What makes the Swiss Champ one of the best-selling Swiss Army Knives from Victorinox?
Let’s find out.
My opinion about the Swiss Champ before I got hold of it was that it is a collector’s item. Surely, I never considered it as something that someone like me who actually uses SAKs all the time would like to own. And honestly, I got one just to see whether my opinion was right or wrong.
After using it for a few months as my only go-to SAK at home, I have some interesting experiences to share. And yes, the Swiss Champ is unlike any other SAK I have used before. And I have been using SAKs for more than a decade now.
I got the Swiss Champ from this Amazon listing. Before I go any further with my (detailed) review, here are the things (both good and not-so-good) about the Swiss Champ that I would specifically like to talk about at length.
The Victorinox Swiss Champ is the biggest Swiss Army Knife that Victorinox has designed to date that is practical to use. It has the capability to replace multiple other Swiss Army Knives, multi-tools, and even small toolboxes.
However, it is not something that many will like to carry in their pockets, and someone needs to spend some time using it and getting familiar with it to appreciate it.
The thing about such a big tool with so many features is that you will find a lot of things to love as well as hate 🙂
- Flexibility of use
- Build Quality
- The Price
- The bulk and the weight
- The Pliers
The Swiss Champ is the Most Flexible SAK
I use Swiss Army Knives all the time. You will always see at least two different SAKs lying on my desk.
Need to open a package? I use the small blade in the SAK. Need a pair of scissors? It’s always the SAK scissors that I use. Need to poke a hole somewhere? The SAK awl is my go-to tool. Need to change the sim card in my phone? It’s the stainless steel pin in the SAK that I use. Need to read very small letters or prints on some products? The SAK magnifying glass is the tool I need. I can go on and on.
Naturally, all my different day-to-day needs cannot be handled by one single SAK or multi-tool.
Whenever I want to try out a new SAK or multi-tool, I just keep that one on my desk and put the other away in my tool bag. That way, I get a feel of how much I use that one based on how often I have to get some other tool out of the bag to get something done.
I did the same experiment with the Swiss Champ. And tell you what, this one particular SAK almost makes all my other SAKs and multi-tools redundant. Yes, it’s that flexible.
If there is only one reason why someone would like to get the Swiss Champ, it would be its flexibility of usage. And why not? Victorinox has crammed 33 functions in this unique model.
And it’s not a gimmick! All these functions actually work in any practical scenario. Yes, the Swiss Champ is one SAK that can hook you with its incredible usefulness.
List Of Tools/Functions in the Victorinox Swiss Champ
- Fish scaler
- Hook disgorger
- Ruler (cm)
- Ruler (in)
- Magnifying glass
- Bottle opener
- Screwdriver 6 mm
- Wire stripper
- Stainless Steel Pin
- Wood saw
- Phillips screwdriver 1/2
- Multipurpose hook
- Nail file
- Nail cleaner
- Metal saw
- Metal file
- Screwdriver 2.5 mm
- Large Blade
- Small Blade
- Pressurized ballpoint pen
- Reamer, punch, and sewing awl
- Chisel 4 mm
- Combination pliers
- Wire cutters
- Wire crimper
- Can opener
- Screwdriver 3 mm
- Mini screwdriver 1.5 mm
As you can see, that is a long feature list. The SAK 91mm models are the most popular Swiss Army Knives from Victorinox. And the Swiss Champ has almost all the tools that you will find in any popular 91mm SAK. Yes, in a way, the Swiss Champ is the Swiss Army Knife of Swiss Army Knives!
No other multi-purpose tool from any other company comes close to the sheer variety of capabilities of the Victorinox Swiss Champ. Suffice it to say, you won’t be lacking in gear with this one.
I am not going to explain how to use each of these tools as this post is not about that really. But if you are interested, you will probably find many videos on YouTube explaining the usage of each tool. Here is a short one in particular from Victorinox that I like.
Tools That I didn’t Use That Much
Have I used all the tools in it? No, I haven’t, but I have used most of them. Is it the best knife? No, but it is the most useful multi-purpose tool set.
