There are very few items as practical and useful as a swiss army knife, and they are extremely popular among all kinds of people, from bushcrafters and survivalists to builders, contractors, and as an everyday carry knife for the average person.
The beauty of a swiss army knife is that it's incredibly versatile, being able to handle various tasks using a range of easily accessible tools in one lightweight, compact and convenient package.
A swiss army knife can be used almost anywhere and most are designed to be legal for everyday carry meaning you can keep it on you at all times. For people who like to be prepared for anything, carrying a multi-tool offers the very best performance.
However, it can be hard to identify which multi-tool or swiss army knife is the best, as the market has become very competitive recently, with many quality brands offering outstanding designs that all compete with each other using various design choices and styles.
There are also many similarities between different knives, even within the same brand, making it hard to distinguish which knife is best, and which configuration would be most suitable.
This uncertainty can make it hard to ensure you’re getting the right tool for the job. In this guide, we’re going to look at some of the very best swiss army knives available on the market to help dispel this uncertainty and highlight which knife offers the best performance, features, and quality for its price.
We’re also going to provide a buyers guide looking at the key features to look for in a quality swiss army knife to ensure you get a great product whichever style you decide to go for.
But let's take a look at the knives themselves and see the qualities they offer.
5 Best Swiss Army Knife
OUR TOP PICK
Victorinox is arguably the world's most famous manufacturer of pocket knives and is well known for its provision of quality blades on behalf of the Swiss military, which it had provided alongside the Swiss brand Wenger until Victorinox acquired them in 2005, making Victorinox the sole supplier of knives to the Swiss military.
The company has been producing pocket knives, luxury watches and other products for over a hundred years, and is the largest manufacturer of pocket knives in the world, with many different configurations and styles of a pocket knives to suit almost any occupation or requirement.
One of the most popular choices in their large lineup of pocket knives is the famous Fieldmaster, which features the classic red chassis and 15 quality tools to provide an array of functionality.
The fieldmaster is super versatile, comprising a series of tools including a medium sized knife, wood saw, scissors, bottle opener, a phillips screwdriver, a multi-purpose hook, reamer, punch and sewing awl two sizes of screwdriver, a smaller blade, tweezers and wire stripper and more.
The steel of the knives is stainless and resistant to corrosion and water, meaning it can take a lot of punishment compared to other cheaper steel blends that don’t use Victorinox’s proprietary alloy.
The knife is small enough for everyday use and fits in the pocket conveniently, but is totally uncompromising on quality and functionality, which is why it's one of the world's most popular and reliable swiss army knives, the progenitor of the entire category of knives that continues this legacy very capably among stiff modern competition.
- 15 Tools and various functions
- Quality, proprietary Stainless Steel
- Good Size
- Not quite as sturdy as some other options
- Grip could be better
Another hugely popular and well-regarded name in the world of multi-tools and knives is Leatherman, who are known for the quality of their multi-tools in particular and are a very popular choice with bushcrafters, outdoors people, and even military users.
The Super Tool comes with some excellent features, including 19 usable tools such as various knives, pliers, screwdrivers, wire cutters, an electrical crimper, a wire stripper, bottle and can openers, a file, a saw, an awl, and a ruler, making it ideal for practical use in the home and while working as well as out in the wilderness.
All the features are lockable for added security and ease of use so you can have total confidence whenever you’re using these tools.
The size of the leatherman is also very portable and it will easily fit into your pocket so it's an excellent everyday carry knife also.
The build quality and materials used are all excellent as you’d expect from Leatherman, and the finish is outstanding.
Overall this is a superb multi-tool and knife ideal for almost any scenario, and it also comes with the Leatherman 25 year guarantee for absolute peace of mind.
- Excellent number of tools
- Lockable tools
- Nice finish
- Excellent guarantee/warranty
- The focus of this knife is more towards labor and industrial work than outdoors work, but it can be used for both
Another well known brand in the world of multi-tools is the Oregon based brand, Gerber, who are particularly popular among members of the military and armed forces, as their knives have been used extensively by the US military in various branches, indicating an excellent focus on durability, reliability and use in extreme situations and conditions.
Gerber pride themselves on this record of service, and have brought several high quality knives to the civilian market too, hoping to provide people with the same utility and quality that the military benefit from.
The Gerber Armbar is one of the signature lines of knives among many excellent multi-tools made by Gerber, but it's a much more streamlined and affordable option than some of the other knives on this list.
Comprising 8 tools including a fine edge blade, scissors, awl, a 2 sided bit driver, pry bar, bottle opened and hammer, this knife is a slimmed down, lightweight and extremely portable multi-tool and knife that offers all the essential features you need without anything extraneous.
What's more the package does look fantastic, with a lovely looking drop blade on the 2.5” frame lockable knife, and an array of excellent colors. Burnt orange is a favorite, but these are other good looking and sleek options.
There is a limited lifetime warranty too indicating Gerber’s confidence in their products,
- Excellent Streamlined design
- Very comfortable in the pocket
- Great build quality
- Nice array of colors
- Excellent knife
- No pocket clip
- Fewer tools than some other knives
A lesser-known name in the world of multi-tools and knives is Mossy Oak, but they’re a quality brand based in West Point Mississippi and have been making quality products since 1986.
Their multi-tool here is a very well equipped 21 in 1 option made of sturdy stainless steel and featuring various screwdriver bits as well as a nice outdoor sheath making this a very nice overall package.
The tools are also self-locking which is an excellent touch that adds convenience and control while using.
