Starting in 1962 through to 2007 this 93mm alox scaled model was the official issue to the Swiss Army - and other military organisations - See History for more information.
- Large Drop-Point Main Blade - With year tang stamp
- Cap-Lifter - With large screwdriver and wire stripper
- Can Opener with small slotted screwdriver - Also for small Phillips screws
Initially red, then silver, ribbed Alox - See Evolution of the 1961 Soldier below.
The military knives have not included the popular toothpick and tweezers of the civilian knives, presumably because they are too easily lost in the field, or deemed to be non-essential for soldiers. Excluding them would also make the manufacturing of the Alox scales slightly easier.
A ‘Swiss Army Knife’ has been standard issue to the Swiss military since 1891, and has continued every year to the present day. Every knife has the year of production stamped on the tang of the main blade as two digits: YY - e.g. '68 ' - for 1968. This is the only Swiss Army knife that has this feature, although see Related Knives note below.
Since the knives were issued to soldiers, in part to maintain their firearms, they were under the supervision of the Waffenkontrolle, and early models contain their 'approved' stamp on the scales (see image above). This stamp went through some changes before ultimately being withdrawn from Swiss Army Knives. - See: Wiki page Soldier 1890 and articles WaffenKontrol & Soldier 1961 for additional background.
- Prior to 1951 the ‘Soldier’s knife’ was the 100mm Original Soldier's Knife first made by Victorinox in 1891.
- Between 1951 and 1961 the Soldier was the 93mm 1951 Soldier's Knife.
- The Soldier model was completely redesigned in 1961 resulting in this familiar 93mm alox handled knife, which was issued between 1962 and 2008. This knife was also issued to other military organisations, in addition to the Swiss troops.
- In 2008 Victorinox introduced the new 111mm Soldier's knife that replaced this 93mm model as the official Soldier's knife.
The Pioneer Range was introduced the first time to the market in 1957. This range had led to the development of the soldier knife (model 1961) with red aluminium handles and was delivered the first time to the Swiss Army in June 1962. However, there was no shipment to the Swiss Army by Victorinox in 1960 and 1961 whereas Wenger produced the former model during these two years.
The list below chronicles the major features and changes to the 1961 Soldier
- The new knives were produced with red alox scales between 1962 and 1964.
- After which they changed to the regular silver alox scales - apparently due to wear and tear on the scales, which becomes very obvious on the red handles, compared to the silver ones.
- However, red alox models are also known to exist, in addition to the silver handled models, between 1965 and 1975, with the exception of 1972 & 1974.
- As part of the new design a sharpened inside edge, that could be used as a wire striper/scraper or as a general scraper; and a 90° half-stop, were added to the screwdriver/caplifter tool. The scraper is reported to work quite well with modern fire-steels.
- Hollow rivets were also introduced on one end of the knife, through which a lanyard could be threaded, or a removable Shackle or Bail could be inserted.
- In 1977 the familiar Red Shield was added to the scales. 1977 models were produced with both the old cross and the new shield.
- From 1987 the Waffenkontrolle stamp no longer featured on the scales, as this quality control check was no longer required by the army.
- In 1993 the hollow rivet and sharpened edge to the caplifter were withdrawn. The wire stripper notch (which had been around on the 'Officer's Knives' for some time) was introduced. Some knives stamped with the year 93 still had a hollow rivets. The linked image shows two the two different Soldier configurations for 93.
- Later models have more highly polished openers. Many prefer the more matte finish, and some say these tools grip and hold better. The high-polished tools have an aesthetic appearance that some feel do not fit such a tool, especially if it affects performance.
- 08 was the last tang stamp on the 1961 Alox Soldier.
The Soldier model was not produced at all by Victorinox during the following years:
1958, 1960, 1961, 1972, 1974
It is unknown whether or not the annual military order was filled by existing knives or by Wenger alone.
- With Keyring; while almost all soldier's knives do not include the keyring attachment spacer and keyring, there was an unissued version that included the keyring. The keyring version is reported by Victorinox to have been manufactured from 1992/93 to 2002 for general sale, but they were never delivered to the Swiss Army. Actual examples have been have been reported with year stamps 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 00. These knives are labelled as Soldier's rather than Pioneers with dated blades (common), because they have the Swiss shield on the scales and the dated blade was intentional and consistent.
- In the years 2003 and 2005 some models were produced with Charles Elsener's signature etched on the main blade. The majority of these, if not all, were originally included in a package with the book A Collector's Companion.
- The ARMAGEDDON Soldier was produced in 1998 in coordination with the motion picture company Touchstone Pictures. It features a double laser etching with "ARMAGEDDON" on the obverse and "Touchstone Pictures" on the reverse of the blade. This edition is numbered and limited to 5000 pieces.
