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 â€œSwiss Army Knifeâ€ 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.
Victorinoxâ€™s line of knives can be divided into two catagories- descendants of the original Officerâ€™s knives and descendants of the original Soldierâ€™s knives. Soldierâ€™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 Officerâ€™s knife has evolved into the various well known red plastic handled knives that are well known around the world.
Like Victorinox, Wenger produced a metal sided Soldierâ€™s knife, but did not evolve other models in itâ€™s style, opting instead to advance the designs of the individual implements on the Officerâ€™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 â€œcheaperâ€ brand as happens often when one company purchases a rival, but Wengerâ€™s quality is actually seen by many to have actually improved from the already high level it was at previously.