BackpackGearTest
  Home Guest - Not logged in 

Reviews > Knives > Folding > SOG Speciality Knives FLASH II > Owner Review by Andy Rowland

 

 

Owner Review:

 

SOG SPECIALTY KNIVES

FLASH II PARTIALLY SERRATED BLADE

 

July 7, 2009

 

 

The Tester

Product Info

Product Description

First Impressions

Testing

Field Use

Things I Like

Things I Don't Like

Summary

 

The Tester:

 

NAME: Andy Rowland

EMAIL: abrowland719@yahoo.com

AGE: 38

LOCATION: Monument, CO, USA

GENDER: M

HEIGHT: 6' 5" (1.96 m)

WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)

WAIST: 34 in (0.86 m)

INSEAM: 36 (0.91 m)

BOOT SIZE: 13 US (47 EUR) .

 

IMAGE 2

Backpacking Background: Family and work commitments make me a true "weekend warrior" backpacker! Back in the days when I had more time, trips were often 4-6 days in duration. In the last 10 years, all of my trips have been 2-3 day, get-it-in-while-I-can, hard-charging adventures usually in pursuit of trout or big game above 9000 feet (2700 m). My mom always told me I was "special" - what she really meant was "special order". My height and weight generally make it extremely difficult to find good fitting gear.
IMAGE 3IMAGE 4

Product Information:

  • Gear Tested: SOG Specialty Knives
    Flash II Partially Serrated FSA-98

  • Manufacturer: SOG Specialty Knives, Inc.

  • Year of Manufacture: 2009

  • Manufacturer's Website: www.sogknives.com

  • Listed Weight: 3.1 oz (88 g)

  • Weight as delivered: 3.1 oz (88 g)

  • Steel: AUS 8 stainless steel

Back to Top

 
  • Overall Length: 8" (20.3 cm)
    Closed Length: 4.625" (11.8 cm)
  • Blade Length: 3.5" (8.9 cm)
  • Handle Width: 0.5: (1.27 cm)
  • Handle Material: Glass Reinforced Zyte
  • Pocket Clip: Yes
  • Serrated Option: Yes
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • MSRP: US $72.00
Product Description:

 

The SOG Flash II is a folding everyday carry knife suitable for general outdoor use, hunting, fishing, backpacking and personal protection. The Flash II comes in a variety of colors, blade styles, blade coatings, and handle materials. All of the Flash II knives incorporate SOG Assisted Technology (SAT), which allow for quick opening of the blade using either hand. SOG knives lock firmly upon opening using a piston locking design and will close only after sliding the blade release and folding the blade simultaneously. The Flash II series of knives come with a blade safety lever, which when engaged, prevents accidental opening of the blade. The safety state can be viewed through a small window in the handle (black for safe and red for off safe) and can also be determined simply by feel. This particular knife also features a bayonet mounted belt clip, lanyard loop, hex screw construction, fully checkered handle, index and middle finger handle contour, ambidextrous blade knob for single hand opening, 1-2-1 serration pattern, and fully enclosed blade axle.

Back to Top

IMAGE 5

First Impressions:

 

The Flash II arrived in a small, easily opened box with limited instructions and warranty information. I'm right-handed with XL sized hands. With the blade closed, the Flash II fits well in the palm of my hand with good grip between my fingertips, palm and thumb. The checkering on the handle varies in size from the spine to the belly of the handle, which not only enhances the appearance of the knife, but improves my grip on the knife as well. The belt clip appeared to be in the way of my fingers, but SOG has placed a detent in the belt clip that provides a solid rest for the tip of my ring finger. SOG shipped the knife with the safety in the ON position - a nice attention to detail by the manufacturer. Unfortunately, I had forgotten about this safety feature of the knife and was slightly frustrated when I couldn't flip open the knife despite significant thumb pressure. After a few failed attempts and a red face, I realized the engaged safety was preventing me from opening the blade. In retrospect, this was a very good unbiased test of the strength of the safety mechanism of this knife. With the safety OFF and my ego restored, I was able to flip open the blade with the tip of my thumb. It is understandable why this knife is named the Flash II. The blade flips open very quickly and firmly locks into place with a resounding "click". The blade has a rather aggressive cutout for the locking piston to engage making this a very stable knife. The safety cannot be engaged with the blade open.

