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Reviews > Knives > Multi-tools > Victorinox Rescue Tool > Test Report by James E. Triplett

Victorinox Rescue Tool
Multi-function Knife

Victorinox Rescue Tool

by James E. Triplett
Initial Report - December 19, 2008
Field Report - April 24, 2009
Long Term Report - June 9, 2009


Personal Biographical Information:

Name: James E. Triplett
Age: 48
Gender: Male
Height: 6' 2" (188 cm)
Weight: 194 lb (88 kg)
Email address:
City, State: Cedar Rapids, Iowa - USA


Backpacking Background:

I am an experienced hiker, backpacker, and camper, and am gaining more experience with winter camping every year.  I hike every day, and backpack when possible, which leads to many weekends backpacking and camping each year.  I try and take at least one annual week-long backpacking trip in addition to many one to three-night weekend trips.   My style can best be described as lightweight, but not at the cost of giving up too much comfort.  I generally sleep in a tent, and seem to be collecting quite a few of them to choose from.

Manufacturer Information:

Manufacturer: Victorinox
URL (The Rescue Tool can be found at either site):


Product Information:

Year of Manufacture: 2008
Date Item Received: December 12, 2008

Item being tested:
Rescue Tool
Model number: 53900
MSRP: $90 US / $100 CAD (from
Listed weight (without case): 180 grams (6.3 ounces)
Actual weight (without case):
166 grams (5.9 ounces)
Case: 40 grams (1.4 ounces)
Total knife and case: 206 grams (7.3 ounces)

Additional Victorinox Rescue Tool information:
(from the website)

  • All parts have been subject to stringent tests; particularly the new window breaker and disc saw tools
  • The rounded belt cutter can be used to cut through seatbelts safely
  • The tool includes the most important functions for freeing someone trapped in a car
  • Can be opened wearing gloves
  • Suitable for both right-handed and left-handed users
  • The one-handed blade and screwdriver are fixed in position when open thanks to the liner lock mechanism
  • Supplied with a bright red/yellow nylon case and a wide belt loop
  • As the window breaker and disc saw tools are subject to particular wear and tear when used, they are easy to replace. 

Nylon case
Victorinox Rescue Tool Case

Initial Report
December 19, 2008

Initial Inspection:
Wow!  This is a serious multi-function knife.  When I opened up the package I was surprised how heavy it was.  I've had multi-blade Swiss Army knives in the past, but this one is definitely new and improved over any of my previous experiences with such tools.

The Victorinox Rescue Tool came inside the brightly colored, included, case.  The case is a reddish-orange webbing-like material, with bright yellow-green piping along the edges.  Inside the case was the Rescue Tool with luminescent yellow-green grips.  The words "Rescue Tool" and the Swiss Army logo are screened on one side of the knife in bright red.  Wow!  This is a modern looking multi-bladed knife.

Victorinox purports that this knife has 15 tools or features.  I'm not sure that I would claim the key ring, luminescent grip shells, nylon cord, and nylon case in this list, but it does make for an impressive list of features.  (Also the screwdriver, cap lifter, and wire stripper are actually the same tool.)  Here's the complete list:

1.  One-handed blade
2.  Phillips screwdriver
3.  Window breaker
4.  Strong 6mm screwdriver with
5.  - cap lifter
6.  - wire stripper
7.  Punch and reamer
8.  Belt cutter
9.  Key ring
10.  Tweezers
11.  Toothpick
12.  Disc saw
13.  Luminescent grip shells
14.  Nylon cord
15.  Nylon case

Traditional Swiss Army Knife Tweezers

Of course I am always happy to see the traditional tweezers (above) and toothpick which slide into their homes in the side grips.

Included with the Victorinox Rescue Tool was a small folded up set of instructions for automobile rescues.  For a side window the rescue agent is to apply a protective film over the window, break it with the "Window Breaker", and press the window into the auto.  For a windshield rescue the rescue agent is to smash a hole into the windscreen with the "Window Breaker" and then use the Glass Saw (called a "disk saw" above) to cut through the plastic in the safety glass.  There are also instructions for using the Crate Opener (6 mm Screwdriver above), lock-blade, and how to change the Disc Saw and Window Breaker should they become damaged or worn out.  A scan of these instructions is available on the website as a PDF document.

