Emergency preparedness from a Counterintelligence Agent

Victorinox Swisschamp XAVT Swiss Army knife review

Victorinox Swisschamp XAVT swiss army knife reviewWhen I was young, I was in the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) in Colorado and was dating a curly-haired girl a little older than me named Carla. I think her name was Carla. It was a very interesting time in my life.This was the early me back then. God, I was such a studmuffin *sigh*

civil air patrol

For my 15th birthday, Carla, or whatever her name was, gave me a Swiss Army knife. I kept that thing for over 30 years and then one day realized that I hadn’t seen it in a while (I’ve been deployed several times and to several military schools for the past decade so things tend to get lost). I probably still have it somewhere in the garage or in my army gear room though. It’s essentially this model.

What I loved about my knife is that when I carried it, it came in handy for all sorts of things that I didn’t even know I needed something for. Don’t get me wrong, I do love my Gerber multi-tool that I was issued on my tour to Afghanistan (because it’s just awesome), but it doesn’t have the history that the Swiss Army knife does. In 1884, Karl Elsener started his cutlery factory in the small village of Ibach, Switzerland. In 1897, he made the Victorinox Original Swiss Army Knife to deliver to the Swiss Soldiers. It became a legend. His great-grandson Carl now runs the business.

Granted, in my case it could partially be because it was from the first “real” girlfriend I ever had. I know several people who got them as gifts when they were young or saved up enough money to finally buy one on their own. I could never afford one so I had to get one the hard way by wooing her and asking her out. It was cool that I got a knife out of the deal.

To me, a Swiss Army knife is kind of like a Colt 1911, or a P51 Mustang, Guinness, a Harley, or a Ferrari: instantly recognizable, has a history, and works very well. There’s just something to be said about tradition.

That’s why it really jumped out at me when I came across this knife. It’s actually hard to call it a knife – it’s kind of a full-on compact system of survival and elf workshop tools, all in one. I saw it and curiosity took a hold of me like Carla’s dad one day when he came home early and thought we were in school. I was pleasantly surprised. Not about Carla’s dad – he wasn’t so pleasant that day. The knife impressed me though.

I’m always looking for things that will serve more than one function which can cut down on space or weight in survival gear. I think this knife will work just dandy. I may just have to update my Top 7 prepper / survival / camping gifts for preppers article now to include this one. I didn’t want to just lump it in there or some of you would miss it.

So which knife is it that I’m going on about (if you couldn’t tell from the big image at the beginning of the article)? This one’s from Cutlery Mania:

It’s the Victorinox Swiss Army SwissChamp XAVT

Just look at that thing. It’s just chock full of tool-y goodness with all kinds of things that I could have used at one point or another over the years and didn’t have with me.

So what’s in the XAVT Swiss Army knife?

  • Large blade
  • Small blade
  • Corkscrew
  • Can opener with
  • -small screwdriver 3 mm
  • Bottle opener with
  • -large screwdriver 6 mm
  • -wire stripper
  • Reamer
  • Key ring
  • Tweezers
  • Toothpick
  • Scissors
  • Multi-purpose hook (also parcel carrier)
  • Wood saw
  • Fishscaler with
  • -hook disgorger
  • -ruler (cm & inches)
  • Nail file with
  • -metal file
  • -nail cleaner
  • -metal saw
  • Fine screwdriver 2 mm
  • Chisel
  • Pliers with
  • -wire cutters
  • -wire crimping tool
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Magnifying Glass
  • Ball point pen
  • -also to set DIP-Switches
  • Pin
  • Mini-screwdriver
  • Sewing eye
  • Wrench with
  • -5mm female Hex drive for D-SUB connectors
  • -4mm female Hex drive for the bits
  • -Bit Phillips 0 (Pozidrive)
  • -Bit Phillips 1 (Pozidrive)
  • -Bit Slotted 4 mm
  • -Bit Phillips 2
  • -Bit Hex 4 mm
  • -Bit Torx 8
  • -Bit Torx 10
  • -Bit Torx 15
  • Large blade
  • LED light, white
  • Multi-purpose hook with nailfile
  • Reamer
  • Pruning blade
  • Electrician’s blade with wire scraper
  • -wire scraper
  • Pharmaceutical spatula
  • Combination tool with cap lifter
  • -can opener
  • -screwdriver
  • -wire stripper
  • Watch opener
  • Fine screwdriver 2 mm
  • Digital clock
  • Altimeter
  • Barometer
  • Alarm
  • Countdown
  • Timer
  • Thermometer

And why do you need all that stuff really?

because 'murica

Now I don’t know about that highfalutin digital stuff on the side of the knife but I guess it’s ok. From what I’ve read, dropping it in water doesn’t hurt the electronics but I don’t know how long you could hold it under water. It should be good for surviving rainstorms or a wet t-shirt contest though so you’re good, and it’ll still cut just fine without it. It does NOT come with cupholders.

