A Wenger Swiss Army Knife in the pocket had been a dream for many of us when we were in school. Wenger SA, the only other company to make Swiss Army Knives, was always ahead of its competitor and big brother Victorinox in one criterion – innovation.
While it is not possible to cover every Swiss Army Knife that Wenger has produced, we will have a look at some of the best (and their current alternatives) that ever came out of the company’s stables.
These Wenger knife models were trendsetters of their times!
The Esquire was the standard 65mm Swiss Army Knife from Wenger. All other 65mm models were based on the Esquire. The standard model had a blade, a nail file, a pair of scissors, and the scale tools – a toothpick and tweezers.
Yes, you guessed it right – the Esquire was Wenger’s version of Victorinox Classic. But of course, being a 65mm model, it was slightly larger than the Vic Classic (58mm).
Just like the Vic Classic, the Wenger Esquire was available in a myriad of colors, as well as different scale materials.
Many favored the Wenger Esquire over the Vic Classic just because it offered slightly larger tools. Also, Wenger could offer more options by introducing more variants of the Esquire much faster than Vic did with its Classic.
In fact, the Wenger Esquire was one of the few models that still survived under the Victorinox brand as part of the Victorinox Delemont Collection.
Amazon still has the listing of Wenger Esquire in its catalog, but I am sure it will never be available. Rather, you may get lucky on eBay if you are okay with a second-hand model. But there is always the ever-popular Victorinox Classic SD(Amazon link) as a worthy alternative.
The Backpacker was one of the most popular and interesting Wenger Swiss Army Knife models of the 85mm category. Its chief claim to fame was the addition of a wood saw.
The Backpacker had all the standard tools found in most 85mm pocket SAKs besides the wood saw.
However, it included a nail file instead of a second smaller blade, which was quite rare in 85mm models.
This made the model suitable for personal grooming as well as outdoor activities.
The popularity of the Backpacker made Wenger introduce other variants of the model, like the Backpacker II, the Alpine Backpacker, and the Serrated Backpacker.
The Backpacker was regarded as an ideal pocket knife for outdoor activities and was very popular among scouts. Today, the best alternative to the Wenger Backpacker is the 91mm SAK model – Victorinox Camper.
As an alternative, the Victorinox Camper (Amazon link) has almost the exact same functions as the Wenger Backpacker.
The SwissBuck Knife came out of a collaboration between Wenger and the American company – Buck Knives.
The SwissBuck branded knives never looked like a Swiss Army Knife at all.
While all the tools were the same that you would find in a Wenger SAK, the material and design of the scales differentiated the model from other Wenger knives.
The black synthetic nylon handles of the SwissBuck knife had ribbed thumb grips, giving it a very tactical look. The handles had the Buck logo on both sides and they stamped the Wenger logo on the blade tangs.
It was Buck Knives who started the negotiations with Victorinox and Wenger seeking a symbiotic relationship that would benefit both parties by providing increased access to the North American market for a Swiss manufacturer while simultaneously enhancing their presence in Europe.
Ultimately, the deal materialized with Wenger only. The first model was a 65mm variant of the Esquire called the SwissBuck Legend. The collaboration continued for a few years during which the two companies expanded the SwissBuck line with more models.
Interestingly, the tools on SwissBuck models were the same as in equivalent Wenger models.
The only minor difference was the design of the blade. They also used a clip-point blade instead of the standard Wenger drop-point.
Wenger and Buck released a total of 17 SwissBuck models, covering 65mm, 75mm, 85mm, and 125mm pocket knives.
It is almost impossible to find a SwissBuck model nowadays, making it a highly sought-after model for SAK collectors.
Wenger Evolution Series
The Evolution series, commonly known as the Wenger Evo series, introduced something totally new to the Swiss Army Knife – contoured handles. Wenger actually redesigned the scales to make them ergonomically contoured for a better grip.
After the introduction of the design, Swiss Army Knife scales began to be differentiated into two categories, regular (or normal, or classic) scales, and Evolution scales.
Wenger used the Evolution scales in 65mm and 85mm, as well as its larger 120mm and 130mm categories of Swiss Army Knives.
Wenger further went on to refine this design and introduced the EvoGrip scales. EvoGrip added rubber inserts on the scales to make them more grippy.
Wenger knives fitted with the EvoGrip scales were some of the most sought-after Swiss Army Knives of that time.
