- Buy Swiss Army Pioneer X, RRP £45, from Victorinox
- Buy Swiss Army Pioneer X Alox, RRP £65, from Victorinox
The Victorinox Swiss Army Pioneer X is one of the classic Swiss Army pocket knives. We tested out the Pioneer X Alox, a 2021 limited edition version that includes all the same tools and design, but with a very orange casing. The model is part of Victorinox’s 'medium' range, which (unsurprisingly) sits between the 'small' keyring-scale knives, and the 'large' knives, which tend to be on the cumbersome side.
For sheer versatility, this range is a constant in our best camping knife guide. In fact, as multitools go, Victorinox is one of two market leading brands (our Swiss Army Knife vs Leatherman multitool comparison breaks down the main differences between the two). Read on for our full Victorinox Swiss Army Pioneer X review.
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Victorinox Swiss Army Pioneer X review: design and build
The Victorinox Swiss Army Pioneer X sports a design that's very similar to the traditional Swiss Army Knife blueprint, with a few key differences. One change is that tools blades only take up one side of the handle, leaving the back smooth and slimline, only the springs to be seen. This makes the lines of the knife cleaner, but does mean you miss out on a corkscrew attachment, which is arguably a bit of a blow.
In addition, the scales don’t have little grooves at the end to contain the toothpick and tweezer combo that Swiss Army traditionalists will be well versed in. Whether that’s good or bad depends on how often you need tweezers and toothpicks, and how annoyed you were when you lost them. Either way, they’re no longer there to be lost.
More noticably, however, is the difference in scales. Both the Pioneer X and its limited edition Alox sibling have replaced the original, red plastic scales with a waffle-textured casing, which is much better for grip in the wet than the original occasionally-slick red plastic scales.
The Alox version is also very orange – a key element in the limited edition schtick. Victorinox says it is a “revitalising tiger orange shade that symbolises power, enthusiasm and excitement”, and whether you want to go that far or not, it’s a vibrant pop of colour that’ll save you losing the knife in the greenery.
Victorinox Swiss Army Pioneer X Alox review: comfort and performance
Performance has always been a strongpoint for Victorinox Swiss Army knives of all styles, and the Pioneer X is no different. Machined entirely from Stainless Steel, the tools deliver exactly as you’d expect, without bending, slipping or chipping in use. There are plenty of extremely cheap copies of Victorinox knives out there, and the lower-quality steel can and does bend and shatter when challenged, which can be dangerous as well as extremely annoying.
There are no such worries here, the tin opener opens tins surprisingly well, albeit slowly, the two screwdrivers will drive any screw that they fit, and the spike makes holes and enlarges them perfectly. The sprung scissors are a much under-rated tool, sometimes essential for minor emergencies and neater work. These are not only sprung, speeding up longer cuts, but also precision-tight, cutting threads, paper, etc with aplomb.
The main blade is also stainless, and sharpened to a razor edge, making quick work of cutting anything from packaging and envelopes, tape, or opening food packaging. At under 3 inches long, it is legal to carry in the UK, but only if you have a good reason to do so – something worth considering carefully before wandering around with a knife.
Victorinox Swiss Army Pioneer X review: verdict
The Victorinox Swiss Army Pioneer X Alox is an excellent little camping knife – or indeed small handy folding knife for most occasions. Is it the best Swiss Army knife for you? Hard to say – the ‘medium’ range stretches from the Swiss Champ Damast which packs 29 tools (including pliers), down to the Excelsior that simply has two knife blades. We’d generally recommend going for something mid-range that has a few good tools you’ll actually use regularly, rather than always having an unnecessary fish scaling tool to hand, but that’s just one school of thought.
The Victorinox Swiss Army Pioneer X has a great midrange of tool types, and at a mere 94.5 grams is lightweight enough to pass unnoticed until needed. Sadly there’s no tweezers/toothpick, the former being very handy in a pinch, and the lack of corkscrew might be a hard stop for some. Those aside, the Victorinox Swiss Army Pioneer X looks good, works beautifully, and feels good in the hand.