Wednesday, 4 July 2012

So they don't just make chocolate?

Review: Victorinox Huntsman Swiss Army Knife

There seems to be a stigma attached to knives in this country at the moment. That if you carry a knife, you must have murderous intentions. Personally, I believe there are two ways to perceive a knife, either as a weapon, or as a tool. For me a knife is a tool, whether it be to cut cordage, open a wine bottle or saw some wood. I do not consider them weapons and could not use them as such.

I decided a few weeks ago that I would put a small knife, within UK laws, in my pack for the reasons of convenience. I chose a knife I felt met any potential needs and purchased it. I'm very glad I did as this make of knife has a long standing renown for being of a high standard. The knife is a Victorinox Huntsman knife, or a Swiss army knife as they are also known.

The Victorinox Huntsman (lanyard not included)
 
The knife arrives very well packaged and protected. For such a small knife it does have a fair heft to it. But that is due to there being so much crammed into such a small space. Initial inspection has an air of quality to it which I have failed to find on a lot of similar, cheaper products.

On the Huntsman model there is a large array of tools:

    The Tool List
  1. large blade
  2. small blade
  3. can opener with small screwdriver
  4. corkscrew
  5. reamer, punch
  6. wood saw
  7. Key ring
  8. toothpick
  9. tweezers
  10. multi-purpose hook (parcel carrier)
  11. cap lifter with
  12. screwdriver
  13. wire stripper
  14. scissors
There are 15 tools in all, I don't consider the key ring a tool. But do these tools work? I haven't had a chance to test them all, but I have tested the tools where an opportunity is available.



The tools on one side.


The blades

For me personally I consider the blades more of a danger to myself than to anyone else. Part of this is making sure that the knives are sharp enough to not be unsafe to use. A blunt blade requires considerably more force to make a cut and this is where they become dangerous. If you slip in this situation the potential injury could be quite severe resulting in a very nasty wound. A sharp knife on the other hand requires far less force and therefore becomes much easier to manage. In the case of the two knife blades on the Victorinox, they were more than capable of cutting cordage, slicing strips of plasters or bandage. The blades are made from Stainless Steel so no worries about rusting out on you.


The can opener

Speaks for itself this one. I've tried one of the army style can openers, a P38, and that was okay if a bit laborious. This is of the same idea, but you have the advantage of quite a large handle to apply leverage. The screw driver on the end works okay as long as the screw is not too deeply recessed.


The corkscrew

It does work, although I don't know how many bottles of wine I will be taking hiking. But it will come in handy when camping or someone in the house misplaces the corkscrew in the cutlery drawer.



Reamer and punch

This tool has quite a few uses, especially if making running repairs. I tested them out on an old leather belt and was able to punch and ream a new belt buckle hole. When used as a punch however, you have to be careful as there can be a tendency for the tool to try to snap back into it's storage position.


The other tools.


The wood saw

This is a brilliant piece of kit. The saw edge itself is incredibly sharp and make quick work of small pieces of wood, twigs and thin branches. I wouldn't use it on anything thicker than about an inch, but there are definite uses there. I did find one other use for it though. The back of the saw blade makes a fantastic striker for a ferrocerium rod. The shower of sparks it produces from the rod, more than I've seen from anything else, is plenty enough to get some tinder burning. The saw blade must be made from some sort of tool grade steel with a high carbon content. so it make be a good idea to make sure this is kept dry and maybe lightly oiled occasionally.


The toothpick and tweezers

The toothpick may have the occasional use, but doesn't work on teeth which are close together. It's not as pointy as a wooden toothpick. The tweezers will be useful for removing splinters. I would only use them on ticks as a last resort.


Multi purpose hook

A weird one this as it is pushed as a parcel carrier. I could see some use in it for getting a better grip on cordage.


Cap lifter

It opens bottles with caps, beer bottles to be precise. Nice!


Wire stripper

This tool does work, although not as easy to use as a dedicated wire stripper and maybe not the most necessary tool on the knife.


The scissors

These are very good scissors. They are quite small, but their cutting ability is very good. The build quality is top notch, no wobble at the joint and a spring that has just the right , well, springiness. They cut paper very cleanly and are very precise. Not the fastest cutters, but very useful.




Conclusion

I bought a very good quality leather pouch for the knife to keep it safe and clean. I would recommend this so as to protect the knife from scratches dirt etc. Although the majority of the knife is Stainless Steel, I do think that the saw blade is made from tool grade steel which would rust if allowed to stay damp. Occasional oiling of the saw blade and the hinges of the knife with light oil will also help to maintain the knifes reliability. This particular knife was purchased from The Outdoor Attitude in Holmfirth (no affiliation, but support of local business) for £28. Victorino knives are not the cheapest, but I hope this knife, and expect this knife to last my lifetime.