A Better SAK?

Jan 8, 1999
A recuring theme I see in many posts on this forum is that most of us carry several knives, and for many of us, one of those knives is a Swiss Army Knife. And I have further noticed that the SAK's often end up being the "using" knife. The recent thread- "Do you use your Knife" is just one example.

Problems with (most) SAK's- Wenger or Victorinox -

main blades are wimpy- slow to open.
many don't lock
Aluminum liners too weak.
Sciccors screws can come loose
Plastic scales can come off
pocket lint attractors

The first time I saw an ad for the Swiss Buck, I got pretty excited. Of course, it turned out that the Swiss Bucks were just a re-styled SAK.

I bought a utility Remington a couple of years back, but it is big and heavy, its crude construction and poor quality give me no joy. I have one of the Victrinox lock blades, it is a better knife than most of the
others, at least the scales are Zytel. It is a big large, and the first one I owned had suffered severe deformation of the aluminum liners after I used (abused?) it to loosen a phillips screw on a friends kayak, to re-adjust the seat position. The knife pretty much saved the trip for her- but it was only a week or two old. I had to replace it. I also have a Pioneer- with anodozed aluminum scales and brass liners. It is my all around favorite "using" knife- stronger than any other SAK. But that still does not address all my complaints. And it does not have a phillips screw driver.

I am not suggesting SAK's are crappy knives- I believe you get a lot for your money with a SAK. I love them, and have more in my collection than any other single type knife. But sometimes they are too light, and not totally reliable.

So am I the only knut who has every wanted a swiss army type knife with ATS-34 blades and G-10 handles? Or maybe a micarta handle, with a thumb stud, and a teflon M2 blade. With a screw driver that will let you apply some serious torque without deforming the knife. As a minumum I would want 2 sizes of flat screwdrivers, a phillips, an awl, a beer bottle opener (don't forget that tool!) a can opener, and at least one cutting blade. I would want such a knife to be small enough
to sit nicely in the pocket of casual pants. It could have an open back- or at the least, some through- openings to make it faster to dry out, and easier to blow out with compressed air.

Have I missed anything on the market like this? Does anyone else feel a need for a high quality swiss-army type knife? Any manufacturers/ designers reading this? Is the new Spyderco going to fill this niche?
I won't say that the price could be "no object", but wouldn't such a product be able to sell at a pretty high price? I'd certainly pay 10 times more than what I paid for the last SAK I bought- if I thought it
might be the last general use knife I would have to buy for a while.

Hope I wasn't too long winded here-


[This message has been edited by DanV (edited 10 March 1999).]
Dan, I think you might be expecting too much from SAKs. They are a light duty utility tool and I think they fill this niche well. When I started to read your post I was going to suggest a soldier or pioneer but you beat me to it. If you ever have need of a saw, Victorinox makes the Farmer which is a pioneer with a saw blade in addition to the four basic blades. For heavier duty use you are going to have to go to one of the multitools out there. I personnally am a big fan of the Leatherman supertool with the tool adapter that lets you customize your bit selection. The adapter also locks at 90 and 45 degrees so you can apply more torque. They are bigger and heavier than SAKs but they will take on bigger tasks and take more abuse. Victorinox makes one called the Swisstool that has gotten very good reviews on this forum but I have not used one myself. Hope this helps.


who dares, wins

Dan, if you're willing to pay that much, why not check into a custom maker? You could specify all your modifications.


Dan, try the swisstool, it will do most of what you want, however it is pretty heavy and there are no thumb studs or teflon. But it's a lot stronger than a SAK. I have had mine for about a month and cannot find anything to complain about except the weight. You can get it for about $55 on the Discount Knives site.
My opinion is that the better multitools have rendered the SAK obsolete. Sorry fans, but the Leatherman Supertool, Gerber Multiplier Scout, Kershaw locking tool and the upcoming Spyderco "Rube Goldberg Commemorative Multitool" are all worlds better than a SAK, especially if you've got a version that drives hex adapter tools and you carry a couple of 3" extension bits like I do.

The only SAK that still makes any sense is the smaller ones with just a small knife and scissors for keychain carry and light jobs...and the new mini SOG and Leatherman Micra even have that covered.

And yes, I used to own and carry SAKs. Never again.

Jim March
The Leatherman Wave has one-hander knife blades, but the steel isn't the premium vorpal stuff. There's a new Leatherman coming out that has a corkscrew, but I still think that in the multi-purpose knife-thing market Leatherman understands gripping and screwing the best, and Victorinox and Wegner understand food and drink better, and all of them must figure that the user who wants a truly vorpal blade will carry a vorpal sport-utility folder separately anyway, so they don't invest in ATS34 and the equipment to work with it.

My dream, however, is the "California Army Knife." High-tech materials, of course. It would have a thumb-operated one-hander main blade, and a 1-7/8" California-legal auto pen blade, and OTF (and OTR) auto can opener and screwdriver tools!

Hi Dan!

Always good to see another Indianapolis resident on the forums.

I love SAKs, but am well aware of their limitations and I share your desire to see them improved.

Some of the problems with them I see that were not mentioned is just the general quality of the screwdrivers. They have a nice finish, yes, but they should be ground somewhat rough to assist in gripping the screwhead. I also feel that they should lock. Once, when removing a seriously torqued screw from a Macintosh hard drive using the tiny screwdriver on the can opener (the arc of the can opener makes it a good phillipshead driver in a pinch) the blade folded and the can opener bit deeply into my index finger (those Victorinox can openers are sharp!)

One hand openig blades would be a big plus. I don't know why Wenger and Victorinox have been so slow to go that route. Maybe they don't want to seem "tactical" for fear that their products will be deemed weapons. ???

I agree about plastic scales. They are weak andcome off easily. Micarta would be nice. I bought a wood handled Victorinox Spartan for my nephew from SMKW. Nice knife for the money. But anything would be better than the plastic they use: zytel, g10, micarta (my personal fav).

Titanium liners would be a light though expenisive replacement for the Aluminum.

Re: custom makers: Anybody know any custom makers that make multi bladed folders, perhaps with other tools?

James, I like your CA Special. With all the auto openers thought it will have more buttons than my keyboard and more springs than my mattress.

Sorry to be so long-winded...

Clay Fleischer

"10,000 Lemmings Can't Be Wrong!"
For customs try Bailey Bradshaw. He works in 420V and 52100. According to people a 52100 bladed folder with whatever heat-treat he uses can be used to pry the lid off a paint can w/o damage. His models are of a traditional design, and not too expensive, 150-350 range. http://www.bpbradshaw.com

Why did you stab that girl?
You won't believe this, but I had too much coffee!
-Edmond by David Mamet
2 words - utility belt

you are expectin' a bit much from that little tool there boss....
I have a lot of the SAK - Victorinox that is, I especially like the Swiss Tool, and I agree that is is a bit heavy, I heard that they might be coming out with a lighter version? anyone know about this?

My .02

When a fellow says, "it ain't the money but the principle of the thing,"
it's the money.
F. McKinney Hubbard