The Swiss Army Knife: The Best of Pocket Knives

Learn how to choose the right Swiss army knife.

  • Red Swiss Army Knife
    Swiss army knives are useful for handyman jobs around the house.

  • Red Swiss Army Knife

I'll admit I laughed long and loud the first time I saw a Swiss army knife. To me (and mind you, I've been using pocketknives ever since I was old enough to wear pants with pockets) the very sight of all those gadgets protruding from a single handle was just too much! Besides which, the blades were made of stainless steel, and "everybody knew" that stainless — because of its inability to take and hold a proper edge — was suitable only for household cutlery. And, besides that ... the knife in question had a chintzy-looking red handle that made me think it'd been made especially for the punchboard premium trade.

Well, the passage of time has proven me wrong on all counts. Because today, the Swiss army knife is probably the most popular folding knife in these United States ... and deservedly so. It is, after all, more than just a pocketknife: It's a pocket-sized assortment of tools!

Choosing Different Swiss Army Knife Models

Swiss army knives come in many models, with various combinations and quantities of attachments. The simplest versions have as few as five accessories and weigh only a couple of ounces ... while the grand deluxe models may sport up to seventeen fold-out tools and weigh more than a quarter pound!

My favorite Swiss army knife is the relatively simple Camper model, which has two blades, a corkscrew, a can opener, a bottle opener, and a "punch" (actually a single-blade reamer). It also features a lanyard loop, but I've never used this accessory (nor have I seen anyone else use it). All-up weight: a smidgen over two ounces, or roughly half the heft of a super deluxe model.

Another — and very similar Swiss army knife — comes with a Phillips screwdriver in place of the corkscrew ... a substitution I dislike for two reasons. First, unless the Phillips is used with adequate pressure in clean screws of the proper size, the tip will unavoidably be damaged. Second, it's impossible — for all practical purposes — to repair a damaged Phillips bit by regrinding (as is customarily done with ordinary screwdrivers). Let's just say, then, that I much prefer a corkscrew which works to a Phillips that doesn't (or that soon won't)!

Tips When Buying a Swiss Army Knife

You'll find that Swiss army knives-even of identical design-vary considerably in price. It pays to shop around.

9/4/2010 3:31:03 PM

I really like this article about the Swiss Army Knive. I have had a few which they really came in handy and have saved my butt a few times from fixing my old truck to building a shelter when I was stuck out in the woods for the night. Also it is a very good idea to shop around I to have found a wide range in prices on these knives. I would advise to buy the really deal I picked up an off brand from a second hand store for a few bucks and it did not last that long plus I could not keep a good edge on the knive it self.

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