The tools that I haven’t used yet or didn’t use much for the intended purpose are the corkscrew (I don’t drink that much) and the fish-scaler cum hook-disgorger.
The fish-scaler cum hook-disgorger is particularly meant for fishing enthusiasts and I didn’t find any indoor use of this tool.
The end of the fish-scaler can be magnetized by using a magnet. You can then use it to pick up small screws from narrow and impossible-to-reach places.
By the way, if you are interested in fishing and looking for a SAK to accompany you, don’t forget to check this article.
The Swiss Champ has Amazing Build Quality
This is probably not a surprise, especially for those who have used a SAK before. All Swiss Army Knives have impeccable build quality. But in the case of the Swiss Champ, Victorinox has probably outdone itself.
The build quality of a SAK is more visible when it is big and has a lot of layers. The Swiss Champ has 8 layers, the most in any 91mm SAK. And each of the tools in those 8 layers opens, close, and performs its intended function perfectly.
It’s master craftsmanship at its finest as if Victorinox has given individual attention to even the minute details of each and every layer and the tools in it. Victorinox has mentioned that each tool is inspected by at least 90 people before it leaves its manufacturing factory at Ibach.
The quality of the Swiss Champ makes you believe this claim.
As far as the usage of space is concerned, it is near-perfect. I can’t think of any better usage of real estate in this SAK model. No space between the two outer scales or handles of the SAK is left unused. There is absolutely no gap between or within each layer.
And even though it is jampacked with tools, still you can get the tools out easily without much effort. Yes, you may fumble around a bit initially to find the tool you need. But once you have used it enough times, the location of your most-used tools will be engraved in your memory.
To give you an example, I know which side of the SAK is facing my palm just by holding it in my hand. I can pull out many of the tools, like the large and small blades, the bottle and can openers, the pliers, the scissors, the awl, the corkscrew, the toothpick, and the ballpoint pen, just by taking a quick look.
Sometimes I can do the same without even looking at the SAK. Of course, it comes with practice and regular usage.
Each of the tools is shiny, made from Victorinox steel, and built with precision. I have talked in detail about the steel that Victorinox uses in all of their SAKs. Don’t miss that article.
The Swiss Champ weighs around 185 grams. How Victorinox could cram so much in there and still keep the weight manageable is a mystery to me. As far as I know, nobody else could do it: not Leatherman, not Gerber, not SOG, or any other multi-tool brand of repute.
Did you have a look at one of the thinnest and lightest SAKs that is super easy to carry, the Victorinox Compact? Well, the Swiss Champ is the opposite of that. It is one of the thickest, and heaviest, and has much more tools. But yet, it can be carried in the pocket if you are up to it.
The Swiss Champ is Cheaper than other comparable Multi-tools
I have always said that Victorinox prices all (well, mostly) Swiss Army Knives very competitively. It is more evident in the price of the Swiss Champ.
When I got the Swiss Champ, it was around $70 on Amazon (yes, I got the black one).
Some of the popular Leatherman or Gerber multi-tools cost much more than that. Not to mention, the Swiss Champ has more functions than any of those more expensive multi-tools.
Even if you look at other popular Swiss Army Knife models, like the Vic Explorer, or the Vic Compact (not so cheap), the price of the Swiss Champ seems like a bargain.
In my view, the only other SAK that can compete with the Swiss Champ in functionality as well as price is the Victorinox Work Champ.
I am saying this after having the Work Champ with me and using it occasionally for the last 5 years (Read the review here).
However, the Work Champ is not a direct competitor of the Swiss Champ, as it is a 111mm SAK, is longer and heavier, and even less pocket-friendly.
The price of the Swiss Champ does keep fluctuating a bit. You may get a cheaper deal if you look around or wait for a sale.
The Swiss Champ is the Least Portable 91mm SAK
The impeccable build quality and usefulness of the Swiss Champ do not hide the fact that calling it a pocket knife is a bit of a stretch. Sure, you can fit it in your pocket. But will you?
