These knives were originally made in top secret for the most hazardous fighting conditions in wet jungles, both as a tool and a last ditch defense weapon. Today, this company makes good quality hunting and military knives at affordable prices.
Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, Studies and Observations Group (MAC-V SOG) was formed in the 1964 and was active until the 1972. Its primary objectives were strategic reconnaissance, psych operations and secret manoeuvres in Laos and Cambodia, where the US had to act covertly. Although many believe that all members of the SOG were hand-picked from US Special Forces, the truth is, most were South Vietnamese volunteers. Due to the fact they were infiltrated behind the enemy lines with high risk of capture, these operatives were equipped with the gear that was not made in USA. They wore Chinese uniforms, Kalashnikov assault rifles and suppressed Karl Gustav submachine guns. As far as pistols go, Browning HP-35 was a particular favourite. Knives however, presented a significant problem; the famous Ka Bar and Randall were well known to be a part of the American arsenal.
The Blade Design
With this in mind, the Counter Insurgency Support Office was set to task to make an untraceable all-purpose blade to be used by SOG operatives. The result was a seven inches long bowie knife with a convex false edge on the clip point, symmetrical hand guard and a stacked leather handle. The blade was made from cheap chrome-moly steel known as SKS-3. First order of 1,300 units was placed with the Japanese manufacturer Yogi Shokai, and the knife was labelled Recon 7. It was delivered without any identifying markings for 9.85 USD a piece. After that, a new model was added to the roster, somewhat shorter and designed after the Randall series, it was designated Hunting 6. The few remaining knives are valuable collector’s items now, with prices reaching several thousands of dollars. Fascinated with theses blades, Spencer and Gloria Frazer have founded the “SOG Specialty Knives” company in Santa Monica, California; intending to make replicas of the original SOGs. The company managed to thrive and the couple expanded their business to include fixed and folding knives, multi-tools, machetes and many more. Their most renowned products however, are without a doubt their combat knives. On the IWA exhibition in 2011, they presented their new programme with some very interesting models.
The basic material for the blades is Japanese stainless steel, AUS-8. The handles are made from kraton polymer and kydex or leather are used for the sheaths. Finish is done with titanium-nitride and prices are significantly lower than earlier. The famous SOG Bowie was made as a copy of Hunter 6 model and was initially made in Seki, Japan from SK-5 carbon steel. Today it is made in Taiwan from AUS-8 steel blackened with titanium-nitride finish. It has a strong six inches long blade with a false edge on the clip point and classic stacked leather handle. This massive, strong and heavy knife (340g without the sheath) is the best universal solution you can find. There are several other variants: SOG Trident with a bright blade and micarta handle, Tech Bowie with kraton handle and kydex sheath, all available with various types of finish. Modern version of the recon 7 model looks even better. It has a 6.75 inches blade and weighs 11.1 oz. New Recon 2.0 is well balanced efficient knife, it has a strong tip and a comfortable handle. It is an excellent combat knife that is as useful today as it was 50 years ago when it was first made.
Missing in action
Scuba/Demo is a replica of one of the rarest Special Forces knives. It was made for divers involved in the “Operation Plan 34 Alpha” in the north of the Vietnam in 1964. Only 39 knives were ever made, and 38 were lost in action. The remaining knife was used as a model for this replica. This knife weighs 12.2 oz. and has a 7.25 inches long, almost symmetrical blade with a serrated upper edge, which can be used to cut rope and nylon wires. The blade itself is very strong and can even be used in place of a crowbar in a pinch. Excellent hand guard prevents slippage and injury during strenuous activities. This is a truly incredible diver’s tool at a bargain price.
The most famous SOG knife remains the SEAL Team 2000, adopted by the Navy Seals after extensive testing. The testing included: tip breaking stress, blade breaking limit, penetration tests, gasoline and acetylene torch resistance, sharpness, edge retention, handle twist off force, two week salt water immersion tests, chopping, hammering, prying, cutting six different types of rope and line, plus an intense hands-on competition in the field. This truly remarkable knife has a seven inch blade that looks like standard SOG Bowie excepting the serrations along the blade close to the handle. The handle is made from zytel and has an integrated hand guard. Darkened and partially serrated blade along with the excellent quality handle with finger moulds definitely make this knife stand out as something special. Kydex sheath with an opening that allows for cutting of rope without unsheathing the knife is another detail that makes this knife into both an all-purpose tool and a weapon. There is also a smaller version of this knife, named SEAL Pup and is an ideal for those who don’t want to lug a full sized combat knife with them at all times.
Northwest Ranger was endorsed by famous Bear Grylls, a former SAS member and survival expert. He claimed that that knife was the best universal tool for nature survival. It has a 5.2 inches long blade and weighs 6.2 oz. It has a single sided hand guard, satin finish, its excellent balance makes it an ideal companion for every camper, hunter or soldier.
The Agency model is a copy of rare Randall models made for CIA operatives sent on scouting missions in jungle during the early stages of the Vietnam War. Polished blade is 7.5” long and the knife weighs 8.6 oz. It has a comfortable stacked leather handle, protected by epoxy coating while the leather sheath has a small pocket for a Wheatstone.
A series hunting knives, Revolver was made after the SEAL Pup design. A simple, solid mechanism can lock the blade into the handle, and by flipping the blade 180° you can get either another blade (the hunting version) or a saw (the camping version). This way you have two straight blade knives in one package. The Woodline line of knives was made for those who want not just mere efficiency in their knives, but aesthetics as well. There are two straight bladed and one folding knife in the series, and all share a common design principle. Curved blade with a tapered tip is an efficient tool for cutting and skinning game, as well as preparing food. Smooth wooden handle has a nice looking, metal reinforcement that extends diagonally in the front part towards the blade. Fixed blades are 4 and 4.8 inches in length, while the folding one has an edge of 3.4 inches and a solid lock-back safety. Knives come in quality leather sheaths at very reasonable prices.
All-Purpose folding knives
There are three models that stand out of the universal folding knives SOG has on offer. Aegis (Ancient Greek for shield) is a light knife, weighing only 3.1 oz. and with a 3.5 inches long blade. The blade is symmetrical, with a pointed tip, it is an excellent choice for everyday use. Due to the assist open mechanism, it is also a respectable tactical knife. Although it is enough to move the blade only a fraction of an inch for the spring mechanism to do the rest, it is technically not an automatic knife (a switchblade) making it legal to manufacture and use. It comes in several types, with different blade finishes and handle colouring.
Trident Folder knife follows similar design principles but it has a clip point blade 3.75” long. It is a respectable pocket Bowie. It can be purchased in a variety of camouflage patterns and protective coatings, nylon handle has a groove that allows for cutting of ropes without unfolding the knife.
Currently the most popular model is Flash II with aluminium handle, assist-open mechanism and straight drop point blade 3.5” in length. It is a serious folding knife, with a well-designed blade and excellent balance. Following the current trends it comes in variants with a serrated blade, tanto tip, and various camouflage finishes and an aluminium handle.
The selection of blades is somewhat puzzling, there are interesting blades there, with interesting backgrounds. Some of the models are conceived incredibly well, but poor quality of steel downgrades the overall impression. This is why all blades are being sent to cryogenic treatment, hopefully, it will improve the blade quality and deservedly allow them to take their place among the best.SOG Knives by Gunslinger