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Nobody ever said you had to be pretty to perform well. In fact, many prefer that their tactical and survival tools not be that pretty at all. It sends a message that the manufacturer is pouring their creative energy and resources into function and utility. With that in mind, most SOG knives are probably not going to win any awards for their beauty. What they do will do, however, is serve you well in your tactical, survival and everyday use.
At a Glance: Our Choices for The 10 Best SOG Knives
Click on one of the links to go directly to our overview, opinion, and features of each knife.
About SOG Knives
The original design for SOG knives was based on a combat knife carried by a Special Forces unit known as MACV-SOG, serving in Vietnam. This Bowie-style knife inspired SOG’s founder, Spencer Frazer, to start making his own knives, beginning in 1986. That first knife retailed for $200—not a small sum for a knife now, and certainly not in 1986 either.
Frazer’s thought was to both recreate the original knife and also pay tribute to the men who carried it. In that, he succeeded and he also succeeded in finding a market for the knife in spite of its price tag. From there, the line continued expanding and eventually included a full range of folding, tactical and survival knives, multi-tools, as well as gear and other accessories.
Why choose SOG?
Frazer has a diverse background in fields as wide-ranging as modern art, aerospace engineering, and toy design. It has given him a unique perspective on materials, ergonomics, and aesthetics. This unique outlook and vision has allowed SOG to grow and continually produce innovative designs that challenge many conventions of the industry.
SOG knives have a high-tech image and are made with the purpose of being tactical, versatile, comfortable to carry, and ergonomic. The knives feature a lifetime warranty against defects in craftsmanship and materials. SOG also offers free sharpening services and will even cover the return costs, provided the customer covers the original shipping.
In terms of materials, most of the blades reviewed below use AUS-8 steel, with a few exceptions. This is generally viewed as a favorable grade, although not as highly regarded as others. It is looked upon as a solid compromise between economics, corrosion resistance, edge retention, and ease of sharpening. In fact, this compromise in many ways embodies the SOG brand. The knives are generally very good across a wide range of applications, but not standouts in any particular area.
In addition to the knives themselves, the SOG website also contains solid information for the knife enthusiast, whether it be the beginner or the seasoned veteran. Their buying guides and knife care forums are resources that can enhance the owner’s experience.
SOG in the marketplace
SOG pocket knives are not designed to be as heavy-duty as something like Emerson or Zero Tolerance. They are generally EDC’s that are comfortable to carry and easy opening, with well-designed features and solid materials. They tend to occupy a spot above brands like Gerber but are often considered outclassed by manufacturers hovering at similar price points, such as Kershaw and Spyderco.
SOG fixed blade knives are generally lighter and more tactical, along the lines of what you would find in the survival-oriented Moras. The one exception is the massive Creed, which is designed to withstand ridiculous punishment. It is reviewed below and fits in with the upper mid-range of bushcraft and survival knives.
5 Best SOG Pocket Knives
Although this review began by saying that SOG was not known for making the best-looking knives, we are already going to contradict that somewhat in this first review. The Aegis, in fact, is a fairly stylish knife.
The blade is 3.5” (8.89cm) and the Clip design is very good for piercing. It also has a large enough belly for cutting tasks. The blade has a flat grind and is black titanium nitrite coated, which contributes to the cool styling.
Other features are the ambidextrous thumb studs and the Piston lock assisted mechanism for quick deployment. The sliding piston also provides a very secure lock for the blade.
AUS-8 steel provides a reasonably good corrosion resistance and edge retention. At an Rc of 57-58, it is soft enough that sharpening is not too difficult either.
The glass reinforced nylon handle is very functional and grips well for hard cutting tasks. The handle is not lined, which allows it to remain lightweight at 3.1oz (87.88g).
The big belly and Clip tip of the Aegis makes it very versatile. It is genuinely a knife that can be thought of as an “everything” folder because it does so many jobs well.
SOG Twitch II
The Twitch II does not have the deep belly like the Aegis, which limits its versatility. However, it is a Drop Point style, making it stronger at the tip. The blade length is 2.65” with a full flat grind and a thickness of .1” (2.5mm). It has ambidextrous thumb studs and also a flipper. The opening is very quick and easy.
The handle is composed of anodized aluminum and features a lanyard hole. The closed length is 3.55” (9.02cm). It also has an assisted Lockback mechanism, with a spring-tension lockbar that holds the blade in place. The Initial lockup is very good, but over time they can begin to loosen.
At a width of .6” (15.25mm) and a weight of 2.6oz (73.71g), this knife is very easy to pack. It performs well over a variety of EDC uses, but does have some durability issues and might require a little more upkeep than something like the comparable Kershaw 1740, with its 14c28n stainless steel.
