Advances in knifemaking have developed to the point that we can be picky. We can worry about which steel a knife is made of, what the handle material is, whether or not the clip is adequate or the deployment method sufficient. We can even afford to be demanding when it comes to how much our knives weigh.
It’s hard to believe that when the first modern folder, the Buck 110, released in 1963, people thought that the almost 8 oz. knife was an acceptable carry. Starting in the late 80s, knifemakers began honing in on ways to increase weight savings without losing performance, but it wasn’t until the Internet knife community exploded that weight became a critical talking point in every knife review on the planet.
SOG has long focused on this element of knife design. Say what you will about their overall aesthetic—they know how to trim the fat from a blade, making it as light as possible. The Flash I was the first SOG knife that received a lot of attention for its light weight, but if you ask a discerning user today, you’d probably be directed towards the SOG Aegis. Like the Flash I, this lightweight, full-sized folding knife had the good fortune of catching Nutnfancy’s eye, and is somewhat of a modern classic.
What does it offer? An excellent blade shape, decent steel, a good clip, and an incredible weight, 3.1 oz., for its blade size, 3.5”. SOG is a company with a divisive aesthetic that leaves a lot of people (myself included) out in the cold, but with the Aegis they’ve made something with universal appeal that doesn’t compromise their personal style.
Before we get started, please use our interactive table below to compare the SOG Aegis to a variety of other really great knives that you should consider, as well.
|SOG Flash II
|Spyderco Paramilitary 2
|Gerber Bear Grylls
|Kershaw Shuffle II
The Beginnings of the Aegis Line
The Aegis was released in late 2008. It was designed along the same principles that resulted in the Flash, Twitch, and Blink lines: lightweight knives with all-purpose, drop point blade shapes.
Like these other SOG blades, it is an assisted-opening knife. SOG’s proprietary name for their a/o system is S.A.T., or SOG Assisted-Opening Techology. The Aegis differs in that it incorporates SOG’s proprietary Arc-Lock into the design as well. Whether or not they intended it to be, the Aegis is kind of a showcase for SOG’s trademark knife elements. It comes in seven variations:
- Black handle, satin blade
- Black handle, black blade
- Digicam handle, black blade
- Digicam handle, black partially serrated tanto blade
- Black handle, black partially serrated tanto blade
- Mini, black handle, satin blade
- Mini, black handle, black blade
This is a review of the full-sized Aegis with a black handle and satin-finished blade (we’ve already written the review for the mini-Aegis, which you can find on our site as well). The tanto model is really a different, much worse knife. Some of the Aegis’ competition comes from other SOG blades—the Trident and the Flash II in particular. The Kershaw Blur and Spyderco Tenacious are also similar lightweight, mid-sized utility knives too, and we’ll compare them all to the Aegis in this review.
Below, please take a moment to view some of the best-selling pocket knives currently for sale on Amazon:
|1) Spyderco Tenacious
|2) Kershaw Cryo II
|3) Opinel No.7
|4) Gerber Paraframe
|5) Kershaw Knockout
An Understated Handle
The problem with a lot of SOG tactical gear isn’t just the looks. It’s that, in trying to go for a certain look, SOG neglects the fundamentals of knife design.
This was the case with their recently released (and really ugly) SOG Zoom. That knife’s handle is a mess: finger grooves, a strange dip in the back of the blade, a pointy thumb ramp. Thankfully these impulses were kept in check on the Aegis. It has a simple handle, with a wide, palm-filling hump that narrows behind the blade to give you extra control without eating up blade length with a finger choil.
I like it a lot. The texturing on the back of the knife and in the dip is comfortable and functional. One thing that larger blades often get wrong is putting your hand too far away from the blade. When they do this, you lose control over your cut.
That isn’t a problem on the Aegis: there is jimping on the blade, so you can guide cuts with your thumb as you go. If I had to complain, I would say that the handle is a little too sculpted to be comfortable in a reverse grip, but that isn’t something I care about on my folding knives.
Conversely, for everything the Aegis gets right, the SOG Flash II gets wrong. The Flash II has too many grooves and notches on the handle. Overall, it feels cramped.
The Trident fares better, but I like that the Aegis’ scales are tiered or rounded, instead of the Trident’s flat slabs, so I’ll give the Aegis the advantage here.
The Blur’s aluminum scales are cold to the touch, but the Trac-Tek inserts help with grip. It’s still a notch below the Aegis, but overall pretty good.
