ALM / VICTORINOX
I figured this could end up being the shortest knife review on Pivot. Everyone knows Victorinox's legendary Swiss Army Knives.
Most people have handled one of the red-scaled wonders and felt the satisfying [kleek] as the main blade locks back into its folded position. Maybe less known is the aluminum "Alox" version; however this multi tool has a near-religious following of its own.
It is hard to imagine how this knife could possibly be any better - apart from a locking blade - it is that amazing and perfect. Take a multitool like the Victorinox Pioneer - one of the most popular Alox models along with the very similar Cadet. Just enough tools to get you by, amazingly light at only 3.2 ounces and so thin you forget you have it in your pocket. At $30 it is hard to not own one.
There's something talismanic about these knives - hard to put your finger on it, you just have this compact, incredibly useful item that is so well built it will outlast you by a thousand years.
Polish-based ALM takes the Victorinox Alox to a whole new level, incredibly. ALM offers a range of mods including colored scales, various titanium finishes and slight modifications to the tool lineup. A finishing touch are the beautiful colored aluminium liners and carabiner/clip hardware.
ALM tells me he only just started doing these mods recently and is still learning. Regardless, my modified Pioneer (with added scissors) is nothing short of perfect. Fit and finish is absolutely incredible and it came out exactly how I dreamed it would. I opted for the brass double spacers (with a orange set of replacement spacers) and brass torx hardware.
I asked Artur Marciniak, the guy behind ALM, to give me a bit of background:
"I'm 44 years old. I was born and raised in Poznan, Poland and I still live there. I've been interested in knives for a long time - I collect Polish army knives and SAKs and got into modding SAKs because I always wanted to have a titanium 93mm and I decided to make one for myself :) I constantly add new options to my mods. Soon I plan to mod other models of SAKs and offer new materials for scales. In my free time I run marathons and take part in triathlons.
My favourite knives are:
Polish Demolition Knife pattern 69 (Polski Nóż Saperski wz. 69)
(The discontinued) Benchmade 942 Osborne (my favourite EDC for 3 years - I do mods for this knife as well)"
Here are a few shots of the finished SAK made to my specifications:
Gorgeous stonewashed dark grey titanium scales with bronze accents. What's not to love. Super minimal interpretation of the Victorinox crest. The dimensions of the Alox knife are perfect, and the ALM mod just adds a little bit more beefiness to them - a more solid feel than with the original aluminium scales. Stonewashed blades and tools are optionally available, as well as stonewashed carabiners and pocket clips.
It's all well and good having the world's most useful multitool on you; unfortunately using it is not always as magical. There's never a good way to use the screwdrivers and the knife blade is placed awkwardly to the side of the thing. And since the blades and tools don't lock in place they have a habit of collapsing on your fat little fingers just as you really are getting going with "your project".
FIT & FINISH
This knife will last forever and if you mess up a blade or tool they are easy to replace - so too are the scales and liners. The original Victorinox is a monster in its own right - the addition of titanium scales make it bomb resistant.
You have it with you wherever you go. It is right there when you need it. As an added bonus, it is legal to carry in most countries! It won't scare your in-laws away either.
If you watch the Victorinox Mega Factories documentary (see below), it is clear that the Swiss Army people work very hard on getting that unique sound when you close down the Alox tools. The ALM version feels even better than your traditional SAK as it is a bit heavier and has a nicer stonewashed finish.
The ALM mod is the perfect gift. It is a little bit expensive, but the base model can be had for $200 with sandblasted scales. ALM provide a number of color options for liners and an option for stonewashed tools and blades. Another option for this model is to add 2 extra liners for a total of 4. Visit ALM on Facebook for the full range of options and variations.
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