Victorinox SwissChamp SAK Review

Victorinox SwissChamp Swiss Army Knife
I decided not to break all of my fingernails opening the tools, so I grabbed a stock image for this review. Sorry!

This is my favorite Swiss Army Knife from Victorinox.  It was a close tie between the Victorinox SwissChamp and the Cybertools knife, but this one edged out because it’s all-around more practical.  I still love that Cybertool, though…

Anyway, this knife has pretty much everything you’ll ever want.  Technically, the XLT version has more tools, but it’s far bulkier.  This isn’t the slimmest of the Swiss Army Knives, and for some that will be a major tradeoff when it comes to carrying this as an EDC, but the XLT is almost impractical.

And if I say it, then you know it’s going to be a dealbreaker for many!  I love gadgets, and I love tons and tons of tools in my SAKs.  Otherwise, I’d just grab something like the Spyderco Dragonfly 2 and carry that.

TL;DR

If you like gadgets and don’t mind a little bit of bulk, then the Victorinox SwissChamp is the perfect everyday carry knife.  It’s got seven layers, so it’s not a slim pocket knife, but you get quite a few useful tools with it, including a ballpoint pen.

Bear in mind that this isn’t a throw-it-in-your-pocket-and-forget-it knife, as it’s kind of on the heavy side.  If you don’t like heavier knives or bulky knives, then maybe the SwissChamp isn’t for you, but you might like something like the Fieldmaster.

Table of Contents

Specs

  • Height: 1.3″
  • Length: 3.6″
  • Width: 1″
  • Weight: 6.5oz
  • Material: ABS/Cellidor
  • Blade Lockable: No
  • One-Hand Blade: No
  • No. of Features: 33

Tools

  • Large Blade
  • Small Blade
  • Fish Scaler
  • Parcel Hook
  • Ruler (CM)
  • Ruler (IN)
  • Magnifying Glass
  • Bottle Opener
  • Wire Stripper
  • Can Opener
  • Mini Screwdriver 1.5mm
  • Mini Screwdriver 1.5mm
  • Screwdriver 6mm
  • Screwdriver 2.5mm
  • Toothpick
  • Pressurized Ballpoint Pen
  • Pin
  • Corkscrew
  • Reamer/Awl/Punch
  • Hook Disgorger
  • Tweezers
  • Wood Saw
  • Phillips Screwdriver 1/2
  • Parcel Hook
  • Scissors
  • Keyring
  • Nail File
  • Nail Cleaner
  • Metal Saw
  • Metal File
  • Chisel 4mm
  • Pliers
  • Wire Cutter
  • Wire Crimper

First Impressions

My favorite SAK!  Unlike some Swiss Army Knives, the Victorinox SwissChamp comes with a handy instruction book that demonstrates how to use the can opener.  That was honestly the first thing that popped out to me.

The second thing that grabbed my attention was the weight of the thing.  It was heavy to hold and I definitely felt it when I slipped it into my pocket.  I don’t have the pouch Victorinox makes for it, so I have to carry it in my pocket, and it’s a knife that I knew I’d be unlikely to forget was there. 

I do prefer knives with some weight to them, but some people prefer lightweight knives.

That being said, I love the sheer amount of tools this comes with.  There are thirty-three functions on this thing and I use almost all of them.  Each of them is well-built and functional, but prying some of them open will murder your fingernails.

Tools

Before we jump into the individual tools, it might be a good idea to ask who this knife is for.  After all, it’s a fairly hefty pocket knife, even if there are Swiss Army Knives larger, such as the SwissChamp XLT.

This SAK is for those who like a lot of tools in their arsenal.  The purpose behind the Swiss Army Knife is to create a folding knife whose handle also houses a lot of other tools.  What those tools are depends on the model, and this one has a bunch of tools.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if you prefer this many tools and if you don’t mind the bulk and weight of the Swiss Army Knife.

Large Blade

The large blade on a Victorinox SwissChamp opens via a nail knick and is 3″ long with a cutting edge of 2.5″.  Like most Swiss Army Knives, it has a sleek drop-point design, making it quite versatile.

The blade is also really sharp out of the box.  Make sure you don’t accidentally close it on your fingers or you could get a little cut.

On that note, I should point out that the blade doesn’t lock.  That being said, it snaps firmly into position and you have to use a little force to close it back down.  I’ve never been afraid of it accidentally folding while I’m using it; I’m more afraid of closing it intentionally with my fingers in the way.

