No two survival situations are ever going to be exactly the same. From the challenges faced the tools at hand to the resourcefulness of the person or persons involved – each potential scenario will require its own unique solution.
As a result, if you ask 100 people what the best and most useful survival knife is, you’ll get 100 different answers. From weight to blade size to steel type – few will see eye to eye on what they want strapped to their hip in the worst of situations.
Still, there are contenders for the crown, and one such contender is the SOG Field Pup, a medium-sized fixed blade knife that’s proved to be as versatile as it is affordable.
This is a versatile blade that would be at home on any survivalist, hunter, or camper’s hip. While this isn’t meant for heavy-duty chores, it will skin, slice, and cut just about whatever you need it to. It also has some potential as a tactical weapon, as its handle will practically glue it to your hand and its sheath and satin finish will make it both quiet and invisible.
|Modified drop point blade offers a lot more control for precise work.||The tip is too broad to pierce or stab.|
|Reliable fixed blade knife that’s not too big to keep you from carrying it every day.||Needs to be sharpened quite often.|
|Satin Finish reduces reflective glare / increases corrosion resistance.||Lack of extended belly and weight dramatically reduce chopping ability.|
|Full tang design with a grippy, Kraton handle.||Not recommended for batoning wood unless it is thin or dry.|
|7Cr17MoV Stainless Steel is Vanadium-rich, increasing to increase strength.|
|Indented belly on the blade for better slicing.|
Things to Consider when Buying the SOG Field Pup
A big reason why those aforementioned “100 people” will give a different answer is because of the factors below. After all, what we want in a knife isn’t just defined by the characteristics of the knife itself, but by circumstances outside our control, such as where we live, our budget, and our particular needs in different situations.
In the next section, I’ll take a look at a few points you should consider before diving into our review of the SOG Field Pup.
Things to Consider:
Blade Size and Design – You can largely determine a knife’s value based on how well it performs the tasks you need it to. This, in many respects, is defined by the blade’s size and shape. From chopping to piercing to filleting fish and skinning game – each task is best suited to a particular type of blade. Rarely do we find one that can do it all equally well.
Geography – Not every knife is suited to every environment and climate. From city to deep woods, desert to the ocean – the blade, steel, handle, and sheath all require consideration depending on your location.
Type of Steel – Science hasn’t brought us the “perfect steel” yet, which means we all still need to consider what CONs we can live with and what PROs we can’t live without\. This means keeping things like corrosion-resistance, hardness, brittleness, and cost in your mind when choosing a knife.
Weight and Portability – Heavy knives can hack through dense bush with little problem, but they can tire out the user extremely fast, which is dangerous in survival situations. Light knives can prevent this, of course, but they may not be able to handle a lot of the jobs you throw at them. Finding a good balance between weight and portability is an essential – and very personal – thing.
Your Budget – Choosing a good knife for your budget isn’t just about going as low as possible and sniffing out deals – it’s about finding the best performing blade for a price you can afford. Two broken $30 blades are just not equal to a $70 blade that will last you a lifetime.
The designers and blade artisans over at SOG designed the Field Pup to be a versatile and reliable tool in the field. It is small enough – at 8.5” – to carry around with you almost everywhere, but small enough and delicately-built enough to handle feathering and other precision tasks. The goal seemed to be to create a knife that would do as much as possible in a single package.
Below, we’ll take an in-depth look at the SOG Field Pup to see how well they accomplished their task.
Specifications of the SOG Field Pup
Steel: 7Cr17MoV Stainless Steel (powder coated)
Weight: 7.5 oz.
The dedication to producing a knife that can handle delicate tasks as well as heavy-duty jobs is most apparent in the weight and thickness of the SOG Field Pup. The 7Cr17MoV Stainless Steel blade is only .13” thick, which will help it feather and carve with the best of them. At 7.5 oz, it’s certainly not too heavy to lug around the woods, but should still be able to handle some light chopping. However, with the blade being only 4” long and not very thick, is it too thin for batoning and prying?