With the knife open, my index finger and middle fingers fell securely into the molded detents in the handle. SOG has placed a rather aggressive curve in the index finger detent, which does a great job of holding the index finger in place, keeping it safely from the blade. My thumb fits nicely at along the spine of the handle, and found a grooved rest which further aided in securing my grip on this knife. The knife is balanced exactly between the index and middle finger detents. This balance allows for very fine index finger / thumb control when maneuvering the knife.

The knife was razor sharp right out of the box, easily shaving the hair off my arm. (If you're unsure how to perform this sharpness test, test the blade on something a little more forgiving like a thumbnail.) The serrations on this particular model take up about half of the blade and use a 1-2-1 pattern of one large serration followed by two smaller serrations. SOG has laser etched their logo and Flash II on one side of the blade and the patent number on the other side. The spine of the blade is a full 1/8" (3.175 mm) thick, making it very stiff. The spine begins the taper to the point about 2/3 of the way down the blade.

With practice, the blade can be closed with one hand as well, but it is designed to be closed using both hands. The lock release is a 1/8" x 1/4" (3.175mm x 6.350mm) textured steel button on the same side of the knife as the safety lever. With a leather glove on for protection, I attempted to force the locked blade closed. I was unable to overcome the strength of the blade lock. The lock release is firm, but slides easily with my thumb. During closing, the SAT spring decreases in tension through roughly 120 of blade rotation. After passing this point, the spring tension is reduced to zero and the blade easily flips closed. Once the blade has fully closed, the safety mechanism can be engaged, returning the knife to a safe configuration.

Back to Top

Testing:

My testing strategy consisted of cutting performance, deployment and grip, and extreme temperature performance.

Cut Testing
Cutting performance of the Flash II was outstanding through all phases of testing. My rope tests were completed using nylon parachute cord, 1/4" (6.350 mm) nylon and polyester rope, 3/8" (9.525 mm) nylon and polyester rope, and 1/2" nylon (12.700 mm) nylon rope. These materials were chosen as likely materials used in camping, backpacking, climbing and around the house. All rope was easily cut on the first pass with the blade. The Flash II performed equally well on 1" (25.400 mm) strap material commonly used in rafting. The knife was never sharpened during testing and held a superior edge throughout all the various tests. The serrations on the blade do an outstanding job of cutting through all types of cordage.

Following cutting various types of ropes, I checked the cutting performance of the Flash II using various types of meats: hot dogs (if this is indeed meat), steak, pork, fish, and chicken. Both cooked and raw meats were used in my testing. The knife worked extremely well, easily cubing all types of meat. The raw meat cut test was performed after all of the rope tests (without sharpening), again a testament to how well the knife holds its edge. I used the knife during many "leftover" lunches at work, and it easily cut through all meats.

Deployment and Grip Testing
My knife deployment testing was designed to simulate how well I could hold the knife and deploy the blade when it really mattered - like being caught in rigging on a boat, trapped underwater in a raft strap, or after being punched by some punk trying to get my wallet. Testing was conducted with a wet knife or wet hands and in various body positions (standing, sitting, upside down). If I was indeed upside down, underwater with my leg was hung up in a rope, could this knife get me out of my jam?

In this testing, it became apparent that the Flash II bayonet clip is a mixed blessing. The bayonet clip is small and nondescript, making it great for discrete every day carry in my front pants pocket. Unfortunately, because of its low profile, the knife can be rather difficult to remove from a pocket. In fact, in the "raft" test, many attempts were required before I could get the knife out of my pocket - the bayonet clip holds that well. With practice, I was able to develop a technique where I grab the end of the knife with my thumb and pry the clip up and out with my index finger. While my index finger became sore after multiple attempts, the technique did work quite well. I think this result just goes to show that with any knife familiarity and use is critical to effectively using it in a pressure situation.

The knife deployed underwater without issue, although it did appear to deploy slightly more slowly. I only tested the knife in still water. My grip was never compromised despite my hands being wet, snowy, or dirty. Grip performance has been good in all test conditions - including the meat cutting testing. I was never concerned with losing my hold on this knife.

The blade has never deployed with the safety ON despite multiple intentional drops on carpet, concrete, dirt, metal and wood.

Extreme Temperature Performance
Through my daily use of this knife, it is quite obvious that it performs very well in temperatures from 40 F (4 C) to 80 F (26 C). I've never had the blade fail to deploy or close, the safety has never failed, and the locking blade has never failed.

