
12. The Awl
The awl in the Swiza pocket knife is short and stubby. It can make holes in clothes and plastics effortlessly. However, it took longer to make a hole in wood compared to a Vic SAK awl. It is also difficult to make deeper holes with the Swiza awl due to its shortness. The pointed end is pretty thin, and I have heard stories of the Swiza awl breaking on hardwood.
There is a small sewing hole in the Swiza awl. However, the hole is so tiny that only very thin threads can pass through it. This will make it difficult to sew thick materials like canvas or leather. The wider body of the awl will also make wider holes in leather while sewing.
However, the sharp edge of the Swiza awl works fine as a scraper or a box/package cutter.
The Victorinox SAK awl is much longer and stronger. In fact, people regularly use the awl on wood to make starting holes for screws. The sewing hole in the SAK awl is also large enough to pass thicker threads through and works excellently when sewing leather and other such thick materials.
13. The Philips Screwdriver
The Philips screwdriver found in the Swiza and in the SAK is almost similar. But there are a few minor differences. The Philips in the Swiza is a bit longer than the one found in a SAK. However, the most prominent difference is how pointy the screwdriver in the Swiza is.
At first glance, both the screwdrivers appear of the same size. The Swiza Philips driver is advertised as No.1-3. The one in the SAK (SAK Super Tinker) is advertised as 1/2. However, the Swiza driver is too pointed at the end, and hence on practical usage works well on PH1 but sometimes fails to get a good grip on PH2 or PH3.
The SAK Philips driver works fine on PH1, PH2 or PH3 almost all the time.
14. The Bottle/Cap Opener
The bottle opener is of the same size in both the Swiza and the Victorinox SAK. However, the SAK bottle opener is much thicker and hence is better suited to be also used as a prybar.
15. The Can Opener
The main difference in the cap opener is that the one in the Swiza has a weak slip-joint spring. As a result, if you exert some pressure on it while working with it, it closes on itself.
This is particularly problematic when using the small flathead screwdriver at the top of the cap opener.
The can opener in the SAK has a strong slip joint, like all the other tools.
16. Dishwasher Proof
Swiza advertises their pocket knives as dishwasher safe. Whereas Victorinox advises against washing their SAKs in the dishwasher. In their pdf handbook called ‘Care Tips For Your Swiss Army Knife”, Victorinox specifically mentions:
Never clean your knife in a dishwasher!
I think this is a definite advantage for Swiza pocket knives.
But how good does Swiza’s claim of being dishwasher safe hold true in the real world? And what happens if we do put a SAK in the dishwasher going against Victorniox’s advice?
Well, knivesandtools.com has done a detailed experiment on this. If you are interested, it is here.
17 Brand Recognition
This should be pretty obvious. Swiza is nowhere near Victorinox in terms of brand recognition.
Victorinox is a much bigger brand in pocket knives and their Swiss Army Knives have recognition all over the world. They have been making SAKs for more than a century. Hence the brand recognition of Victorinox is unparalleled.
Swiza is known for making watches in Switzerland. They have only recently started making pocket knives. Outside Switzerland, few people recognize the Swiza brand.
As you can see, the Swiza pocket knife and the Victorinox SAK are as much similar as they are different. I have been a SAK user for more than a decade. To me, the design, fit and finish of a Victorinox SAK is the gold standard of pocket knives. But still, I find the Swiza pocket knives interesting and useful in many aspects.
What I find most interesting (and useful) in Swiza is the locking blade, the soft rubbery scale, and the curved handle. Everything else is almost similar to what you get in a SAK.
Swiza is still not there in terms of overall quality, something that Victorinox has perfected for over a century. However, it is close enough to a Vic SAK in quality and functionality, yet different in look and feel to have its own unique identity.
If you are looking for something different than a SAK in pocket knives, but don’t want to sacrifice functionality, give Swiza a try. You won’t be disappointed. For all other requirements, there is always a Victorinox SAK out there that can fulfill your needs.
The biggest SAK ever created is also the costliest one. Wenger, the company behind the Giant, trying to engineer something extraordinary, created a multitool that has it all.
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