There are lots of different styles and sizes of kitchen knives made by many different companies all over the world and in our business as butchers, we've had the opportunity to try out more knives than most people. With so much variety available, it might be a surprise that we always gravitate to our Victorinox knives. After all, they are far from the most expensive knives around, they aren't made from the fanciest materials, and most of the knives are rather spartan looking.
So what makes Victorinox knives special? They are the perfect combination of design and craftsmanship to produce good-quality, usable knives that get the job done at an affordable price. Today, we bring you this Victorinox knives review exploring the different collections and styles of knives and why we think they are great options for your kitchen.
Materials that Make a Difference
Almost all of the Victorinox knives are made from a unique alloy steel known in the industry as Martensitic steel. This is a type of stainless steel that incorporates a large percentage of carbon steel that allows the metal to resist stains and become harder to enhance the ability to sharpen the blade. Too much carbon and the blade becomes brittle which leads to chips and breakage, while too little creates a softer steel that won't hold an edge.
The Martensitic steel used in Victorinox knives contains 0.5-percent carbon, placing these knives near the accepted limits of a high-carbon steel but below that of the materials used in many German and Japanese knives.
The composition of the alloy allows the Victorinox blade to be sharpened easily and holds an excellent edge without risking chipping. The steel is highly rust and stain-resistant, but it can get tarnished if the blade is neglected.
When a knife is constructed, the blade must be affixed to the handle in some fashion. This is referred to as the tang. There are a few options for manufacturers including a full tang and various partial tang designs. Most Victorinox knives use a partial, rat-tail tang that is fully enclosed in the handle. The Grand Maitre collection is the only set of full tang knives available. Full tang knives are stronger than partial tang knives, but are more expensive to manufacture.
All but one of the knife collections by Victorinox uses stamped high carbon stainless steel blades. When it comes to kitchen knives, a stamped steel blade is preferred over a forged blade because it offers a lighter weight and a thin blade that is easier to control and doesn't induce fatigue. Victorinox sources their alloy steel from Germany and France, then uses a laser cutter to "stamp" the blades out. The stock is then ground, shaped, and tempered to provide a thinner blade that will remain sharp. Victorinox high carbon stainless steel blades are easier to sharpen than German and Japanese knives and are less prone to chipping.
We prefer forged blades for our survival kit and when we need a tool that we can put a lot of force into. Since a kitchen knife should not need to have a ton of force applied, the lighter weight typically means a more controllable blade. Forged knives tend to be heavier than stamped blades and can cost three or four times as much due to the extensive process of making the knife. Often, a forged blade will hold a better edge than a stamped blade. Victorinox sells just one knife collection that uses forged blades, the Grand Maitre collection.
The various collections of Victorinox knives use different types of handles. One thing they all have in common is the design is primarily functional rather than for looks, but many of the models also look great. Victorinox offers four synthetic options and three natural wood options that have differing properties.
Victorinox uses four types of synthetic materials for crafting ergonomic handles that are also durable. Technically dishwasher safe, synthetic handles are easy to keep sanitized and clean with little maintenance.
- Polyoxymethylene (POM) - POM is an engineering thermoplastic that has excellent properties for making knife handles. The material is impervious to contaminants, has excellent heat-resistant properties, and is available in a wide range of colors. It is commonly used in automotive and consumer electronics applications, gun parts, and knife handles.
- Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE) - TPE is an injection moldable plastic that has excellent heat resistance and offers a soft, rubber-like feel. TPE is easy to color and is highly resistant to fading, cracking, and discoloration. TPE is commonly used in the automotive industry, medical industry, and knife handles.
- Polypropylene (PP) - PP is one of the more common synthetics in use today. It is inexpensive to make and provides a material that is extremely resistant to heat and chemicals. It is used for everything from flip-top water bottle lids to an additive in concrete. PP is a hard plastic that is injection molded and can take almost any shape or color.
- Polypropylene Copolymer (PPC) - PPC is a type of polypropylene that is more resistant to cracking and better low-temperature properties. It is slightly softer feeling that PP and has better impact resistance, making it a great choice for knife handles.
Wood is an excellent material for knife handles. It offers a warm feel with natural grain that enhances grip and it can be shaped to create ergonomic handle shapes that are also durable and easy to clean, but are not dishwasher safe.
- Modified Maple - Maple is one of the most commonmaterials used for making knife handles today. Maple comes in straight-grain and burl, with lots of variations in color. Modified maple uses a heat-treating process that seals the wood, makes the material stronger, and enhances the color.
- Rosewood - Rosewood is a beautiful hardwood that makes a fantastic handle material. It is dense and provides excellent resistance to moisture and contaminants.
- Walnut - Walnut is a great choice for knife handles. It is a hardwood that has a clean, straight grain. It is resistant to damage and easy to care for.
Victorinox Knives Review: Collections
Each of the knife collections have a variety of styles and types of knives. You'll find chef's knives, paring knives, breaking knives, boning knives, and a lot of specialty designs, too. Home chef's might not need every knife in a collection, but it's also nice to have a matching set of cutlery perfect for the type of cooking you do.
