Why no Victorinox Steel Upgrade?

Discussion in 'Multi-tools & Multi-purpose Knives' started by DocT, May 23, 2020.

  1. DocT


    Mar 25, 2012
    Why does Victorinox not upgrade the steel in SAKs? There are steels that are tougher and have better edge retention than what they currently use made in Europe. I know they have their current steel made for them and they stamp out the knife blades. I think they could do something similar with 13C26 or N680 (very rust resistant) and others. I am not certain why we do not see at least some special editions with better steels. They have done over priced damascus blades, but really these other steels would be more useful.
  2. Roy Batty

    Roy Batty Y'all can sling load DEEZ NUTS Platinum Member

    May 25, 2016
    Ever heard of the phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”?

    Tasks that use SAKs and tasks that use super steels aren’t exactly equal at all times. Someone might buy a Spyderco in S110V because they want to break down 1,000 cardboard boxes without a sharpening, but someone with a SAK just isn’t doing that same task with a SAK.
    The steel SAK uses holds up well enough for the intended purposes of their folding multi-purpose knives.

    If they DID offer super steels, the price would undoubtedly go up. Imagine a Spartan with s35vn... now maybe you’ve gone from a $25-$30 knife to a $50 knife.

    When I pull out a SAK, I’m usually equal parts cutting, prying, using the bottle opener, screwdriver, toothpick, tweezers.

    The SAK being a sum of its parts is superb.
  3. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    I think that their current steel is good enough for the dominant purposes SAKs are used for and it keeps the price in line. Their market is the world (more regular people) and not knife knuts. But, I suspect in some countries Vic SAKs are considered fairly expensive. I recall in South America where at the time a pretty good job would yield about $10 (US) a day.... SAKs cost more than that at the time. That's why a giving a Vic SAK as a gift there was significant and valued.

    I also suspect that their machinery might have to be upgraded for a "better" steel. People ask the same question with GEC and 1095 steel. Why not upgrade and make them "better"?
    Plainsman, allenC, Pomsbz and 2 others like this.
  4. powernoodle

    powernoodle Power Member

    Jul 21, 2004
    I'm just guessing, but I would say that 99.85% of SAK buyers find the current steel to be just fine. At the rate most people use a SAK, they won't have to sharpen it in their lifetimes. It may be an economy of scale issue, and just not worth the effort to put S30V in a $30 SAK.

    Victorinox Manager. "The martensitic stainless steel alloy used for the cutting blades is optimized for toughness and corrosion resistance and has a composition of 15% chromium, 0.60% silicon, 0.52% carbon, 0.50% molybdenum, and 0.45% manganese, according to Victorinox."
    Plainsman, allenC, Frailer and 4 others like this.
  5. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    The current steel is also easy to sharpen by the average person who might make the effort to sharpen their own knives. If I were to guess, I'd say that kitchen type sharpeners are often used. Sure they tend to be aggressive, but again for the average person they work just fine.
    Plainsman, allenC, Storm 8593 and 2 others like this.
  6. comis

    comis Gold Member Gold Member

    May 17, 2013
    I agree with all said above, being the world leader in knife making, their volume far surpassed anyone and everyone, and if they are so far in lead, I don't see there is a reason why they should stop or change what they are doing right now. Easy to sharpen, average user needs, and cost to buyers are definitely very valid.

    Another reason I could think of is the cost to manufacture--they produce at such volume that I am sure even changing a small of the knife design will cost a lot for machinery/time/process thru out their plant, and ultimately even a few seconds more per knife is a huge deal if you are making 10 millions of knives a year.
    Plainsman and Storm 8593 like this.
  7. jackknife

    jackknife Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    Because the don't have to.

    All of the above posts call it, and Victorinox has a world wide market all sewed up because of the reputation of the product. A zillion people world wide, buy and use SAK's because in their non knife nut world, its good enough.

    After carrying and using SAK's for 51 years, thats how I feel. Why drive up production costs for gain that is not needed in a world wide market?
    sodak, BITEME, shopdoc and 6 others like this.
  8. Lee D

    Lee D Basic Member Basic Member

    May 27, 2013
    You could buy a Swiza
    Stelth likes this.
  9. James Y

    James Y

    Feb 18, 1999
    The only thing I’d REALLY like Victorinox to upgrade is their cellidor handle scales. At least make the insides of them a little more robust. That’s about it, though.

    This same question is asked periodically in various ways. I recall a few years back someone criticizing Victorinox for not upgrading their blade steel “at least to S30V.” If Victorinox actually followed that particular poster’s advice, it would have been a really dumb idea. Firstly, that would raise the cost significantly, and wouldn’t be worth the minuscule number of people who *might* buy one for the different steel. And then it wouldn’t make the SAK better for its purposes than it already is. The type of people who obsess about “super” steels in general are not going to overspend on an SAK for that “upgrade” anyway. Secondly, it would be unnecessary for the type of work most do with SAKs. When my only EDC knife was a Spartan for over a decade, I never felt my knife lacked what I needed from it. I knew it had its limitations; that it couldn’t hold an edge forever and needed a touch up here and there. And it held up very well, especially considering that back then I was very lax about pocketknife maintenance, except for the most rudimentary of care in an extremely humid and often dirty environment.