Answering these types of questions will require a much closer look, which we’ll do in the next few sections.
Blade Design and Steel
The SOG Field Pup has a very unique looking blade, which – at first glance – can be a bit off-putting for seasoned knife enthusiasts. However, once you realize that there is a purpose behind those odd curves and angles, you can get a better idea of what the team over at SOG were going for. Spec-wise, the blade is 4” of 7Cr17MoV Stainless Steel with a .13” thickness. This isn’t “fillet knife thin,” but it certainly stands out in the survival knife world, where blades often reach .25” thick so they can mimic an axe when needed.
The SOG Field Pup cannot be used as an axe when needed – at least not unless the wood being used is relatively thin, relatively dry, or both. However, what it lacks in chopping and batoning ability, it makes up for in finesse. The unique blade shape – as we’ll see – gives the user tons of control over every millimeter of each slice. So while you may not be able to take down a bear with this knife, you’ll sure as heck be able to skin it.
The Field Pup is a modified drop point design, with the main areas of modification being on the back of the spine, near the handle, and on the majority of the cutting edge (or belly).
Rather than have a flat spin that begins to slope downward upon reaching the point, the first half inch or so of the SOG’s spine slopes upward and boasts some very aggressive jimping. The spine then begins a long but steady slope down to the tip. As for the other side – where most drop point knives have a reasonably pronounced bulge at the belly, the Field Pup actually curves inward, making the tip look rounder and fuller.
The reasons for this are as follows. First, the upward arc and jimping at the base of the spine make a natural resting place for the thumb, but rather than have the thumb lay flat along the spine, it forces the thumb to apply a small amount of constant pressure – exerting control over slicing, feathering, and other delicate tasks. While the indented belly does reduce chopping power, it will support the top as it makes slicing movements and won’t allow the blade to over-cut or over-pierce unless the user wants it to.
All in all, this is a rather innovative design for a knife and quite a departure from what is usually expected of survival knives.
7Cr17MoV Stainless Steel is Vanadium-rich which increases its overall toughness, durability, and resistance to damage – excellent attributes for a knife that you might consider taking into a survival situation. As a stainless steel, it is also naturally corrosion-resistant. In the case of the SOG Field Pup, the blade also features e a satin finish to increases this resistance and cut down on reflective glare in case a situation calls for not being seen.
On the other hand, there’s new real getting around the fact that 7Cr17MoV is pretty well-known as a “budget knife” steel. Does this curse every knife that features it? No, but it should make you closer at the science behind it. To that point, the SOG Field Pup may be a significant exception. Hardened to a range of 55-57 (with 56-53 being optimal) the Field Pup should hold a nice edge and resist becoming brittle, two of the major complaints regarding 7Cr17MoV.
The SOG Field Pup’s handle is made of heavy-duty synthetic rubber compound called Kraton. If you’ve spent any time shopping for knives or other outdoor tools, the name should be quite familiar. Kraton is extremely tough, resisting chemicals, heat, and weathering quite well. It also offers a comfortable and reliable grip, especially when combined the finger guard and the steep angle/jimping on the back of the blade.
Kraton isn’t perfect of course. It isn’t pretty, for one, but it also is slightly porous, which means it will soak up fluids and become brittle over time. However, this process can take decades if the knife is stored in proper conditions and cleaned regularly. All in all, if you want to hold onto your knife, you shouldn’t have too much trouble. The only major complaints have come from people who claim the handle (and the knife, for that matter) is just too small for their big hands.
The folks at SOG must be reading knife blogs because they went straight to leather for the Field Pup’s sheath where the majority of manufacturers can barely be bothered with a reliable piece of plastic or nylon. All in all, it’s rugged and tough, and will fit the knife like a glove once broken in. It will also be deadly silent, which – combined with the non-reflective coating on the blade – increases the Field Pup’s potential as a stealth weapon.
For all its prettiness, however, leather does require a bit of oiling and other maintenance from time to time to avoid cracking. Those who don’t want to perform such duties in the field may want to switch up for a different material.