Also, don’t expect that you’ll be able to start a fire with a magnifying glass that will fit on a knife – you won’t. I’d suggest getting a cheap fresnel lens that’s about the size and weight of a piece of paper to start a fire with the sun from something you can carry easily in a bug out bag.

The rest of this thing though is pretty damn awesome! It even has a freaking ball point pen in it.

It may be easier to see it in a video though than that two-column list above so here’s one you can watch:

So are there better knives out there on the market? Sure, depending on what you’re exactly looking for. There are bigger ones, stronger ones, sharper ones, shinier ones, and so on. I have a great SOG SE37-N Seal Team Elite Knife I carried in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Africa that’s awesome as a combat knife or a generic survival knife but it won’t fit in my pocket (I actually keep my SOG on my Desert Warrior Harley tank now). Plus, it’s just a single blade knife so it won’t open my wine bottle or pull a thorn from a lion’s foot.

If you want to have several quality pieces of useful toolish gear all in one place though, this is hard to beat. In fact, I think this is a great bug out bag knife.

Look, you still need to have a basic fixed-blade or quality, large locking blade knife in your kit – no doubt. But there will be times that you’ll need to do things that a basic knife just won’t do. Swiss Army knives and those dogs with the kegs of brandy on their necks are the reasons Switzerland wasn’t invaded in WWII. They’re feisty creatures with bad habits. The dogs, not the Swiss. The Swiss are pretty cool actually. Especially the ones that make yummy chocolate. I freaking hate that ♫Riicolaaa♫ dude though.

This thing has a LOT more things on it than my SOG, and almost all of them are useful (don’t know why you’d need a timer for in a survival situation other than for pattern-of-life recon but whatever). It’s like having half your survival toolkit all in one handi-dandy place.

Just FYI: you might think that this XAVT is the biggest Swiss Army knife out there. Au contraire mi amigo, that would be the Wenger 16999 Swiss Army Knife. It’s a freaking BEAST! (BTW, there are some hilarious reviews on that thing)

The XAVT is cool enough and useful enough though that just having it would be awesome – even if I didn’t keep it in my kit. It’s one of those things that will absolutely start a conversation. Just put it out on your coffee table the next time you’re having your soiree hoedown (or hootenany if you prefer) and see how many people touch it. They will ALL touch it.

Something like this isn’t just a knife – it’s a piece of history. I think that’s one of the big draws it has. It’s an awesome collectors item, it’s great for showing off, and it’s ACTUALLY USEFUL.

It’s too big for an EDC kit (unless you have really big pockets or carry on your shoulder every day an angry, yet desperate little monkey named Clyde who has a tiny backpack and an inxplicable fear of clowns) but it’s perfect for a bug out bag or to be put in your camping gear or in your car/truck.

BTW, the XAVT also has a leather pouch available that you could use to carry it on your belt or strap onto the outside of a bag. I like leather.

Other Victorinox Swisschamp XAVT Swiss Army knife reviews

But how good is it? I know that Swiss Army knives are super reliable and all that but I didn’t know about something that was this packed full of stuff so I dug into the reviews.

Here are the reviews on the manufacturer’s page. Fantastic reviews, but there’s only a few there. Go ahead and read them, I gotta grab another beer real quick anyway.

Reviews (other than the price) are the big benefit to buying things on Amazon. Even when I don’t buy something there, I always check their reviews (sometimes I just get that itch and see something in the store and don’t want to wait a couple of days for it to be mailed to me). At the time I wrote this, there were 48 reviews, and they say this thing is great. There were a few that were only 3 stars but all the rest were higher. Here are a few of the three star reviews to give you an idea:

collector: This fine product is very portable. If your usual attire doesn’t have pockets, you can easily hide this in your sock. However, there is a small design flaw – its not very quiet. It makes a very loud sound when you drop it on your foot.

