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March 10, 2009 Comments (0) Blades & Tools

Specialty SAK’s from SwissBianco

In the world of Swiss Army Knives you have two main groups: users and collectors. Both groups tend to favor certain models and seek out certain patterns. The first, because they feel that certain blades are more useful, or have better tool combinations than others, and the latter because of their rarity or because of unusual features on particular versions. If Victorinox hasn’t made enough models through the years to satisfy both groups, then it’s a good thing that someone like Roger Remund came along. Roger founded Swiss Bianco back in 1995 in his hometown of Worb, Switzerland and began working on his own knife designs such as his fixed blade S.B.T. (Swiss Basic Tool) and Neck Angel knives. Somewhere along the way, Roger was fortunate enough to strike up a relationship with Victorinox, and has since been able to offer limited runs of knives not available through normal channels. Roger has brought back some designs that are no longer made, and offered versions never made as standard factory items, and available only through Swiss Bianco. These unique SAK’s offer a great opportunity for both collectors and users to get versions of the knives that they might have been lusting after, but that Victorinox hasn’t done in a normal production run. Let’s take a look at some of the models that Roger has or is currently offering to get an idea of just what kind of magic he has worked.

108mm Models

I’ll start with the 108mm models since these are some of my favorites.  The 108mm models have their origins in the German Army Knives, or GAK for short.  These largish slipjoints featur a spear-point blade, as well as a saw blade that has a combination can/bottle opener and screwdriver on the end.  The spine of the knife has a corkscrew and an awl. Scales were Olive Drab in color and had the German Wehrmacht crest on one scale.  The military GAK’s spawned a variety of civilian versions built on this frame size including the Safari, Solo, and Solo Plus, as well as the 3 layer Mauser branded knife.  Most of the civilian models carried more traditional, red handle scales and varied in blade and tool configurations.  These knives have been out of production for a while now, and have started to gather a following both amongst users, who find them well suited as EDC and camping knives, and collectors, who appreciate the variations and rarity of them.  I’ve used them for years now and really appreciate their large blade and useful array of tools. They offer a lot of utility in a pretty reasonable sized folder.

The two models that I have from Roger are a clip point Solo Plus, and a 3 bladed model reminiscent of a Mauser.  Both models have the red civilian pattern scales to them. The factory Solo Plus usually has a spear point blade to it, but Roger’s version is built with the clip point blade typically found as a secondary blade on a Mauser.  It has a corkscrew on the backside.  It’s a very trim knife that rides nicely in the pocket, and the pointy clip point blade is a great pattern for EDC chores.  The 3 bladed model is laid out much like a Mauser except that instead of a saw blade, it carries a blunt tipped gut hook blade in addition to the spear point, and clip point blades.  This gives you a wide variety of blade styles to choose from depending on the task at hand.  It features the awl and corkscrew on the spine as well.

Alox Models

Roger also has a couple of special Alox models to choose from.  Alox is the term used for the rugged aluminum handled models such as the former Swiss military issue soldiers.  First up is a favorite of mine for compact EDC and stashing in survival kits, the Alox Lumberjack.  The Lumberjack is  an 84mm thick, 2 layer, model.  It’s ultra thin and manages to squeeze in a spear point blade and one of Victorinox’s very effective saws. It also carries a Victorinox combination tool combining a screwdriver, bottle opener, and can opener. That’s quite a bit of functionality for such a trim compact knife.

The next Alox model being offered is a special variation of the very popular Farmer model.  The Farmer carries a spear point main blade, a wood saw, a can opener/screw driver, a bottle opener/screw driver, and an awl.  On the Swiss Bianco version, you get all of this plus a handy pocket clip and a stylish, highly visible, orange anodized coating.  The orange finish and pocket clip take an already great SAK and add extra elements to both its functionality and style.  The tools and size of the Farmer make for a great EDC knife, and the clip makes it even more convenient to carry for many folks.  The orange color really makes the knife pop, and stand out from a normal SAK, and it helps it stand out in the woods as well.  It’s a nice combination of style and function and a good conversation piece.  Even folks accustomed to seeing Swiss Army Knives will do a double take when you unclip an orange Farmer from your pocket!

Stayglow One Hand Trekkers

One of the more popular SAK’s with outdoorsmen is the large 111mm thick One Hand Trekker.  It features a big, one hand opening blade, a great saw, and variety of other tools.  Despite its popularity, there were two common complaints with the design.  The first was the serrated portion of the blade, right near the tip.  Some folks don’t like serrations at all, and others didn’t like the placement of it.  The other issue was the color.  The standard black scales and the olive drab scales on the German Army version of the knife didn’t stand out well in the woods, and both could be easily misplaced if you weren’t careful.  Well, Roger took a look at these issues and managed to get Victorinox to make a run of One Hand Trekkers with bright yellow Stayglow handle scales and a plain edge blade.  The Stayglow material is bright and easy to see in normal light and has a luminescent quality to it that allows it to continue to glow for many hours after being exposed to sunlight, a flashlight or a lantern. It’s a very handy feature to have on a camp knife, especially at night.  He also had the normal Phillips screwdriver located on the spine of the knife replaced with a corkscrew.  While some might argue the utility of the screwdriver over a corkscrew, I’ll take the corkscrew almost every time.  For one thing, it allows you to carry the super handy Victorinox eyeglass screwdriver threaded into the corkscrew.  This can be invaluable if your wear prescription glasses or sunglasses on a regular basis. It’s also handy on small electronic devices as well.  Plus, the corkscrew works wonders for undoing knots on stubborn rope and cordage.  Just thread the corkscrew into the knot and use it to wiggle it loose until you can undo it.  It’s much, much easier than trying to free up knots with your fingers.

Specialty SAKs Galore

While Roger has a variety of SAKs he’s either currently offering or has in the recent past, its worth keeping an eye on his website or signing up for his newsletter to keep track of what might come next.  Since these are all limited runs, they tend to sell out fast, so its best to jump on them when you can if you’re interested.  Whatever models you end up with, you know that you’re going to end up with a unique piece that’s well suited to either good old EDC use or just for collecting.  If you’re like me, and can’t decide what you want to do, you need to get at least two of each model! One for using, and another to stash away in your collection!

http://www.swissbianco.com/
 

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