You can look at the Swiss Army knife as the first inspiration for a multi-tool. One thing for sure is it is one of the most popular knives in the world. Whether you carry it on a camping trip or as your everyday carry, there are bound to be days when you look at it and are thankful it is with you. Having a wide range of tools designed to fit the user means the owner can find a model that fits his or her exact needs. Wenger has made a go at introducing innovations in the traditional Swiss Army brand.
Change for the Wenger line started with the introduction of the Evolution model, which features new contoured side scales. A very subtle contour separating the front of the handle from the rear with dished impressions that allow for solid placement and more lateral space.
It is not often the low spots on a handle where your hand fits that gives you a solid grip, but high spots. High spots or ridges provide blocking points—points for your fingers or joints to grip onto, to brace against to allow for a tighter hold or to push off for control. The new contouring of the Evolution model allows for both depression and ridges to be fitted to your grip.
A second change to the Evolution model is the use of rubber inserts in the depression dishes of the grip to provide more texture for your fingers to grab. The look blends well into the appearance and, more importantly, adds to the function of the knife. For the hard-core Swiss Army knife crowd, it might take away from the traditional solid-red look, but this is not the first Swiss Army knife to change appearance.
On the safety front, a subtle difference on both the locking and non-locking Wengers is a two-stage closing system. A blocking spot allows the user to safely start to close the blade and then change the position of their hand so they do not accidentally close the blade on their fingers—Wenger’s two-stage closing system to prevent your fingers from being caught by the blade while closing.
When the spring back falls into the notch placed on the pivot point of the blade, Wenger has a shallow notch on the pivot point that the spring falls into, interrupting the closing of the blade. After the spring falls into the midway notch, you don’t have to disengage their locking system again, just add a bit more pressure like you would when closing a slip-joint from the open position. It’s not rocket science, but darn clever.
A newer, beefier line called the Ranger is another innovation of Wenger’s. This line is a larger-format knife measuring 5 inches closed. Rangers come in contoured black scales with the contouring of the scales similar in design to the Evolution. Wenger using a liner lock for the main blade but, to disengage the locking system on the Ranger, you depress the Swiss Army symbol—which is really a button—and the symbol presses the liner out of the way.
The blade on the Ranger is a large speartip design with thumb notching and machine finish, departing from their regular polished finish for smaller models. Depending on the model, you also have a combination serrated- and plain-edge blade. I wouldn’t try battoning with it or punching my way through an emergency-exit door. I would, on the other hand, feel more then confident about this knife’s ability to help butcher small game, prep camp food and prep most camping craft projects, including getting together the makings of a fire. As of 2008, Wenger will be introducing a slim line of Rangers with a contoured belt clip so carry can be easily accessed.
For frequent flyers among us, Wenger has developed a bladeless key-chain knife. This bladeless version gives you all the conveniences of the regular model, except the main speartip blade; it even comes with nail clippers. As for size, it is a little longer, and definitely wider, to accommodate the clippers.
For the most part, the handle changes are apparent, but other subtle changes hit you as you pick it up and fiddle with the new designs. Even though some of the changes definitely alter the appearance, while others do not, they all add to the utility of the legendary Swiss Army pattern.
By Able Elias