The most obvious difference is the sheath- as soon as you open the package it came in you'd see that the sheath is horrible, looking more like a mangled old sock than a sheath. It's hard to imagine that whoever knocked this knife off would be so bad as to try and re-create the knife so closely and yet miss the sheath design by such a wide margin.
The Rescue Tool itself at first glance doesn't seem all hat different, and even feels similar in the hand, until you try to use it. Of course, feel doesn't help you when making an online purchase, so for the scope of this article, it's somewhat immaterial. I will say this much though- the OH blade on the Victorinox opens smoothly, while the knockoff seems to want to stay closed- it requires significantly more effort to open the main blade.
The main blade itself is also a copy of the old style blade, not the newer style with the new opening hold and “Swiss Made” next to it. If you don't know the difference, you can see a comparison article from a few months ago. Until we hear differently, we should feel confident in buying Rescue Tools with the newer style blade. Ironically, the knockoff also has the newer style locking mechanism- or at least would appear to have it, bu I'll get to the lock mechanism itself shortly. Due to the newer style lock, the “X” in Victorinox is clearly visible when the blade is closed, and when opened to 90 degrees, only “Victorinox” and part of what I assume is “Swiss Made” is visible. On the Victorinox, both “Victorinox” and “Switzerland” should be visible.
Getting on to the lock mechanism, it appears to be the newer style with the more pronounced bumps. Amusingly enough, the liner lock also doesn't extend the full length of the liner- it only goes halfway down and ends near the folded tip of the bottle opener, which obviously does not lock open as the Victorinox version does. It also appears to be made of some kind of tin rather than stainless or aluminum.
The bottle opener differences will require a good eye, but if you look closely you will see that the edges are not as well defined, and that the spine on the knockoff is rounded, while the Victorinox has a flat above the nail nick. Additionally the bottom lip on the bottle opener is not as prominent.
A rather amusing feature of the serrated rescue blade on the knockoff is that there's really no way to open it! Like the Victorinox version it has no nail nick, but unlike the Victorinox version it doesn't extend out the butt of the handle when folded. This makes it almost impossible to access, and I'll tell you, in a humid environment like the one I live in, it was almost impossible to get out to take photos of!
If you should manage to get it out though, or if it's extended in the photos you are looking at online, you will notice that the serrations are significantly more aggressive than the Victorinox model, and they look surprisingly like the serration pattern found on cheap steak knives. I doubt that's a coincidence!
The glass saw is very similar to the Victorinox tool, except that it seems somewhat thinner, especially near the tip, but again, this might be hard to tell in an online photo with nothing to compare it to.
Flipping the knife over to look at the back side, we see he awl is somewhat different, widening in the middle, then coming to a no too sharp point. The “edge” is merely for show, and the awl is actually not sharpened, it just looks like it. Note the lack of a sewing eye on the Victorinox awl as well.
The phillips driver is one of the most common areas for cheap knockoffs to be spotted. Ordinarily they are horrid and easy to spot a mile away. By comparison to the other cheap phillips heads you see, this one is amazingly well made. Compared to the Victorinox version, it is smaller, ill fitting and looks like it was stuck in there as an afterthought. The Vic phillips lines up nicely with th erest of the handle, while the knockoff sticks out slightly. Notice also the base, which on the Victorinox is angled to snug in against the handle of the knife while the knockoff's is 90 degrees to the rest of the shaft.
Looking around the outside of the tool, the glass breaker is a hard one to pick up, but as you can see, there is a significant amount of additional overhang on the spine side of the handle on the Victorinox version- likely because the glass breaker is removable on the Vic, while the knockoff has managed t thwart every attempt I've made at removing it. It's also important to note that the Vic shield is engraved on the knockoff's glass breaker, and stamped into the Victorinox, which again might be difficult to tell in photos.
The scales are slightly duller than the Victorinox scales, although that would be impossible to tell without a side by side comparison, as would the imprints. The knockoff's are somewhat faded looking by comparison. They also glow, but not quite as bright or as long as the Victorinox scales.
They say the Devil is in the details, and this next detail is something that can burn a fake really easily- both the toothpick and tweezer have white heads, and the tweezer (usually gray) should be on the front of the knife. If it looks like there's a white head right next to the lettering, it's a fake. The tweezer head also does not seem to fit in the scale very well, and the tweezers themselves are quite horrible. Like the sheath though, it's amazing they went to so much effort to copy everything else, then left painfully obvious clues!
Moving on to the keyring, the Vic's keyring is, as usual, an extension of the liner, while the knockoff's is an extension of the backspring. It's a small thing, but probably not the kind of thing anyone but a SOSAK member would notice, and so it's somewhat likely that the photos would slip up on something like that.
The lanyard is also a loose weave, and the head is solid black nylon on the knockoff, often with a prominent black “pin” sticking out of it- a by product of the molding process. The Victorinox one by comparison is actually clear (frosted) rubber over a black center, which might be hard to tell from a photo as well.
I hope these details manage to keep this fake Rescue Tool out of most people's hands. This thing really is a hunk of junk, and I for one would be very concerned about any first responder carrying one of these knockoffs, thinking it's a real Victorinox knife. It looks enough the part that it could fool the uninformed, and is sturdy enough to probably get through a few light jobs, bu I can't imagine it standing up to serious use for long.
A quick note to the person responsible for these knockoffs, although I doubt he/she is actually reading this. I hope you are happy with what you have done. In order to make a few extra dollars you besmirched the reputation of a quality company, and put the lives of many people in jeopardy. It's one thing to knock off a hunting or pocket knife, as they are likely to go many years (a lifetime even) without having to save a life, but it's another thing entirely to produce fraudulent, poor quality tools to first responders, who rely on these things every day to help others. Crap like this can mean the difference of life and death, not only for the victims, but also for he people who are trying to help them. I honestly hope that somehow, no one is ever dependent on your tools for their well being, and that if someone ever is, you are held responsible for any harm that may come to them.