I tried carrying it in my pocket just to get used to the size of the SAK. And it wasn’t comfortable at all. It’s okay moving around with it for some time in the pocket, but the weight does become noticeable with time. Also, the feeling of something so bulky jumping around in your pocket is not nice at all.
It is somewhat comfortable in the fifth pocket of the jeans. That is the only way I would carry it if I am wearing a pair of jeans.
If I have to carry it with me, I would rather use a sheath attached to my belt. In case I don’t have a sheath, I would prefer to carry it in my bag. If I am not carrying a bag, I would rather avoid carrying the Swiss Champ altogether. I would go for something smaller and lighter, like the Vic Compact or the Vic Super Tinker.
This is one aspect of the Swiss Champ where my earlier assumption has been proved correct. The thickness of this SAK is particularly what kept me away all these years from getting one. The Swiss Champ is about 3cm thick. After getting it, I am still avoiding carrying it in my pocket.
In fact, the Swiss Champ is the only 91mm SAK I have that I like the least in terms of portability. My brain never forgets that it is in my pocket, unlike some of the other lighter SAKs. That is why I find it most useful at home, in an indoor environment.
As such, some of the tools in the Swiss Champ like the fish-scaler and even the wood saw, are almost useless to me as these are mostly used in an outdoor environment. Your usage may vary. Also, if you are a big and tall man, the size and weight may not be an issue for you.
Of course, there are numerous other interesting ways of carrying a SAK with you. You may have a look at this post where I have detailed the various ways of carrying a Swiss Army Knife.
Occasions When I would consider carrying the Swiss Champ
I can think of a few occasions when I would like to have the Swiss Champ with me outside my home:
- While camping, I may have it as a backup tool in my backpack.
- If I am traveling, I may keep it in my luggage so that I have a complete toolbox with me in the hotel room or wherever I will be staying.
Note that SAKs or any multi-tool are prohibited to be carried along on a plane. So do keep that in mind while packing for a vacation.
The Swiss Champ Pliers are not very Useful
Ok, this point is not specific to the Swiss Champ, it’s about all Swiss Army Knives in general.
I never found the set of pliers in the 91mm SAKs very useful. The design and size of the pliers just don’t give me confidence. Also, the flimsy spring used in the set of pliers makes it look and feel even weaker.
Don’t get me wrong. I know the SAK is not a plier-based multi-tool like the Leatherman Wave, or even Vic’s own Swiss Tool and Swiss Tool Spirit. I also know that the very design of a Swiss Army Knife does support a heavier set of pliers.
But I raise this point in the case of the Swiss Champ only because the Swiss Champ is a much heavier tool, especially compared to other smaller SAKs.
It feels kind of a letdown that you are carrying such a heavy tool similar to a Wave or a Spirit, but the set of pliers in it cannot do even half of what a Wave or a Spirit plier can do.
I know it’s kind of comparing apples to oranges, but I cannot help it. You may call it my personal gripe with the Swiss Champ. If I am carrying a smaller SAK, I may complement it with a Wave or a Spirit. But if I am already carrying the Swiss Champ which is itself a heavy tool, carrying another multi-tool along with it seems just too much.
Of course, there are various usages of the Swiss Champ pliers. Many use it as a bigger set of tweezers. The pliers are also suitable for precision electronics work, for assembling or disassembling electronic equipment. But they seriously lack functionality when compared to the most common usages of a set of pliers.
The only acceptable plier design I have seen in a Swiss Army Knife is the one found in models like the Victorinox RangerGrip (e.g. RangerGrip 74). But that is a 130mm model, much bigger in length than the 91mm Swiss Champ.
The Swiss Champ is not very Ergonomic
This is another of my personal gripes with the Swiss Champ. While it is super useful, it is not very easy to handle. I don’t feel like I am holding a knife in my hand. It feels like I have a rectangular piece of metal in my hands. It’s an awkward feeling at best, especially during my initial days of using the Swiss Champ.