It's among the best-equipped tools on this list and comes with needle nose/standard pliers, wire cutters, a magnetic hex sleeve (for use with the included bits), screwdriver, knife, scale, file, serrated blade, bottle opener/screwdriver, wood saw, leather punch/awl, and a ruler built into the file.
All of this means you’ll be able to deal with almost anything that crops up in your day-to-day life, or even at a worksite, as this tool covers incredible flexibility for its size and price.
The included accessories are a very nice touch and the build quality/finish is hefty and sturdy.
- A large number of tools
- Heavy and sturdy
- Nice accessories
- Good build quality
- Big in the pocket
Finally, we come back to the kings of the swiss army knife, the Swiss themselves.
While Victorinox have many classic designs that remain wildly popular for everyday carry and other more specific uses, they continue to innovate while using the same blend of quality materials and design to maintain the high standards their customers expect.
The Rangergrip is a great example of this innovation, addressing issues with the simplified grip that most Victorinox knives utilize to ensure a more secure and comfortable grip while using the knife.
In terms of equipment, it features 12 functions including tweezers, can opener, two screwdrivers, large blade, bottle opener, wire stripper, wood saw, awl, reamer, and a phillips screwdriver making this a great choice for everyday use and practical site usage.
The grip is textured and reshaped to offer better control, but still has elements of the original design such as the iconic Victorinox label and red coloration, as well as the keyring loop below.
- Excellent grip
- Very portable
- Excellent quality tools and blade
- Fewer functions than some other designs
In this section we’re going to look at the key things to keep in mind when looking for a good quality swiss army knife or multi-tool, to ensure you get a product that doesn’t let you down when it really matters and has everything you need to get maximum use out of it, depending on your own requirements.
The selection of tools is one of the most important aspects of any Swiss army knife.
Too few tools and the knife starts to sacrifice functionality and practicality to save on space and build costs, limiting your options for use, however, too many tools will make the knife heavy, cumbersome, and awkward to use, so it's important to try and find a knife that has everything you need and nothing more, or less.
This is difficult as there are limited configurations, however, there are enough options that there should be something to suit your needs if you look carefully.
The next thing to pay attention to is the build quality and reputation of the brand you’re looking at, as there are many low-grade imitation and knock-off brands trying to undercut the main quality brands on offer, sacrificing quality and reliability to make a quick buck.
These knives never last and often fail when subjected to even moderate use, so try to keep this in mind and stick to trusted brands such as those listed above.
Pay attention to the locking mechanisms used, grip finish, and blade sharpness in particular.
The materials used are also important to pay attention to, as this will affect both the longevity and quality of the tool.
Most use stainless steel blends due to the added strength and corrosion resistance it offers, however, some may offer carbon steel blades or other alloys, so make sure to pay attention to this to ensure you get a knife to suit your environment and requirements.
Another thing to keep an eye out for is included accessories such as carry cases, holders, sheaths, and additional features such as bits and sharpeners.
Not all knives will come with accessories but some do and this can add a compelling amount of value to a particular offering, so keep an eye out for this.
A good warranty is really important as this can provide excellent value for money down the line should the knife unexpectedly fail or stop working even when being used correctly.
The warranty is often a good sign of a brand’s build quality and attention to detail, as well as their long-term customer service.
Victorinox and Leatherman offer some of the best warranties available on multi-tools and flip knives, but other brands do offer various warranties and guarantees too which may also offer some peace of mind.
Bear in mind that improper use of a knife may sometimes result in your warranty being voided.
Finally we come to a price. Your budget will have a fairly large impact on your knife and what you can choose, however there are a ton of good options at various price points, so there will almost always be something you can get even with a very small budget.
Even the big name brands such as Gerber, Victorinox and Leatherman have very respectable beginner and entry level pocket knives, multi-tools and everyday carry knives to suit various price points meaning everyone can benefit from the convenience and practicality these knives provide.
In terms of quality, the more expensive knives will naturally offer better quality and features, as well as more longevity in all likelihood, but that doesn’t mean that the entry-level knives from reputable manufacturers should be disregarded, and they offer excellent price to performance ratios.
Frequently Asked Questions
In this section we’re going to look at some of the most common questions regarding the use of swiss army knives and multi-tools, to give you a better understanding of the products and how to use them.
Are Multi-Tools Legal For Everyday Carry?
This is a common question most people looking at these kinds of knives will ask, and the question isn’t always an easy answer. The legalities around knives and whether they can be carried openly or in public vary from state to state.
Some states allow legal open carry, while others are more strict. Luckily however there are no overarching federal laws to be worried about with most multi-tools, with federal law only targeting switchblades and knives of this sort.
This means as long as your knife is legal in your own state or other state you’re using it in, you’re good to go.
If you’re in a different country such as Canada or the UK the rules may be more strict, particularly in the UK where knife crime is a serious issue with very strict laws to combat it.
What Knife Configuration Should I Choose?
This really depends on what you want to use the knife for. Some knives are designed for practical everyday use, some are equipped for fishing or bushcraft, while others are designed for more industrial use.
Many manufacturers offer different configurations of the same knife model allowing you to find a knife that has all the tools you need for your particular profession or hobby, which is one of the great things about these knives in general. It's almost always possible to find one that suits your needs.
It's also sometimes possible to customize a knife and add your own tools if the knife allows for this.
Are Knives TSA Approved?
Another common question people ask is if these sorts of knives are TSA approved.
Unfortunately almost all knives, even very small everyday carry knives are not approved for flying even domestically, and while there have been attempts to change this, strong resistance due to ongoing terror threats and risks mean knives are generally not permitted on flights at all, and you may lose your knife if you try to fly with it.