I never gave much thought about owning the Victorinox MiniChamp until I saw a friend carrying it in his keychain. Especially, when he used it as a pen to jot down a few things on a piece of paper, I was convinced I needed a MiniChamp. After all, who doesn’t need an emergency pen?
Victorinox MiniChamp is one of the models of the 58mm Swiss Army Knife (SAK) series. It is a compact keychain-sized Swiss Army Knife that has 10 tools and can perform 18 functions. The MiniChamp is the largest SAK with the most functions in the Victorinox 58mm series.
Well, I did get one of these and now use it frequently. Granted, the pen was the thing that piqued my interest, but this SAK is a lot more than just an emergency pen. In fact, it is much more than any other keychain multi-tool I have ever used.
Built Quality and Carriability of the MiniChamp
Like any Victorinox Swiss Army Knife, the built quality of the MiniChamp is top-notch. I have absolutely no complaints. I have heard a few people complaining about the slip joint strength, but honestly, how strong do you expect a 58mm multi-tool to be?
It is like two Victorinox Classics joined together.
However, the MiniChamp weighs only about 45 gms. Compared to some other heavy and bulky multi-tools that other companies are marketing as keychain multi-tools, the MiniChamp is, in fact, quite small and light.
If you are accustomed to carrying a heavy bunch of keys, you probably won’t notice the addition of the MiniChamp. If you carry only a small set of keys, you might feel a small bump in your pocket (as I do).
Tools in the Victorinox MiniChamp
I won’t bore you with a list of all the tools and functions in the MiniChamp (you will find it here). But I will rather talk about how I feel about what Victorinox has provided in this pocket SAK.
The Blades in the MiniChamp
Victorinox managed to pack a lot in the MiniChamp. But the first thing you will notice once you open up the tools is that it has a lot of blades!
Yes, the MiniChamp has three blades. I do not know whether I will need that many blades in such a small multi-tool, but it is what it is.
It has the regular pen blade that you will find in nearly every 58mm SAKs. A very capable blade of its size and I will always pick this blade over any other blade of similar size.
The second blade, which they are calling an emergency blade, has a slightly different design but is as sharp as the first one. I have also heard it being called a letter opener. For my kind of usage, I will just consider it as an extra blade.
Maybe, I will use one of the blades more keeping the other one razor-sharp only for special occasions.
The third blade is the most interesting! Victorinox doesn’t call it a blade at all. They call it an orange peeler (really?).
Well, for me, it works well as a package opener. Especially, for making draw cuts, and cutting those hard-to-open plastic blister packs. I am yet to peel an orange with this one. I guess I open more packages than I eat oranges :-).
The Combo Tool and the Scissors
The Philips screwdriver, sometimes called the combo tool in the MiniChamp, packs the most functionality in one tool. This is the sturdiest tool in the MiniChamp. I am in love with this tiny screwdriver. It is designed to fit screws of different sizes.
I managed to open up a jammed drawer lock with it. I also tighten the screws in my eyeglasses with it sometimes. And on top of it, it is magnetic!
This tool can also be used as a bottle opener. I haven’t used such a small but effective bottle opener before.
The combo tool alone can make the MiniChamp an always-carry pocket tool.
The third functionality of this tool is that of a wire stripper. Honestly, I haven’t ever used the small groove on the tool for stripping wires, and I don’t think I ever will. The other two functionalities are enough for me to justify the usefulness of this combo tool.
The scissors are the most used tool for me in any SAK. The MiniChamp being a keychain SAK, the scissors are quite tiny.
But I haven’t yet found any other scissors that perform better than that of SAK scissors of the same size.
It can cut paracord effortlessly. This is one of the toughest tests of any small pair of scissors. Yes, given the size of the scissors, you may need two strokes, but it will cut the paracord cleanly without any fuss. Should I say more?
The Retractable Pen in the MiniChamp
This is my first keychain multi-tool that has a pen! I have used another mid-sized SAK that has a pen but I do not carry it always. I wanted something to always have with me. What is better than something that is always attached to your keychain?
The pen is quite usable for taking quick notes, and I have already used it multiple times in that respect.
However, do not even think that it can replace a dedicated pen. It is not designed like that.
If you are interested in having a pen in your Swiss Army Knife, read the below article.
Note that because of the retractable pen, you lose one of the scale tools as there is not enough space to fit everything in the scales.
So on one side of the MiniChamp you have the retractable pen, and on the other side, you can either keep the tweezers or the toothpick.
Whether to keep the tweezers or the toothpick, the choice is yours. In the package, you get the toothpick as an extra accessory.
You can easily replace the tweezers with the toothpick as either one fits in the same slot.
