As regular followers of Swiss Army knives and readers of Woods Monkey know, Roger Remund of Swissbianco is the place to go for unusual and limited edition SAKs. Well, Roger has done it again with a few new products that mix the traditional with novel.
The Firesteel Farmer SAK
For many outdoorsman the Victorinox Farmer is the quintessential woods pocket knife. It combines a blade, some basic tools and one of Victorinox’s excellent saws into a compact package all held together by sturdy Alox scales. We even reviewed it here on the Monkey back in July of 2008. In March of 2009 I took a look at another batch of specialty SAK’s from Swissbianco and this included the ever-popular Farmer in orange anodizing with the addition of a pocket clip. This time around Roger took that particular configuration and added a flint and steel striker to the bottom. Yep, you heard me right. The base of the knife has a 3 inch long striker attached. Production models will also come with a flint and a piece of European fire fungus used to catch sparks from the steel. This style of SAK was originally popularized by the late Horst A. Brunner in Switzerland was based upon the Victorinox Soldier. You end up with the already supremely functional Farmer and add fire-making capabilities to it. That might just make it the most useful outdoors pocketknife out there.
I was curious how the added striker would affect the Farmer’s handling properties during normal use. Contrary to my thinking that it might get in the way, it actually seemed to make things a bit more comfortable as it gives some added width to the handle. It doesn’t seem to effect pocketibility either, as it’s a little thinner than the overall width of the knife. When you clip this one to the pocket top you really can’t tell the difference between carrying a standard Farmer or the Firesteel model. When it comes to flint striking the SAK handle provides plenty of grip and keeps your hand out of the way of the edge of the flint without issue. It’s a pretty slick version of the Farmer for bushcrafters and other folks who like making fire the old fashioned way.
Swissbianco New Issue 111mm SAK
Last year Switzerland had a trial for a knife to replace the venerable Alox Soldier that had been the standard issue knife of the Swiss Army. What they decided on was a 111mm model based upon their One Hand Trekker, and very similar to the current issue German Army Knife. The Swiss version featured olive drab scales with the Swiss cross and black rubber inlaid portions for extra traction. The new Swiss Army Knife features a partially serrated, one hand opening, liner locking blade, the excellent 111mm saw, a bottle opener/flathead screwdriver and wire stripper, a can opener and smaller flathead sceewdriver, and a Phillips screwdriver and awl on the back side. Roger has taken this new model and has done what he does best: have it modified at the factory into a version that users most want.
In this case he had Victorinox make a run of 100 knives with plain edge blades rather than the issue serrated blades, and swapped out the Phillips screwdriver with a corkscrew. The serrations on the 111mm SAK’s are fairly controversial and many folks prefer a plain edge. The corkscrew is also a point of contention with many people. I personally prefer the corkscrew. Aside from its obvious utility for opening bottles of wine, it’s also quite handy for carrying a mini screwdriver and it works great at getting knots out as well. I’ve been using one of Roger’s Stayglow OHT’s in this configuration for a couple of years now and its one of my favorite field knives. The new Swiss Army issue model gives you the same utility but in a more subdued package. I suspect this one will be quite popular amongst users and collectors alike.
Another interesting item that Roger has come up with is the M-Sharp. While this product won’t cut anything itself, it will make sure that whatever you’re carrying stays sharp enough to do so! The M-Sharp is a lightweight flat of steel bent on either end to create a loop that slides onto military style MOLLE webbing. The face of the flat has a 2 ½ inch section of diamond sharpening pad attached. You can carry the M-Sharp with the pad on the inside of your MOLLE webbing so that it is out of the way when not in use. You really won’t even know you have it attached to your gear, but its right at hand when you want it. It also has a lanyard hole drilled into the top of the sharpener. You can either use this as a lanyard to secure it further to your gear, or to carry the M-Sharp separately on a keyring, or lashed to other gear that might not have MOLLE connectors. It’s a pretty clever solution to carrying a field sharpener that really doesn’t take up any additional space if you’re using a pack or bag with MOLLE webbing on it. Even if you have a traditional pack, it’s still light, tough and compact enough to go anywhere.
As I update you on these SAK’s from Swissbianco, Roger has once again gotten ahead of me and has even more specialty SAK’s in the works. As of his last newsletter, there’s a new Bushcrafter model, which is essentially a slimmed down Farmer with just the woodcraft basics: a main blade, a saw and an awl. There’s also talk of an 58mm Alox Rambler, which is a model that I’ve personally been hoping Victorinox would make for years now. Check out his website for the models discussed above, and to see what else new Roger might have in the works.