There really isn't much to report on at this point other than the features of the Victorinox Rescue Tool.  So below are pictures of each of the main devices.

One-handed blade
Easy opening lock blade

Phillips screwdriver
Victorinox Rescue Tool Screwdriver

Window breaker
Victorinox Rescue Tool Window Breaker

Strong 6mm screwdriver with Cap lifter and Wire stripper
Rescue Tool Screwdriver Bottle opener Wire stripper

Punch and reamer
Victorinox Rescue Tool Punch and Reamer

Belt cutter
Victorinox Rescue Tool Belt Cutter

Tweezers and Toothpick
Victorinox Rescue Tool Tweezers and Toothpick

Disc saw (with Cord and Key ring)
Rescue Tool Disc saw Cord Key ring

Initial Report Summary:
The Victorinox Rescue Tool (Multi-function Knife) is a dandy little piece of equipment.  It is not a toy, and the sharp parts of the tool are sharper than I've traditionally seen on a knife right out of the box.  The Rescue Tool preserves much of the heritage of Swiss Army Knives, but it is updated with luminescent green sides, and of course the glass breaker and glass saw.

Field Report
April 24, 2009

Test Conditions:
I have carried the Victorinox Rescue Tool with me a lot during the past four months.  The temperature has ranged from -33 F (-36 C) to +80 F (27 C), and the weather has gone from bitter winter to warm spring.  There has been precipitation in the form of rain, sleet, freezing rain, and snow, although the Rescue Tool has only been exposed to snow and ice that was already on the ground. 

I have taken the Victorinox on two weekend backpacking trips.  A 1-day 1-night trip and a 2-day 2-night trip.  These were to some local Eastern Iowa parks.  Additionally, I have carried the Victorinox Rescue Tool on several day-hikes in the acres of woods near my home.

Field Testing:
I must confess right up front that I haven't rescued anybody with the Rescue Tool, although it certainly appears to be up to the task.  I have primarily used the knife blade and the belt cutter in my field use.  

The knife blade on the Rescue Tool is wide and serrated.  I have found the blade easy to open using the one-handed technique wich makes use of the thumb-hole in the blade.  The blade easily snaps into the locked position.  Besides use around the house, I have used the blade to whittle wood curls in order to facilitate starting a fire, and also to cut and sharpen hotdog roasting sticks.  The blade arrived in impressively sharp condition, and remains quite sharp after some field use.  It has sliced through wood easily and with stability.  My only misgiving is that the handle of the Rescue Tool is chocked-full of other tools which makes the grip somewhat uncomfortable if I am whittling very long.  I originally thought unlocking the blade was a bit cumbersome, but I have gotten used to how it operates, and it hasn't proven to be an issue.  

The belt cutter, as it turns out, is a nice device for cutting through all kinds of stubborn things.  I have used it for cutting strapping tape, opening boxes, and getting through pesky nylon cable ties.  The curve of the belt cutter blade is nice for not letting these things slip off of the blade while being cut when pulling the knife toward me.  I like it.

I have also used the window breaker tool to chip ice off of stones and wood, primarily just to see if it worked.  It does.  The window breaker, in its stubby configuration, is quite strong and stable.  It is somewhat impressive the way I can chip away at the ice.  The only issue is the grip again, but since I was wearing gloves it wasn't that big of a deal.

I have found the case for the Victorinox Rescue Tool surprisingly easy to use.  Despite the wide opening to accommodate tool belts, the case has worked well for me with a regular webbing type of belt.  It seems as though it should shift around quite a bit due to the size difference, but it has remained stable and in place during several hours of hiking.  One of my pairs of hiking pants has an integrated belt, which can't be used with the feed-through Victorinox case.  I do wish it could somehow clip over the edge of my pants, but I've also lost a knife with a pocket clip, so I understand the secure design.  I've tried using a carabiner through the belt slot in the case, but wasn't really happy with the way it worked.  I've also put a carabiner through the key ring on the tool itself, but wasn't confident it was strong enough for continued use.  But it's not a big deal.  If I can't wear the knife on my belt I simply slip in into one of the exterior pockets on my backpack and off I go.

