What Pocket Knife does MacGyver Use to be Prepared For Everything?

If grew up in the 80s or you’re an 80s buff, then you probably love MacGyver.

It’s a classic adventure show about an intelligent and physically skilled agent of a think tank called the Phoenix Foundation. I remember watching reruns of the show in the 90s with my dad. He was also a fan of the show and loved the action. And if you’re a MacGyver fan then you definitely know the answer to what pocket knife does MacGyver use.

Something akin to Batman’s utility belt, he used to have the solution of every problem hidden in there. In fact, that was the appeal of MacGyver; he refused to carry a gun and carried that Swiss Army Knife everywhere.

He believed that non violence in the use of solving problems is the best solution. He let his incredible knowledge of languages; engineering, physics, and military training do the work.

It made every kid, including me; want to have a pocket knife with me at all times to solve problems.

MacGyver’s Pocket Knife

The original series broadcast in 1985 starred Richard Dean Anderson as Angus MacGyver. His mullet and Swiss Army Knife were both extremely iconic for the time.

He used many different versions of the Swiss Army Knife throughout the show’s run. The design of the Swiss Army Knife was unmistakable however. The red handle, the thin blade, and the multitude of tools that he brought out were evidence of the Knife.

  • If he needed to get through a door, he could use the knife to open the lock.
  • If needed to unscrew a panel, he could do it with the knife.
  • If he needed to, he could use the knife to get himself and others out of every single situation that arose.

The effect was to show an all-in-one tool that could ostensibly solve every problem that he had.

What Pocket Knife did MacGyver use in the Original Series?

The standard Swiss Army Knife is of course manufactured by Victorinox and supplied to the Swiss Military. However, MacGyver used every type of Swiss Army Knife from the Tinker to the Wenger Handyman.

He used the Huntsman, Sportsman, 111 mm, Spartan Hardwood, Adventurer, Tourist, Hiker, Fisherman, Climber, Picnicker, Wenger Classic 11, Executive, etc.

The most commonly used version of the Swiss Army Knife in the show, though, was the Tinker Standard.

Basically, any activity that MacGyver was doing that week, he had a knife for. In fact, you can actually find out which kind of knife he used in every single episode. Some episodes are devoid of knives entirely, however. Just goes to show you that every single problem can’t in fact be solved with a knife, even in a TV show.

The Leatherman Tool

There is some confusion surrounding the use of the knife in the show. The most famous knife at the time in America (1985) was the Leatherman tool.

The Leatherman tool was made by the Leatherman Company in 1983 and was made widely available across the States. In an interview, the creator of the show, Lee David Zlotoff, even mentioned the Leatherman tool. Yet, he characterized the Swiss Army Knife as extremely useful.


MacGyver’s skills and his incredible Swiss Army Pocket Knife combined to make something called a “MacGyverism.”

Since he used both mental skills and physical ingenuity to create marvels to save others, he was considered cool. Hence, whatever he did was cool.

He made it cool to carry around a pocket knife to solve problems. In fact, the pocket knives he made cool were the ones fitted with all sorts of tools to troubleshoot.

A Swiss Army Knife even sits on display in the New York Museum of Modern Art. The Museum acquired the Victorinox manufactured knife in 1977.

Called the Model Swiss Champ, it was added to their exhibit of “Architecture and Design”. It is considered not just an engineering marvel, but a symbol of efficiency and utility.

It demonstrates craftsmanship on the part of the manufacturer and the multitude of uses derived from it.

What Pocket Knife does MacGyver use in the New Series?

MacGyver was revived as a show in 2016 and it exhibits a much younger MacGyver.

Now the think tank called Phoenix has been retconned as a spy agency which uses Phoenix as a front. As expected, it brought back the two most iconic aspects of the show.

The first was the mullet, this time sported by Lucas Till as young Angus MacGyver. The second was the Swiss Army Knife manufactured by Victorinox.

The pilot showed the knife being used throughout. It was used so much that the show was even promoted by the Victorinox Corporation.

A Little History of the Swiss Army Knife

The Swiss Army Knife owes a lot of its success as an iconic instrument to MacGyver, at least in America. It was first used by the Swiss Army back in the late 1880s when they manufactured it. However, it came to the world stage in WW2. The US military nicknamed the Offiziermesser (Officer’s Knife), the Swiss Army Knife, since the name was hard to pronounce.

The knife had a multitude of uses when it was first manufactured. It could be used as a knife (of course), a reamer, and a can opener. Originally the knife was in fact made to open canned food. The knife had to be an efficient use of space since it had to be foldable. It had to be carried along with a lot of supplies so that the soldiers needn’t add extra weight.

Since the Victorinox Corporation took over the manufacture of the knife, it’s grown more complicated. There are a lot of uses of the Swiss Army Knife now, including a USB drive, a laser pointer, etc. Standard models can include up to 33 tools and 8 layers. This is why the Swiss Army Knife continues to be a paragon of efficiency and utility even today.

If you’re a MacGyver fan then you’ve definitely got to own a Swiss Army Knife once in your life. You won’t be disappointed since you can use the knife for literally anything. Who knows? Maybe, it’ll be the most useful tool during the impending zombie apocalypse…

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