|Mine's the one with a dirty blade, I told you it was a working knife.|
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
One knife often in my pocket is the SOG Spec Elite 1. It’s one of my working knives and it has a lot of the features I like. The blade glides open with a little thumb pressure and the SOG Arc Lock is easy to use and secure. The arc lock and design of the glass reinforced nylon handle makes this a truly ambidextrous knife. The 4 inch VG-10 steel blade is sculpted into a clip point with a subtle sweep of the cutting edge giving it more power.
The handle has a round end butt and a slight wasp waist. Black nylon surface is generously covered with rows of small, raised elongated diamonds. I’ve always found that surface to be non-skid, even when wet.
The blade closes into a 4.75 inch handle with a left/right reversible pocket clip. It isn’t exactly what you might call deep carry as approximately 0.75 inch of handle, complete with silver attachment screws, extends out of your pocket. This has never been a problem for me, I live in a relatively knife friendly environment. That is to say, the police are more interested in what you are doing than what you carry in your pocket. I’m fine with that.
The knife comes wickedly sharp from the factory and despite my use has required only touch-ups. It sounds like the perfect knife doesn’t it? I do have one tiny bone to pick. The channel for the knife blade is wider than it needs to be at the blade tip. Sometimes the skin of my fingers can deform enough to slip in and catch the very sharp point resulting in a small, shallow puncture.
This is a small potato problem and I finally got around to mentioning it to the SOG people at the 2017 Blade Show. They grinned at me.
Turns out that I’m not the only one aware of these small injuries. They just handed me a SOG Spec Arc. It’s essentially the same knife, except for the handle. It’s 4.8 inches long. A 5/100 of an inch longer than the handle on the Spec Elite I and it’s bye-bye problem.
They made a few other changes: the clip is much smaller and allows for deep pocket carry. The handle is finished differently and it also feels good. The blade is still VG-10 and opens like a dream.
I’m not going to replace my knife. It isn’t that I like the little unexpected finger stabbings. I just sharpened my tip and took a little metal off and solved my problem some time ago. Duhh!
Have you ever wondered what the difference is between SOG’s Arc Lock and Benchmade’s Axis Lock? Is it just advertising? Both companies claim to have the strongest-best-easiest-to-use knife lock on the planet. Of course they aren’t the only ones making these kinds of claims.
If we turn to the Fountain of all Internet Knowledge, Wikipedia, we find:
“Axis Lock – A locking mechanism exclusively licensed to the Benchmade Knife Company. A cylindrical bearing is tensioned such that it will jump between the knife blade and some feature of the handle to lock the blade open.
Arc Lock – A locking mechanism exclusively licensed to SOG Specialty Knives. It differs from an axis lock in that the cylindrical bearing is tensioned by a rotary spring rather than an axial spring.”
So now you know.
Sunday, March 12, 2017
I recently spent an extended weekend in a cabin in southern West Virginia. It is beautiful country filled with rugged trails and incredible views. The cabin had a brick lined fireplace and a wood pile was available, so I made use of it.
In anticipation of chilly nights and warm fires I packed my SOG hatchet. It didn’t work very well. Despite the small amount of cutting I did several years ago, my hatchet was dull. Using that axe really brought out the true meaning of the expression, “Firewood warms you twice. Once when you cut it and again when you burn it.”
Fortunately my nephew brought his hatchet, a smaller and much sharper Gerber. It didn’t take too much work before I realized that my SOG made fast work of splitting quarter logs in to eighths, but was crappy for making the thin pencil-like sticks need to build fires. The Geber made nice pencils of wood but failed to impress the larger quarter logs.
|The Gerber is noticeable lighter and compact than the SOG|
The two hatchets would complement each other (after I re-sharpened the SOG), but you really can’t completely interchange them.
The Gerber has a small head resembling a flat grind Regular Wisconsin while the SOG has what appears to be a modified double bevel Virginia.
|Gerber hatchet head|
Don’t be confused, think of grind the same way as you think of knife grinds. Axe head style defines the shape and appearance of the axe head. Historically, some heads worked better than others for specific jobs. What worked for splitting long logs into quarters or fence rails, wasn’t the best design for log bucking. Some axe heads just develop a regional interest and became known by that name.
|SOG hatchet head|
My cutting experience indicated the Gerber might be a great hatchet for backpacking. It weighs in at 22.4 ounces and is 14 inches long. Not a bad combination for carrying in a pack. The small size limits its practical use. Need to cut a tent pole or cut down branches into small burnable size? Great! Quarter a four inch diameter log, not so hot. Typically, after you drive the hatchet into wood, you would pull the handle to one side or the other to rotate the metal head to act as an expanding wedge. This action causes the crack to propagate down the wood. The short handle made it feel like I couldn’t produce enough torque to turn the axe head and the split wood. The handle is a fiberglass composite and I felt queasy about using it as a lever arm.
