Well I havent done a tool comparison in a while. Thought I might like to compare a cheap knockoff of a Swisschamp against the real thing. Figured it would be interesting to do a proper comparison between the two.
The knockoff was bought at a local TSC store that deals with farm equipment and such. They do carry a line of RUKO knives. RUKO is a knife importer for the Canadian market. I have an Elite RUKO folder that was made in Japan and it is a top notch knife. That was bought back in the early 80s. This knife that I am going to compare is nowhere near the quality of that older folder.
Anyways, I saw this knife in one of the knife display cases and just knew I had to have it for the knock off appeal. Knockoff tools do have their charm. I like to dissect them and see where they fail, as knock offs never seem to surpass the real thing. Someone somewhere thought it would be lucrative to make a copy of a Victorinox Swisschamp. That in itself, I found rather interesting.
In all of the following photographs, of which there are many, the Ruko is on the left (Red scales), and the Victorinox on the right (Sapphire blue scales).
Time to take a closer look
Here, you can see that they are the same length. At least they got the length right as most knock offs that I have seen tend to be larger in size then the real tool.
As we rotate the tool, you will note that the RUKO is thinner than the Swisschamp. Also note that the Victorinox also has one more back spring tool then the RUKO. Looks like the RUKO was trying very hard to copy the Victorinox, even down to the corkscrew screwdriver.
You can see that as we turn both knives over, their profile is remarkably similar.
One more rotation, and we can now see the main tools of each knife. You cant really see it in this photograph, but the lanyard ring is on opposite sides in relation to each knife. We can see some other details. The fit and finish on the RUKO is not nearly as good as the Victorinox.
Well that concludes our walk around. Now onto the back spring tools.
Here we see that the corkscrews are very similar, even right down to the number or rotations. Note how the Victorinox has a beefier shank to their corkscrew. That is about the only difference other then there is a small amount of side to side play in the RUKO. The corkscrew screw drivers are very different. Other then the fact that RUKO ripped off Victorino's patent on this, they also made it a lot cheaper.
Looking at the other back spring tools, you can see just how cheap the tools on the RUKO are. RUKO tried very hard at copying the general shape, but forgot a few key points. The edge on the screwdriver is uneven. The Awl is God Awlful (sorry for that
). There is no edge on the RUKO awl. Not to mention, where they decided to place the sewing hole makes it useless for its intended purpose. You cant see it but it is very close to the base. Victorinox has that nice all purpose hook on their newer model Swisschamp. The lack of this means that RUKO either copied an older model, or the copy was done ages ago before the hook became a common feature of the Swisschamp.
The profile of the main blade is surprisingly close. Other then the Victorinox is made of better steel, has a bit more depth to the blade, and didnt come with a slight factory bent tip, they look very similar.
The smaller secondary blade is a bit more dissimilar in profile. Note how the blade cants towards the knife on the RUKO.
I guess this was an easy shape to copy. If you were to look at the profiles, they look the same. The die cuttings are different, and there is a lack of a metal saw on the edge of the RUKO. The RUKO once again lacks quality.
The saws are very different. The Victorinox is so far above the RUKO, that there is no competition here.
The fish scaler on the RUKO is a bit of a mystery. It has teeth, but they are very small. The Victorinox is the better design of the two. Not to mention it also has ruler markings. The hook disgorger is also better defined on the Victorinox. No surprises here.
Onto the scissors. Note the different spring design used to open them after each press. The actual blades are very similar in shape and design. Both cut papers with aplomb. However, the spring action is smoother on the Victorinox. Overall, I was a bit surprised at how good the RUKOs are.
You can see they tried very hard to copy the Victorinox pliers, but failed miserably. Little to no teeth on the pliers, poorly implemented wire crimper feature, etc. Also, the pliers are a tad thinner on the RUKO.
The next two tools represent epic failure for the RUKO. I was ecstatic that they decided to copy the magnifying glass on the knockoff. However, that quickly evaporated when I put it to my eye and couldn't focus on anything. The plastic lens has bad distortion. If you look closely, you can see it in the reflection of my camera. See how everything is sharper in the Victorinox. No comparison here. I do like the metal lens holder on the RUKO. I do not like the cheap clear plastic gummy ring used to hold the crap lens inside there. The Phillips is a joke on the RUKO. Not only is it poorly made, but it isn't level with the knife. Using this would not be fun.
RUKO managed to copy the bottle and can opener fairly well. These tools still lack the crisp spring action that the Victorinox has. They did do a good job on these though.
Last but not least, the toothpick and tweezers. RUKO did not do a very good job here. The tweezers and toothpick are rather small. The tweezers do not close properly, negating their usefulness. The Victorinox comes with a nice bonus, a ball point pen.
So there you have it. You can see how RUKO cut corners to offer a Swisschamp knockoff for a measly 20 Canadian bucks. It isn't much of a deal though, as it is a hit and miss on the efficacy and quality of the various tools. Some implements aren't that bad and others are useless. The magnifying lens clearly shows that the Chinese firm that produced the tool, definitely didn't major in optics. Most tools also exhibit a slight side to side movement. The Victorinox in comparison is rock solid.
So for 20 bucks, is it a deal?
To think that someone out there thought it would be lucrative to make a Swisschamp knockoff and sell it for 20 dollars, I find intriguing. They came close in some aspects, and completely missed the boat on others. For a little more than twice the price, you can get Swiss quality, from a firm that originated the tool. The Victorinox is by far the better buy.
However, if you are in a store and the RUKO is staring you in the face and you are getting that curiosity itch, it is interesting enough to buy it just for that knock off charm.