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Knife chat: 84mm of Victorinox excellence, a Cadet with a difference

Victorinox do like to release limited editions of their standard range of knives. Normally these will simply be a special colour for the handles. In 2022 Victorinox took one of their most popular knives and changed the handle material to Cellidor. This enabled them to add a couple of tools. Careful scale design has also made this an extremely attractive knife that pays homage to many of the iconic sights to be found in its country of origin.

Cadet Swiss Spirit 2022, model 0.2603.7L22
Cadet Swiss Spirit 2022, model 0.2603.7L22

Most Victorinox knives have Cellidor scales, often in classic shiny red. However, their Cadet model has almost always been produced with Alox handles. Alox (Aluminium Oxide) scales are punched from aluminium, embossed, and then anodised. Alox scales can be very attractive. Another material, nylon (polyamide), has also been used on a minority of Victorinox knives, such as on their economy versions and larger knives. Nylon has more grip and resists (or at least doesn’t show) scratches better than Cellidor. This is one reason why Victorinox knives produced for the military (and not just the Swiss Army) invariably have nylon scales rather than Cellidor.

The Victorinox Cadet is an 84mm knife and part of their ‘medium pocket-knife’ range. The Cadet is normally quite a thin knife due to it having Alox scales. I compared the Alox Cadet with the Alox Bantam here. Victorinox surprised many in 2022 by producing a Cadet with ABS/Cellidor handle scales. Three Points of the Compass is aware of only one other ‘official’ Cadet released with these scales. This was in 2007 when Victorinox released a limited series of knives in irregular colours. They were called ‘Rose Edition’ knives and comprised 58mm Victorinox Classic, 58mm Signature Lite, and an 84mm Cadet.

Rose Cadet. Image Ricardo auction site
Rose Edition Cellidor Cadet. Image: Ricardo auction site

In April 2022 the standard Alox Cadet was joined by the Cadet Swiss Spirit 2022, model 0.2603.7L22. Because it has been fitted with the thicker Cellidor scales that can hold extra tools, this knife has 11 functions, two more than the standard Alox scaled Cadet. The fifth digit in the model designation- 0.2603.7L22, informs us that this knife comes with ring, tweezers and toothpick. The last two are the extra tools.

Cadet Alox, with Cadet Cellidor below
Cadet Alox 2018 Limited Edition in ‘Red Berry’, with Cellidor Cadet Swiss Spirit 2022

The sixth digit in the model number- 0.2603.7L22, tells us that this knife has white-coloured Cellidor scales. Cellidor was patented in 1952 and is an organic thermoplastic cellulose ester that incorporates a high percentage of organic cellulose. It is a strong material, resistant to UV and has low moisture absorption. It can also have a shiny surface that is attractive to many owners and users. The design on this Cellidor Cadet is also a little different from the norm as it has a raised ‘haptic’ print. This slightly three-dimensional, black-lined design highlights some of Switzerland’s famous sights alongside iconic Edelweiss. This knife is comfortable in the hand, tactile, the raised print is noticeable in the fingers and does improve grip over the usual smooth red scales normally encountered.

Cadet Swiss Spirit 2022, model 0.2603.7L22
Cadet Swiss Spirit 2022, model 0.2603.7L22

There are 12000 units of this Limited Edition knife worldwide, so there should be plenty to go around for a while yet. As a limited edition, it would have been good to see either a numbered tang stamp, or piece number included on the tool somewhere, or at the very least, on the card that accompanies the knife in its box on purchase. The knife rests in a folded black corrugated-card nest inside a matt silver-grey coloured box and lid. The closed box has a card sleeve that includes printed detail on the model and also repeats the design elements from the scales. All of the packaging is recyclable, and the knife itself has a lifetime guarantee against defects.

Cadet Swiss Spirit 2022, model 0.2603.7L22

Some research was required to actually identify everything shown on the knife scales as only some information is included on the card that accompanied the knife, and Victorinox provide little more online.

The front side shows, from top down- Edelweiss flowers, Victorinox shield, Lake Geneva (with yacht and Jet d’Eau fountain), Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge) on Lake Lucerne, Spalentor Gate in Baden

The rear side shows, from top down- Jungfraujoch Sphinx Observatory, Grossmünster church in Zürich, Parliament Building and Square in Bern.

Cadet Swiss Spirit 2022, model 0.2603.7L22

The main blade opens away from the keyring. While the Cadet is a little large to be hung with keys, this opening would make it easier to use if it was carried in that manner. The blade steel is Victorinox’s proprietary ‘stainless’ steel that resists corrosion well and has a degree of carbon content. It came sharp out of the box and this steel retains an edge fairly well but is easily sharpened when dulled. The 63mm blade has a 53mm cutting edge. This measures 2.05mm across the spine and there is an asymmetrical blade profile to allow a tool to fold and close next to it from the other end of the frame.

