This is a guest post by Jim.
When it comes to outfitting your car, you don’t have to be an “Every Day Carry” sort of person to get utility out of having a multi-tool in the car or your bookbag.
I love Victorinox, the now-merged company with Wenger that makes the traditional Swiss Army Knife. I carry one with me pretty much every day. But at Dollar Tree recently, I spotted a knife and picked one up to check it out. I later bought a second, but more on that in a bit.
It’s an 8-in-1 knife, something that is a bit of a cross between Victorinox’s Spartan and its Super Tinker. Those are both of my go-to knives, so I figured for $1.25 I should give it a whirl and put it in my wife’s car.
The knife is weighty and has solid scales, the outside portion of the knife. Think of the classic red plastic on a Swiss Army Knife. It also has three rubberized grips on each side. It’s a nice flair, but unnecessary for a $1.25 knife.
Not to sound like an infomercial, but its pricier cousins from Switzerland range between $30 and $40. And for this price, the knife is more than adequate.
You probably need to sharpen the blade, made of stainless steel (allegedly), which curiously has a thumb nick on the opposite side of the rest of the tools.
The scissors could use a sharpening, too, but they’re sufficient. The rest of the tool’s metal’s origin is unclear, and frankly, it’s unlikely that it is stainless steel. The knife is good for one task at a time, but opening numerous tools turns into a puzzle about what you need to put back first for it to close properly.
Its flat head screw driver and bottle opener work perfectly, but it lacks the wire stripper of the Victorinox. The can opener resembles an old Wenger model, in that it lacks what can also be used as a small flat head or Phillips head screw driver. It also is not sharpened one iota, so if you were to use it for opening a can in an emergency, you’re going to have to use a lot of arm strength. It is probably the worst feature of the knife, but not a lot of people are going to be relying on this to open a can, especially if they’re campers. It is almost a pointless feature.
On the bottom of the knife is a nail file, a corkscrew, and a Phillips head screwdriver. The screwdriver works and is well made. The corkscrew and nail file are insufficient. There’s probably no way to improve the nail file, but the corkscrew does work, though the metal is weak and one can imagine it breaking. But again, if you’re relying on a $1.25 knife to constantly open bottles of wine or to open cans, you have bigger problems and it would be wise to invest in a better knife.
But, for the price? It’s serviceable and gets the job done. And it’s not something you would worry about losing or getting confiscated by TSA.
Jim Swift is a journalist in Washington, D.C. and writes at The Bulwark. He can be found on Twitter.