The sheath is, overall, quite simple, with a single snap to keep the blade from falling out and another to attach it to your belt.
Overall Quality and Features
The SOG Field Pup is not a “knock-your-socks-off” survival blade, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t perform the vast majority of tasks assigned to it (and then some). What it lacks in chopping and batoning ability it quickly makes up for with its precision slicing, pruning, and feathering skills. I should find myself astonished if this knife couldn’t create artwork in the hands of a practiced individual.
Some SOG Field Pup Alternatives to Consider
There are alternatives to the SOG Field Pup if you want to check out other options. Here is a look at some of the best ones.
#1 Ontario Knife 7500PC SK-5 Bird Noir Knife
The Ontario Knife SK-5 Bird Noir is a real black beauty of an outdoor blade. 10” of 154CM stainless steel with a full-tang, 5” blade and Micarta handle, this knife is thick, broad, and ready to handle everything the bush has to offer.
Many users have described it as the perfect “camp chore” knife, as it will baton and hack through whatever you need it to and still have enough of an edge to fillet the fish you caught by the river. Now, it definitely won’t handle the fine tasks that the SOG will, but it is definitely an outdoorsman’s knife – big, bad, and brutal.
Benefits / Features:
- 154CM blade steel – stainless and right dead center on the ideal hardness scale
- 5” full-tang blade with 5” of Micarta scales behind it.
- Great for hunting, fishing, and EDC.
- Blade is coated with powder to keep light from reflecting and protect the finish.
- Only weighs 12 oz., but has enough heft to handle quite a bit of punishment.
- Good palm swell on the handle helps it fit large hands
#2 Bushcraft Survival Hunting Knife MOVA-58
Spanish company Bushcraft has been exporting some quality stuff over the past few years, and one of them is their Survival Hunting Knife. Featuring nearly four inches of MOVA-58 steel (a laser-cut, optimal hardness stainless steel blend) that is roughly .20” thick, this 8.67” blade is as pretty as it is useful in the field. It can be made prettier, however, if you trade in the Micarta scale handle for one made of exotic Spanish wood.
One thing people like about Bushcraft is that they live up to their name and their brand. Not only are all of their knives extensively field-tested, but they also offer a 100% money-back guarantee on all over their products.
Benefits / Features:
- Heavy-duty leather sheath with fire steel included.
- High performance tactical and bushcraft knife
- Stainless MOVA-58 steel cut by laser and forged to optimal hardness.
- Generous thumb jimping for an added grip.
- Thick (.20”) and able to stand up to lots of punishment.
- 100% money back guarantee
- Extensively field tested
#3 Condor Tool & Knife 60005
With its 4.25” blade, high-quality black leather sheath, and glare-cutting, blasted satin finish, and Micarta handles, the Condor Tool and Knife 60005 is a worthy adversary for the SOG Field Pup. However – previous statistics aside – there are some serious differences to consider.
The Condor is thicker, less dynamic and versatile, and does not feature the reliable stainless steel that the SOG does. Instead, it features 1075 high carbon steel, which will hold a great edge and be very easy to sharpen, but rust rather quickly unless taken very good care of.
Benefits / Features:
- 1075 High Carbon Steel holds a good edge and very easy to sharpen.
- Blasted satin finish to cut glare.
- Micarta handle scales are very weather resistant and offer an excellent grip.
- High-quality black leather sheath
- 4.25” blade. Overall length is 9.31”
- Can handle both detailed work and heavy stuff
If you’ve come this far, then you’re less concerned with what the SOG Field Pup doesn’t do (chop, baton wood) and much more concerned with what it does. I think that the analysis we’ve done here shows the SOG to be a reliable and versatile bushcraft knife that will handle the vast majority of survival situations quite well.
We have to give the manufacturer some bonus points for their innovative blade design and rather fearless resolve when coming up with this knife and putting it out there with the survival blade competition. If you’re looking for a blade you can carry into battle, into the woods, or on the job, this one is definitely worth a look.
For more details on the SOG Field Pup click the link below.