Our lead tester and writer was raised in a practical, outdoors-oriented family. One of his earliest "rite of passage" memories was the gift of his very own Victorinox Classic SD Swiss Army Knife. In years of usage and testing, now compared against the best of the best, this tiny, multi-purpose knife has earned its perch as a top-ranked pocket knife. The rest of our test team agrees. Even when compared to much larger and much more expensive knives, it fares very well. The OutdoorGearLab testing team heartily recommends the Victorinox Classic SD knife for everyday carry for those who are otherwise reluctant to carry a knife. If you're the person who asserts that you'll never need a knife handy, we challenge you to stow this small device on your keys and keep tabs on the times your pride requires you to overlook its handiness. Eventually, you will relent and fully embrace the productivity and utility you gain as a pocket knife carrier.Editor's Note: We updated this review for Victorinox Classic SD Swiss Army on August 25, 2022, with additional testing data, a candid take on value versus performance, and suggestions for other products that may better suit your needs.
Victorinox Classic SD Swiss Army Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Small, portable, well-constructed
Cons: Not made for heavy-duty use
Compare to Similar Products
Victorinox Classic SD Swiss Army
|Price||$19.99 at Amazon|
Compare at 2 sellers
$54.39 at Amazon
$29.95 at REI
$10.66 at Amazon
$18.00 at REI
|Pros||Small, portable, well-constructed||Beautifully constructed, assisted open, good value||Serrated blade portion, carabiner carry option, lightweight, good blade steel||Inexpensive, functional, heavily featured||Lightweight, simple|
|Cons||Not made for heavy-duty use||Slender handle makes it hard to apply even pressure, thin blade is fragile||Rudimentary construction, primitive lockback||Unremarkable construction, low quality steel, bulky||Two-handed operation, thin blade is flexible|
|Bottom Line||A tiny, multi-function pocket knife||A slender, svelte pocket knife with great materials and a reasonable value||The best knife we have tested for rock, ice, and alpine climbing||A fully-featured tactical pocket knife at an unbeatable price, but it lacks high quality construction||A high value, low-weight, classic, and simply designed pocket knife for camp kitchen and everyday use|
|Rating Categories||Victorinox Classic...||Kershaw Leek||Petzl Spatha||Albatross EDC Tactical||Opinel No. 8|
|Blade and Edge Integrity (30%)|
|Construction Quality (20%)|
|Other Features (10%)|
|Specs||Victorinox Classic...||Kershaw Leek||Petzl Spatha||Albatross EDC Tactical||Opinel No. 8|
|Weight||0.8 oz||3.1 oz||1.5 oz||3.8 oz||1.5 oz|
|Blade Length||1.4 in||2.9 in||2.7 in||2.5 in||3.3 in|
|Blade Material||Proprietary Stainless (between 440A and 420)||Sandvik 14C28N stainless steel||Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel||440 stainless steel||Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel|
|Handle Material||Plastic||410 stainless steel||Nylon||Stainless steel||Beech wood|
|Blade Style||Drop point, straight||Drop point, straight||Drop Point, hybrid straight/serrated||Drop point, straight||Clip Point, Straight|
|Blade locks closed?||No||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Opening Style||Fingernail||Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud; back-of-knife finger tab||Ambidextrous thumb hole; ridged traction ring||Assisted, flipper||Fingernail|
|Lock Mechanism||None||Frame lock||Lock back||Liner lock||Virobloc ring|
|Carry Style||Keyring||Pocket clip and lanyard hole||Carabiner hole||Pocket clip||None|
|Closed Length||2.3 in||4.0 in||4.2 in||3.9 in||4.3 in|
|Overall Length||3.8 in||7.0 in||7.0 in||6.5 in||7.6 in|
|Thickness (w/o pocket clip)||0.4 in||0.3 in||0.5 in||0.4 in||0.8 in|
|Other Features or Functions||Scissors, nail file, small screwdriver, tweezers, toothpick, key ring||None||None||Seatbelt cutter, glass breaker||None|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Classic SD Swiss Army Knife is a tiny, multi-purpose, well-made piece of equipment. If you hardly have room in your pocket or purse for more than a car key and a house key, the Classic SD should slide in virtually unnoticed. Unnoticed, that is until you need it. Despite the toy-like stature, this little tool packs in function and quality at a very affordable price. It is nearly the smallest in our test but comes with features, each very useful and functional, despite their tiny stature. If you are looking for a knife to virtually disappear on your keychain but roar to practical life whenever you need to tackle some light-duty task - (this could describe a significant portion of the world's citizens) - look no further than the Victorinox Classic SD. If this knife doesn't satisfy your needs, you'll probably want to look into getting yourself a multi-tool.
