Since the first official batch was released in 1897, the Swiss Army knife has been a staple of knife versatility and a quintessential tool of the outdoorsman. Its numerous functions and ability to adapt to any situation have earned the respect of hunters, fisherman and knife owners across the world; it has also shined in television pop culture as the secret agent MacGyver's tool of choice.
Origin of the Swiss Army Knife
In the late 19th century, the knife issued to the Swiss Army was called the Modell 1890, which was made in Germany. However, with nationalism on the rise, Swiss manufacturer Karl Elsener was eager to construct a knife built in Switzerland for the Swiss Army.
In his quest for perfection, Elsener worked hard until he he created a knife that had blades on both sides, allowing it to have an additional number of features than before. The first knife accessory he added was a corkscrew.
The Swiss Army knife was originally called 'Schweizer Offizier Messer,' which means Swiss officer's knife. However, after World War II, many American soldiers in Europe couldn't pronounce the name, so they simply referred to the knife as a Swiss Army knife. The new name stuck and is now used all over the world.
The body of a Swiss Army knife is typically red and can be easily identified with its trademark logo of a cross and shield. Though the standard Swiss Army knife is about 3.6 inches long and 0.8 inches wide, its thickness depends on the number of tools in the knife. In fact, modern Swiss Army knives come in a variety of different textures, colors, sizes and designs.
Swiss Army Knife Features
Depending on the model of the Swiss Army knife, there can be a wide range of combinations of tools. Some of the most common features include: a blade, a toothpick, tweezers, can opener, nail file, scissors, corkscrew, screwdrivers, magnifying glass, saws and many more.
The range and amount of features often depends on the customer, as Swiss army knives are generally available in any desired combination. The smallest versions, such as 'The Companion,' have as few as 3 tools, while the biggest Swiss Army knife, 'The Giant,' has 87 tools with 141 different functions.
The Swiss Army Knife Today
Though the basic design and features have remained present over the knife's century-long existence, the Swiss Army knife has adapted to many modern technological advances. For example, newer incarnations include features like USB flash drives, digital clocks, laser pointers and MP3 players. The most popular Swiss Army knives are produced by Victorinox and Wenger.