Today review will cover a simple tool that should be part of every soldiers equipment, but is nowadays an often overlooked tool that gets more and more overshadowed by other, more complex solutions. We are talking about the swiss pocket knife. Swiss based manufacturer Victorinox builds issued pocket knives for soldiers since 1890.
After generations of being the go to tool for military applications the Soldier 08 (which is Victorinox newest model) got the fate that many “standard issue” pieces of gear experienced. It got the stamp of “issued boredom”, a phenomenon that strikes even more in times of a more and more competitive tactical market.
After getting issued your gear you enter a PX and get overwhelmed by a flood of “better” gear that looks more funky and has a lot more features. More features always equal better, right?
That being said, I like to state that the Soldier 08 and its predecessors are my go-to tools for fieldcraft since I was drafted into the army. Of course, I opted to buy a multitool, but the Soldier 08 was a tool I always carried in my pants pocket, because it is so simple and comfortable to carry. With the Victorinox Soldier 08 you get some of the most essential tools for fieldcraft, EDC and bushcraft, made to unparalleled swiss quality specs. It has just the right size and weight to fit into your pocket while barely noticing it. At the same time, its just large enough to get a good grip when you need to cut or even saw things.
Sure, the Soldier 08 lacks pliers, that’s the reason why I carry a multitool in my second line or third line. But there isn’t any situation I can imagine were a regular grunt needs pliers in matters of seconds while in the barracks. Also, all tools involving pliers are very care intensive and don’t get to well with mud, sand and wet weather conditions. The Soldier 08 can stay in your pants pockets for weeks and retains function all the time, I never really cleaned or even lubricated mine.
The Soldier 08 features an olive, rubberized grip with black highlights that prevents slipping when your hands are wet. The grip features a small metal ring to dummy cord it or just add a lanyard. I added a lanyard of FIRECORD to mine, which essentially makes this knife a part of my first line survival kit when combined with my tape wrapped lighter.
All of the 9 included tools are made of stainless steel and aren’t anodized. As expected I never observed even a hint of rust during all the years of usage.
The main blade can be opened with one hand, thanks to a big thumb hole like many might know them from Spyderco knives. Its locking mechanism combined with a relatively blunt tip really make the blade “soldier proof” and prevent accidents. The blade is serrated which really make this tool ideal for cutting cordage.
If you need a pointy edge, the Soldier 08 also features a reamer. You also get a lockable 5mm flathead screwdriver with limited crowbar capabilities. The flathead also features an integrated wire stripper and – most important barracks application – a bottle opener. You also find a separate Phillips screwdriver which is long enough for most military applications and also lockable. Last but not least you get a can opener with an integrated 3mm flathead.
One of the most impressive features is the integrated saw, which cuts dry and wet branches like a birthday cake. Last but not least you get a can opener which also features a small flathead driver.
So as I said during the introduction, the Soldier 08 is still fine to its job. It is a nice little tool that feels at home at most tactical and outdoor applications and is just bombproof. In my opinion, you should get one of those before even thinking about a complete multitool. I personally really like its blade for working on cordage and average cutting tasks. Compared to a multitool it hast less functions, but the functions it has are far better implemented. Considering its long shelf life you can also think about adding one of those to your survival kit.
You can get the Soldier 08 directly from Victorinox, or by joining most of the world’s armed forces.
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