Thursday, January 23, 2014

Review: Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife (Black)

Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife Product Link
Anyone over 40 remembers the Swiss Army Knife as the original multi-tool. Any kid in the 60's or 70's who received one as a gift instantly felt like James Bond, or if you were born later, MacGuyver. These types of Swiss-made multi-tools have a huge following, going back decades. They get great reviews because they are still well made. I chose the Tinker because it has better than average Philips screwdriver on it, and that's the tool I probably use the most, other than just a regular pocket knife.

My review sample was purchased from Amazon with Prime as usual, and arrived in two days as usual. It seems totally random which shipper they use, and this time it was FedEx.

Product Description


It doesn't get more classic than a Swiss Army Knife with all the doodads. Mine is a glossy piano black, featuring a large knife, small knife, can opener, bottle opener, Flathead screwdriver, auger and a special Philips screwdriver with a full size shaft. It even has the classic tweezers and toothpick. Still made to their quality standards and still with a lifetime warranty.

Official Specs (From Amazon)

  • Compact pocket knife with 11 tools
  • Acid-resistant plastic and aluminum handle
  • 100% stainless steel components
  • Features blades, can and bottle openers, screwdrivers, wire stripper, and reamer
  • Includes tweezers, toothpick, and key ring

Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife - Split View: Closed

Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife - Split View: Main Blade Open

Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife - Main Blade Open With Tweezers and Toothpick

Initial Impressions


I had one of these as a kid decades ago, and it didn't survive into adulthood. My Tinker came in a little grey box and I knew I would like it. Much like an excited eight year old, I took it out of the box and started flipping the tools open. Right away I could see that this wasn't some classic they farmed out to a factory overseas. This is a classic that's still as good as the classic. 

First off, the black scales look awesome. I wasn't sure if I would like the black since the red SAKs are so iconic, but I'm happy I bought it in black. It did come with a couple of decent scuffs, though, which is acceptable because the scuffs on the shiny black scales are inevitable. 

The tools all look great, and it's a really good size. My only real overall gripe is that there's no way to take off the key ring. It just kind of sticks out, and I can feel it rubbing inside my pocket. I've been fantasizing about cutting it off and sanding it down until there's no trace. 

From the moment I took it out of the little grey box, I knew this thing would see time inside my pocket.

Main Blade


The main blade is about 2 1/2 inches long, with the typical hollow grind and drop point tip. Like most of their models, the main blade is a non-locking slip joint. Normally I prefer to carry locking blades, but this blade is plenty functional if used correctly. 

The quality of the steel is excellent, and mine came with a very good edge on it. The nick is well placed to open it easily. The markings on both sides are nice and sharp. It's a good quality blade that I would expect to see on a tool of this caliber.

Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife - Main Blade Open 2

Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife -  Main Blade Closeup
Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife - Stamp 1

Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife - Stamp 2


Handle


The handle appears to be the same quality hard plastic they've been putting on their products for decades. The black handle looks really upscale, like something you'd see in a board room. They also make versions of the Tinker with translucent blue or red scales. I like the black scales so much I think I may stick with black from now on--it just looks fantastic. Hopefully it won't scratch easily, as this tool should last a couple decades if I don't abuse it too badly. The Victorinox logo is neatly stenciled on one side of the handle.

Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife - Closed View 1

Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife - Closed View 2

Philips Screwdriver


This is the main reason I bought the tinker and not another model. The Philips screwdriver is full size and has a full size shaft. Most other multi-tools have some functional equivalent of a Philips, but this one has the same shaft as a normal screwdriver, just with a different handle.

Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife - Closeup Of Screwdriver 1

Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife - Closeup Of Screwdriver 2


Bottle Opener / Flathead / Stripper


This is one of the more heavily used tools on the unit. It's very useful to poke, prod, twist, or turn a Flathead screw. Or open a beer. Or strip a wire. I do a fair amount of wire stripping since I like to Tinker with things, but I don't really see myself using it much. I'd be more likely to use the small knife to strip a wire. The bottle opener will definitely get some use, and the screwdriver has already seen lots of miscellaneous random prying use. 

Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife - Closeup Of Bottle Opener 1

Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife - Closeup Of Bottle Opener 2

Can Opener


It's nice to be able to open cans in an emergency, but what really floats my boat about this tool is that it makes an excellent package opener. The irony about being a knife collector is that most knives end up seeing duty opening packages containing other knives. The tip of this tip is another, smaller, Flathead screwdriver. There's just not a lot of fluff in the Tinker. Every tool means business.

Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife - Closeup Of Can Opener 1

Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife - Closeup Of Can Opener 2


Small Blade


This is a smaller version of the main blade. Same steel, grind, tip, everything. The small blade is one of the go to tools on this model. It's ideal for opening packages or light cutting tasks such as small rope or paracord. Maybe even light prying. My sample came with a good edge, just like main blade.

Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife - Closeup Of Small Blade 1

Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife - Closeup Of Small Blade 2

Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife - Closeup Of Small Blade 3



Auger


The auger is on the flip side of the unit, right next to the Philips screwdriver.In fact, they both open parallel to each other, so you wouldn't really be able to use them at the same time, probably not that you'd ever want to. It's nice and sharp, and would be perfect for making a small hole in something, emergency sewing or even first aid, as it would ideal to take out a splinter.

Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife - Closeup Of Auger 1

Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife - Closeup Of Auger 2


Tweezers


It's hard to call this a serious tool, but it does have some value, and it's worth it's weight. It's not possible to put much force on the tweezers, which limit its ability to be that useful. But it could pull out a small splinter, especially with the help of the auger tool. They are also replaceable, and can be bought from Amazon in 6 packs. Which is good, because my tweezers don't fit as tightly into the unit as I would like. Hopefully it'll stay in there.

Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife - Closeup Of Tweezers


Tooth Pick


It's not rigid enough to be a great toothpick, but it's still functional. And just like the tweezers, you can buy replacement toothpicks. It's better than nothing I guess, and the saying "the best tool is the one you have with you" probably applies to toothpicks as well.

Key Ring


The Tinker has a key ring which I'm not a huge fan of, but it seems plenty usable if you wanted to put it on your keys or clip it to a backpack or something. I probably won't do either with it, so I'm debating whether to grind the key ring off. But if it's your thing, it at least looks plenty sturdy.

Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife - Closeup Of Key Ring

Usability


The Tinker and similar models have a reputation for being great for EDC use. It's a great alternative to something like a Leatherman. You get about 80% of the functionality (sorry, no pliers) with about a third of the weight. 

Day to day, the Tinker is great for most EDC tasks around the house and the office. I still carry a locking blade with it most of the time, except for when it's not practical or advisable to carry a larger knife. 

Conclusions


This Tinker fills a missing link in my gear. There are going to be a lot of times where this tool beats out all the others for a place in my pocket. It's much lighter than a Leatherman, it looks upscale and gives me more capabilities than a regular pocket knife like my Delica, for about the same weight.

Gallery

From Top: Victorinox Sentinel, SanRenMu LB-763, Victorinox Tinker, United Cutlery Wolf, Case XX, and Victorinox Classic
From Top: Victorinox Sentinel, SRM LB-763, Victorinox Tinker, United Cutlery Wolf, Case XX, SRM 681and Victorinox Classic
Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife - EDC Pocket Dump

Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife - Closeup On Scale
Lighter than my Delica

Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife - Closeup Next To Ruler

Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife - Closeup Of Box 1

Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife - Closeup Of Box 2

Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife - Closeup Of Box 2


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