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Swiss Army Knives

Discussion in 'Multi-tools & Multi-purpose Knives' started by CookieRawwr, Dec 10, 2016.

  1. CookieRawwr

    CookieRawwr Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 23, 2014
    So I've been watching some re-runs of MacGyver on Netflix as its been a while, and he always has his trusty SAK on him. I hate to do this but what would be the best one to get? I had one for a long time and lost it on a camping trip. I'm looking for one small enough for the back pocket as I usually carry a Sebbie or Emerson up front. And one that has the pocket magnifying glass would be awesome for fire starting.
  2. jc57

    jc57 Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 28, 2012
  3. GIRLYmann


    Nov 7, 2005
    Jc57 said it.
    There are many tool variations
    And what might seem right to some
    May not be "thought adequately functional enough" for others.
    But having said that,
    Many a two layered sak
    Usually ends up in the pockets of
    experienced sak edc "pros".
    Sometimes a minimalist approach cuts through
    All The far fetched impossibilities of
    Being caught up in a magguyver type situation.
    But it's not all bad being prepared for
    Possible eventualities.
    It's really about how much weight and bulk
    One is willing to carry
    Before it's deemed
    an impractical bulky dead weight.
    There are many blade tool configurations.
    So depending on its intended usage
    Folks do end up with a little more than
    A single unit in the sak arsenal.
    Above all, I figure lightweight compactness
    to be the key feature
    In any eventual consideration.
    But one can't go wrong with
    an Alox scales model, a one handed knife blade opening model,
    And any of the main blade locking models for added usage safety
    In the bladed tool configuration of choice.
  4. CookieRawwr

    CookieRawwr Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 23, 2014
  5. willc

    willc Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 13, 2013
    The Huntsman is an almost perfect SAK if it only had the Phillips instead of corkscrew.
    Really though you can't go wrong with any SAK, I keep a classic on my keys and the Trekker/Soldier is my usual work edc.

    I like to carry a variety of knives and try a lot of different steels but I always seem to come back to Victorinox just for the utility, quality, and price.
  6. bt93

    bt93 Gold Member Gold Member

    May 12, 2015
    I think dollar for dollar that Victorinox can't be beat. For around $15 you can get a Spartan. Everything you need. The screwdriver on the can opener serves as a Phillips. I prefer the corkscrew as it does wonders in undoing knots, but if you prefer a Phillips screwdriver you can get the Tinker, same thing only a Phillips in place of the corkscrew.
    Either way I don't believe there's a knife around for under 50 bucks that can touch a 15 dollar Vic for overall quality.
  7. LeftHand-Fu


    Jan 30, 2014
    Take away the saw and the corkscrew, add a Phillips, and you've got a Super Tinker:

  8. Frisky


    Dec 1, 2010
    I really like the Huntsman. However, for outdoor use, I prefer the Farmer and Hiker. The Farmer pocket carries well, and I always have a Hiker in my belt mounted mini survival kit. For fire starting, I use a Mini Bic lighter.

  9. Mora2013


    Dec 1, 2013
    I believe the Fieldmaster is a Hunstman with a dedicated Phillips instead of a corkscrew.


    FWIW, there is no best SAK. If it has everything you want, then it's likely too big and too heavy for every occasion carry. If it's small enough for every occasion carry, then it's likely missing something. Choosing one depends on 1) how big you're willing to carry and 2) what do you most commonly use, and 3) what you can make do without/improvise without.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
  10. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel

    Feb 11, 2016
    I've been carrying my vic recruit for the past few weeks and until the end of the year without feeling lacking in any way.
    I'd say a 2 layer is the best option and would recommend the sub 20$ vic recruit or tinker.
    Alox models are thinner, but toothpick and tweezers are mandatory unless you carry a classic supplementary.
  11. Faron


    Apr 5, 2009
    I own the Huntsman and small Tinker. Side note , have leatherman wave and always on me squirt PS4 . Christmas holidays soon, Rock on. Faron.
  12. Wowbagger


    Sep 20, 2015
    Side note; a few years ago I got a hankering to watch an intelligent person do intelligent stuff . . . it is so rare is it not . . . so I bought the entire set of MacGyver episodes (even has the movies which I am saving for an emergency). When I have a bad day at work invariably I come home and watch a Mac episode. Some how it helps.

