Pocket and tactical knives have always been popular because of their usefulness. However, today they are also known for their versatility and style quotient.
Pocket knives can double as accessories today, with knife enthusiasts collecting different varieties for their collection. And it isn’t surprising because pocket knives come in various designs and styles, with different utilities and purposes.
While some are best for everyday use slicing fruits, others are designed for robust uses like chopping kindling and cutting seat belts in case of an emergency.
Multi-utility knives come with several different tools all combined into one – from scissors to corkscrews to pincers. Considering the variety of these nifty tools, it’s worth your time and money to collect different variants.
Even before American companies started manufacturing quality pocket knives, German, Swiss, and Swedish companies had already manufacturing and shipping them to all corners of the world. German and Swedish steel and pocket knives remain as popular as ever, even after American manufacturers have established themselves in domestic as well as overseas market.
Over the years, several American knife companies have made a name for themselves in the industry.
As pocket knife remains one of the most sought after tactical and survival tools, American manufacturers have introduced their own versions of tactical and EDC knives to cash-in on this trend.
Two Americans companies that have made a mark in the industry as the leader in EDC and tactical knives are SOG and Kershaw. These two companies have been around for over 30 years and have made the bestselling tools that have gained an icon status within the industry.
Even though many new companies have come up, collectors and experienced users still prefer the brand reputation and heritage of these leading American companies. In this guide, we find out how the two companies fare when pitted against each other.
About SOG Knives
SOG Specialty Knives & Tools is one of the leading manufacturers of EDC and tactical knives, founded in 1986 in California. However, the company began because of an event that took place several years before that.
The term SOG stands for Studies and Observation Group, a covert special operations unit of the US military that fought during the Vietnam War. The SOG knife was a unique and highly specialized combat knife that this group carried on its missions.
During the war and until several years later, the United States denied the existence of any such special ops unit. But once information about the SOG was made public, the combat knife they had used gained popularity and inspired knifemakers to produce something of that sort.
One of those inspired by the controversial Vietnam War (why did America ever put boots on the ground – we should have just supplied weapons to the Vietnamese and provided aerial support but this is another topic) and the SOG knife was Spencer Frazer, who not only went on to remake the iconic SOG Bowie knife but also went on to start his own knife and tools company.
His endeavor was meant to be a tribute to the special ops, but it became so popular that Spencer ended up being a knifemaker full time.
SOG knives are used by the US Special Forces and the Navy SEALS (watch Hunter Killer or American Sniper if you want to know what they do – don’t watch Iron Man II, The Last Jedi, or Jurassic World). Being chosen by law enforcement and Special Forces itself proves the worth and quality of the SOG knives and tools. SOG has set the standards in more ways than one. For instance, the SOG Tomcat was the first sculptural faceted folding knife.
Today, SOG not only manufactures fixed black and folding knife but also produces different types of axes and tomahawks and multi-tools.
SOG knives are generally budget friendly, with some of the best ones available for under $30. Because Frazer (nothing to do with the funny 90s sitcom – Frasier) has a background in aerospace engineering and design, it makes him knowledgeable about knife-making and technology. SOG has a limited lifetime warranty on their products.
Top 3 SOG Knives
1. SOG Aegis
The Aegis is one of the best known SOG knives, and one of the most stylish. Aegis in Greek means “protection,” and if you want an EDC knife that has superior ability to perform versatile tasks, then it’s hard to find a match for Aegis (yes, this is the same name as the type of destroyer in the US Navy).
The overall length of the knife is 8.25 inches when open and 4.75 inches when closed. This folding knife has as a 3.5-inch blade made from AUS-8 steel.
But even though it’s high performance and sturdy, it is lightweight at only 3.10 ounces. The Aegis has been around for a long time and has made its mark in the market as one of the most promising and trusted tactical knives.
The blade has a partially serrated edge and flat grind, while the glass reinforced fiberglass handle is contoured and ergonomically designed for a firm and comfortable grip.
Even though a budget steel AUS-8 offers decent corrosion resistance and soft enough for ease of sharpening. The clip tip and the big belly of the knife make it one of the most versatile folders fit to do a variety of jobs.
2. SOG Twitch II
Despite this, the Twitch II is one of the most popular knives, because of its drop point blade. What makes the Twitch stand out is the variety it is available in.
It comes in more than three different styles and finishes, with straight, serrated, or non-serrated blades. The Twitch II also has SOG’s Assisted Opening Technology, which makes deployment and locking easy for even newbies.
The AUS-8 steel blade offers decent corrosion resistance and ease of sharpening, good for all around EDC uses and hunting and cutting tasks. The handle is made with machined aluminum with an anodized coating, making it lightweight and comfortable to hold. This is one of those folding knives that can be used both for indoor and outdoor purposes.
