Victorinox Field Master Swiss Army Knife
Compact, but incredibly versatile.
Review by Thomas J. Elpel
Survival skills enthusiasts often like big, macho knives. Big knives are useful for certain tasks, especially serious wood-working, even for chopping down small trees. But for most survival purposes, my favorite knife has always been a good Victorinox Swiss Army Knife with two knife blades, a saw, scissors, and tweezers. (The other functions are useful too, but these are the important tools.)
At home I use my Swiss Army Knife constantly. I use a blade for a letter opener, and the scissors for everything from trimming my fingernails to cutting paper or buckskin. The tweezers are always handy for slivers, and yes, I use the both styles of screw drivers, and occasionally even the wire stripper.
When traveling, my Swiss Army Knife is the equivalent of having a whole tool kit at hand, useful for minor car repairs, or for opening a can of tuna and cutting through a block of cheese.
In the wilderness I use the saw blade more than anything else, since it so easy to make straight clean cuts through small branches (rather than using a blade to cut through the branch and whittling it down to a blunt tip). The saw blade is also useful for quickly notching a bowdrill fire board for friction fire-starting.
The one thing you have to be careful about with a Swiss Army Knife is to avoid prying with the blade. That is a common mistake with any knife, and I've broken the blade on more than one pocketknife that way. After breaking the blade on my Swiss Knife many years ago, I switched over to a variety of substitute knives. All of them had nice features, but they were typically big and clunky, or not very versatile. I even carried a stone knife for a year. Trying out different knives helped to hone my survival skills, because I had to figure out how to do things without the aid of the scissors, saw and tweezers. But it was so inconvenient. I constantly missed the versatility and compact size of a good Swiss Army Knife, so I am glad to once again have my favorite knife in my pocket.
I sometimes bring a second, larger blade, such as a Mora Knifeon camping trips, but my first choice is still my Swiss Knife. It is always in my pocket whether I am attending a wedding or standing on top of a 10,000 foot peak.
We carry a wide selection of Swiss Army Knives at our store in Silver Star, Montana, but my favorite is the Field Master model shown here, since it has the blades, saw, and scissors combination. Sure, pliers would be nice too, but that makes the knife excessively clunky, so this is my preferred model. When Victorinox comes out with a Swiss Army Phaser, then I'll buy that too.
Avoid the cheap knock-off brands that are found everywhere these days. Only a genuine Swiss-made Swiss Army Knife is worth bothering with.
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