In 1960 Victorinox tried to change the known Soldier 1908 design. They wanted a lighter, more durable and smaller knife to add to the soldier's gear.This resulted in the 1961 design and this stayed the worldwide favorite till 2007... I'm a big, no, a huge fan of the 2008 Soldier, but the 1961 design had alox scales and that just looks better! This was a compact knife with durable scales and had all the tools on board to aid in the everyday military in the field problems. Let's have a look at the different types I already collected...
The Dutch Army (Koninklijke Landmacht) knives are easy to find in this region and were made from 1983 till 1992 by Victorinox. I'm not the kind of freak to collect every year, but bought the 1983 and 1992. The year it started and stopped. Amefa (Apeldoornse MessenFabriek) was one of the contractors to make the knives at the same time and before 1983. These knives don't have the Swiss cross on the scales. There are also knives made in the same period with a KM stamping and this stands for Koninklijke Marine (Royal Navy). In 1993 they changed to the 111mm model.
UPDATE : Production numbers of each year by Victorinox
1983 - 77.400
1984 - none
1985 - 43.000
1986 - 75.250
1987 - 87.000
1988 - 67.000
1989 - 112.000
1990 - 66.725
1991 - 71.147
1992 - 66.150
The traditional Victorinox Soldiers on the pictures below are the 1970, 1978 and 2007. I still miss the model 80-90's without the Swiss Arms inspector stamp and with the hollow rivet. The first alox Soldiers, or better known as the Soldier model 1961, with red scales and no Swiss shield was made from 1961 till 1965. It didn't take long for the military to notice that the red color faded easily when used in the field and after five years they changed it to the silver colored knives till 1973. From then on they used the Swiss Soldiers shield in combination with the Swiss Arms inspector stamp and still the hollow rivet. The hollow rivet was used till 1992 and from 1977 on the red shield was added on the scales. A nice, functional knife with all the necessary tools!
The South African Nato knife is a gem! This knife is real hard to find and has the nato number stamped on the front scale. These knives are always in a used state and actualy more abused as used, but mine is in a good used state. The scales are dented and the main blade has a wide sharpened edge, but looks and feels still very good! On a South-African forum was mentioned that these knives are even rare over there, so I was very lucky to find one in this condition.