Shuleelee: WTF! over $300 and it has everything you need to survive except directions LOL. I guess ill keep looking for the perfect swiss army knife…

S. J. Huse: I found this knife while hiking thru Europe. It was stuck in a rock. It’s nice but I found that by pulling it out I became king of Switzerland, which is a bit more than I bargained for.

Whether you’re buying this as a special gift for yourself or a gift for a special someone who likes camping or just being prepared at all times, you can’t go wrong with this knife. It’s pretty awesome.

Now obviously not everyone has the budget to get the creamy-cream, line-topper knife, and some people want to actually carry their knife with them without having food stolen out of their hands when they try to eat. Luckily, they do make Swiss Army knives for mortals. Check this one out:

So, if you’re looking for one of those gifts that pretty much anyone who isn’t a dainty debutante, you can’t go wrong with one of these. It’s a no-brainer gift for anyone who camps, tinkers, or just likes to fix stuff or walk around opening boxes at will. It’s one of those gifts that will make even the gruffiest, hardcore prepper squeal with glee too.

Would you like to get one of these as a gift or think they might be interested in reading this? Share this post with someone. C’mon! You can do it…

About graywolfsurvival.com

I am a former federal agent and military veteran who has deployed to combat theaters in Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan and have almost three decades of military and military contracting experience.

My goal is to help families to understand how to intelligently protect their family and their way of life against real threats, without all the end-of-the-world doomsday crap.


  1. Survival Sherpa says

    Had me rolling a few times, man! Keep drinking and writing late at night!!

    Being a mere mortal, the Huntsman is exactly what I carry everyday I put my pants on. Cheers!

  2. irish7_1sg says

    I’ve carried that exact model, the Huntsman, with me every single day since mid 1977! I’ve lost a few, broke a few blades, etc, but always bought the same knife. I feel that it is the perfect size, not so big to fit inside your pocket. It also has the most valuable tools, scissors and saw blades. I know I saved more than one party when we purchased bottled beer (before twist off caps) and no one else had an opener.

    • graywolfsurvival says

      Yeah, that’s a great model. I’m thinking about getting another one. Haven’t decided if I want that exact one again or not. The XAVT is pretty damn awesome but I can’t carry it every day.

      • irish7_1sg says

        I owned several Huntsman knives over the years. I would break a blade, or the saw, then throw it in a drawer somewhere. A few years ago (2008 I think), I mailed all the broken ones back to Victorinox. They fixed them all and sent them back! I carry a multi-tool (Scrade Tough Tool) everyday, too. However, nothing gets used more than the Swiss Army Knife.

  3. Hi, I’ve been reading your posts for a while now and I was wondering if you can post a list of skills you think are useful? I know cpr, first aid, basic camping skills, starting a fire multiple ways, sewing, crochet/knitting, and I can fence but I’m not sure how handy sword fighting would be in a SHTF scenario. I’m also learning basic carpentry skills but am unable to find anybody to teach me so it is a slow process and a lot of trial and error.

    • graywolfsurvival says

      Hmm. I’d have to look at that one. It sounds pretty interesting. I’d focus more on mechanical ability and hand-to-hand combat like krav maga before sword fighting. Finding water and filtering/purifying it should be a priority as well as identifying beneficial and harmful plants in the areas you’ll be going to. I’m sure there are plenty more but it would probably be a pretty big one. Maybe I could do like a top 10 skills you should learn or something.

      • thanks, yeah I’m actually going to be doing a self defense class soon. I took fencing in college for fun, like I said not useful in a SHTF situation though. Can’t wait to see the list. I’ve seen a lot and I’m looking for the more obscure things or the things people seem to over look.

  4. Checking into the Victorinox Swiss Champ XAVT (big one) & appreciate your review.
    Being a journeyman chef, knife guy, hunter & retailer in our specialty bicycle shop – I am often on the look out for more blades to collect or sell.
    Grant Patton
    Bentley, AB. CDN.

  5. Bruce Limber says


    Plesae produce the same XAVT review, but in just ONE COLUMN: The right side of your two-column list got overlaid by spam ads on my computer screen such that most of the right-hand column was uselessly unreadable.

    Thank you! 🙂


  6. I recently purchased a Swiss champ xavt on Amazon in the UK, I couldn’t resist it due to being half price! I managed to buy it for £250.00 including postage, all I can say is WOW! What a fantastic bit of kit it really is. I have been into bushcraft and camping all my life, and I have built up a lot of kit over the years! But this is definitely my favourite bit of kit by far. Definitely a serious investment, but well worth it!

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