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Victorinox Huntsman Review

Reviews 90mm-102mm (3.5"-4") All-Purpose & Utility Tactical Victorinox
8.4

Great

8.4

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 The Swiss Army Huntsman is for the enthusiastic hunter, & it shows. You get 13 tools with 15 functions in a small package. You’ll be putting it through a lot of use in the field.

It has the traditional two knife blades, two screwdrivers, can opener, & more. The real unique pieces are the multi-purpose hook, & the wood saw.

Victorinox Huntsman Review

I received my knife 03/06/2017 via UPS. I was not home at the time but found it the next morning. Upon removing it from the shipping box, I discovered the knife was in a small box - similar to a matchbox - with a slide out the center. The knife was sitting in a plastic tray that was indented for a perfect fit. Besides the packing slip, no other papers were included. In fact, the maintenance and warranty information was printed inside the outer box. To read it I would have to separate the glued seam and unfold it.
Most knives I have bought come with a separate instruction sheet. The Huntsman came in color I requested (red). I quickly flipped out each blade and tool. Some were a bit sticky at first, but after several times each one opens fine. There are twelve different functions listed, but I will only touch on a few in this report. Mainly, that the saw blade has no thumbnail indent to aid in accessing this blade. This posed no problem, as I was able to easily flip the saw blade up by catching the tip with my fingernail and flipping it up.
Noticeably missing was a Phillips screwdriver. The website lists the knife at 91 mm or 3.58 inches long. No weight was given. I weighed it at the post office (3.4 oz). I checked the longest blade, and it was about 2 3/8 inches long. I shaved a small section of hair on my arm and found the blade was sharp, but it pulled the hair more than I like. I will be putting a finer edge on it.
The saw blade is almost 3 inches long and feels very sharp. I took it outside and sawed a few finger-sized twigs. It cut better than I had expected. The scissors cut typing paper with ease. The last obvious thing to note is that this knife is a little thick for a pocketknife but too small to justify a sheath. The best I could determine it is roughly 3/4 inches wide.
This is my first Swiss Army type knife. But from others, I have seen, and the pictures of the Huntsman on the web, I was a bit surprised at how good the knife feels. I have used my Leatherman blade in the past only to be less than satisfied with the feel of the knife in use.
The Huntsman, on the other hand, even with the thickness from all the tools is quite comfortable to hold and manipulate. When I whittled on one of the sticks I had trimmed from a tree, I was delighted with the overall feel and performance. However, it may not be as comfortable in use as more traditional pocketknives. Also, the title of the knife could be a bit misleading.
To me, Huntsman conjures up images of Davy Crockett with a Bowie knife or the more modern versions of skinning knives on the market today. However, the saw-blade could serve the bow hunter well clearing shooting lanes. The hook feature of the knife is not what normally comes to bird knives for removing the entrails. I would classify the knife as more of a multi-tool knife than a pocketknife used for skinning small game.
I plan to use the Huntsman as my daily working knife. I will also use it on camping and canoe trips, as well as my frequent walks in the woods. From this, I will be able to assess the usefulness and durability of the knife. I would like to thank Jerry and Victorinox for the opportunity to test this knife.
Field Test Results: Since receiving my knife almost two months ago, it has been my constant companion both as an everyday knife and as my woods knife. As planned I have used it in every conceivable situation I could think of and then some. But first I will revisit the key statistics of the knife. It measures about ¾ inches wide, 3 5/8 inches long and weighs 3.4 oz on my local post office’s scales. The longest blade measures 2 3/8 inches in length. See my first report for more details.
I first tried the shaving ability of the main blade. It would shave ok but pulled the hairs on my arm. I have since sharpened it with my DMT red diamond sharpener. After only a few strokes for each side, it was shaving to my liking. This differs with the experience I have with my Buck knives, which takes several minutes to sharpen. So far the edge has held up well, and it still shaves fairly easily.
