Victorinox is best known as the maker of the Swiss Army Knife (SAK). In a sense, the term “Swiss Army Knife” has surpassed even Kleenex or Xerox, in that unrelated items may be considered the “Swiss Army Knife of…(fill in the blank). Even an athlete or employee may gain the moniker if they are useful in multiple positions or possess a range of skills. It is an enviable and well earned term of respect.
“Our company has never been as hard-hit as it was by the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in New York and Washington,” CEO Carl Elsener Jr. noted in a 2013 press release. “We lost over 40 percent of our business. Airports sent vast quantities of the knife back to us.”
They weathered the storm better than their competitor Wenger, and they purchased the ailing company in 2005.
Victorinox had already produced a variety of watches, luggage, and other lifestyle items in their portfolio, but they responded to the challenges in the market by further diversifying their offerings.
They describe their new Venture series of fixed blade knives thusly:
Meet our Venture collection: an expertly engineered range of fixed-blade knives with bushcraft in their DNA. Made from high-quality steel renowned for its exceptional durability, this is rock-solid reliability that adeptly conquers any open-air challenge. From hiking and camping to bush survival, it’s all taken care of.
I covered the Venture’s release in the September 2023 Knife News Column…
KnifeCenter’s David C. Andsersen gives a great video overview…
The Venture Collection features both a base model ($75) which is what I tested, and the “Pro” Model ($115) which features a bow-drill divot, firesteel, pen, and tweezers.
Blade Length: 4.13″
Cutting Edge: 4.125″
Handle Length: 4.75″
Overall Length: 8.88″
Blade Material: 14C28N Stainless Steel
Blade Thickness: 0.133″
Blade Hardness: 59 HRC
Blade Style: Drop Point
Blade Grind: Flat
Blade Finish: Satin
Handle Material: Polymer
Sheath Material: Plastic
Weight: 4 oz.
Weight with Sheath: 5.3 oz.
Made in Switzerland
Protruding tang with
Fire making blowtube
Blade, 10.5 cm
The Victorinox venture has excellent ergonomics. While I prefer a handle with a bit more “warmth” than the sterile polymer, it is more than adequate, providing a good grip even when wet.
There is a small jimped portion on the blade, for greater control when performing delicate tasks.
And the handle’s thumb pads facilitate a pinch grip when the knife is pressed into culinary use around camp.
I have written about the sheath previously, noting that there is a good deal of “battle-rattle” and imperfect retention. Victorinox YouTube Guru Felix Immler noticed the same issues, and took steps to address them. You can read all about it here.
As far as actually using the sheath and carrying the knife, The sheath is on the high end of adequate.
I do appreciate how it is bidirectional – that is to say the knife can be inserted with the blade facing either way.
I am not a fan of needing a supplemental rubber ring to securely retain the knife in the sheath.
I also prefer a more fixed carry method, such as an UltiClip or Tek-Lok, but that is a preference rather than a true deficiency.
If you slip the sheath out of the dangler, it can be used as a blow-tube for firemaking. Blowing in the open end of the sheath forces a jet of air out of the drain hole. It works I suppose, but I am a big guy and prefer the high-volume, low-pressure method of unassisted fire-blowing.
Things started out great. The geometry of the Venture is really slicey.
It can peel cherry tomatoes, make even and clean slices, efficiently dice an onion, and other culinary tasks. The recessed thumb pads facilitate a pinch grip, aiding in the
Slicing cardboard gave mixed results. At first, when the knife was at its sharpest, it zipped through crosscutting cardboard at the beginning of the test.
You can see how cleaning the initial cuts were.
At the 25′ mark, it was still going strong, but I was beginning to realize that the thickness of the spine and the height of the blade make for a lot of friction.
Once the knife was no longer freshly sharpened, it began to accordion the cardboard some. By 50 feet, it was struggling.
But as I said, this was a result of geometry over edge holding, as I could still easily make ribbons of newsprint.
I did some basic woodcraft next, making a couple of fuzz sticks, and a tent stake.
The fuzz stick went great, and so I moved onto a tent stake. The Legendary Ethan Becker once told me “I can learn everything I need to know about a knife by making a tent stake”. So for woods-oriented fixed blade knives, this is a must do test. When I was guiding flyfishermen in the smokies, my primary knife must have been capable of cutting saplings for a shelter or a travois.
So I set out to make a tent stake.
Making a tent stake does require some light batoning. At this point it should be noted, the Godfather of Bushcraft himself, Horace Kephart, never once mentions batoning in his wiritings. Opinions vary on the topic, but are strongly held in either case.
I had no trouble making the tent stake itself.
But it was when I got back in the shop that I noticed a slight deformation to the Venture’s edge, almost certainly from when I batoned the knife.
If you were ever interested in understanding the differences between a scandi grind and a flat grind in terms of strength and performance, this a classic example.
The deflection is minor, and doesn’t really interfere with the overall effectiveness of the knife. But it would not have happened in a stronger, less slicey grind.
Victorinox is obviously most well known for their iconic Swiss Army Knife. They have made some fixed blades in the past, mainly, but not exclusively in the culinary realm. The Venture is a solid knife overall, and I liked using a fixed blade from a company whose folders I have owned for decades.
In the end, Victorinox made the perfectly defensible decision to favor slicing geometry over strength. The edge rolled when I performed an action which many companies deem “abuse”. It did an efficient job of pretty much anything else I put it through.
Evaluated on its own merits, the knife did quite well. Unfortunately, it is not the only player in the space. At $75 MSRP for the base model I tested, it falls between the partial tang Mora Bushcraft ($50) and full tang Garberg ($100). In other words it is appropriately priced. It offers better slicing performance that those alternatives, especially for food prep at camp, while their Scandi grinds may be more durable if wood processing is a concern.
The Victorinox Venture is a welcome addition to field. I like to see companies branch out and test the waters in a different niche. It is not the world’s most bomb-proof survival knife, but it is a slicey and ergonomic medium-duty woods knife. If you want to split wood, use a hatchet.