Blade and Edge Integrity
Victorinox brings a long history of well-made blades to the table. The blade is slim and short and therefore isn't suitable for extended cutting or laborious tasks. However, it is more than adequate for most household and office tasks. Upon initial deployment, the blade seems flimsy. However, in years and years of usage, our testing team has yet to see any failures.
The Swiss Army is well known for two things: Swiss men between the ages of 19 and 34 are required to be trained and equipped to defend their neutral country, and the government commissions the construction of official Swiss Army knives from two domestic manufacturers. Victorinox is one of those producers. Both manufacturers must mark near the base of the main blades of the official knives. The Classic SD model is labeled there with the simple designation "Victorinox Swiss Made Stainless."
This understated description of the blade material belies its sophisticated and reliable construction. The steel is a proprietary blend but works very well. It holds an edge consistently and sharpens easily.
The Classic SD knife is designed to optimize compactness and versatility. As such, it is not the most ergonomic knife in our test. You won't spend hours cutting with the Classic SD. You won't choose to saw through thick ropes or dress wild game. However, all tools are easily deployed and can be operated to their intended capacity. Each of the three main tools (blade, file/screwdriver, and scissors) is equipped with a simple fingernail cut out and pulls out smoothly with minimal pressure. Even after years and years of pocket-living, the tools fold out easily and smoothly.
A toothpick and a pair of tweezers are encased in the sides of the Classic SD. Each of these pulls out completely and stows away with just a "friction fit" holding them in. It is a testament to the quality of construction that this friction grip remains tight throughout the life and use of a tool like this. Careful and close manufacturing tolerances hold the tools when necessary but give them up when the user wishes to use them. The other tiny knives are similarly compromised in ergonomics. Tiny tools are harder to use than optimally sized ones. We accept this inherent decrease in ergonomics for the symmetrical gain in portability.
The Classic SD Swiss Army Knife packs a lot of versatility and usefulness compared to other knives we tested. The Classic SD comes right out of the box equipped with a tiny split ring. Threading the included split ring onto your existing key chain leaves the knife free to rotate and nest in amongst your keys while carrying. And then, in usage, you also have some freedom from the keys.
The scissors open to the end opposite the key chain. This leaves the keys completely out of the way of scissor usage. The blade and nail file open on the end, adjacent to the key ring attachment.
In application, provided you carry no more than five or six keys, you just grasp the whole bundle (keys, ring, knife handle) together while using the blade or file.
Again, the toy-like specifications belie the durability and quality of this inexpensive knife. Victorinox produces the Classic SD on an economy of scale. Corners are not cut. Rather, they count high volume sales through generations spreading the love with gifts of Classic SD knives.
The high-quality stainless steel throughout, firmly affixed, and colorful side plates, combined with smooth operating hinges, resulting in a tiny tool that inspires confidence. Aside from misplacing tweezers and toothpicks, our testers have had no trouble with the integrity of the Classic SD knife.
In day-to-day use, especially for those in more cosmopolitan or business settings, the small suite of tools on the Classic SD is all one needs. When carried primarily for personal grooming, the Classic SD is essentially a comprehensive tool in a micro package.
The blade, file, and scissors rival even the most complete manicuring kits. And you can slice an apple with it. And cut your fishing line. And tighten the squeaky screw under your office chair. And tweeze that paper clip from between the keys of your computer keyboard. And trim the corners from your tent repair tape. And the list goes on and on.
Should You Buy the Victorinox Classic SD Swiss Army?
Our testing team's long history with the Victorinox Classic SD knife inspires nostalgia for those first youthful feelings of independence and usefulness. Our lead test editor owned one as a kid and was asked to test one for OutdoorGearLab. In both sessions with the knife, his recommendation would be the same. This is an excellent knife for anyone who otherwise wouldn't bother to carry a blade or pocket tool. We find it remarkable that Victorinox can afford to distribute such a quality piece of equipment at this affordable price. It will last you as long as you can keep track of it, and you'll readily replace it when misplaced.
What Other Pocket Knives Should You Consider?
While the Victorinox Classic SD Swiss Army Knife is truly a classic pocket knife, it likely won't hold up to the requirements of many looking for a daily carry knife. While other options won't have the suite of tools featured on the Classic SD, a knife like the Sanrenmu 7010 likely offers more functionality at a similar price point. For an equally portable knife with a stronger blade, it's worth weighing this model against the Leatherman Skeletool KB.
— Jediah Porter
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