Other tools in the MiniChamp
I have used the flathead screwdriver once or twice to open or tighten up some screws and it worked okay. However, I do not think you can put too much force while using it as it is quite flat and thin.
This tool also has hard-to-see ruler markings on one side, with both inches and millimeter markings. This might come in handy sometimes.
While the nail file has some utility, I do not see any value for me in the last tool, the cuticle pusher. Yes, that is what Victorinox calls this tool (see in the picture!)
Well, maybe some people do like having a dedicated tool for grooming their fingers!
I am wondering whether I can use the cuticle pusher as a medium-sized flathead screwdriver. I will have to try that once, at least to make myself feel less bad about having a seemingly useless tool in this SAK.
Variations of the Victorinox MiniChamp
There are two variations of the Victorinox MiniChamp.
Midnite MiniChamp: If you do not need the tweezers/toothpick, go for this model. It replaces the tweezers with a small LED flashlight.
The flashlight is powered by a battery which is replaceable. This model is also sometimes called the MiniChamp Lite.
MiniChamp Alox: This one replaces the Cellidor scales with Alox scales. The Alox SAK models are regarded as better built than their normal counterparts. They are also better looking, but also cost more.
Women would much prefer a silver Alox keychain tool than a boring red Cellidor one. However, the Alox models do not have the scale tools, so forget about the pen, tweezers, toothpick, or flashlight.
What you may not like in the Victorinox MiniChamp
Like all small tools, the MiniChamp also has its shortcomings. However, I will mention just a few that bother me sometimes.
Being a minimalist, I do not like carrying useless tools. In this sense, I would have loved it if the cuticle pusher was replaced by something more useful, or not added to the MiniChamp at all. But that is just me, you may find it useful.
People with chubby fingers and short fingernails do not like small Swiss Army Knives because of the nail nicks. Well, they would almost hate this one. I have quite thin fingers, but on days when I shorten my fingernails or file them, I sometimes find it awkward to work with the MiniChamp.
Because of so many tools and confusing placement of the nail nicks in the individual tools, they are difficult to open.
For example, the nail nick of the main blade is on the inner side whereas in all 58mm SAKs it is on the outer side. This design change is probably because the slider button of the retractable pen is also on the same side.
However, this confuses me often as I am accustomed to opening the knife from outside in the Classic or the Rambler. Hopefully, with more practice, this won’t be an issue for long.
Lastly, the bulkiness of this 58mm SAK does bother me sometimes. If you are already used to carrying bulkier keychain tools, then it won’t matter. But for someone like me who manages with only a Victorinox Rambler, the MiniChamp sometimes feels quite chubby in the pocket.
Other Pocket MultiTools comparable to the MiniChamp
The MiniChamp is kind of unique in terms of size, weight and functionality. The only other keychain multi-tool I find comparable to the Victorinox MiniChamp is the Leatherman Micra.
However, the MiniChamp packs more functions than the Micra in a lighter package. Also, the Cellidor scales of the MiniChamp feels a little more comfortable in the pocket or in the hand than the all-steel body of the Micra.
There is no point in comparing the individual tools side-by-side as all the tools in both the MiniChamp and the Micra are very small and one will not have any significant advantage over the other.
The only other tool that may be comparable to the MiniChamp is the very popular Gerber Dime.
However, regardless of the inclusion of a set of pliers in the Gerber Dime, it is a much heavier keychain tool and also do not pack as many functions as the MiniChamp. Your opinion may vary, but I have always found such small pliers useless in the real world.
I have been using the MiniChamp as my keychain tool for some time now, and it has proved to be quite useful on many occasions.
I am accustomed to carrying keychain SAKs in my pocket and mostly use the scissors, the knife, and the screwdrivers.
But with the MiniChamp, I am enjoying the extra liberty of using the pen as well as the third knife (orange peeler) as a box/package opener.
If you are okay with the bulk, there is probably nothing else in this weight and size category that can do as many things as the MiniChamp can do. And unlike many other multi-tools, the MiniChamp is quite easy to clean.
I have dozens of SAKs of various sizes (some decades old) and all of them are in working condition. I trust in Victorinox quality and know that I will be using the MiniChamp for years.
I got the Victorinox MiniChamp quite cheap from this Amazon listing. However, I have noticed that the price keeps fluctuating quite a lot.
With more than 100 years of history of making Swiss Army Knives behind them, Victorinox has refined the MiniChamp model to be one of the most full-featured keychain multi-tool of all time. If you want to have the most tools in one multi-tool dangling from your keychain, the Victorinox MiniChamp might just be the perfect match for you.