I’m not sure what kind of steel the Victorinox SwissChamp’s blade is made out of, but it’s not the hardest steel in the world.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though.  Swiss Army Knives are meant to be used out in the field, which means they’ll be subjected to a lot of abuse.  Hard knives chip and crack with tough jobs whereas a softer knife won’t, kind of like how bike and car tires need a little give to them so they blow every time they hit a rock.

The downside is that they need to be sharpened more often.  However, I’m happy to report that even after some weekends of hard use, I haven’t had to sharpen this or any other of my Victorinox blades.

If it needs sharpening, though, Victorinox will happily tell you that their blades sharpen at a fifteen-degree angle.  I don’t know why they’ll divulge that but not the exact type of steel they use, but I digress.

If you don’t know how to sharpen a knife, we have a page dedicated to it.  Actually, we have two.

Here you can find sources that will teach you how to sharpen almost anything.

Here you can see which knife sharpeners are our favorites.

Small Blade

I prefer to think of the small blade as the package opener.  This one is 1.75″ long and has a cutting edge of around 1.5″ long.  Like the large blade, the SwissChamp’s small blade opens with a nail nick and is a drop-point in shape.  The smaller size means you can cut into the Amazon boxes without fear of harming your items.

You can easily deploy this blade with no worries for your fingernails.  It snaps into place and stays there without fear, even if it doesn’t lock.

Once again, it’s very sharp and you could easily cut yourself right out of the box!

Fish Scaler, Hook DIsgorger, and Ruler

This is the first tool on the Victorinox SwissChamp that I can honestly say I’ve never really used.  I’ve used the ruler a few times, but, while I like being on a lake, I’m not the most avid of fishermen.  I’ve never had to use the fish scaler or hook remover.

That being said, I’ve heard good things about it from my cousin, who loves fishing.  He comes up to Minnesota for vacation, fishes the lakes dry, and then has a big fish fry.  I’m not a big fish eater, either…

Anyway, he vouches for the fish scaler and how easily it removes them.  It probably wouldn’t do a very good job on large fish, though.  Maybe keep this one for casual lake fishing only.

The fish scaler is 3″ long, so the ruler doesn’t give you much to go on (it reads in both inches and centimeters).  I still find it useful, though.

Parcel Hook

We typically don’t carry parcels anymore, but we do force ourselves to carry plastic bags that dig into our fingers and cut off their circulation.  That is what the parcel hook is for, in my house anyway.

It snaps into place in the middle of the SwissChamp so you can hold the handle like a t-shape firmly in your hand without worrying about it slipping loose as you carry your bags.

Magnifying Glass

The magnifying glass doesn’t get much use, but I used it to find a tiny splinter that was causing me trouble yesterday.  It feels like it takes up a lot of space because it’s wider than the other tools, and it’s fairly small without a whole lot of magnification.  I don’t know if it’s because the lens is made from plastic or not.  I’ve never owned a magnifier that doesn’t use glass.

When it’s useful, it’s useful and that’s all I can say about it.  It doesn’t get a ton of use from me, but I was glad to have it when I snagged a splinter.

I suppose it would make for a nice firestarter in an emergency.  You’d need a good angle on the sun, but it could work in a pinch.

Bottle Opener, Flathead Screwdriver (Large), Wire Stripper

I’ve never gotten much use out of the Victorinox SwissChamp’s bottle opener or wire stripper, but I use the flathead screwdriver a lot!  We seem to use screwdrivers often in our household, so Swiss Army Knives are handy in that regard.

The flathead screwdriver that comes with the bottle opener and wire stripper is larger than the one on the can opener.  It’s perfectly sized for most screws.

Can Opener and Flathead Screwdriver (Small)

This can opener is a vicious little thing!  It rips through cans like no one’s business, and if you aren’t sure how to use it, the Victorinox SwissChamp comes with a handy little instruction manual to show you how it’s done.

Unfortunately, I don’t get much use out of the small flathead screwdriver on this.  I just don’t have too many screws that call for it, so it mostly becomes a nice pry bar.

Toothpick

Among Swiss Army Knife enthusiasts, the toothpick is a staple, but it’s also largely unused.  Not in my case.  Sam and I both use the toothpick (not the same toothpick, you sickos!) on our Swiss Army Knives.  Because they’re plastic, they last a lot longer than their wooden counterparts.

This tool is tucked into one of the ends of the pocket knife and is completely removed for use.  The SwissChamp has three tools like this, as we’ll see.

These tools won’t fall out, if that’s what you’re wondering.  They stay firmly in the handle until you need them.

