There were a lot of mixed reactions to the new titanium series knives from Wenger when it was announced at SHOT in January. Some folks were supportive, some not so much, and others were merely skeptical. When the price was announced that shifted a lot of people’s views of this series somewhat south, but folks should remember when looking at the price tag that titanium isn’t cheap.
I could tell you about Ueli Steck, his history and the records he holds, but frankly I don’t know much about him, and whatever I did write would be a hodgepodge of info from his and other websites. Suffice it to say, he’s a professional climber and world class athlete, exactly the kind of person Wenger has been promoting recently as part of their rebuilt image. If you doubt they are serious about this new image, look up their other associations- Mike Horn, The Patagonian Expeditionary Race and the Alinghi Racing Team and you’ll see a series of world class adventurers that really are without peer.
The Ueli Steck model knife, like the other models in the series is a bit odd looking- it’s not a traditional looking Swiss Army style knife at all, but it embodies the spirit of what we all have come to appreciate in a Swiss Army Knife- it’s primarily about function.
For example, the main blade is somewhat broader than a typical blade so that it can incorporate some wrenches into the blade. This allows more function in less bulk, in the same way that the can opener and bottle opener both include screwdrivers and a wire stripper. These wrench cutouts are intended for use in climbing equipment since this knife is aimed at climbers, but they are certainly capable enough for any other use if you are like me and have no climbing gear! There’s also a flat spot on the spine of the blade which functions as a heavy duty flathead for larger screws than could ordinarily be handled by the bottle opener. And, if that wasn’t enough, the wrenches also allow you to open this knife one handed.
Another good example of function over form is the titanium- unlike other manufacturers who slap on some pretty titanium for no reason other than increasing sales and prices, the titanium on this series of knives is aimed at reducing weight, which is something it does well, being a three layer knife that is lighter than a two layer ALOX knife!
In addition, there’s some interesting details on this knife, such as the small markings on the blade to point out the safe direction for using the various wrench cutouts to ensure there’s no accidental lock malfunction resulting in accidental blood leakage. The strips cut into the handle for grip are very noticeable, and cut quite sharply to really increase grip- and let me tell you, it’s very effective. You can really feel the grip on this knife, and I have no doubt that you’d have a good hold on this knife even in gloves.
If however you think that form has been completely forgotten in favour of function, you would be wrong. While it may not follow the traditional type SAK lines, it isn’t without its own flair- from the small Ueli Steck nameplate on the back to the robust shield that doubles as a lock release, to the recessed pins, this knife, as well as the others in the series just exude a certain amount of class.
In short, by the numbers the Ueli Steck model is as follows:
Main Blade featuring:
· Partially serrated
· Flathead screwdriver
· Large wrench
· Medium wrench
· Small wrench
· Liner locking
Bottle Opener with integrated screwdriver and wire stripper
Bi Metal file with metal saw
¼” Bit driver/wrench
One thing that rarely gets mentioned (or even thought of!) with this series of knife is the sheath that it comes with. It’s more like a bi fold wallet than a sheath, although it does still have a belt loop cutout in it, it folds completely over on itself and in addition to holding the knife, it also has space for three standard ¼” bits that you can fit into the slot in the handle.
While some folks may be turned off by the odd look of these knives, and some may be turned off by the price tags, I would suggest having a very close look at these models. You still may not buy one, but they are well worth investigating.