My first extreme temperature test was conducted by throwing the knife in a snow bank, retrieving the knife and placing it in my kitchen freezer at 15 F (-9 C) for 15 minutes. After retrieving the Flash II, the blade was firmly frozen in the handle and could not be deployed. I placed the knife in my front pocket and attempted blade deployment at one minute intervals. After six minutes, the knife thawed out enough for the blade to deploy. The safety mechanism could be moved throughout the test, but it could not be determined if the safety was engaged or not. Once deployed, the knife cut a hot dog just as well as if the blade was at room temperature.

To test performance at the other end of the thermometer, I placed the knife in 150 F (54 C) oven for 15 minutes. While warm to the touch, the Zytel material remained basically unchanged. The knife was easy to hold in all positions and during blade deployment and closing. The bayonet clip was a little bit hot and did affect my grip slightly as two fingers were in contact with it while in use. The knife cut the same hot dog without problem.

Back to Top

  Field Use:

Locations tested:
Arkansas River, CO fishing trip
Mt. Humboldt, Sangre de Christo range, CO

This knife has been in my pocked for the last 5 months. I take it everywhere I go - to the office, ball games, restaurants, around the house, etc. Because of the discrete clip, and slim profile, the knife has is barely noticeable. I generally carry the knife with the safety OFF. I have noticed that the safety tends to work itself into the ON position while clipped into my pants pocket. SOG should improve the knife so that the safety mechanism stays in the last commanded position.

While on the Arkansas River in Colorado, I was able to clip the knife to the top of my chest waders without it ever getting in the way. I had full confidence in the clip and never worried about the knife slipping off and falling into the water. Normally I use a pair of snips to trim tippet or other line while fishing. On this trip, I used my Flash II exclusively. The blade easily trimmed 2x to 6x tippet using the straight portion of the blade. The serrations made quick work of trimming off the end of my fly line that had become cracked.

My second use of the knife came on an overnight pack trip into the Sangre de Christo Wilderness in Colorado. During the hike in to the Sangres and a hike up Mt. Humboldt, I carried the knife in my front pocket. To be quite honest, I forgot all about the knife until I needed it. It stayed securely in place over many miles of hiking and climbing.

I put the knife through its paces while on the trip. The knife was used to make "fuzz" sticks as tinder for our campfire. The serrations on the knife make short order of peeling pencil-sized sticks into good tinder. To be complete in my fire making, I used the spine of the blade to strike a flint. The knife throws a good spark, and I was able to catch dry grass on fire in a few strokes. Bear in mind however, that sparks are formed by burning iron in the blade. A burr will form on the blade when I do this. The Flash II is no exception to this rule.

When pulling out the tent, I realized I had left all my stakes at home. To stake out the fly, I used the Flash II to slice parachute cord into various lengths and wrap these lengths around large rocks. The cord was an easy slice for the serrations of the Flash II, and made quick work of the task. Using the Flash II in the "kitchen" was a snap as well. While on this trip I used the knife to slice cheese into thin slices for scrambled egg toppings, slice hard salami for lunch and cut open several MREs.

I have sharpened the knife quite easily using a precision sharpening system. With the serrated edge, care must be taken while sharpening the straight portion of the blade. But, I feel the benefits of the serrations are worth the extra time it takes to sharpen the knife.

Back to Top

Things I Like:

  • Sharp blade that holds an edge

  • Easy to carry

  • Very secure clip

  • Fast opening blade

  • Single hand operation

  • Well designed finger cutouts and grip pattern

  • Safety lock mechanism

Back to Top

Things I Don't Like:

  • Safety sometimes works from the OFF to the ON position resulting in delayed blade deployment

  • Clip takes some practice to learn to manipulate when removing the knife from a pocket

Back to Top

Summary:

I am very impressed with the workmanship, the performance and most importantly the cutting ability of the SOG Flash II FSA-98 knife. SOG has taken a lot of time to ensure the knife is well balanced with well placed grip cutouts and patterning. The SOG Assisted Technology opening mechanism makes one hand operation a breeze. The blade opens quickly with this technology and has always resulted in a solid blade lock in my experience. The blade lock has never failed in use. This knife goes with me wherever I go.

Back to Top

 

Thanks for reading,

Andy Rowland

Monument, Colorado

Copyright 2009.  All rights reserved.



Read more reviews of SOG Speciality Knives gear
Read more gear reviews by Andy Rowland

Reviews > Knives > Folding > SOG Speciality Knives FLASH II > Owner Review by Andy Rowland



Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to BackpackGearTest.org. Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

If you are an avid backpacker, we are always looking for enthusiastic, quality reviewers. Apply here to be a gear tester.


All material on this site is the exclusive property of BackpackGearTest.org.
BackpackGearTest software copyright David Anderson