    I hear what you are saying about the magnifying glass (yes a Champ or an Explorer . . . I have an Explorer on me any time I am in my shop or at work) . . . but keep in mind that Mac carries a different knife depending on the episode / environment he is in. The episode where he goes back to his old school to judge a physics contest he is carrying an Executive. He pries off the top of the plug in the test tube with the orange peeler blade and the Executive is the only one that comes with that old style orange peeler (the Mini Champ has a new style orange peeler). I am no SAK expert or even that knowledgeable but I am interested in certain things about them so I know about these peelers.

    Second knife down in this photo has Mac style orange peeler; top knife (the Mini Champ) has the new peeler. Has a ball point pen and an LED light. Tiny knife though.

    My too often posted photo of my SAK EDC pouch. The other knife to consider is the Mechanic (top knife in photo bellow) and carry a separate pocket magnifying glass. Or better yet a ferro rod (can't make fire at night or on a cloudy socked in day; when you need it most . . . with a magnifying glass). For the ferro rod consider the Schrade ball point pen tactical pen. Even has a built in steel striker. Watch this video . . . it's funny / he does a good job.

  13. mqqn

    mqqn Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 12, 2009
    I can't speak to fire starting with a plastic Vic magnifier, but I will say that I never, EVER, go anywhere without my Victorinox Waiter.

    You would be surprised at how often the corkscrew can be used for various tasks, and added to the screwdriver/can opener, tweezers, toothpick and of course the spear point blade, you have a big tool in a compact package.

    Victorinox steel is easy to sharpen, holds a decent edge, and they are inexpensive.

    A good choice.


  14. Deltadag


    Nov 16, 2002
    Be aware that Victorinox marketed a so-called limited edition set composed of a Hiker (same as the slightly better known Camper model but substituting a Phillips screwdriver for the corkscrew) and a fire starter plus a leather clip-on pouch. It's still available from the usual purveyors for a nickel less than 30 bucks with free shipping.

    I'll take this moment to put in a good word for the Hiker. As 91mm Victorinox SAKs go, it doesn't get much notice from most folks and it isn't as pocketable as the small (but sweet) 84mm Tinker, but as an everyday-useful SAK it has much to offer. Being a 3 layer model, it's not excessively fat and the wood saw works very well given its size. And if you use the can opener a lot like I do, you'll find the 91mm handle length an advantage over the 84mm Tinker in terms of grip and leverage (plus, unlike the small Tinker, the larger Hiker puts the can opener cutting edge far enough away to not bugger up the Cellidor scales on the rim of the can). I've collected a lot of SAKs over the years, but a Hiker I was gifted back in 1970 remains my daily "go to" SAK. Now if only Victorinox had featured the toothpick and tweezers on their Cellidor models way back then. . .
  15. leghog


    Aug 10, 2013
    I'll suggest two as the best from currently available SAKs. Both 93mm alox in Victorinox's Pioneer series. For a two layer, the Victorinox Pioneer. For a three layer, the Victorinax Farmer which is a Pioneer with the addition of a root saw.

    I carry a Vic Farmer every single day, day-in day-out, year-in year-out. I even have my initials engraved on it. Only knife I have done so. Did it because I knew I would carry it the rest of my days.

    One, two, and three layer 93mm alox Victorinox SAKs.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
  16. ThePeacent


    Sep 15, 2013
    Even though you cannot go wrong with any SAK, of all those mentioned above, my favorite recommendations would be

    Waiter, Bantam or Executive for slim, dressy and minimalist carry
    Tinker, Huntsman, Farmer, Hiker and Spartan for basic toolset and all around most used tools
    Explorer, Mechanic or OH Trekker for special uses SAK (magnifying glass, pliers, OHO blade)
    Rambler, Classic or Minichamp for a complete keychain toolbox, small but capable!

    And of course, some pics of some SAKs mentioned above!






    tell us what you finally get :thumbup:
  17. hexenjager

    hexenjager Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 24, 2016
    As others have said, what Swiss army knife is the right one is really an individual thing based on your needs and preferences. My personal most carried SAK is the Ranger, but it's a 5 layer and thicker than many want to carry. I had been carrying an explorer plus for the most part, but kept running across the need for a file. Most people probably would seldom find use for it, but I use mine frequently. It's all about what fits your life best.

    Since you mentioned fire starting, I'm assuming that there will be a certain amount of camping, etc in its future, so I'd recommend a model with a saw. They work great for notch work if you do that sort of thing. It might not be much of a saw, but they work pretty well and any saw is better than no saw.

