Story and Photos by Joshua Swanagon
For some, the Victorinox Swiss Army Knife will always hold a special place in their hearts as their first knife. But for others it has become a lifelong passion.
Since 1891 Victorinox has provided multi-function knives in many varying sizes and tool counts. If you look at their catalog today you are bound to find something to fit even the most hard-to-buy-for outdoorsman. Over the years they have also added household and professional knives, watches, travel gear and fragrances. But for the true Victorinox collector, they often release varying lines of special/limited-edition knives and cool new models/collections.
If you are anything like me, you already see the beauty in the elegant function of the Victorinox Swiss Army Knife. However, their special-edition knives are truly something to behold, and their new offerings and collections keep things interesting.
This year is no different. With their new Onyx Black collection, Swiss Champ XXL and Chinese Zodiac Special-Edition, you can officially do all the things—in style.
Starting in 2001, the Year of the Snake, Victorinox has released a knife each year to commemorate the Chinese Zodiac. This year, 2021, features the Year of the Ox.
The knife is a typical Huntsman model—one of my personal favorite models—and features a beautifully illustrated Ox on the handle scale, obverse the Victorinox logo. The illustration is done with a gold-colored paint that shimmers like real gold in the right lighting. The limited-edition Year of the Ox Huntsman will only see 8,000 individually numbered pieces produced, of which I received #2,542.
The Year of the Ox Huntsman comes in an equally beautiful display case and includes an information sheet, printed on thick gold leaf stock, detailing the meaning behind the Year of the Ox in Chinese on one side and English on the other.
One of my personal favorite models—and the one I currently carry—the Huntsman, boasts 16 tools. With an MSRP of $99.00 it is no surprise that it is out of stock. However, they are still available elsewhere online.
Although I have always been a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to my Swiss Army Knife, I can’t help but love the Onyx Black Collection.
There are currently three knives in the Onyx Black Collection—the Ranger Grip 55, Signature Lite and Spartan. All three knives feature a mirror monochrome black finish that set them apart from the rest of the Victorinox line. The Signature Lite and Spartan have gloss black handle scales, where the Ranger Grip 55 has textured matt black handle scales.
The Signature Lite and Spartan are the smaller knives of the three, with the Signature Lite having 9 tools and the Spartan with 13. The larger Ranger Grip 55 features 13 tools, including a locking main blade. One feature I thought was really unique on all Ranger 55’s is the liner lock release on the main blade, which is actuated by pressing the Victorinox badge on the side of the handle.
The Onyx Black Collection really went a long way towards dressing up an already stellar line of knives.
Although I am not privy to the inner workings at Victorinox, nor have I been to any of their meetings, I can only imagine the meeting that spawned the Swiss Champ XXL.
“Hey. You know what I wish I could do with my Swiss Army Knife? All the things.”
“You have a point there, let’s make it happen.”
With 73 tools, there is little you won’t be able to accomplish with the XXL. I can’t imagine anyone actually carrying this in their pocket but if you did, you would be the MacGyver in the crowd. Not to mention the conversations this would elicit (and already has, between me and some of my friends).
A really cool collection (and display) piece, the Swiss Champ XXL comes in a nicely padded black box emblazoned with the Victorinox logo on the lid—both external and internal. The case is about the size of a watch box, so much so that a friend of mine thought it was a watch before opening it.
I remember seeing displays of some of the old Victorinox Swiss Army Knives that were huge and had a multitude of tools. I thought they were really cool display/conversation pieces, but they were never available to the public—not easily anyway. The Swiss Champ XXL fixes that. Definitely a collection centerpiece that demonstrates a variety of the tools Victorinox offers.
When most people ask about a good first knife for a young person in their life, the answer is usually Victorinox. Used the world over, the Victorinox Swiss Army Knife is versatile, well made and ready for adventure.
With that said, the cool factor of Victorinox doesn’t end there. With so many outstanding Limited-Edition knives and beautiful collections, Victorinox has something for everyone—from first knife to serious collector. K&G
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Ranger 55 Onyx BlackVictorinoxKnife CenterSmoky Mountain Knife Works
Spartan Onyx BlackVictorinoxKnife CenterSmoky Mountain Knife Works
Signature Lite Onyx BlackVictorinoxKnife CenterSmoky Mountain Knife Works
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Swiss Champ XXLVictorinoxBlade HQKnife CenterSmoky Mountain Knife Works
Joshua Swanagon has studied survival in both urban and wilderness environments in Colorado and Michigan for most of his life, while also adding experience in harsher terrains abroad. He utilizes his experience and years of diverse martial arts and combatives training and real world application as a self-defense/combatives instructor, published freelance writer and Field Editor for various magazines in the fields of knives, survival, self-defense and tactical subject matters. Joshua also brings with him his years of experience as Editor of, and Subject Matter Expert for, Knives Illustrated Magazine.
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