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The catagory of Swiss Army Knives can be broken down into three main sections- Victorinox, Wenger and Other. Victorinox (The Original Swiss Army Knife) and Wenger (The Genuine Swiss Army Knife) have split the military contract directly in half, and are the only organizations legally allowed to use the term “Swiss Army Knife” in reference to their products as they are the only companies that supply the Swiss Army with knives.

The Other catagory encompasses knock-offs, look-a-likes and early knives supplied to the Swiss Military prior to 1897 when Victorinox supplied their first knife to the Swiss Army. Until that time most of the knives issued to soldiers were purchased from Solingen in Germany.

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The company which eventually became known as Victorinox was started by a man named Karl Elsener and the knives were originally sold through his mother’s hat shop in the German speaking town of Ibach. His mother, Victoria was where half the company’s eventual name came from, the other half being INOX, which is French for “Inoxydable” or stainless, in reference to the type of steel that was eventually used.


Victorinox’s line of knives can be divided into two catagories- descendants of the original Officer’s knives and descendants of the original Soldier’s knives. Soldier’s knives still exist, and the actual model issued to troops is available for purchase, and have also launched many spinoff knives. The original Soldier model gives birth to the metal handled models (ALOX) while the original Officer’s knife has evolved into the various well known red plastic handled knives that are well known around the world.

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Wenger was originally called Boechat & Cie in 1893 after founder Paul Boechat in the small town of Courtetaile. A few years later the company was purchased by a number of in entrepreneurs and renamed The Fabrique Suisse De Coutellerie SA. Shortly after that, Theo Wenger was promoted to director of the company and renamed it Wenger & Co SA in 1901, which was later shortened to just Wenger SA.


Like Victorinox, Wenger produced a metal sided Soldier’s knife, but did not evolve other models in it’s style, opting instead to advance the designs of the individual implements on the Officer’s series of knives.

Wenger unfortunately suffered a difficult period in the late 1990's and could not recover, despite introducing some new designs, many of which were considered to be very advanced. In 2005 Wenger was purchased by Victorinox and the company has since come out with many more groundbreaking designs which have met with great success.

Both companies continue to operate independently of each other despite the purchase, which is a delight to many SAK fans. In the time after Wenger was purchased it was thought that Wenger might become the “cheaper” brand as happens often when one company purchases a rival, but Wenger’s quality is actually seen by many to have actually improved from the already high level it was at previously.

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Created by RedRamage. Last Modification: Monday 14 of May, 2007 17:32:24 CEST by RedRamage.

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