Some stainless steel is harder than others. As a general rule the harder the steel, the harder it is to sharpen but the longer it will remain sharp. The steel in the Huntsman appears to be a good combination of both. I have used the main blade for a general cutting task such as rope, opening stubborn plastic wrap on various foods and hard goods, and to whittle fuzz sticks for fire starting. The second most useful function on the knife (for me) was the scissors. They are rather small but do a good job cutting paper, small twine, removing the plastic string like price holders, and dog hair. My dog has a nasty habit of getting thorn and briar stem all tangled up in his fur. Sometimes he will get one running from under his belly, back between his legs and down his tail. When it gets to the point that it makes it challenging and painful for him to walk he usually starts hunting me for relief. On the trail, this is easily remedied with a few quick snips with the scissors. I found my fingernails were too tough to trim with the scissors. I’ve heard of people using them for that purpose. I have bumped the spring that opens the scissors out of its slot a few times, but it goes right back in place easily.
The other tool I found useful was the can opener. For one thing, the handle of the knife makes it a lot easier to use than the little G.I. can openers I have tried. I opened several cans of tuna and beef stew at work and a can of beef stew on an overnighter when I could afford the extra weight. In the past, I have done this with a pocketknife, but for safety’s sake, I would not recommend it. I would rate the saw and two sizes of flat screwdrivers as handy but seldom used (so far) tools. The saw will make short work of cutting finger-sized limbs. The screwdrivers are fairly centered on the tool, more so than on my Leatherman, but still slow to use compared to a dedicated screwdriver. I seldom used the smaller blade, but it is nice to have the extra blade on the knife in case you should break the primary blade. I also like to have an extra blade handy for rough work so I can more easily keep the main blade shaving sharp. I used the toothpick for what else, to pick my teeth. The point is a little broad but served its purpose. I was fortunate not to need the tweezers. Tools I found little use for where the bottle opener, corkscrew, hook, reamer with sewing eye, wire stripper, and the key ring. In fact, the key ring protrusion makes it difficult to open the hook. Not that these tools are useless, but the extra weight they add could be put to better use in my opinion.
Recommendations and changes I would make:
To be fair to Victorinox, I should point out that they offer several different blade and tool configurations, which the buyer can choose from. However, after you get past the Classic size, all have a few tools I would only offer on the more deluxe versions. This would save some weight and still include the most useful tools as a starting point. For example, the bottle opener is now almost a dinosaur as this type of bottle cap is no longer common. In its place, I would recommend as standard the magnifying glass, which an outdoorsman can find many uses for finding splinters to emergency fire starting. I would add a Phillips screwdriver to the point of one of the tools (the saw comes to mind). Even though I did not have to use the corkscrew, I would say leave it. It is pretty much synonymous with the Swiss Army Knife.
I noticed the Deluxe Tinker has a small set of pliers. I could see using them a lot and would add them to my “ideal” Victorinox. The pliers could also serve as an emergency pot grabber. To sum it I would have to say I am very satisfied with the performance of the Huntsman. It will find its place on all my backpacking trips and a home in my jeans most of the time. Sure there are other mini-multitools which would be a good choice as well, but the function to weight ratio of the Huntsman is right up there with the best. My thanks go to Jerry and Victorinox for the opportunity to participate in this test.
As I noted in my field report the Huntsman is a little bulky for a pocket knife but too small to need a sheath. It measures about 3/4 inches ((19 mm) wide, 3 5/8 inches (91 mm) long, and weighs 3.4 ounces (106 gm) on my local post office's scales. The website list the knife as 3.58 inches (91 mm) long; however, no weight is listed on the website. The longest blade measures 2 3/8 inches (60 mm) in length. The website also lists the following 15 features for the knife:
  • 1. Large blade
  • 2. Small blade
  • 3. Corkscrew
  • 4. Can opener with
  • 5. - Small screwdriver (also for Phillips screws)
  • 6. Cap lifter with
  • 7. - Screwdriver
  • 8. - Wire stripper
  • 9. Reamer, Punch
  • 10. Key ring
  • 11. Tweezers
  • 12. Toothpick
  • 13. Scissors
  • 14. Multi-purpose hook (parcel carrier)
  • 15. Wood saw
 
