The Swiss Army Knife: Survival in Your Pocket

If you’ve never heard of a Swiss army knife, you’re missing out. A Swiss army knife has basically every tool you could need in the wilderness, all on a single device.

You might be wondering:

How did the swiss army knife come about? Why was it invented? What did the original Swiss army knife look like? Let’s take a closer look at these important questions.

What is a Swiss Army Knife?

Basically, the Swiss army knife is a pocket knife with several different attachments that can be used for a variety of tasks. The different tools fold out of the pocketknife when you need them, then easily fold back into the knife when you’re through.

The Swiss army knife replaces the need to carry around several different tools on camping trips, or other outdoor adventures.

You can be prepared for almost anything with just a pocket-sized gadget. Pretty cool, right?

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When Was it Invented?

The Swiss army knife is probably older than you think. Although the modern Swiss army knife is a lot different than the original knives.

The first knife was invented in the 1880s and the Swiss Army decided to purchase some for their military. It consisted of a simple folding knife, a reamer, a can opener, and a screwdriver with handles made of dark oak.

Unfortunately, the Swiss Army couldn’t manufacture the product so a German company called Wester & Co filled the order.

Becoming the Knife We Know Today

A man named Karl Elsener, who was the owner of a surgical equipment company, took over production of the knives. He wasn’t satisfied with the knives and decided he could make a few tweaks to the knife’s design. 

He created a design that could have tools on both sides of the knife which doubled the number of attachments that could fit on a single knife. This created the path for today’s modern Swiss army knife.

The new and improved knife now featured a smaller cutting blade in addition to the original blade, a corkscrew, and wood fiber grips.

Two separate companies, Wenger and Victorinox, started supplying the new knife to the Swiss Army. Both companies split the contract until Victorinox acquired Wenger in 2005. In 1921 Victorinox started using the newly invented stainless steel to make their knives which made the quality much better.

Facts About the Swiss Army Knife

Swiss soldiers didn’t come up with the name. It was, in fact, American soldiers that coined the term “Swiss army knife”

Americans had trouble pronouncing the German name for the knife, “Schweizer Offiziersmesser” or “Sackmesser” in the Swiss-German dialect. Since the knife was mostly used by soldiers, the English name stuck around.

The new knife became so useful for members of the Swiss Army that each and every new recruit is still given a Swiss army knife to this day. That’s pretty impressive!

The Swiss army knife has certainly come a long way from a single blade with a can opener and a screwdriver. There are now over 100 models of the knife! This means that you if you’re in the market for a Swiss army knife you have a lot of options to choose from.

Get ready for the craziest part:

There is now a Swiss army knife called the Wenger Giant, that has 87 implements and 141 different functions! This is the world’s largest multi-tool and is in the Guinness Book of World Records. It’s 9 inches wide and weighs 32 ounces! A typical Swiss army knife weighs around 2 ounces.

Each day, 34,000 knives are exported.3

The coolest part is:

90% of the knives are exported to approximately 100 different countries all over the world!

Have Other Companies Copied the Style and Functionality of the Swiss Army Knife?

The short answer?

Yes.

Several companies have created knives similar to the Swiss army knife. These types of knives are now called multi-functional knives and there is a big market for them.

However, a lot of people still prefer the quality that Victorinox puts into the Swiss army knife.

Some people claim that there are other companies that have higher quality multi-functional knives. Boker, a German company, creates multi-functional knives that some knife fanatics swear by.

Another popular multi-functional knife is the Leatherman. These knives are durable, high quality, and offer several attachments.

Although there are other companies that manufacture multi-functional knives, the Swiss Army Knife started it all. This knife was the pioneer for all other multi-functional knives and it blazed the trail for other companies. Because of the Swiss army knife’s invention, you can now browse the market for a multi-functional knife that will serve the exact purpose you need it to.

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