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My first knife was a Swiss Army Knife that my grandfather gave to me.  Although the knife was lost long ago, I will never forget my astonishment as I opened and closed each tool, wondering about the function and marveling at the design.  Many of you probably had similar childhood experiences.

For the most part, Victorinox knives still look much like the knife I received from my grandfather when I was a child.  Although Victorinox follows traditional patterns (if it ain’t broke don’t fix it), they continue to innovate and have introduced new tools (e.g. SwissTools) and integrated new implements and technologies into their Swiss Army Knives (e.g. SwissBit).

On a recent trip to an outfitter store, I bought a Victorinox Spartan Lite (Model # 53451).  The Spartan Lite builds on the original Spartan, the most popular full size Swiss Army Knife.

Here’s a list of its implements (reference

1. Large Blade
2. Small Blade
3. Corkscrew
4. Can Opener with
5. Small Screwdriver (also for Phillips screws)
6. Bottle Opener with
7. Large Screwdriver
8. Wire Stripper
9. Reamer
10. Key Ring
11. Tweezers
12. Toothpick
13. Patented Mini-screwdriver
14. LED White Light
15. Phillips Screwdriver

The Spartan Lite adds a LED light, a Phillips screwdriver, and a mini-screwdriver to the Spartan pattern.

Like many of you, I was fond of the original Spartan pattern—it was small enough to go unnoticed in a pocket but contained many of the most essential tools… except a proper Phillips screwdriver.

Although Phillips drivers are commonly found on other Swiss Army Knife patterns, the driver on the Spartan Lite is not the traditional style.  On traditional patterns, the Phillips driver is located on the bottom of the knife (in place of the corkscrew) and extends toward the middle of the handle.  Because of its location, the driver requires a lot of clearance and won’t reach tight spaces.  The Phillips driver on the Spartan Lite extends from the end of the handle, increasing its reach.  One drawback of this design is that the Key Ring can get in the way when using the Phillips driver.

The 3-layer Spartan Lite is the thinnest current production Swiss Army Knife to use this style of Phillips driver  The thinner 2-layer Scientist had a similar driver but the pattern is discontinued and somewhat rare.

The head of the Phillips driver is different than the driver on traditional patterns.  Not quite a standard #1 or #2 Phillips, it is unique.

The Phillips driver on the Spartan Lite is similar in design to the driver on the SwissTools.

Although it fits most of the Phillips head screws that I’ve tried, the rounded edges of the Phillips head make it more prone to slipping in comparison to standard bits.

Letting no space go to waste, Victorinox also incorporated a mini-screwdriver that is stored in the corkscrew.  The design is pure genius and works well for the small screws found on eyeglasses and electronic cases.

The LED light (or is it lite?) is somewhat of a disappointment.  The light is quite dim compared to keychain-type LED lights.  But it provides sufficient illumination of nearby objects (key holes, etc.).

The light is actuated by either pushing a red switch for momentary operation or sliding the switch to lock the light in the ON position.  The light uses two 3V lithium CR1225 watch batteries which are included.  The battery compartment swings out of the handle and the door of the battery compartment unsnaps without requiring any tools.

The knife blades and other implements are typical Victorinox quality and I don’t think it’s necessary to comment on them.

Overall I’m very pleased with this Swiss Army Knife.

Excellent fit and finish (typical of Victorinox)
Compact but contains a good selection of tools
Phillips driver has good reach

Phillips driver is more prone to slipping
Key Ring gets in the way when using the Phillips driver
Weak LED light

This review is adapted from a discussion thread originating on  Additional Spartan Lite information is available here.