Tweezer

Tweezers are another SAK staple.  Like the toothpick, you have to pull it free of the handle before you use it.  Again, don’t worry about it falling out on its own.

The tweezers are perfect for pulling splinters or grabbing little screws and things that sometimes slip where you just can’t seem to reach.

Pressurized Ballpoint Pen

It may be very, very thin, but I love the ballpoint pen.  It sure comes in handy when you need to write something down in a pinch – much better than rummaging through the kitchen in search of a pen.

It tucks into the handle on the same side as the toothpick and is a great little gadget.  And, yes, you can buy more ink for it once it runs dry.

Corkscrew and Pin

What do you do when you don’t wear eyeglasses or drink wine?  You wait until you meet someone who does do these things and desperately needs to fix the rim of their eyeglasses or get that next bottle open.  You have the tools!

Honestly, the pin is best as a tool for people who wear glasses.

Reamer/Awl/Punch

Ever need to punch holes in a box or a can when your nieces and nephews caught a new little critter friend?  Do any leatherwork?  That’s mostly what I use the SwissChamp’s reamer for.

This thing is surprisingly sharp and has a decent edge along the side with a nice little unsharpened space so you don’t slice your thumb open while working with it.  It opens into a t-position, so you can put a little more force into it.

Be warned that this tool is a nail-breaker!  It’s pretty firmly set in the handle and will need breaking in to loosen it up.

Pliers

If you’re used to the pliers in a Leatherman or any other multitool based on a plier rig, these will seem small and weak.  That’s not to mean that the Victorinox SwissChamp’s pliers are low quality, just that they have to fit inside the pocket knife’s handle, meaning that they’re smaller and not as robust as a pair of Leatherman pliers.

That doesn’t mean I’ve never found a use for them, though.  Like the scissors, they operate on a spring mechanism.  For little nuts and bolts, they’re fantastic.  I wouldn’t do any tough maintenance or repair jobs with them, but they serve me well for little things.

They pop out easily and snap into place without busting the ends of your fingers to boot.

Weight, Handling, and Carrying

I take it you’re looking at all of these tools and having one of two reactions:

  1. I have no use for all of these tools and should look for something else.
  2. I could really use these tools!  Then I wouldn’t have to go fishing in the tool shed whenever I need to do anything!

Hold your horses.  I love my Victorinox SwissChamp and would never part with it.  If something catastrophic happened to it, I’d replace it in a heartbeat.

However, for some people there might be a dealbreaker, and we’ll talk about it now.

Firstly, this SAK is heavy.  Victorinox’s Swiss Army Knives tend to be on the heavy side in general, but this one is heavier than most due to the seven layers.  When you toss this into your pocket, you’ll have to get really used to it before you forget it’s there.  That doesn’t bother me so much, as I tend to like knives on the heavier side, but for Sam, that’s a big turn-off.  I can imagine that it’s a turn-off for others, too.

Victorinox SwissChamp vs FieldmasterIt’s also fairly large.  The image on the left is my Victorinox SwissChamp and Fieldmaster side-by-side, and I don’t even have to tell you which is which.  The SwissChamp is about 1″ wide, which isn’t the largest or heaviest of the Swiss Army Knives (the Wenger line had the biggest), but it’s still a bit bigger than some people want in an EDC.

For me, it’s not a big deal.  I’ve carried it as my EDC loads of times and am always thankful when it’s on my EDC rotation.

Yes, I have a system.  Don’t knock it ’til you try it and all that.

As for carrying, it has a keyring, but I don’t think anyone would actually hang this on their keychain.  It’s way too heavy and cumbersome for that.  This is the kind of pocket knife you throw into your pocket loosely.

The biggest question is: how does it handle?

I’m happy to say that, despite its size, it handles super well.  The large handle gives you a nice grip even without textures or scales.  For finer detail work, it’s a little clunkier but not enough to be a deal breaker for me.  It just took a little getting used to, but I’ve handled far more cumbersome tools in my time.

Final Thoughts

If you enjoy having a lot of tools at your disposal and need a versatile tool that you can carry with you and minimize the need to constantly go off in search of some tool, then I highly recommend the Victorinox SwissChamp.

For some, this is more knife (well, tools) than they need, but it’s a popular SAK for a reason.  If you don’t want something quite this big, I suggest taking a look at some other Swiss Army Knives here.

Is This the Swiss Army Knife for You?

If you're interested, you can check out the Victorinox SwissChamp on Amazon.
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