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Comparison of My Favorite Swiss Army Knives (SAKs)
on June 29, 2016
I have bought and used several versions of the Swiss Army knives. There are plenty of reviews that cover the pros and cons of specific versions of the Swiss Army knives (SAK), so I thought what I would do in my review is cover some of the things I like (or don't like) about the different versions in case anyone is like me and trying decide WHICH SAK they want to by. I did a lot of research before I bought any of the versions and then, of course, personally tried out different versions. So, I thought I would share my experience and what I like and don't like.
Naturally, when it comes to which SAK to buy, there are fundamental choices to be made about what size of SAK you want as well as what functionality. Obviously, that can be personal preference. So, while I'm not going to list the features of each type of SAK, I'll talk about why I like particular knives (or don't) comparing their feature based on my preferences. I think I'm probably fairly "typical", but if you have different preferences your opinions won't necessarily match mine, of course.
I've divided my review up into "small", "medium", "medium plus", and large SAKs.
Small SAK (Swiss Army Knife):
Victorinox Swiss Army Rambler Pocket Knife
The Swiss Army Rambler is really amazing in that it gives me the items I by far use the most in a SAK so small it basically disappears in your pocket. There is fundamentally no difference in overall weight or feel to "how much stuff is my pocket" by adding this SAK. It gives me the scissors and blades, which are by far my two most commonly used items, as well as screwdriver, tweezers and toothpick, which I also use quite a bit. I don't use the bottle opener too much, but it's a nice core item to have as well.
So, basically this knife gives me 90%+ of what I really use in a package so small I barely notice I'm carrying it. That's really hard to beat. If I wasn't greedy about wanting things on my every day carry (EDC) SAK (Swiss Army Knife), this would probably be the knife I use every day. As it stands, I mostly use this one when I have dress pants or otherwise less room than usual and one of the bigger ones when I'm jeans (for example).
Victorinox Jetsetter 3 Pocket Knife
I bought this for the obvious reason of it's a very small knife that can theoretically get you through TSA at the aiport. I thought having a pair of scissors and the screwdriver with me on trips would be nice. The problem is after reading reviews, I've never really had the motivation to try to get it through TSA security. While most people seem to be able to do it fine, it does seem to "draw attention" more than I'd really like according to other people's reviews. So, I've just never bothered to do it.
Given that, I can't really give this version a fair review. If you want to get it scissors on a plane, it sounds like it works. I just haven't had the energy to test that theory when push came to shove.
I'm also a big fan all of the knives in my "medium" category quite a bit. Which one works for you is really a matter of what features you want and if an additional feature is worth the, typically minor, increase in weight. These are 3 of my favorites.
Victorinox Swiss Army Super Tinker Pocket Knife
This version is a great option for me. This has all the core items I use regularly as well as some I use less frequently in a size that fits in pocket without being distracted (although it doesn't "disappear" into my pocket like the smaller rambler does. It has large and small blades, scissors, multiple screwdrivers, tweezers, and toothpicks. So, all the core things that I really use the SAK for at a very reasonable size. I don't really notice it in my pocket, but it doesn't quite "disappear" in my pocket with my rambler. I think overall it's a great combination of functionality and size.
Victorinox Swiss Army Fieldmaster Pocket Knife (Red)
The main advantage to me of this one over the Super Tinker is it has the wood saw. While I don't use the wood saw often, I actually use it more than you would think and it works quite well. It is slightly larger than the Super Tinker (because of the saw), but I don't really notice the difference carrying it around. Whether or not you would like it over the tinker depends on how much you want a wood saw.
Victorinox Swiss Army Explorer Plus Pocket Knife (Red)
This is another excellent option in the "medium" size SAKs. It has a lot of the elements I really like about the Champ Plus: the eyeglass screwdrivers, the pen, the pin, the magnifying glass, but is not as bulky. Two key things missing from Champion Plus are fish scaler / ruler (which I don't care much about) and the wood saw (which actually I do like as I said earlier). While I like this one A LOT whether or not I use it compared to the Army Fieldmaster depends on if I'm in a wood saw mood or a magnifying glass, eyeglass screwdriver, pen, pin mood. It's also slightly bulkier than the Fieldmaster. I use this one most of the time when I'm not using my champ plus because I typically use things like the magnifying glass and pen more than the wood saw. Also, the screwdriver isn't the "T" screwdriver, which is a bit easier. I also like having an eyeglass screwdriver with me. So, if I had to recommend one SAK to someone, it is probably this one.
Medium Plus SAK:
Victorinox Champion Plus Knife
This is one I probably carry more than I should. I like it more than the Champ version (not listed in my review) because it doesn't have the pliers which add significant size and I personally find not very useful. The pliers are too small to get good torque. If I want pliers I end up pulling out a "real" set.
It is of a size that it it is small enough to be an EDC (every day carry) tool, but really just barely in my opinion. It's noticeably bigger than the SAKs I have listed in my medium section, which is why I call it "medium plus". I notice when it's in my pocket, but it's not a nuisance...especially when I'm in jeans. The reason I like it so much is because it has all the cool stuff I want on my SAK and so I can carry it without making the choice I just talked about of do I want the wood saw or do I want the the magnifying glass, glass screwdriver, pen, and pin. With the Champion plus, I get them all! Basically, there isn't any feature I really want on my SAK that isn't on this version. So, I'm willing to put up with something that's a little larger to have the "all in one" feel to it that this has. At least, when I'm wearing jeans or maybe dockers. When I'm in pure dress pants, it's time for one of the smaller SAKs.
Victorinox Swiss Army CyberTool 41 Translucent Pocket Knife (Translucent Ruby)
I'm not going to give this one a very long review, but basically it has absolutely everything I can imagine wanting even if I'm not really going to use it. :) So, I own it on the theory that rather than carrying it on my person (it's too big to carry regularly), it can sit in a drawer or a glove box and I can pull it out when I need it. The problem is, for me anyway, in practice that never happens. By the time I'm going to a drawer to pull out a tool, I can just pull out one of my normal screwdrivers (or whatever) so I do that instead. So, basically this one never gets used. But, I like the IDEA of it a lot. It's cool to own. :) If you are in a situation where you needing a smallish one size fits all tool that doesn't have to go in your pocket, I think this could be awesome.
Victorinox Swiss Army SwissChamp Pocket Knife
by VictorinoxLink: https://amzn.com/B0001GS19U
This SAK is basically the Champ Plus only with pliers. As I mentioned, I don't think terribly much of the pliers, but if I'm just throwing it in a drawer or a glove compartment and not trying to carry it around, why not have one with the pliers. :) I do own one I keep in my car for that reason. Too big to EDC for me.
Summary: Which SAK you use depends on what you want in terms of size and features. But, to someone not sure, I'd recommend the Victorinox Swiss Army Explorer Plus Pocket Knife (Red) (Link: https://amzn.com/B0007QCOYM). It is a great combination of some of the cool features that I use the most often. If want something really small, go with the rambler. If you can tolerate something a bit bigger, go with the Champ Plus. If you aren't going to carry it and stick it in a glove compartment or drawer, the Champ has everything really. :)