With more and more usage, the awkward feeling reduces a bit but doesn’t go away completely. One interesting thing I have noticed is that because the Swiss Champ is such a wide SAK, the individual tools look and feel smaller and shorter than they actually are.
Using the tools also feels a bit cumbersome sometimes.
E.g. when you are using the knife blade, it feels kind of imbalanced in the hand as the blade is at the rightmost layer in the SAK.
Another example of awkwardness is while using the ballpoint pen. If you have a SAK with a ballpoint pen, you may know of a nice trick for using the pen more comfortably by attaching it to the slot of the multipurpose hook (details here).
However, this is not very comfortable with the Swiss Champ. Using the ballpoint pen like this feels even more awkward just because of the wide girth of the Swiss Champ.
In fact, most of the tools in the Swiss Champ feel bulky and unwieldy for prolonged and heavy use, especially with my medium-sized hands. If you have bigger stronger hands, your experience might be different. For occasional use, however, this discomfort is not noticeable.
The size and weight of the Swiss Champ also make it a bit difficult to clean. Opening all the tools in the SAK to wash and clean every nook and corner is not an easy task. Good thing that SAKs do not need much maintenance. In case you are interested, I have written a complete step-by-step guide on cleaning a Swiss Army Knife.
The Other Swiss Champ Models
The Swiss Champ is not the only 91mm SAK model with so many tools. In fact, it has 2 elder brothers which add more tools to the already overwhelming toolset of the Swiss Champ.
The Swiss Champ XLT is a slightly bigger variant with 49 functions. the Swiss champ XXL is even bigger, with 73 functions.
There are two other Swiss Champ models which were mainly designed for collectors. These are the Swiss Champ XXLT and the Swiss Champ XAVT.
The Swiss Champ XAVT is the largest Swiss Army Knife that Victorinox has ever produced.
All of these variants are super pricey. Also, except for the XLT, all these variants are unsuitable for any practical use. Most people will find even the XLT rather unwieldy and impractical, especially with small hands.
And if you are wondering whether the Swiss Champ XAVT is the largest Swiss Army Knife on earth, it is NOT. That record is held by another model, The Giant, designed by Wenger. You may have a look at this article to know everything about the Giant and the world record that it holds to date.
Alternatives to The Swiss Champ
There aren’t many alternatives to the Swiss Champ in the Victorinox 91mm model lineup. The only comparable model I can think of is the Victorinox Cyber Tool L, with minor tool differences.
In fact, the Swiss Champ XLT is a combination of the Swiss Champ and the Cyber Tool L.
Outside of the 91mm lineup, two other SAK models that are comparable to the Swiss Champ are the Victorinox EvoGrip S54, and the Victorinox WorkChamp (reviewed here).
Who Should Buy the Swiss Champ?
While the Swiss Champ is an awesome SAK to have, it is not for everyone.
- You think you will have some use for most of the tools in the Swiss Champ.
- You like being prepared for any eventuality and enjoy discovering new usages of the various tools in the Swiss Champ.
- You are a SAK enthusiast or a SAK collector.
You may avoid the Swiss Champ if you are a minimalist and looking for a pocket-carry SAK that you can always have with you. In that case, one of these Swiss Army Knives might be a much better fit for your needs.
The Swiss Champ is a flagship model from Victorinox. It is also one of the most commercially successful SAK models ever released. Such success implies that there are people who won’t mind carrying such a thick tool when the sheer number of functionalities provided by it is unmatched by any other multi-tool.
I haven’t seen so many tools packed in such a compact form factor, and being practically useful at the same time. This uniqueness alone makes the Swiss Champ a must-buy SAK for me.
It is not something I will use as a pocket EDC, but it is one of those SAK models that I will definitely like to own.
The most full-featured Swiss Army Knife you can buy
To me, it’s a SAK that can replace many other SAKs in my day-to-day usage. And like every other SAK I own, I expect it to last a long long time. Life has been easier with my Swiss Champ around, ready to spring into action whenever I need it.