Wednesday, December 06, 2006

In Praise of the Non-Tactical Pocketknife

For most of the past 10 years my pocketknife has been a "tactical" folder. First, it was a Spyderco Delica. When I lost the Delica (found it 3 months later) a few years ago, I replaced it with a Benchmade Griptilian. I've been very happy with both knives. They are well made, hold a nice edge, lock securely, and need only one hand to open.

Last weekend I dug out my old Victorinox Pioneer Swiss Army Knife (SWAK). I've had this since sometime in the early '80s. Unlike the current production silver-colored Pioneers the aluminum handle scales on mine have a red oxide finish. It has a spear point blade, bottle opener, can opener, large and small screwdriver blades, a wire stripper notch on the bottle opener, a reamer/awl, and a key ring. It's the same as the real issue SWAK or "Soldier," with the exception of the key ring. Picking up the Pioneer felt like getting reacquainted with an old friend.

I carried my SWAK for years. It accompanied me on a six week trip to Europe in 1984, following me behind the Iron Curtain into Hungary and Yugoslavia and back. I've used it to cut stuff, tighten and loosen screws, pop open sodas and beers, and poke holes in things with the reamer. In other words, it can do a lot more than a knife with only a blade.

My job is in an office pushing bits and bytes around. Dress is business casual. I'd look goofy with a multitool on my belt. Like it or not, fashion can influence knife choice. (And I'm hardly a fashion plate.) And as for tacticality, the closest I have to training in knfe fighting is a semester of fencing in college, close to 20 years ago.

So, Sunday I checked the edge (still shaving sharp after a few years languishing in the handlebar bag on my mountain bike, out in a shed) and sprayed out some dust with some Superlube dry teflon lubricant from a can, and since then I've been carrying the Pioneer instead of my Benchmade. It fits nicely in my pocket like it belongs there and offers more functionality than the Griptilian. The only real advantage the latter has is one-hand opening.

I'm liking having my old friend with me once again. I may even order another one or two to stash away for the future or in an emergency kit.


Les Jones said...

Very nice. I just started carrying a similar Victorinox Cadet. Very handy, and more civilized to pull out in a crowd than my big nasty folder. Now I carry both.

Anonymous said...

I carry a CRKT Crawford/Kasper Tactical Folder with me just about everywhere I go. I love the knife because its not too big and it is extremely reliable if I need to bring it out in a self-defense situation.

Contemporary Fighting Arts

Anonymous said...

FWIW, I've seen Swiss Army Knives shortened to SAK on the knife forums. On those same forums, I've seen SWAK used as a shortened version of "Swedish Army Knife", a particular model of Mora knife.