Cadet Swiss Spirit has a decent sized folding blade, that is more than capable of tackling most everyday tasks
Cadet Swiss Spirit has a decent sized folding blade that is more than capable of tackling most everyday tasks

Opening toward the keyring end of the tool is a 40mm long nailfile with a 28mm long file surface. This file has an effective single cross-cut surface that works OK to file nails. It isn’t a great filing surface, but it isn’t poor either. The nail cleaner tip can also be used with smaller Phillips screw heads.

Bottle opener/cap lifter, flat screwdriver and wire bender
Bottle opener/cap lifter, flat screwdriver and wire bender
Nailfile with nail cleaner tip
Nailfile with nail cleaner tip
Tin/can opener, with small screwdriver tip
Tin/can opener, with small screwdriver tip

The Cadet has two combination tools. One is an effective can/tin opener, with a flat tip 3mm screwdriver. This tip will also work with some Phillips head screws. The other tool is a combination bottle opener/cap lifter, 6mm wide flat tip screwdriver and wire bender. I have never, in all my years using Victorinox knives, used a wire bender and I doubt I ever will. But… it is there.

Can/tin opener is used in a forward cutting action
Can/tin opener is used in a forward cutting action

The wire bender can also be used to strip the insulation from electrical wiring cables. This second combi tool has both half and full stop when opened. This allows for greater leverage when used in the half stop position.

Cellidor scaled Cadet differs from the standard Cadet Alox by having two scale tools
Cellidor scaled Cadet differs from the standard Cadet Alox by additionally having two scale tools
Black tipped toothpick and tweezers
Black toothpick and black-tipped tweezers

The Cadet has tweezers and toothpick, both of these are the black variants that contrast well with the stark monochrome scales. Three Points of the Compass is not the greatest fan of Victorinox toothpicks as the slot can harbour bacteria. This could be exchanged for a Firefly ferrocerium rod.

The knife weighs 48g, just two grams heavier than the Alox version. The knife is part of Victorinox’s 84mm range however the little tab for the key ring does protrude a further 2mm. The two-layer knife is 13.8mm deep across both scales and has a width of 22.75mm across the widest part, which is to the extreme hump of the closed blade, or 20mm across the width of a single scale.

The Alox version of the Cadet is just 8.8mm thick, which is 5mm thinner than this Cellidor version. This is a very noticeable difference in the hand. While the thicker Cellidor version is more comfortable to hold and use, the thinner Alox knife is less noticeable in the pocket. This is where choice favours the user. Is it something unobtrusive for just occasional use or is it a knife for frequent use where improved comfort is a desirable.

Widths of Cadet Alox and thicker Cellidor scaled Cadet compared
Widths of Cadet Alox and thicker Cellidor scaled Cadet compared
Back of tool

There is a good ‘snap’ to all tools when opened and closed. This is a slip joint knife of modest dimensions so is UK legal. No tools are provided on the back, but this is made up for by a sensible choice of tools on the front side, complemented by standard Victorinox scale tools. The Alox version of the Cadet has a third centre rivet despite having no back tools. If this special version is built on the same frame as that knife, then I can presume that this Cellidor version also has the third rivet, which though not strictly necessary, adds additional strength to the whole tool

Front of tool

Specifications:

  • 63mm blade with 53mm cutting edge
  • Can/tin opener
  • 3mm wide flat screwdriver tip
  • Bottle opener/cap lifter
  • 6mm wide flat screwdriver
  • Wire bender/stripper
  • Nailfile
  • Nail cleaner/small Phillips screwdriver
  • Key ring
  • Tweezers
  • Toothpick
  • Dimensions: Length- 84mm (86mm with key hanger tab), width- 22.75mm (20mm across single scale), thickness- 13.8mm
  • Weight: 48g including removable 0.4g 10mm keyring

This is not simply a collector’s piece, though I confess mine is unlikely to be taken backpacking any time soon. The Cadet has been a great favourite for many years for a reason. One of those reasons is that the Alox version provides a great deal of versatility in a slim profile. That slim profile is, of course, lost with the Swiss Spirit Cadet. What is gained however are two further tools and a grippy, more comfortable knife in use. It is unlikely that Victorinox are going to be making any more Cellidor Cadets any time soon, so for this option, if this is the toolset and size of knife that appeals to you, you will need to hunt down one of the scarce Rose Editions or look to purchasing this latest edition.

Three Points of the Compass has looked at quite a few knives and multi-tools that may, or may not, be suitable for backpacking, day treks or Every Day Carry. Links to these can be found here.

Cadet Swiss Spirit 2022, with cellidor scales
Cadet Swiss Spirit 2022, with cellidor scales

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