    Another good thing about the current steel is it’s fairly tough, and resharpening is easy. It’s pretty easy to maintain even if someone lacks the proper sharpening setup.

    As almost certainly the largest, most ubiquitous cutlery manufacturer in the world, Victorinox is slow to implement changes because they know what works for them and for their customer base.

    Last edited: May 23, 2020
  10. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    That's a good point.
    jmh33 likes this.
  11. jackknife

    jackknife Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Oct 2, 2004

    The one and only area of improvement that I can see in SAK's is to ditch the new hollow cellidor scales! The old ones were not bad, just outmoded compared to modern materials. But when they went to a hollow scale to save a penny's worth of material per knife, that was crappy.

    Nylon, zytel, delrin, damm near anything is better than cellidor.

    And if they moved to a more high end steel, there will be no more sharpening on whatever coffee mug, flower pot, smooth stone from a creek, cardboard back of a note pad, back of a belt, is around. You'll lose that one minute blade touch up, and I really like that! So do most of the rest of the non knife nut world that buys a pocket knife to just drop in a purse, pocket, pack or kitchen drawer. Theres a good reason the little classic is the worlds most sold and carried pocket knife.
    shopdoc, allenC, Storm 8593 and 6 others like this.
  12. CSG


    Dec 15, 2007
    Bingo! I find I use the blades enough on my SAKs that they need fairly frequent touch up but it takes only a couple minutes with the Sharpmaker or the Spyderco pocket stones I carry in my rig. Like jackknife just posted, I've also put an edge back on with river stones, sandstone, and a piece of sandpaper. They may not hold an edge like a high end steel but they sure are easy to put one back on.
  13. lonestar1979


    Mar 2, 2014
    12c27 mod like opinel uses would be nice to have on saks,original steel is pretty good,still holds decent edge,would rather have vic steel anywhere,for any task than some of supersteels that i i couldnt sharpen.
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
    Bigfattyt, shopdoc, Pomsbz and 2 others like this.
  14. lonestar1979


    Mar 2, 2014
    Ps.i used victorinox alpineer for 3 months on road everyday as my main food and cooking knife,touched it up on coffee mugs only and once on some sharpening steel ,it was always razor sharp,no need for any extra equipment.opinel 12c27 is as easy to sharpen and touch up,maybe little harder,just little bit,but holds good edge edge little longer,i think on sak it would be perfect.Nylon scales are best,never had those break.
  15. NMpops


    Aug 9, 2010
    I probably sharpen my most used SAKs once or twice a month. The steel seems to hold an edge at least as well as my Case SS knives.

    I have about 5 or so that a rotate through for EDC. All of these have been "upgraded" nylon scales that a bought a bunch of when Swiss Bianco had them in stock. They should be standard or at least more available from Victorinox. Nylon is the standard of the 111 mm models and it doesn't seem to have a negative affect of sales.
  16. Rhinoknives1

    Rhinoknives1 KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jul 1, 2013
    Depending on what Super Steel this upgrade would be to, means wearing out their tooling faster & a increase in abrasives, man hours. $$$$, Not just cost of said Super Steel. That’s why they are happy and 99%? Or customers are happy with the steel they use.
    Plainsman, Storm 8593 and James Y like this.
  17. yablanowitz


    Apr 14, 2006
    Knife knuts are NOT their target market. Upgrading their steel would be counterproductive from their point of view. It would raise their expense to manufacture without gaining them a significant market share. They make knives for people who know nothing about steel and wouldn't care if it was "better".
  18. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    They would likely only consider the upgrade IF their market share dropped off significantly. The SAK nuts tend to be happy with their alox models and the real nuts change out the scales. I'm not one of them and I'm quite content with plastic scales on a SAK.
    Storm 8593 likes this.
  19. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 11, 2016
    Because what they use works well, is economical, and because the majority of people are happy with it.

    I wouldn't have their knives any other way, and I would stop buying them if they used a fancy blade steel.
    I just don't or need these so called " upgraded " steels.
    Storm 8593 likes this.
  20. Enkrig


    Dec 17, 2015
    I agree with all of the above mentioned reasons. And, if you do want to premium steel on a SAK, you can get it by buying a mod SAK with a custom blade. That market is way way way to small for Victorinox and they know that there are folks out there that can scratch that itch for those that have it, so why go through the trouble.

    I want to emphasize also what 22-rimfire mentioned: that in countries with lower buying power SAKs are "expensive" as they are. Growing up, spending the equivalent of $5 on a knife was a significant amount, so SAKs (costing much more than that) were out of the question, and I had to settle for a $3 knock-off (a good one at that actually, that worked for me for almost 20 years).
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