|It comes top up right hand out of the box.|
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.
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.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
I spent a good part of my high school experience stocking shelves for an independent grocery store. I was in charge of filling the beer cooler, sorting the returned glass soda and beer bottles (Yes, we were recycling then, but we didn’t call it recycling. We called it getting our deposit back.) and making sure the shelves had product on them. The store provided a white apron, if we wanted it, a price stamp and a box cutter. The status item among the stock boys was the box cutter.
A box cutter is a simple tool consisting of a frame to hold a single edge safety razor and a flattened metal tube which held the frame shut and could be slid forward to protect you from the razor blade.
Even then, some product lines had sales reps whose job was to make sure their product was displayed properly and utilized all the shelf space available, especially if they could steal space from their competitor.
|A good score for a stock boy!|
Sometimes if you were especially helpful or they felt expansive (a big dose of flattery helped) they would give you a box cutter with a product logo on one side.
In those simpler times or at least to our simpler concerns, that was a high status item. The store preferred you leave your box cutter at work so it would be available and not forgotten at home. You never left your high status cutter at work. Never!
At the last WRCA Dover knife show, I found an old box cutter from W.T. Rogers Co. in Madison Wis. An internet search produced a copy of a lawsuit which indicated Rodgers made plastic office trays. Later W.T. seems to have been absorbed by Newell Rubbermaid.
|W. T. Rodgers boxcutter. I thought I would cut a finger off trying to get the razor blade in it.|
The cutter is pretty simple, just a folded piece of aluminum metal with cutouts. The razor slips into the frame by way of the cut outs and is slid out to cut. This cutter gave this old stock boy the jitters. I see that blade cracking and blood everywhere. The cutter comes with a nice plastic case colored red, blood red. I don’t think the color was chosen on purpose, but you need the case. If you drop this cutter without the case into a pocket the blade will inch open and you’ll soon need new pants and band-aids.
|I got it open without cutting myself. I'm sure you could cut cardboard and fingers with the same effort.|
I also got another box cutter at Lincoln Electric from my former boss, Jeff. It’s a nice one, made from heavy gauge metal. It’s hard to think of product improvement for a box cutter, but this one has a little groove in the flattened handle and a bump on the frame which prevents the frame from being pulled out forward.
|A sturdy, well made box cutter. It will give you years of cardboard cuttin' fun. But it doesn't have the flash and jazz the Tropicana cutter has.|
You use a cutter by dragging the blade backward through cardboard or plastic. If the frame is too loose and the blade catches, the cutter could pull apart. Very unprofessional. And at Lincoln it means lost productivity while you reassemble your tools. Bad Ju-Ju.
What’s a utility knife but a box cutter on steroids? The industrial strength razor blade usually sits in a moveable frame which locks into several pre-determined positions. The handle is usually stout enough to hold a few extra blades and can take a lot of hand pressure. I’m constantly putting mine in a safe place. So safe that I can’t find them. So the last time I bought one I got a bright orange. I can find this one.
|Its bright orange and I can always find it, at least by the time the job is finished.|
At one time it was promoted by several knife writers as the perfect camping knife. Razor sharp, essentially a fixed blade, one handed operation, no need to resharpen - you change blades when dull; it was almost the perfect camping knife. Except the blade is too small, too fragile, too hard to clean (you trim a raw steak and see how easy it is to clean!). Just the wrong application for the tool.
But it does share some of the attributes of a tactical knife. One handed operation, the blade locks open, it’s very sharp and easy to hold and you can cut people with it.
Is it any wonder the “Stanley” as the British papers call it, is vilified in the British press and provides grounds for arrest if the police find one on you. Oh sure, you can argue that as a glazier or rug installer you need one, but you and your employer need to come before a judge and explain it. And if the judge doesn’t think you should have two with different blades, or that he just doesn’t think you need one at all, well, too bad.
Of course in this labor-saving day we can’t spend time sliding the blade out of the handle. That might take 1.5 seconds. We could save 1/10 of a second with an assisted opening one.
|My co-worker carries this one. Let's see: assisted opening, locks open, has a pocket clip so it stays where you put it. Hey! It's Tactical! If it was black it would be a tactical box opener.|
The razor blade clips in and the opening is spring assisted. For my hands the opening stud is in the wrong place. It’s not a very smooth opener either. Not as smooth as my Benchmade, or my Spyderco, but smoother than my Hartville utility knife. Get caught with this little guy in England and you better be on the job opening boxes. Come out of a pub with one and you might find SWAT (or the English equivalent - SAS?) waiting for you.
