Best Swiss Army Knives of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

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Swiss Army knives have been a staple in the knife world ever since they were first introduced in the late 1800s. While the knives developed by Swiss makers were not the first to incorporate multiple tools into a folding design, they arguably perfected it. These multi-tools are more popular than ever, especially as an everyday carry solution for anyone who encounters various tasks.

Today’s modern knives have the usual screwdrivers, bottle openers, scissors, corkscrews, chisels, and tweezers. But they also feature modernized options like LED flashlights and even USB flash drives. If there’s a tool you need, odds are it has been put on one of these knives at some point. We tested five of the most popular options to find the best Swiss Army knives still being manufactured in Switzerland today.

How We Picked the Best Swiss Army Knives

My testing process started with evaluating the edge retention of each knife by cutting through cardboard—a highly abrasive material that will dull any blade quickly. The longer the blade lasts, the better the retention. However, because Swiss Army knives are generally much more versatile, I tested the other accessories as well.

This meant evaluating screwdrivers, scissors, bottle openers, mini saws, wire strippers, and more. I noted which accessories and features performed well and functioned as advertised. I also tested them in practical, everyday scenarios. Additionally, I walked around with each in my pocket to determine how comfortable they were to carry.

The author subjected the blades of these knives to highly abrasive cardboard as part of testing. Travis Smola

Best Swiss Army Knives: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Victorinox Swiss Army Fieldmaster

Best Overall

A Victorinox Swiss Army Fieldmaster knife with various tools unfolded on a grey log in the green grass.

Specs

  • Price: $57
  • Length: 3.6”
  • Weight: 3.5 Ounces
  • Tools: 15

Pros

  • Extremely practical tools
  • Great weight
  • Excellent price

Cons

  • Tolerances on some of the tools are very tight

The Fieldmaster is one of Victorinox’s most popular Swiss Army Knives and I know this selection might be a hair controversial for fans of the Huntsman. But the size, weight, and tool selection of this model helped set it apart from the others. From the three screwdrivers to the wire stripper to the double blades, everything here feels very practical. I used the scissors to effortlessly slice paper, paracord, and fishing line with ease. The wood saw is tiny but produces a surprisingly clean cut on small pieces of wood, perfect for camping situations.

My one complaint is that the tolerances on some of the tools, especially the Phillips screwdriver, reamer, punch, and sewing awl are tighter than I’d like. It took some real elbow grease to get them loose. I expect they’ll loosen up more with time, but I think it’s a good idea to break this one in a bit before you give it to a youngster. Other than that, this is a solid catch-all style knife that’s a great choice for everyday carry.

The screwdriver and wire stripping tool of a white Swiss Army knife next to a black wire in the palm of a hand.
The wire stripper (the notch) is simple, but very effective. Travis Smola

Most Compact: Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD

Most Compact

A red and white Victornox Swiss Army Classic SD sitting on a grey piece of firewood.

Specs

  • Price: $23
  • Length: 2.3”
  • Weight: 0.7 Ounces
  • Tools: 6

Pros

  • Unbelievably light
  • Affordable
  • Great first knife for youngsters

Cons

  • Blades and tools are extremely small

It doesn’t get more lightweight than the Classic SD, which weighs less than an ounce. In fact, it’s so light that it’s easy to forget you are carrying it. You also won’t be afraid to carry it everywhere since it only costs $23 to replace. Don’t expect to do any heavy-duty work with the SD. This knife is an everyday carry style for small chores like opening packages, snipping loose threads, or digging a splinter out of your hand. I also like the flathead screwdriver at the end of the nail file. It’s the perfect size for the tiny screws often found on electronics. Additionally, the scissors are more useful than I expected. While the cutting area is tiny, it’s perfect for snipping monofilament fishing line and loose threads. Because of the low price and tiny nature of the blade, it is a perfect first pocketknife. The blade is small enough that someone isn’t likely to hurt themselves, but still useful.

The scissors of the Swiss Army Classic SD on a black carpeted table top.
The Classic SD is great for snipping fishing line. Travis Smola

Best Ultralight: Victorinox Swiss Army Recruit

Best Ultralight

A Victorinox Swiss Army Recruit knife with features unfolded on a grey log sitting on the grass.

Specs

  • Price: $23
  • Length: 3.3”
  • Weight: 1.7 Ounces
  • Tools: 10

Pros

  • Simple, lightweight design
  • Slim profile
  • Easy folding tools

Cons

  • Short knife is a bit limited in practicality

The Recruit is incredibly thin and low-profile, making for a perfect everyday carry knife. The blades did an excellent job straight out of the box on the cardboard ripping tests. While the screwdrivers are flat, I found they can be used on a Phillips head in a pinch. The tools are all very practical for most everyday carry scenarios. I thought the tolerances of the tools felt just right compared to some of the more complicated knives in the extensive Victorinox line. They were extremely easy to unfold straight out of the box, with no break-in period required. It makes this knife a good choice for the casual user who only needs a different tool on rare occasions.

A red Swiss Army knife recruit with the screwdriver tool extended in a Phillips head screw.
This SAK knife doesn’t have a Phillips head, but the flat edge screwdriver will work in a pinch. Travis Smola

Best EDC Knife: Victorinox Swiss Army Hunter Pro Alox

Best EDC Knife

The red and white Swiss Army Hunter Pro folding knife sitting on a grey cut log on grass.