As you might have guessed by now, the EvoGrip models are some of the best-sellers of the Delemont Collection.
Wenger Swiss Clipper
The Swiss Clipper was the first Swiss Army Knife to add a nail clipper to its toolset. Naturally, this one tool made the model an instant hit.
The main purpose of all keychain-size Swiss Army Knives, like the Wenger Esquire or the Vic Classic, is personal grooming. The Swiss Clipper just enhances this by adding a folding French-style nail clipper.
The Swiss Clipper was available in different scale colors. Wenger also released an EvoGrip variant of the Swiss Clipper after the ergonomic ‘EvoGrip’ style of scales became popular.
Interestingly, the Swiss Clipper was also retained in the Delemont Collection. However, Victorinox renamed this as Nail Clip 580.
You will have better luck getting hold of the Nail Clip 580 than the original Wenger model. Check out the availability on this Amazon listing.
Wenger Tool Chest Plus
Heard of the Victorinox Swiss Champ? Well, Wenger had its Tool Chest Plus, the biggest Wenger Knife of the 85mm category.
With 10 layers of tools, yet somewhat manageable to be carried in the pocket, the Tool Chest Plus seemed to have everything that you might need in a pocket knife.
Being the largest usable Wenger SAK, the Tool Chest Plus was a popular SAK and still has great demand among SAK enthusiasts. You might get hold of one on eBay or on Etsy if you are lucky.
Wenger, of course, introduced many variations of the model. One such model with the EvoGrip scales called the EvoGrip S54, became very popular.
As you might have guessed by now, the Delemont Collection included this and calls it the Victorinox EvoGrip S54.
If you are on the hunt for a Swiss Army Knife with a lot of tools but want something different from the Vic Swiss Champ, then the Vic EvoGrip S54 can be an ideal choice for you. The Wenger design and low availability make it a premium and rare SAK to own.
While the Delemont Collection SAKs usually have better availability in online marketplaces, I always find the Victorinox EvoGrip S54 out-of-stock on Amazon.
Wenger Ranger Series
Wenger was the first to integrate the concept of SAK into larger models, as big as 120mm. These were called the Wenger Ranger series of Swiss Army Knives.
Wenger went on to upgrade the Ranger to a larger design, the 130mm series of Ranger knives.
The large size actually made these knives more suitable for outdoor activities, like camping and bushcraft. It also enabled Wenger to introduce a liner-locking mechanism for the blade, making it more secure to use.
Of course, Wenger also added the EvoGrip scales to the Ranger thereby introducing a new series called the Ranger Grip. Some of these also have a one-handed opening blade.
The 130mm Ranger Grip models are often regarded as some of the best large Swiss Army Knives you can own.
The Delemont Collection of Victorinox has many models of the Ranger and Ranger Grip series. Especially, the Ranger Grip 78, and the Ranger Grip 58 Hunter are two of the best for outdoor activities, as I have explained in this post.
Wenger is no longer an independent company and only exists as a Victorinox brand nowadays.
Victorinox has retained some of the Wenger designs in the Delemont Collection, which are marketed and sold with Victorinox branding and logo.
But there is one model that is sold with the Wenger logo, along with the words ‘WENGER” printed on the front scale.
For all practical purposes, this is exactly the same as the 65mm Wenger Esquire. The specs are an exact match.
Victorinox calls this model ‘Wenger’. This is the only Wenger-branded Swiss Army Knife still in production.
If you are a die-hard fan of Wenger knives, this can be an important model in your collection – a piece of history, and a reminder of Wenger’s contribution to SAK innovation.
Well, both ‘yes‘ and ‘no‘.
While the Delemont Collection has retained most of the design features of Wenger, there are subtle differences that Victorinox has introduced which differentiates these models from the original Wenger models. So each model is not an exact replica of the corresponding Wenger model.
You may read more about how the Delemont Collection is different from the Wenger original models in this post.
Many SAK lovers and enthusiasts still remember with love and affection some of the Wenger Swiss Army Knife models that it made during its heyday.
The greatest example of Wenger’s innovation will always be the Wenger Giant, the experimental model that went on to bag a Guinness World Record (read more about it here).
In this post, we went through some of the popular Wenger SAKs that existed. Of course, none of these will ever be made again with the Wenger logo. But a few of the choicest Wenger designs still exist as part of the Victorinox Delemont Collection with minor changes along with the Victorinox logo and branding.