Recently I’ve been starting to collect more Victorinox. As a kid, I always had a Swiss Army Knife handy. But it’s something I lost interest in as an adult, until I started seriously collecting pocket knives. Somewhere I read that no collection is complete without some Victorinox, and I can believe it. Purchasing all these new ones in black has given me a new found appreciation of this brand, and I plan on continuing to expand my collection.
Aside from the 2 classics in red and hunter green which were gifts, I’ve been buying new ones in black because I think it looks really classy. The black is more prone to scratches, so time will tell if it was a wise choice. Or bummer, I have to buy them all again in red.
The Executive is medium sized for a Victorinox, somewhere in the range between the keychain-sized Classics and the larger sized Tinker. It’s probably a bit big for a keychain, but it’s ideal for a pocket. The glossy black finish looks really upscale. True to its name, this is a tool that would look good in your suit pocket and at home in the board room. If you like oranges, the Executive is one of the only tools I know of that have a dedicated orange peel tool. It also has a better and finer file than the other Vics in my collection.
It’s really an ideal size for every day carry. With a deceptively large blade for its size, you get a lot of knife and just functionality in general for something that doesn’t feel heavy in pajamas. Scissors, philips screwdriver–this thing would be perfect if it had a common bottle opener on it instead of a second blade. But as it is, it’s close to perfect, and one of the gems of my collection. It’s also nice to augment a larger pocket knife without adding too much bulk.
The Tinker was appealing to me because it has a normal philips screwdriver tip and shaft. It’s not some dumbed-down, compact, lowest-common-denominator tool. It’s a real screwdriver. Because it’s well machined and uses a hard, heat treated steel, the screwdriver is as good as a mechanic’s screwdriver. That’s the thing about some budget tools that use softer steels. You’re not saving any money if you strip every screw you try to remove, or if you strip the screwdriver itself because the steel is too soft.
The rest of the tools are sensibly chosen. The auger is a nice touch, as is the second blade. The main blade, small blade, bottle opener/screwdriver/stripper and can opener are the common ones standard to the larger model Vics. There are no scissors or other tools, but that’s OK because the Tinker isn’t that bulky. It’s something you’ll feel in your pocket, but it’s not excessive.
Yesterday it was below zero here, and the battery in my truck picked the wife’s grocery shopping trip in the snow to strand her in the parking lot. I grabbed my toolbox and just for good measures swapped the Executive out for the Tinker before I went to go put a new battery in the truck. I also like to carry the Tinker if I’m wearing jeans or cargo pants.
The Explorer is where the Vics start getting over the top. It has most of their good tools except for the pliers, and it even has a magnifying glass. Too bad the magnifying “glass” is made out of flimsy plastic. It’s still useful, but it’s something I’m going to use very sparingly so it doesn’t get scratched. The philips screwdriver on the Explorer looks sturdy but also looks a bit odd. At first I thought it must be a flaw in the machining, but nope, it’s designed this way.
Of course, this model features the same main blade, small blade, bottle opener/screwdriver/stripper and can opener found on their larger models. Why change a good thing. And because this thing is a beast, it has scissors and also some of the more obscure tools like the corkscrew, auger and hook. I’m not ashamed to say that I have no idea what I would use the hook for.
I read in one of the reviews somewhere that the little screwdriver that fits in the corkscrew on some of their higher end models can be purchased separately and will fit on the Explorer. This model is definitely a little bulky, but you’re getting most of the functionality of a larger Leatherman with less bulk, so I try to keep that in perspective when I carry it.
The Cadet turned out to be one of the gems of my collection, along with the Executive. It’s almost as thin as the Classic, and very light given that it has Aluminum scales. The Aluminum is textured, giving the knife a very good grip. The Cadet is simple: The standard main blade, bottle opener/screwdriver/stripper and can opener. The twist is that in place of the small blade is a file/philips screwdriver. It’s not a full philips, and wouldn’t normally be my first choice for one, but it should do fine in a pinch.
Since I like to carry light, this is an ideal size for me. I read somewhere that the anodizing is thin and will wear off easily. If it’s true, that will be OK because I only intend to carry it for special occasions and/or when I dress up. There’s a spot on the back for what looks like an engraving, which I will probably look into. I’m seriously considering getting the silver one for every day carry, which won’t show wear as much. But the Cadet in black looks phenomenal.
The Sentinel. This is the one model in my collection that I don’t really get. Maybe because it’s not a multi-tool. I’m not sure if it’s built cheaply, but it does feel a little cheap and that takes something away from the experience. The blade is a little off-center on mine as well, which doesn’t help either. But it’s not a bad knife. There’s nothing I can point to and say “this is unacceptable” but it’s just not something that thrills me.
Mine came with a good edge and the lockup is solid. The lock is a little stiff to release, but that’s OK. It’s well built and it’s made from good steel. Even though it’s just a knife (no doodads), it also has the standard toothpick and tweezers. Like I said, it’s not a bad knife, but at about 30 bucks, there are a lot of knives competing with this one. For the same money, an American made Kershaw Skyline would be a much better choice for most people.
What can I say, the Classic Swiss Army Knife is iconic. They’ve been around for decades. My sister makes these great little survival kits, and she often puts used Vics inside them which she buys from eBay. So I went digging through her kits and pilfered a couple I liked: one red, and the other hunter green. The red one has the little ball point pen that comes out–nice.