3. SOG Vulcan
SOG makes some of its knives in Japan, and the Vulcan is one of them. The defining feature of this knife is the composite blade made with three kinds of steel. The edge is the San Mai VG-10 treated to a hardness of 59-60, harder than the AUS-8.
The Vulcan has a manual opening and locking mechanism, and a comfortable and ergonomic handle. The tanto blade is known to be harder than any other blades, and it also has a high point and a flat grind. The tanto blade is a Japanese style, mostly found in knives made in Japan.
Japanese knives, armors, and swords are recognized for their incredible strength, and the Vulcan is no different. It also has SOG’s patented Arc-Lock, which can take over 1,000 pounds of force. At $183, it is one of the more expensive SOG knives.
About Kershaw Knives
Kershaw Knives was founded in 1974 by Pete Kershaw, a former knife salesman at Gerber Legendary Blades, another iconic knife and tools company. The company was initially based out of Portland, Oregon, with the earliest knives mostly manufactured in Japan.
In 1977, Kershaw became a fully owned subsidiary of the KAI Group based in Tualatin, Oregon. Kai is originally a Japanese company that has been making knives, utility tools, and cutlery since 1908. Kershaw Knives became a brand under Kai USA.
Kershaw Knives have brought various breakthrough technologies into the market, the most popular being the Composite Blade Technology. Patented by Kershaw, the Composite Blade Technology combines two types of steel into one blade. Kershaw Knives are also known for the different types of blade locking systems and the glass breaker tip.
Kershaw has some of the most varied locking systems, such as liner lock, inset liner lock, frame lock subframe lock, hawk lock push button lock, and mid-block.
Most Kershaw knife handles also come with a glass breaker tip, which is an extremely tough carbide tip used in emergency situations to break through safety glass.
Kershaw knives have something for both budget shoppers and those looking to splurge on higher end knives. Kershaw knives begin from as low as $30, and some of their best knives are priced within $150. All Kershaw knives come with a limited lifetime warranty for the original owner.
Top 3 Kershaw Knives
1. Kershaw Blur
The Blur is one of the most famous Kershaw knives, designed by Hall of Fame knife maker Ken Onion. What makes the Blur so popular is its durability and strength; it was designed to be a work knife and is one of the best-made tools a knife enthusiast can ever find.
The Blur comes in various models, handle colors and blade materials, from the mid-range T14C28N steel to more high-end types. The blade is either smooth or serrated.
The blade length of the Blur is a little over three inches, with the handle being made of the 6061-T6 anodized aluminum handle that comes in various colors like olive, black, red and desert sand.
The handle has Trac-tec inserts and the SpeedSafe opener, besides a liner lock and an adjustable pocket clip. The knife weighs a little over four ounces, which is slightly on the heavier side.
2. Kershaw 1990 Brawler
It’s got a tanto blade and a flipper style deployment, and the blade is impressive right from the first glance. The design makes this one of the most attractive Kershaw knives that you would love to flaunt.
The steel used for the blade is the aggressive 8Cr13MoV, which can slice through any object as easily as taking on an attacker. Because of the SpeedSafe assisted opening mechanism, the blade can be deployed using either the flipper or the thumb stud.
Although the tanto blade is mainly used for piercing, it can also be used for slicing, cutting, and chopping. For strength and lightweight, the handle of the Brawler is injection-molded, glass-filled nylon. The blade is secured with a liner lock. The Brawler comes with a quad-carry pocket clip.
3. Kershaw Leek
If you are looking for the perfect EDC knife for everyday utilities, then the Kershaw Leek is the one. The blade is all of three inches, neither too big nor too small. The slim design makes the knife portable and razor-sharp. Sandvik 14C28N steel blade enables it to perform a wide range of cutting tasks.
This one too is designed by Ken Onion, the reason why it has the ambidextrous SpeedSafe opening mechanism. The blade is a modified drop-point and good for slicing, while the slim tip is good for piercing and detailed work. The Leek comes in both smooth and serrated blades, with a handle of pure stainless steel.
For total confidence and security, the safe frame lock keeps the blade securely locked during use and a Tip-Lock slider locks it when closed. The adjustable pocket clip can be used for carrying the knife tip-up or tip-down.
Although both SOG and Kershaw are renowned companies that have been around for a long while, if we had to pick one, it would be Kershaw. Why? Because Kershaw has better blade quality, more variety, and dependable customer service.
Kershaw knives are made with a wide range of superior steels, but SOG sticks to AUS-8 and VG-10. There have been complaints about the poor customer service of SOG also, but never about Kershaw.
The bottom-line is, whether you are a beginner or a pro, Kershaw offers much better value and quality in EDC and tactical knives.