A peek into the history of the army knife

Maher Asaad Baker
2 min readMar 21, 2023

Before there was ever an official Swiss Army knife, the Swiss Army chose to buy rudimentary folding pocket knives for their soldiers in the late 1880s.

This knife was created specifically for military purposes, including opening cans of food and disassembling the M1889 Swiss service rifle, which needed a screwdriver to put together.

The first multi-knives were made by the German Solingen blade producers, who had long-standing relationships with the Swiss Federal War Material Administration.

The initial order for 15,000 knives was filled by the German knife manufacturer Wester & Co. from Solingen, Germany because at the time no Swiss company had the production capacity to deliver the knives.

Karl Elsener, the proprietor of a business that produced surgical instruments, attempted to manufacture the knives in Switzerland in 1891, and by the year’s end, Elsener had taken over the manufacture of the Modell 1890 knives.

There are numerous Swiss Army knife variants available, each with a unique tool combination for everyday use and a purpose.

The simplest type offered has just one blade, and the most frequent tools included are a small second blade in addition to the main blade, tweezers, toothpicks, corkscrews, can and bottle openers, slotted and flat-head screwdrivers, Phillips-head screwdrivers, nail files, scissors, a regular and a wood saw, a file, reamer, hook, parcel carrier, a tool to tighten shoelaces, etc., magnifying glasses, ballpoint pens, fish scaler.

An excerpt from “Legendary knife” book by Maher Asaad Bakr.