Miscellany: SOG Flash II knife review
The knife is the oldest tool. The ancestors of modern humans flaked off the edges of rocks to form stone blades that could butcher carcasses more effectively than fingernails and teeth. This was the first step, a refusal to acquiesce to the physical limitations of the human body:
Since then, of course, knives have been used by all cultures and all peoples around the globe, from Mongolian steppe to African desert. I'm not sure when humans will make it to the surface of Mars, but you can bet they'll be carrying blades of some sort with them when they touch down.
I've always had a fascination with technology, and the knife represents technology in its purest form. So, since my Kershaw Skyline review went over well, I'd like to look at more knives, starting with today's SOG Flash II.
The Flash I and II are the entry-level choices in SOG's line of assisted-opening folding knives. They're not as fancy as the Aegis (with its aggressive spearpoint blade) or the Trident (which has a built-in notch for cutting paracord - how's that for tactical?). Still, the Flash series manages to present everything that sets SOG knives apart from their competitors - a fast spring-assisted opening system, low-profile pocket clips, and useful blade profiles.
I tested out the Flash II, the larger of the two models. The Flash II has a 3.5" blade made of AUS-8 steel, a decent middle-of-the-road steel that holds a serviceable edge. The blade's full flat grind and its conventional profile provide excellent slicing ability, with plenty of belly for various tasks (cutting up a chicken, slicing newspaper coupons, etc.).
Although the Flash II's blade is good, SOG's patented assisted opening technology quickly takes center stage (it's U.S. patent 6,941,661, BTW). Check out how it works:
The spring-assist makes for very fast deployment - all you need to do is flick the blade about 3/4" with the thumbstuds and the spring will pop it out the rest of the way. To close the knife, you push back on a low-profile sliding lock near the pivot. SOG even throws in a manual safety latch to prevent the blade from opening. I'm not a huge fan of the added complexity this setup brings, but it has proven to be reliable and durable in my use.
Unfortunately, all the added springs and widgets SOG uses to flip out the blade need to be housed in a thick, ungainly Zytel handle. While the sides of the handle are nicely textured, the overall thickness is blocky for a pocket knife. To use a firearms analogy, if my Kershaw Skyline was a Kahr, the SOG Flash II would be a GLOCK. The Flash II would also benefit from better jimping on the top of the handle and a more pronounced choil/fingerguard to prevent slipping forward on the edge.
Even though it's thick, the Flash II is still practical to carry around because of its light 3 ounce weight and SOG's bayonet pocket clip. The clip, reversible for right or left side carry, buries the knife deep into the pocket. In fact, the knife carries so deeply that only the clip can be seen from the outside. This is important for people who carry knives in offices or workplaces where, although legal, folding knives might not be politically correct.
Overall, the Flash II is a good knife with a big, useful blade and an interesting opening mechanism. There aren't too many folders of this size that carry discreetly, and almost none that retail for under $50. The SOG Aegis knife actually fixes many of the issues I have with the Flash II, but that's a review for another day...