- For 2004 the VSAKCS Anniversary Club Knife is a Soldier with Jahr 2004 etched on the blade, "VSAK Collectors Society" printed in the advertising panel on the bottom scale, but somewhat unexpectedly has a 05 manufacturing date stamp on the reverse tang.
- A South African Army Version was produced between YYYY and YYYY. They were based on the Civilian version of the knife and feature the silver Alox scales with the plain Swiss Cross emblem and the NATO stock number on the top scale.
- The Black Beauty model is technically not a Soldier, but a version that was sold by Swiss Railway shops in the late 80s or early 90s. It has the Soldier's Swiss Shield and except for the year stamp on the blade tang, it has all the features of an Alox soldier from the years 1988-1992; thicker unpolished screwdriver with wire-scraper, hollow-rivet, unpolished can-opener, steel rivet in the middle. The complete set consisted of the Soldier knife and a Maglite flashlight in a roll style pouch.
GALLERY - Also see image below.
- The Feuerschlagmesser (Fire Striker Knife), was a limited run of knives for renowned knife collector Horst Brunner of Switzerland. The Feuerschlagmesser features a steel striker on a special back spring added to the Soldier's knife. The striker is used with Flint rock to create sparks for fire starting, and were sold with a piece of flint and firestarter material. The Fish stamp on the striker is the Maker's Mark of H. Fischlin who designed the striker and special backspring for the knife. Victorinox produced a number of the Feuerschlagmesser for Mr. Brunner who wrote the book "Feuer und Feuerschlagmesser" (ISBN:3-7193-1156-2 / 978-3-7193-1156-8) on the history of the fire starter knives.
The original production numbers for this model made for Mr. Brunner has been reported as 658 knives, from 4 different runs:
1996 August: – 100; 1998 February: – 185; 2000 August: – 173; 2002 July: - 200
In 2008, probably using up old stock of the special strikers, Victorinox assembled a small additional number of these knives, they are reported to have later tangs "Swiss Made" w/o a date.
- In 2008 Victorinox made a limited run of only 10 special Red Alox Soldiers for the dealer SwissBianco. These knives have a solid red shield (same colour as scales), the main blade has a 08 tang-stamp and the older Victorinox/Switzerland/Stainless/Rostfrei tag on the obverse. The Can-opener and Cap-lifter are older non-polished tools with the cap-lifter having the internal scraper and no wire stripper notch. The scales are a slightly different shade of red anodizing, and the tail rivet is the older hollow style. This knife is a nice way to commemorate the 1961 Alox Soldier's knife as they transitioned to the new 111mm design.
The Dutch Army was also issued versions of the Victorinox Soldier for a number of years, first starting in 1983. These knives don't have the year of production stamped on the tang of the main blade, but carry a unique stamp on the top scale that includes the year of production. The scale stamp also includes "KL" an abbreviation for Koninklijke Landmacht (Royal Army), or "KM" an abbreviation for Koninklijke Marine (Royal Navy). The knives were all silver Alox and have the silver Swiss Cross logo on the top scale. See also: SOSAK: Soldier Variants
- Length: 93mm - Nominal - listed in official catalogs as 91mm
- Width: 11.5mm
- Weight: 69.7g
US Model Numbers:
- 53929: Standard Model
- 53939: Final Production Run (Labeled Soldier 61)
- Pioneer - Same tools plus a keyring (other differences depending on year)
- Farmer - Adds woodsaw and keyring attachment
- Soldier Model 1890 - Original Soldier Knife
- Soldier 1951 Design - 93mm Fiber Handled Knife with bolsters.
- Soldier 2008 Design - 111mm synthetic scaled Soldier's Knife, with saw and locking blade.
- Soldat 1961 - the Wenger Soldier Knife based on the 1961 design
Note: Occasionally other 93mm Alox knives are seen with a year stamped on the blade, but these are either repaired or modified versions, or units assembled by Victorinox using excess production of the blades for a given year. The year stamp does not precisely indicate the year of production for these knives.
- SwissArmyKnights: Swiss Army - The Red Years, December 2nd, 2010
- SwissArmyKnights: Pre Shield Years, January 1st, 2011
- SwissArmyKnights: Red Shield Years, February2nd, 2011
- SwissArmyKnights: Soldier Variants, Part II, April 1st, 2008
- SOSAK: Soldier Variants, August 26, 2006 Broken Link
- SwissArmyKnights: The Victorinox Soldier vs. The Wenger Standard Issue, November 21st, 2005
- Swissknives.info Soldier 1961