I am not an old hand when it comes to the Swiss Army Knife. As I have said before, all my early pocketknives were 3-blade stockmen. I think a ‘60s-era Old Timer was what I carried before I bought the carbon steel Craftsman that I carried every day for thirty years. My first SAK was a Wenger which I bought in the late ‘90s. I bought it because it had a saw blade and did not have the detestable corkscrew. I had long quit drinking, even then. Besides there were no corks in Boones’ Farm or Mad Dog. I’m sure MacGyver used the corkscrew for something really cool, but the cap lifter and can opener serve me better.
This was my traveling knife prior to 9/11/01. I would hook my keys to it, and it would go right through security. No airplane – no American airplane will ever again be hijacked by terrorists with small knives or boxcutters. Morons like John McCain kept
the Gestapo the TSA thugs from relaxing the ban on small folding
knives last year. I still can’t carry something
convenient and sensible onto a commercial plane because politicians are more
concerned about perceptions than reality.
Ah, well, I avoid flying as much as possible anyway. That’s just one more reason.
That saw blade on the Wenger has seen a lot of use. Prior to acquiring that knife, when I went camping or on a float trip, I carried a fixed blade knife big enough to use as a chopper. If I couldn’t find enough dead wood or driftwood, I’d hack into a snag or chop off some branches. The Wenger provides a quieter alternative. Naturally, I’m still going to carry a bigger knife because that’s the way I am, but it will get less of a workout. I have used the saw blade for a variety of pruning and even small woodworking chores. It even served occasionally when we built our house ten years ago. I did the tile and trim work myself, and, rather than go back to the jigsaw or chop saw, I would sometimes do a little finish fitting with the SAK.
I do have a Victorinox. While it lacks the saw blade, it also lacks the corkscrew. Like the Wenger, it has scissors. I use those quite often. The smaller knife blade on the Victorinox pulls a lot of light utility duty. The larger blade on both the Victorinox and the Wenger is easy to sharpen and keep sharp. They are good for skinning and dressing small game. I’ve used them to clean fish. They would, I’m sure, be adequate for skinning out a deer – I’ve done it with a stockman. I’ve also used these knives to clean and prep vegetables from the garden.
When it comes to multi-tools, I still like the plus-plier versions I have – the Gerber and especially the Leatherman Wave. I can drop those in my pocket, but they usually go on my belt. Still the SAK offers a great deal of multi-tool functionality in a lighter, smoother, slimmer package. A belt-carried multi-tool looks a little funny when someone is all dressed up. Though they are fine for engineers, even software engineers, at work, they might be a little much when we go to church. Depends on the church, I guess.
One of these days, if I happen to run across a Victorinox Fieldmaster, I might pick it up. It has all the same tools as my knife above, plus a saw blade. That would pretty well be the perfect SAK, as far as I’m concerned. And that’s really the nice thing about SAKs these days – you can get what you need.