My dull SOG weighs in at 33 ounces and is 16 inches long. The steel is a 1055 steel. It is too heavy for very much backpacking. Car camping, sure bring it along, but why not bring a three quarters length axe and really chop wood?
The SOG’s weight and steel handle gave me confidence I wasn’t going to break anything but the log when I twisted the hatchet handle to pry wood apart. The dullness made it difficult to cleanly split the wood into pencil size kindling.
The SOG camp axe has a RC hardness of 50-55. Not bad for a hatchet, but I noticed that after several days of chopping wood the edge had several dents. Clearly a sharpening stone or file should be this hatchet’s constant companion.
|Pick the right tool for the right job!|
All I could find on the Gerber was that it has been replaced by a new and improved version. The hardness wasn’t published. But I wouldn’t be afraid to carry it into the woods.
So, I learned I need to look after my hatchet better and that proved what I already knew: the right tool makes any job easier!
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I open the box containing the SOG Aegis. I like the new pillbox style container, but the real importance is what’s in the box.
The company SOG was started in 1986 in
California by Spence Frazer. Frazer, who didn’t have direct military
experience, was inspired by a the SOG knife carried in Vietnam. This knife fired his imagination and
following its re-creation, he built a top-end knife company.
What about the original knife that inspired him? We can thank Wikipedia for the background.
Vietnam. Highly trained men slipped behind enemy and
neutral lines on dangerous and often one-way missions. They were given a code name that wouldn’t say
anything: Studies and Observations Group (SOG).
Kind of sounds like a group of professors in some college think
tank. Of course now we know how
misleading that was.
They needed a knife. It’s hard to beat a knife for silence and up close interaction. It’s hard to beat a knife as a basic survival tool.
Benjamin Baker, the Deputy Chief of the U.S. Counterinsurgency Support Office (CISO) wanted a sterile knife that would give no clue to the nationality of its owner. He designed a knife with a blade pattern featuring a convex false edge similar to the clip point of a Bowie knife. It’s been long established in knife lore that stacked leather washers gave the best grip when your hands got wet or bloody, so he added that. Finger groves were cut/molded into the leather washer handle. The blade was made from SKS-3 steel hardened to a Rockwell hardness of 55-57. We might consider that a bit low by today’s standards, but Baker wanted a knife that would bend instead of break. A small sharpening stone was added to the leather sheath. Lastly, the blade was blued to reduce sunlight glinting off the steel and reduce rust.
The knives were made in
Japan and issued. They are now quite a collector’s item.
That’s quite a bloodline for my little Aegis to live up to. Lets take a look at it.
|It comes top up right hand out of the box.|
The knife is an assisted opener. The opening isn’t as explosive as I’m used to, but there isn’t a tendency to jump out of my hand either. The 3.5 inch blade of AUS-8 steel
is hardened to Rc of 57-58. The blade is coated with a Ti-N which reduces reflection and adds a “tacti-cool” look. The relatively high level of chromium gives AUS-8 good rust resistance, but remember it’s just resistance, not proof.
The knife has a safety, which I tend to ignore. I carry my knives pressed against the pocket’s back seam so the blade is pressed into the knife. They seldom if ever open on their own in my pocket.
The blade has a thumb stud on both sides which facilities the tip-up carry. You can reverse the clip for right and left side. The clip lets the knife ride completely submerged in your pocket. This may create problems with local ordnances about “concealed weapons.” I know if you’re arrested, the nail clipper in your pocket will be written up as a concealed weapon. Give it some thought and be careful.
I don’t know if the SOG arc-lock is the strongest lock in existence. There are a lot of claims about lock strength in the knife market. It really depends on how you run your test and how you define strongest. Previous ownership of SOG arc-lock knives make me trust it as much as I trust any locking folder.
The black zytel handle has a pattern of raised features to increase the friction between the hand and handle. More importantly, it felt good in my hand.