I must say that I have come to be extremely fond of my Huntsman. It is a convenient knife, and the many tools have seen their fair share of the workload. In addition to opening food packages on the trail, I have used the scissors on countless occasions doing everything from cutting saw briars out of my dog's fur to cutting loose threads off my clothes. Once I was going swimming and picked up an old pair of swim trunks I had not worn in several years. They had shrunk. I made it OK on the hike down to the swimming hole but noticed they seemed to restrict my stride. Heading back home (uphill all the way) I was tuckered out in a short time mostly due to the tight shorts. I promptly pulled my Huntsman out of my fanny pack for some in-the-field-surgery. A quick cut up each leg (of the swim trunks) with the scissors was all it took to relieve the tightness that was restricting my stride. I had no idea how handy a small pair of scissors could be in everyday life, not to mention trail usage. Both the long and short blades have been used quite a lot. Typically I use the short blade for menial chores, like sharpening a pencil, and save the long blade for a time when I will need a sharp blade. I was not completely satisfied with the sharpness of the blades when I first got the knife; so, I sharpened them shortly after receiving the knife. I have owned a lot of knives in the past forty years, and some of the cheaper knives would get dull just riding in my pocket after a few weeks. Both blades have maintained their new edges very well though I must admit I have been reluctant to use the long blade a lot. However, the long blade has seen its fair share of work. I have been using it at work for the past couple of months to slice tomatoes. It is a little short for this, but by going around the tomato, it works rather well. Note: Some of these tomatoes are bigger around than a slice of bread. The other tools have seen insufficient usage, but the saw and straight screwdriver have come in handy occasionally. The tweezers and toothpick have also been put to good use. When picking blackberries, I have used the tweezers to pull out the inevitable thorns, then used the toothpick to dislodge the seeds stuck between my teeth. The few times the toothpick has been too large to dislodge the object stuck between my teeth I have managed to whittle a stick small enough to do the job. I must say I still have not found a good use for the hook. The website does mention using the hook as a parcel carrier. I tested the can opener just to see how good it works, but since I don't take canned goods backpacking, I haven't needed it. It is a very good can opener though. Maybe I'll need it one day, so I am glad it is included. The corkscrew has seen no use, but if I ever lost my set of packing gland removal tools ( a corkscrew on a long flexible handle), I could use the knife's corkscrew, even though its position in the middle of the handle would make this difficult. I have also had no occasion to use the bottle opener or reamer/punch. When I lose some weight, I may need the punch to add holes to my leather belts though. The key ring's position on the back side of the knife makes it awkward to open the hook, but since I don't use the hook, this has posed no problem.
I don't see any great improvements that need to be made to the Huntsman. I will, however, make a suggestion that I feel would be worthwhile to pursue. I looked carefully at all the knives offered by Victorinox, and while several come close to what I would consider the ideal backpacking knife, none nailed it. So Victorinox might consider making a new knife called the Backpacker. I would include only the following to keep weight to a minimum.
  • 1. The same large blade (locking would be preferred)
  • 2. Pliers (real handy for all kinds of repairs and a good emergency pot lifter)
  • 3. Scissors
  • 4. Can opener
  • 5. Regular screwdriver
  • 6. Phillips screwdriver (both screwdrivers could be incorporated in conjunction with another tool)
  • 7. Magnifying glass (specially designed for fire starting)
  • 8. Tweezers
  • 9. Toothpick
  • 10. Single red LED light (pointed to align with the blade when opened)
Perhaps the following observation is too philosophical for a gear review, but I think my personal views as a tester are relevant in this case. I have heard it said that in today's world there is no longer a need for a knife blade and that you could make do just as well with a pair of small folding scissors. I agree this is true about 99% of the time. However, while reading an article in the June 2017 issue of Backpacker, entitled "The Mike Turner Story," I could not help but think of this.
On day four of a nine-day solo hike Mike slipped on a tilting boulder, and when the boulder slid behind him, it pinned him against another boulder, and he became trapped. From my reading of the story Mike was an experienced hiker and was well prepared. However, no mention was made as to whether or not he had a knife with him. I venture to guess that he did have a knife, but because of the remoteness of his location and the slim likelihood that anyone would be looking for him anytime soon, he reasoned that cutting off the trapped legs (just above the knees) would only result in his bleeding to death.
This was undoubtedly a grim situation that I (or anyone for that matter) hope never to encounter, but it does lead me to a conclusion. Rather than die of thirst, I would want the chance to decide if a limb amputation would be a reasonable way out of a life-and-death entrapment. So, I leave it for you to decide if you need to take a knife as you venture outdoors.
I can think of a lot of times when a situation could arise when a knife would be needed and scissors would be useless. Still, I do not quarrel with anyone who decides a knife is an unjustified weight. I for one will take a knife, and the Huntsman is a good candidate. If it had some small pliers, a dedicated Phillips screwdriver, and a magnifying glass, I would be delighted.

Good

  • Solid.
  • Lots Of Features
  • Looks Great.

Bad

  • Larger - compare to other Swiss Knives

Summary

The Huntsman is the best classic Swiss Army Knives and contains pretty much everything you’ll need to live life, save for those debatable devices that have crept into larger knives, like compasses, pens and USB sticks. The engineering and original idea are superb, but for me, the finish with a sharp edge around the plastic covers takes a little shine off the experience
8.4

Great

Blade and Edge Integrity - 7
Ergonomics - 8
Construction Quality - 7
Longevity - 10
Portability - 10

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