    Corkscrew vs phillips is a toss up in my book. Having a real phillips is fantastic compared to using the can opener, but the corkscrew can hold the glasses screwdriver, which can really help if you (or someone you're around) wears glasses or sunglasses. Many corkscrew models don't include it, but it can be purchased separately and added.

    Personally I prefer cellidor scales due to the in scale tools. The tweezers and needle (the needle also had to be purchased separately for my ranger) have extracted more than one uncomfortable sliver for me. Not exactly a life saving capability, but since there's the option...

    Lastly, be aware that SAK's can be habit forming. Since there is no "perfect" one for all things, people tend to get several to carry in different situations and their needs also evolve or they realize with use that a different model might add a capability that fits their life (like the file on my Ranger) or remove tools (and layers) that they don't need for a slimmer tool. Luckily they're inexpensive, so you can experiment over time to find the best fit(s).

    Good luck and let us know what you pick.
  18. Frailer

    Frailer Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 25, 2009
    For many of us, answering the question, "What's the best SAK for me?" becomes something of a quest.

    My first was a Huntsman, purchased in 1986. As a young lieutenant on a field training exercise I had seen a friend use the saw on his knife, and I realized this particular SAK was a much more useful tool than the oversized belt knife I was carrying.

    I carried that same Huntsman for over 10 years until a British exchange officer introduced me to the Compact. My daily duties at the time made the saw less essential, and this thinner knife was much more comfortable to carry. The Compact was my companion for the rest of my Army career, and was the only knife I carried during multiple deployments to the Balkans and Iraq. I bought many other SAKs over the years--Swisschamps, Explorers, Campers, etc.--but none of them could match the utility/size ratio of the Compact.

    I still carry a Compact frequently--in fact, there is one in my left front pocket as I type this. Nevertheless, a couple of years I discovered the marvelous Alox line. Thinner than their cellidor counterparts, with sturdier (and sometimes unique--like the inline awl) tools, they threaten to knock the Compact from its long-held top spot. It was a Cadet that rode in the pocket of my tux at my daughter's wedding, for example. The biggest disadvantages to the Alox line for me are the absence of the toothpick (which I use frequently) and the lack of a corkscrew to hold an eyeglass screwdriver. But I love them anyway, which is why there is a Pioneer in my right front pocket.

    My advice to to buy one that catches your eye and embark on your own adventure. You might even find yourself becoming something of a collector. So long as you steer clear of the rare models you can acquire a varied collection of exceptionally useful tools for very little money.

    Have fun in your search!
  19. FelineGirl


    Jul 5, 2016
    For me, it's all about pocketability. I usually want the thinnest Vic I can get. I love the Cadet, Pioneer, and Farmer, but I prefer the cellidor models because they have the tweezers and toothpicks. My edc rotation includes the Recruit, Spartan, Tinker, Sportsman, Tourist, and Bantam. I carry the Camper or Huntsman if I'm in the woods. I have many different Vic and Wenger models, but I've learned that anything bigger than two layers is noticeable in my pocket, which I don't like.

  20. Mora2013


    Dec 1, 2013
    I've got the OH Trekker, Climber, Compact, Executive, Pioneer, Cadet, Rambler, and Classic.

    The Trekker only comes out for an outdoor expedition: camping, hiking, traveling

    The Climber and Executives are two gifts that I don't use.

    The compact gets a significant amount of pocket time, mostly weekdays at work. Only downsides for me are that the size is just a tad to big for my preference that it doesn't fit in tighter jeans comfortably, and the screwdriver needs to be held at an angle to turn Phillips screws.

    The cadet gets some amount of pocket time also, mostly for its thin profile. Sometimes you gain some weight or the jeans are shrinking - and are trying to fit into some jeans that are too tight, the cadet fits without being uncomfortable.

    The pioneer gets some time too, gets a nod when wearing the jeans that actually fit. I find the awl saves the knife from being used for an non-knife job, and the lack of a nailfile compared to the cadet - well, filing or cleaning nails can usually wait.

    In a different category are the rambler and classic. These two are on my keychain. The classic was there for a long time, but has been replaced by the rambler. Mostly because the extra weight and thickness of the rambler I find insignificant.

    So most of the time I am a 2 SAK carrier. One compact/pioneer/cadet + rambler/classic as an EDC.

    Carrying SAKs as an EDC does not mean that Moras, Opinels, Case, Buck, leathermans aren't owned and used. Those are still chosen when I feel particular tasks are at hand.

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