I like the Tenacious’s G-10 better as a material, but again, slab-shaped handles aren’t as comfortable as the Aegis’s rounded scales.
The Aegis is a pocket chef’s knife
I find it interesting that a company with a reputation for making tactical, self-defense-oriented knives would basically shrink down a kitchen knife for the Aegis’s blade. The Aegis excels in all traditional slicing knife uses: you can do roll cuts with the ample belly, pass through cardboard and plastic, or peel an apple easily.
Pierce cuts are a go with the fine tip, which is a bit delicate, so be careful with it. The full flat grind is key here too—it allows the Aegis to retain a degree of durability behind the edge while ensuring that slicing performance remains high. But don’t be misled: this is not a knife you should beat on. It is meant for cutting tasks, not prying, digging, or batoning.
The blade shape on the Flash II is also very good. I even like the Trident’s harpoon-esque clip point, although I do find it less useful than the Aegis’s drop point.
The Kershaw Blur is a good cutter, but I’m docking it points for the unnecessary recurve—performance isn’t really enhanced and sharpening is more difficult.
The Spyderco Tenacious is the Aegis’s closest competition in blade shape. The Tenacious’s tip is a little more robust, so I’m going to give it to the Spyderco in this case.
The Aegis is made from AUS-8 steel. AUS-8 is SOG’s go-to steel. It’s a lower-end steel, but it has a proven track record. It is easy to sharpen, provides decent edge retention, and shakes off most corrosion and rust. For the amount of money that you’re paying for the Aegis ($65), you should really get a better steel. Personally, I’d like to see 154CM or even S30V on the Aegis but on its own, apart from value, I’m happy with AUS-8.
The SOG Trident and the Flash II also both have AUS-8. The Tenacious loses by comparison with 8Cr13MoV. This isn’t a bad steel, but AUS-8 is a definite step up in all positive characteristics, while remaining just as easy to sharpen.
The Blur wins this round, though. It comes in a variety of steels, but the default is 14C28N. This is a mid-range Swedish steel that performs similarly to 154CM, but with better corrosion resistance. It is a better steel than AUS-8.
Lightweight + slim profile = a superlative carry
A knife that is as light as the Aegis will always make a great carry. There are knives lighter than the Aegis, but few with a 3.5” blade. It isn’t too wide or long either, occupying a compact corner of your pocket, getting noticed only when you need it.
If you’re used to heavy pocket knives, the Aegis is going to be a revelation. The deep carry clip keeps the Aegis buried too, but keep an eye on it: it’s fragile and susceptible to snags, so just be careful you don’t bump into a door jamb or a car door while carrying the Aegis.
The Flash II weighs the same as the Aegis, and is a little bit thinner, but I like carrying it less. Why? While the pocket clip on the Aegis is a little flimsy, the Flash II’s clip is just plain weak. It bends so easily, as if it were made out of aluminum foil and not steel. The Trident has the same clip as the Aegis, so we’re back on track.
The Blur’s clip is huge, spanning a good length of the knife, and it isn’t deep carry; not great. The Tenacious uses the standard Spyderco clip, which isn’t deep carry, but more durable than the Aegis clip.
SOG has their own riff on Benchmade’s Axis Lock. Called the Arc-Lock, it feels just as secure as the Axis Lock, if a whole lot less fluid. That’s probably something you won’t notice on the Aegis, though, because it is an assisted-opening knife. You’ll just appreciate the secure, ambidextrous, easy to disengage lock.
People tout the durability of the Axis Lock-style locks, and they are quite good; I do believe that if put up against a really good liner lock or framelock, they would fail first, but concerns like that are theoretical, and not something you’ll have to worry about in day-to-day use.
SOG puts safeties on all their a/o knives, as if they were automatic pocket knives. It’s not something I think is necessary, but it doesn’t get in the way I guess. If it drives you crazy there’s a quick and easy way to deal with it.
The lock on the Trident is similar, but not ambidextrous. The Flash II uses a more primitive version of the Arc-Lock that is also for right-handed use only. The Blur and Tenacious have liner locks, which are theoretically stronger, but not in any way that would matter during use.
SOG knocks one out of the park
The Aegis is the rare SOG design that appeals to people outside of the typical fan demographic. It has a great blade shape, acceptable steel, a strong lock, and carries like a dream at just over 3 oz. If they made a few tweaks to this knife—like adding upgraded steel, bulked up the clip, got rid of all the SOG branding all over the thing—the Aegis would be out of this world. But even as it is, it’s easily is worth your time and money.
- Rating: 4/5 stars
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