SOG Vulcan Tanto
(+) Durable and sharp composite steel blade
(+) Tanto style for tactical use
(-) At 5oz (141.75g), heftier than some may prefer for EDC
(-) Thicker blade is not as agile
The Vulcan is a Japanese-made SOG. The blade length is 3.5” (8.89cm) and it has a very strong Tanto tip. The steel is San Mai VG-10 that is treated to an Rc of 59-60, which is harder than SOG’s AUS-8 grade.
San Mai translates as “3 layers,” signifying, of course, that this blade is a composite. The edge is VG-10, which contains vanadium, increasing its durability and hardness. The composite aspect allows the blade to be more flexible in the body while having extreme sharpness with the VG-10 edge.
The handle on the Vulcan is glass reinforced nylon and has full steel liners. The knife has a closed length of 4.87″ (12.37cm) and opens with a completely manual flipper that is very fast and very smooth. The handle also has an excellent grip and good ergonomics.
The Tanto blade also has a slight curve along the belly and a deep hollow grind. Both of these attributes make the Vulcan a very good slicing knife. The overall effect is to make the Vulcan a highly effective tactical knife, and also versatile enough to handle all of your EDC needs.
SOG Flash II
(+) Comfortable, grippy handle
(+) Good deep pocket carry
(+) Blade is versatile and an effective slicer
(-) Blades tend to develop a little play in them
(-) Jimping is not very functional
The Flash II is a large, but lightweight, EDC folder. The Drop Point blade is 3.5” (8.89cm) and has a full flat grind like the Twitch II. You will find that this knife slices with very minimal effort.
The Flash II weighs in at only 3.1oz (87.89g). It is not designed for heavy-duty or extreme tactical use. As with all SOG folders, the ambidextrous thumb studs are beveled and terraced for easy deployment. The Flash II does open extremely quickly and easily for situations when time is critical.
The handle on the Flash II is also very comfortable to work with. The deep choil for the index finger offers a very good handling when making hard cuts. The reversible clip allows for a comfortable deep pocket carry.
All in all, the Flash II is a very easy knife to both use and carry. It makes for a solid utility knife with a blade that will stand up well to most everyday uses.
(+) Very good traction on the handle
(+) Perfectly centered blade
(+) Great ergonomics
(-) Blade design makes sharpening more of a challenge
(-) Not great traction when removing from the pocket
The Zoom has an assisted mechanism and lives up to its name in that it deploys very quickly.
The 3.6” (9.14cm) blade is a Drop Point design with a thickness of .1” (2.5mm). The blade also has a bit of a reverse belly that comes in handy for cutting larger items.
The handle on this knife has skeletonized stainless liners and is aluminum, which contributes to it being a bit stronger and weighing a bit more than something like the Flash II. It comes in at 4.4oz (124.74g). The closed length is 4.7” (11.94cm) and has a thickness of .5” (12.7mm) and the overall length is 8.3” (20.32cm).
The handle is contoured along its entire length for solid and comfortable gripping. There is also a thumb ramp with very good jimping, which will allow for piercing without losing force due to the thumb slipping.
The Zoom functions well as a tactical knife. It is relatively lightweight, but strong, and is also a very deep carry.
5 Best Fixed Blade SOG Knives
SOG Field Pup II
The Field Pup II is a full tang survival knife that has an overall length of 10.25” (24.6cm), and a 4.75” (12.07cm) blade composed of 7CR17MoV steel. This is a Chinese made equivalent of 440A stainless and not considered one of your better blade materials.
The blade has a thumb rail that features heavy jimping. It is a Drop Point style with a semi-hollow grind that has a .13” (3.3mm) thick straight spine.
The Pup II weighs 5.9oz (167.27g) and has a Kraton handle that features a lanyard hole. The handle has finger grooves for comfortable holding and center texturing that make it easy to grip. You will also notice that Kraton really absorbs shock well when using it for heavier applications. It also comes with a leather sheath that features a belt loop and snap-over retention.
The Pup II is a smaller utility blade that doesn’t quite have the mass for heavy-duty tasks. It feels solid but just doesn’t bite enough to do something like chopping. It is adequate at batoning if you are considering a knife that can process small firewood. However, the Kraton can get beat up a little, and although the blade retains its edge, the 7CR17MoV can be prone to chipping under continued heavy use.
SOG SEAL Pup Elite
The SEAL Pup Elite is also a light-duty tactical and utility blade. It weighs 5.4oz (153.09g), and again the blade steel is AUS-8.