Specs

  • Price: $132
  • Length: 5.4”
  • Weight: 6.6 Ounces
  • Tools: 1

Pros

  • Great scaling
  • Rugged, sharp blade
  • Hefty with good balance

Cons

While Victorinox is best known for its multi-tools, the Hunter Pro is proof they make good folding knives too. I love the red and silver aluminum scaling on this knife because it combines a great look with an excellent feel. The knife has just the right amount of heft to it for a working blade and is noticeably more rugged than any other model in the test. The edge on the blade also felt a lot sharper, and excelled in holding an edge during my cardboard tests. The higher-quality steel and scaling make this knife more expensive than a traditional Swiss Army knife. Victorinox designed an incredibly thin profile that allows it to slip easily into a pocket, too. Plus, it is extremely durable.

This blade also has the right feel and size for a solid whitetail field dressing knife. It’s also rugged enough for some light bushcrafting projects—whittling wood quickly and efficiently. As far as versatility for a folding blade, Victorinox knocked it out of the park.

The red and silver Swiss Army Alox knife being held in a hand above a grass background.
The folding mechanism on the Alox is incredibly smooth and crisp. Travis Smola

Best for Hiking: Victornox Swiss Army Huntsman

Best for Hiking

A red and white Victorinox Swiss Army Huntsman knife with tools unfolded on a grey and white log on grass.

Specs

  • Price: $57
  • Length: 3.6”
  • Weight: 3.4 Ounces
  • Tools: 15

Pros

  • Excellent weight
  • Very sharp saw
  • Bladed screwdrivers are very handy

Cons

  • The corkscrew’s practicality is a little questionable

If you think the Huntsman looks just like the Fieldmaster, you’re not imagining things. These two knives are basically identical, with one key difference—the Huntsman has a corkscrew instead of a Phillips screwdriver. While it is perfect for uncorking wine, I have also seen it be useful for untying knots. That’s why I’ve picked it over the Fieldmaster for hikers.

For the sake of being complete, I tested the two-bladed screwdrivers in some Phillips heads, and they will work if needed. The Huntsman is also just a hair lighter than the Fieldmaster. It may not seem like much looking at the numbers, but it’s noticeable if you hold both in the hand. The profile of the Huntsman is a hair bigger than the Fieldmaster because the corkscrew sticks out more. But I don’t think that’s a deal-breaking feature. The tolerances for the bottom tools next to the corkscrew were a little better out of the box than the Fieldmaster. It might vary a bit from knife to knife.

Two red and white Swiss Army knives with the corkscrew and screwdriver tools extended on the palm of a hand.
The only difference between the Huntsman (left) and the Fieldmaster (right) is these two tools. Travis Smola Travis Smola

What to Know When Picking a Swiss Army Knife

Everyone wants the classic red pocket knife. Hell, my first knife was a cheap knockoff of the Classic SD. But there’s nothing like the real thing. These days Victorinox offers three distinct sizes of their legendary knives—small, medium, and large. Most users find the medium-sized knives to be the sweet spot of weight and functionality. While Victorinox offers some rather unique knives with every tool one could ever want, their practicality is up for debate. So, figure out what you need in a Swiss Army Knife and then consider features and steel.

Steel Quality

According to Victorinox, they use iron-enriched steel with at least 13 percent Chromium for their blades and tools. To be more specific, they use X55CrMo14 steel. This is a Martensitic stainless steel that’s easy to shape. While this isn’t the highest grade of steel on Earth, it’s very functional for most everyday users. The soft nature makes it extremely easy to put an edge back on the knife after you’ve worn it down. I was pleasantly surprised at how well it did hold an edge in my retention tests.

I know some knife enthusiasts insist on nothing but the highest quality steel in their blades. And I’m a fan of high-end knives too. But there is something to be said for what Victorinox is doing here. Because they use a lower grade steel, it allows them to sell SAKs at affordable prices. One can get a quality Swiss Army knife for under $100. And you won’t panic if you lose it either.

FAQs

Q: How much is a Swiss Army knife?

Most Swiss Army knives fall in the $20 to $60 range. However, larger knives with more functions will drive the cost up. The more tools the knife has, the more it costs. Some knives, like the Hunter Pro, are built from slightly better materials and reach over $100. Although these knives are frequently on sale too. More recently, I’ve seen them for as much as half the retail price.

Q: What is the hook on a Swiss Army knife for?

This is one of the more unusual tools on these knives. It’s mainly designed for picking up bundles or boxes bound by string, wire, or cord. The whole idea is that those materials will cut your fingers, so you might as well use a hook. They can also be used to pull up camp stakes or move a hot pot heated up on a camp stove.

Q: Who makes the Swiss Army knife?

Only two companies were known for producing genuine Swiss Army knives: Victorinox and Wenger. However, Victorinox acquired Wenger in 2005. Thus, if you’re looking for a genuine Swiss Army knife that’s still made in Switzerland, Victorinox is the only option. While some of the knockoffs are functional, there’s a noticeable durability and quality difference in the genuine Swiss stuff.

Best Swiss Army Knives: Final Thoughts

It’s hard to go wrong with any real Swiss Army knife. Although the Fieldmaster stands out from the crowd in terms of functionality. This knife is exactly what most people picture when they hear the term Swiss Army knife. For everyday carry, work, and even possibly survival scenarios, the Fieldmaster is the one I’d want in my pocket over the others.

Why Trust Us

For more than 125 years, Field & Stream has been providing readers with honest and authentic coverage of outdoor gear. Our writers and editors eat, sleep, and breathe the outdoors, and that passion comes through in our product reviews. You can count on F&S to keep you up to date on the best new gear. And when we write about a product—whether it’s a bass lure or a backpack—we cover the good and the bad, so you know exactly what to expect before you decide to make a purchase.



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