Of course all of this starts with a razor blade.
|Single edge safety razor blade.|
In my more impressionable years I read of a fighting technique that used a safety razor blade with a match stick through the center hole. You carried the blade between the fingers with the blade facing outwards from your palm. The match stick prevented the blade from sliding backward when you slapped and cut your opponent. I remember (don’t ask me how) this was reported as the favorite technique in the black quarters of New Orleans.
|What a hairball idea!|
Of course I tried it right away. I couldn’t keep the stick in place, the razor kept falling out and I was convinced I would be the only one cut with it. That was my introduction to “all knife writers are pathological liars.”
That knowledge has served me well.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
“Three little knives are we….” (With a tip of the hat to the Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan) my song should go.
I just got three new knives in and let me bring them out on stage.
Benchmade Barrage in Tanto,
|My three little knives.....Barrage on top, Entourage in the middle and the Brawler on bottom. Still, who makes up these names??|
They almost run the gamut of knives found in pockets across the nation. The Brawler is made in China by Kershaw who is owned by Kai the makers of Zero Tolerance and Shun kitchen knives. Benchmade makes HK knives as well as their own. Both of these were made in the USA.
Two are assisted, two are made in the USA and one is not. One is an auto. You would be surprised how many people have a knife in their pocket with one of these descriptors.
Let’s bring one out.
Of all the knives the Entourage is the simplest in appearance.
|HK's Auto Entourage|
The knife is tapped for tip up, left or right carry. The handle is detail free, snag free and has that annoying nail-on-chalkboard feel that enhances grip. These are positive attributes for an auto opener.
The 3.75-inch tanto blade is made from 440C hardened to 58-60 RHC. The C stands for Rockwell C scale. Rockwell has several scales including one for copper sheets and aluminum tubes, so it’s important we acknowledge which scale we use.
This blade has Benchmade’s BK finish.
BK? Oh, that’s Benchmade’s black ceramic coating, probably Cerakote made by NIC Industries. I don’t know what that means either.
The spring is powerful enough to open and lock the blade even if the initial opening is slightly hampered. We've all seen autos that snag, or catch on something and only get three quarters of the way open and the blade just dangles. Don’t let yours dangle.
A simple wrist flick opens and locks the blade. No biggy, except for those times when there is no spare time.
The Brawler sports a 3.25-inch blade made from 8cr13mov steel. The steel is a Chinese stainless and we’ve all seen complications from so called Chinese quality products. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Quality depends on the company and not the country of origin. Kershaw is a well-known name and I would trust their products.
|Front of Brawler|
|Back. Note the high carry clip and tapping in all four positions.|
I can’t find any information on blade hardness. Other companies harden their 8cr13mov steel in the 56-60 RHC range. I suspect Kershaw is in that range as well.
This knife is assisted opening, incorporating both flipper and stud. It’s tapped in all four locations for tip up or down, left or right carry. Very handy for any of us who like different carry modes. The handle is a glass-filled nylon which makes for a very strong and durable handle. The blade has a DLC finish.
DLC? Diamond-Like Coating. Did you know that $4000 Rolex wrist watches come with a DLC coating. You should also be aware there is a family of DLC finishes.
Is it a balloon? No - it's a Barrage.
The Barrage is one of the nicest designed knives I’ve seen in years. The AXIS lock is so nice and so easy to use. The knife’s grip sports little finger bevels to amp up your grip. Why? This assisted opening knife opens with authority and has a satisfying “thunk” when the blade locks open. The blade is made from 3.6 inches of 154CM steel and the handle is composed of Valox.
|Barrage in Tanto, Assisted opening|
Valox is a thermoplastic polyester resin made by Sabic. Benchmade doesn’t tell us if it’s a PET or PBT polyester or if it’s filled or not. But really, how would that information make a difference to you the knife consumer? At some point we all must trust the company. That’s why it’s important to buy from quality companies.
So where are we with our three little knives?
Blade Length (inches)
Opened & closed
Liner lock only
Assisted w/ flipper
AXIS with safety
Assisted w/ stud
Takes the romance out of it, doesn’t it!
Both Benchmade knives have a safety that locks the knife in closed and opened conditions. The Kershaw Brawler depends on needing sufficient force on the flipper to start the blade opening. Its liner lock is stout enough to keep it open until you make the effort to close it.
|Lock on Barrage. Both the Auto Entourage and the Barrage can be locked closed or locked open.|
Both companies offer lifetime sharpening. Kershaw will even pay the postage to return it to you. The auto creates a problem. If you send it back for sharpening, you need to prove (a department letterhead or such) you can legally own the knife. I don’t see it as a problem. There are plenty of sharpening systems available as well as professional knife sharpeners. (Hint: Learn to sharpen your knife in the field.)
So which knife would I carry? Depends. In New York I couldn’t carry any of them.
If I went in harm’s way, I’d carry the Entourage and back it up with the Barrage. Why? Excluding the 'one is none' rule, I’d use the assisted opener for normal activities: opening care packages from home, whittling, cutting cord and other non-lethal stuff. I’d save the auto for those responses when only coarse motor skills were available to me, like fighting for my life.