One to Watch: Swiza D04
Tony Sculimbrene 11.24.16
It’s hard to reinvent a classic. The Swiss Army Knife is one of the very best pocket knives ever made. And unlike a lot of other classic knives (Buck 110 I am looking at you), it is still relevant in its original form.
There is just a lot to love about a Tinker or an Alox Cadet. For many years you could pick from two Swiss brands–Wenger and Victorinox–if you wanted a real, Swiss-made knife-based multi tool. But Victorinox bought Wenger a few years ago and many of the distinctive features of the Wenger designs disappeared. Boker’s recently released tech tools look like they should be decent competition, but their design is basically a by the numbers copy of the Victorinox blueprint.
But recently a watch company, Swiza, has decided to get into the Swiss Army Knife market, and though their knives aren’t supplied to the military, they have many of the features of a Victorinox coupled with a very fresh take on the old format. Unlike the Boker “homages” (to borrow a watch term) the Swizas have a very different design. In particular I think the Swiza D04 has a lot of promise.
Swiza made a lot of good decisions when making their first set of knives. They included a blade, a pair of tweezers, a screwdriver, a punch, a flathead driver/can opener, a Phillips driver, and a large flathead driver/caplifter. For me, only a pair of scissors are missing the tool complement. The handle is a what Swiza calls “soft touch,” which I imagine is something like the rubberized coating found on a range of different pieces of gear like the original 47s Preons.
The steel is listed as 440, but it doesn’t say which variant of 440 it is. The consumer rule–assuming the cheapest–tells me that it is probably 440A. This is not my favorite steel, but it is highly corrosion resistant. How corrosion resistant you ask? Enough that IN THE SPECS the D04 is listed as “dishwasher safe.” When was the list time you saw a knife listed as “dishwasher safe?”
There are a host of features that distinguish it from competitors. First, instead of a nail nick D04 runs a “nail hole” for lack of a better term. It’s basically a very narrow oval that actually goes through the blade. Second, the knife’s main blade is actually a locking blade with a very interesting exterior closing liner lock. If you push on the Swiss cross icon, it actually disengages the liner lock and allows the blade to close. Third, and most striking, the knife is definitely has a design first look with clean lines and a gentle curve to the main shape of the knife.
In all, the D04 looks good and has an interesting feature set. It is also quite cheap, available for around $35 on Amazon. I am not so sure about the long-term durability of the soft touch coating and I’d really like a pair of scissors, but if you want to carry something small and which SAKs had locking blades, the D04 looks like a good buy.