The SEAL Pup Elite is actually a very good choice for a field or camp knife. It handles light-duty fire making jobs well. The blade is the double scalloped Bowie-style and has a hollow grind. It also has a spine rasp that works very well for notching and filing, and gives your thumb something to dig into if you have it positioned higher on the spine.
The handle is glass reinforced nylon with center texturing. Handle length is 4.65” (11.81cm) and overall length is 9.5” (22.8cm).
As a tactical knife, the SEAL Pup Elite works very well. Its weight makes it a very agile blade and the blade length of 4.85” (12.32cm) is sufficient for encounters at close quarters. The knife is very well balanced and has an intuitive feel. It also stays very quiet in the sheath (no rattle).
Like the Field Pup II, however, the blade is simply too light for rigorous bushcraft, such as processing firewood, making a shelter, etc.
The Creed is a big knife with a Bowie-inspired design and a Clip Point blade, blood groove, and cross-guard hand guard.
At 7.5” (19.05cm) in length and .24” (6.1mm) thickness, the Creed is a massive blade. The spine retains its full thickness for nearly the entire length. This full tang knife weighs in at 12.8oz (362.88g).
The Creed’s handle is Kraton and is 4.63” (11.76cm) in length. It has a textured crosshatch pattern that makes it very grippy. The finger grooves also give it a very comfortable feel. The steel pommel is suitable for glass breaking and other tactical uses.
The knife comes with a sheath that is black leather and has a snap-over for retention. It also has a lanyard hole for leg carry.
The Clip Point on the Creed does allow it to be somewhat nimble for its large size. However, this is more of a straight clip, rather than the concave tip on the SEAL Pup Elite. It is, therefore, going to be stronger overall. The Creed also has a large belly and stands up well to heavy-duty bushcraft tasks. Yet the Creed also performs well with more delicate camps tasks like feathering and skinning.
The Pillar has a 5” (12.7cm) Clip Point blade that has a thickness of .16” (4.1mm). It is made of CPMS35VN steel treated to an Rc of 59-61. The S35VN holds up well and is not extremely hard to sharpen, despite being a little higher on the Rockwell scale.
The Pillar’s handle is canvas Micarta and 4.8” (12.19cm) in length. It grips very well and also has a comfortable feel. The weight is 7.3oz (206.95g).
The Pillar also comes with a thick Kydex sheath. It has an adjustable locking system for the belt loop. The sheath holds the knife solidly and silently, and also has a series of lanyard holes for various types of leg carry.
There is a very functional jimping that is not overly aggressive along the top of the handle and thumb rail. This helps to make the Pillar a very capable knife when it comes to tasks such as feathering and slicing. The full tang blade also makes it very durable and it will stand up to medium-duty bushcraft.
SOG Trident 2.0
(+) Good tactical knife
(+) Sharpening stone included
(+) Blade is durable and easy to work with
(-) Clip Point not strong enough for survival
(-) Screw on pommel can come loose during rigorous tasks
The Trident has a full tang blade that is 6.4” (16.26cm) long and .24” (6.1mm) thick. It is a Clip Point, composed of AUS-8 and treated to an Rc of 57-58.
The Trident’s handle is Micarta. The pommel has a lanyard hole and a lanyard is included with the knife. Additionally, the knife also includes a sharpening stone. The overall length of the Trident 2.0 is 11” (26.4cm) and it is hefty at 11.02oz (317.52g).
This knife also comes with a leather sheath that has a belt loop. However, like the Creed, the snap-over is not the most secure design. There does seem to be the possibility that the knife could work loose.
The Clip design on the Trident is not like that of the Creed. The Trident maintains full thickness only to about the midway point. Because of this, the Trident is not quite a heavy-duty knife. It actually falls somewhere in the mid-duty range despite its heft, and is maybe a bit in no man’s land. This is a quality knife, no question. But in all honesty, it is difficult to determine its niche beyond saying that is a capable tactical knife.
For the SOG lineup of knives, their emphasis on functional designs and utility really do pay off if you are looking for a versatile and well-made knife. The pocket knives reviewed here are all very capable performers and you will not be disappointed with them as your EDC. They can handle a multitude of tasks with comfort. They are also lightweight, easy to carry and very durable.
The fixed blade knives too are all quality knives that will serve you well for what they are designed for. Only with the Creed, however, does SOG really seem to be “going” for something. It is an all-out commitment to make a heavy-duty bushcraft knife and it succeeds nicely. The rest of the knives in the lineup are still all very solid. They are going to be more in the utility range, however. They will perform many tasks admirably, just not spectacularly.
Image by SOG