Victorinox Bantam

Concept: 3 out of 5
Execution: 3 out of 5
Yeah, but: The combo tool rules.

The Long Version: I've inadvertently started a collection of Swiss Army Knives, and February's SAK of the Month is the Bantam. It's about as simple as a Swiss Army Knife can be without living on a keychain, consisting of just a tweezer, toothpick, large blade and a combo tool. This is all accomplished with a single tool layer and those iconic red Cellidor scales, making the Bantam about as slim as a non-Alox SAK can be.

The Combo Tool is a clever little thing. It replaces the functions of both the flat screwdriver and the can opener, and takes the physical place of the small blade. This sheds an entire tool layer without really giving up any core abilities. The acute corner at the working end of the combo tool even makes a better Philips driver than the regular screwdriver or can opener can.

Despite its unsharpened edge, the combo tool does open cans. It may not be as speedy as the standard model, but I really don't care. If I'm using a Swiss Army Knife to open a can then I'm also going to be desperate enough to make the finer points of its effectiveness irrelevant. The SAK is better than finding a rough slab of concrete to use to grind away the seam around the lid, so mission accomplished. Let's face it: if I ever go camping and am willing to carry the weight of canned food, then bringing along one of the two normal can-openers from my kitchen isn't going to be the cause of my logistical nightmare.

While the Bantam is very thin for a plastic-scaled Victorinox, it's only slightly thinner than my heavy-duty Alox Electrician, and thicker than the Alox Cadet. The single tool layer and plastic scales also allow the knife to flex slightly when squeezed, so sometimes the combo tool binds on the knife when it's being folded away.

The Bantam has only one knife blade. I have to admit that I prefer dual blades, as I let the short one do most of the work and reserve the large blade for slicing paper or similar tasks. But giving up the small blade for the combo tool has proven to be a good compromise, and I carry the Bantam whenever I want something lighter-duty in my pocket.

last updated 11 feb 2013


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