There is a lot of misinformation on Internet about buying a TSA approved Swiss Army knife and telling you it will be OK to take it on an airplane.
The reason for this confusion is because the Transportation Security Administration was going to vote on a TSA approved Swiss Army knife, but never did.
Before the vote, a lot of companies and Internet sites wanted to get the jump on the vote and be the first to write about it providing links to knives likely to make it through the vote. They also didn’t take into account the differences between domestic and international security rules.
The simple answer, there is not a TSA Approved Swiss Army Knife
To take this further, the TSA agent has the right to refuse anything that he thinks can be used as a weapon, including tools, electronics, liquids, and just about anything else.
With such wide latitude on the part of the TSA agent, it is impossible to determine what is safe to take with you and what to leave behind or check in your luggage.
The safest thing to do? Check everything or just leave it behind. If you have any questions on what is approved or not, please visit the TSA website below as it will always be current.
If you still want to chance it, here are a few items that most people have had some luck taking on board a plane.
What Might be OK?
There are a few companies that make a Swiss Army knifes that do not have a knife in the traditional sense. There are also a few multi-tools that are can be used for some basic work and make for a great every day carry.
Some have still been refused by the TSA agents because of the screw driver or other tool that can be used as a weapon so be careful.
LEATHERMAN – Style PS Keychain Multitool
This Leatherman multitool has had the most trouble getting through airport security mainly due to its screwdriver.
It technically does not have a knife and most people feel it is safe to bring on board but there are many reports on the Internet of this not being the case.
Remember, the TSA agent has the right to refuse anything he or she feels can be used as a weapon and this tool has a very aggressive look to it. Also, it tends to be larger in nature then some of the others.
Gerber Dime Travel Bladeless Knife
I love the Gerber Dime multi-tools better then the Leatherman ones mainly due to its size and function. The Travel Bladeless one is unique because it does not have an knife in the tool and very small by multi-tool standards.
The problem is Gerber makes several versions of the dime and there are reports that some get denied by TSA and others get through security check points, and the reports never accurately report which ones make it and which are denied and put in the trash.
Since the Bladeless version is listed as TSA approved Swiss Army knife by the manufacturer, we can assume this one is better then the others but its still a risk to try.
If you must carry a tool for some reason, I think this one is the best one to make it through domestic security. Some international air ports will not allow any multi-tools no matter if there is a knife so be warned.
Gerber Dime Multi-Tool
This Gerber Dime is probably my favorite tool. Over the years I have bought at least 3 of them for family and friends. I have been recommending it as an every day carry on the Gentlemen’s Manual for some time.
This one also makes a great tool to carry in your car or backpack. I created another article about the Complete Car Tool Kit Every One Should Carry which I recommend you check out.
The problem with this one is this one has something that the TSA agent can categorize as a knife. Its actually a package opener. Since there is a sharp side to one of the tools, the TSA could consider it a possible weapon and refuse to allow it on board.
Given the cost of around $15, it might be worth the risk if this is something you need to use regularly. Even if you are not considering traveling with it, I recommend you get one for your key chain or keep one in your car or computer bag.
I hope you have found this helpful and now know there is not a TSA approved Swiss Arm Knife. I am tired of hearing stories of people who have had to throw away their favorite pocket knife or multi tool because they read online somewhere that it is OK.
It is not OK, the new rules were never approved, and you should just leave it home or pack it in your checked baggage.
If you want to chance it, then be ready to explain it polity. Remember the TSA agents are protecting everyone. They do not deserve to get any flap from passengers who might disagree with the rules. They are not writing them, just enforcing them.
Just to make sure you also understand a point I made earlier. Two of the tools above are bladeless and may get through US security. Some EU countries do not allow any multi-tools at all, so there is little chance of getting this back in the states when you board for your return flight.
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Thanks for reading and happy traveling!