Swiss Modern Collection
The Swiss Modern knives feature a unique, squared-off handle design and the classic Victorinox blades. The handles are available in walnut, PPC, and PP in numerous colors to meet your personal style. The knives are available individually or in sets and include the essential chef's knives, bread knives, steak knives, and paring knives.
Swiss Classic Knives
The Swiss Classic collection offers all of the most-desirable blade shapes available and uses slick, ergonomic handles that are available in PP or TPE. With lots of exciting colors, this is an excellent collection of knives to show off your own personality.
The Victorinox Fibrox collection is designed by professionals, for professionals – but that doesn't mean you won't love them in your home kitchen. The handles are made from TPE so they are simple to keep clean, they aren't likely to wear out, and they are very comfortable to use. This collection features all of the most useful chef's knife designs with the unique and comfortable Victorinox Fibrox handles.
Among our favorites is the wood collection. These knives feature the modified maple and rosewood handles. The thick and warm handles make using a pinch grip comfortable and they look classy in a knife block. Everything from a carving knife to a bread knife is available.
Grand Maitre Collection
This is the top-of-the-line collection from Victorinox. It features forged, full tang knives with either modified maple or POM handles that have a graceful curve. The knives are intended to offer the look and feel of much more expensive options while still remaining affordable. They offer great edge retention and less frequent sharpening, but also require hand washing.
Types of Kitchen Knives
One of the things we like about Victorinox knife collections is that most of the collections have similar blades, so you aren't stuck with a kitchen knife that doesn't match your favorite knife block set. Let's take a look at some of the knives in these collections.
A chef's knife is a heavy knife typically with a straight and wide blade. Chef's knives either have a spear or drop point, or they are a Santuko design, typically with indents along the length of the blade. Chef's knives typically have a blade length around seven or eight inches.
A chef's knife can be one of the more versatile knives in your kitchen. A chef's knife should feel balanced in your hand and allows for a slicing or rocking motion to go from cutting meat to chopping vegetables. A good chef's knife features a razor sharp edge and a good handle.
Boning and Filleting Knives
Unlike a chef's knife, these knives have thinner blades that typically have a prop point tip. The thin metal allows for a razor sharp edge and let's you work close to bones without cutting into them.
Fillet knives tend to be somewhat longer than boning knives, but both are intended for fine detail cutting. We think of these knives as the Swiss army knife of kitchen knives because of how versatile they are. In fact, we use our boning knife for everything from skinning to making primal cuts to slicing fruit.
You'll want to find a boning or fillet knife that is lightweight and feels good in the hand. Our favorite design has rosewood handles, but the same knife is available with a variety of materials to suit your kitchen needs.
A paring knife is used for cutting and peeling fruit along with other precision tasks. These knives are often the smallest in the knife set, but they can also be some of the most handy. The Victorinox paring knives are some of our favorites simply because they are comfortable to handle and work fantastic for trimming meat, peeling vegetables, and any other tasks that a small, sharp knife is handy for.
Bread Knife and Pastry Knives
Bread and pastry knives typically have a serrated blade that works to cut through delicate things like soft bread. You'll also use a similar knife to trim cakes and pastries before putting on frosting or decorations. These knives tend to be longer, often 10 inches long or longer and are slightly flexible.
Caring for Victorinox Knives
Victorinox knifes are some of the easiest to care for you'll find. While many of the designs are dishwasher safe, we recommend hand washing your kitchen knives. Dishwashers tend to cause knives to rattle around, which leads to a dull knife. Instead, use a dish rag with soap and warm water to clean the blade. Synthetic handles don't require any care, but we do recommend periodically oiling wood handles.
The best oil that we have found to keep wooden handles in good condition is food-grade mineral oil. It simply wipes on and wipes off and works great on your cutting board, too. Oiling a cutting board will keep odors and flavors from permeating the wood.
The most dangerous knife in your kitchen is a dull knife. Dull knives are more difficult to use, don't do a good job cutting, and are likely to slip and cut you. There are lots of ways to efficiently sharpen your best Victorinox knife set without damaging it. We recommend that you get a sharpening stone, manual sharpener, or an electric sharpener to keep your knives sharp. A honing rod is a good kitchen equipment tool to have in between sharpening.
It is a good idea to invest in a knife block to store knives. There are blocks made from plastic or wood that will prevent your knives from accidental damage. Many knives also have a plastic sheath that prevents the blade from getting damaged and helps you keep your hands from getting cut.
One thing that we've learned over the years is that spending too much on a kitchen knife never makes sense. You'll find some knives that are sharper out of the box than Victorinox knives, but you will be hard-pressed to find a knife that is as easy to sharpen, holds an edge as well, and is as affordable.
With a little care, Victorinox knives will last a lifetime. The stainless steel blades are durable and easy to care for. You'll find that with a good sharpener, you can keep a superior edge on these knives.
Among the many things that make these knives special is the variety of options you have to chose from. Different lengths, styles, and handle materials offer choices that match your own style, while the quality of the kives ensures that you will have no trouble cutting up meat, vegetables, wild game, or anything else that ends up in your kitchen.