The most surprising discovery I have made about the Victorinox Rescue Tool is that the "luminescent grip shells" (the yellow plastic on the outside of the tool) really do "luminesce"!  They glow in the dark!  That's pretty cool, and could possibly aid one in finding the Rescue Tool in darkness.

Glow-in-the-dark Victorinox luminescent grip shells
Victorinox luminescent grip shells

The Victorinox Rescue Tool has lived up to expectations.  So far it appears to be quite rugged, and is still in like-new condition.  The tool has 15 features, is well constructed and easy to use, and it glows in the dark!  What is not to like?

Long Term Report
June 9, 2009

Test Conditions:
I have carried the Victorinox Rescue Tool with me on a daily basis for morning hikes during the week, and longer day hikes on the weekends.  This has provided for taking the Rescue Tool into temperatures as low as -33 F (-36 C) at the beginning of the test period, and as high as to +80 F (27 C) during some unusually warm weather early this spring.  The Rescue Tool has also been used on two overnight trips to Pinnicon Ridge Park here in Eastern Iowa.  It has also been used around home quite a bit.  Elevations have ranged from around 480 feet (145 meters) near the Mississippi river, to around 800 feet (245 meters) around my house. 

Victorinox Rescue Tool

Using the Rescue Tool:
I have continued to use the one-handed blade and the belt cutter as my primary tools of choice, but have also used the disc saw quite a bit.  I have also used the toothpick, and screwdriver, and played around with the other tools.  All the tools are intuitive and work with certain exactness demonstrating high quality.

The serrated one-handed blade is the most often used tool.  I guess I still think of the "Rescue Tool" as a knife first and foremost.  I have used the knife for trimming sticks and making shavings to start fires, and also for cutting meats and cheeses during hikes.  The disc saw has turned out to be handy for cutting small branches for fire preparation.

I have not used the Rescue Tool on glass or any other "dangerous" materials, which has left it clean and safe for use with food. 

The case works well for carrying the Rescue Tool on my belt, although when wearing a backpack I prefer to reach back and place it in the right exterior pack pocket.  This allows me to reach it while hiking without taking my pack off, and also prevents it from interfering with the pack's hip-belt.  Often when carrying it in my pack I leave the case behind, allowing for quick accessibility, and not having to worry about misplacing the case when carrying the knife on firewood expeditions.

The glow in the dark handles of the Rescue Tool are fun, and at least once proved to be useful.  I had the knife out for meal preparations and as the night grew dark and the fire dies down I was suddenly unaware of where the knife had been placed.  Not to say that I couldn't have found it, but I could see it glowing several feet away from the where I was seated.  

Victorinox Rescue Tool knife blade

Cleaning and Care:
I haven't managed to get the Rescue Tool very dirty, other than some food remnants and wood carving remains.  The only cleaning I have really done has been to wipe the blades, or tools, down with a dry cloth.  All the tools have returned to a nice shine.

It is my contention that the Victorinox Rescue Tool performs as well today as it did the day it arrived.  I have used it a fair amount, yet it still doesn't need sharpening and it still looks great.  I'm rather impressed with the seemingly tight tolerances on the knife which make all the tools move with precision.

Shinny Victorinox Rescue Tool

I have really enjoyed using the Victorinox Rescue Tool.  The blade is sturdy and sharp, and the other tools serve their purposes well.  The grip can get tiring when using the tool for long periods, but that's somewhat to be expected with all the goodies packed into the knife.  I really love carrying and using the Victorinox Rescue Tool.  My only suggestion is that Victorinox add scissors, as those really do come in handy quite often.

This concludes my report on the Victorinox Rescue Tool.  

Thank you and Victorinox for the opportunity to test this product.

Respectfully submitted,

-James T.

Read more reviews of Victorinox gear
Read more gear reviews by James E. Triplett

Reviews > Knives > Multi-tools > Victorinox Rescue Tool > Test Report by James E. Triplett

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