In this article, I’m going to review the SOG Flash I. I’m going to break down and examine this knife’s blade steel, handle, grip, and effectiveness while in use, and I’ll also compare it to other SOG knives like the Flash II and Twitch I.
In fact, below, please use the table to compare the notable specs of the SOG Flash II against other great knives that are currently on the market:
|SOG Flash II||$$|
|Spyderco Paramilitary 2||$$$|
|Gerber Bear Grylls||$$|
|Kershaw Shuffle II||$|
History of SOG Flash I
The Flash I is part of a family of knives that share a few overarching characteristics: a distinct, narrow drop point blade shape, assisted opening, and AUS-8 steel. They aren’t considered to be a single line by SOG, but I think the shared design cues merit thinking about them as a whole. Here is the lineup:
- The Flash I
- The Flash II
- The Twitch I
- The Twitch II
- The Blink
Knives with the ‘II’ designation are simply larger versions. The Blink only comes in one size.
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|
It is in the department of ergonomics that the Flash I commits its gravest sin. The handle is atrocious. As is often the case, its problem arises from silly “ergonomic” scalloping near the pivot. Presumably these grooves are for your index and middle fingers, but because the handle is so small, the grooves are too narrow to naturally accommodate a grown person’s fingers. You can just ignore the grooves and grip the knife “over” them, so to speak, but they are going to create hotspots even during lightweight cutting tasks.
It is just so bad.
Not only is it bad, it’s frustrating. SOG clearly knows how to make a good knife handle: the Twitch I, also a small knife, has a simple handle that works, as does the Trident. The full size SOG II, although still not great ergonomically, works much better than its little brother.
This is a classic case of assuming that simply shrinking a knife will create an equally useable, smaller version of it. Even knives that are just tweaks of existing ones need to be designed, and the SOG Flash I simply doesn’t feel like it was.
There is some good news here, however: the Flash I has an excellent blade shape. It is a narrow, elegant, gradual drop point that slices like a kitchen knife. Slicing tasks are the most common EDC tasks, and using something that performs them this well is a joy.
It works equally well on the larger SOG Flash II and the SOG Twitch II; SOG got a lot of mileage out of this blade shape, and I can see why. The Flash I’s drop point is so much more universally useful than the Trident’s super tactical clip point.
A quick note about the grind and finish on the blade: it is excellent. The cutting bevel is even and clean, and the blade was very sharp out of the box—as sharp as I’ve ever seen AUS-8 come. The high-satin finish was also excellent: it is rare to see such a consummate polish on a knife in this price range.
AUS-8 is one of the most commonly discussed steels on the market. While most manufacturers use AUS-8 in at least some of their designs, SOG uses it almost exclusively: nearly all of their folding pocket knives are made from AUS-8, including the Trident, the Flash II, and the Twitch.
You probably already know about AUS-8. It gets sharp but doesn’t hold an edge forever. You can sharpen it easily. It resists rust well but is not impervious to it. The satin finish will help repel rust better than bead blasting, a common finish on blades in this price range and a pet peeve of mine. That finish is the only thing that distinguishes the Flash I’s AUS-8 from the thousands of other blades made with it. It isn’t bad, but it is definitely unexciting.
The SOG Flash I is a very small knife. When it is clipped to your pocket, you forget it’s there. It is a little thick to accommodate its (unnecessary) assisted opening mechanism, but it’s still an excellent knife in the pocket.
The Flash II is a monster comparatively–with its 3.5” blade it is much longer, wider, and thicker. The Trident is thin, but much longer than the Flash I. The Twitch I is the only one of the bunch that carries better: it is almost the same size as the Flash I, but thinner.
The SOG Flash I’s clip is an over-the-top, deep carry-style pocket clip. I like this clip in theory, but I find it very weak and flimsy in practice; it is so flimsy, in fact, that it feels like it’s made of aluminum foil. Much like the Dragonfly 2’s wire clip, catching it on a chair when you’re getting up or on a door jamb is going to bend it.
The only upside to this is that, because it is so soft, you can reset it much easier than you can the DF2’s tempered wire clip. I think that the Trident’s clip is a slight improvement, but it is still pretty weak and I don’t like the SOG branding on it. The Twitch I’s money clip-esque situation is okay, but not awe-inspiring.
The Flash I is an assisted opening knife. This means that, when you push the blade out of the handle, it overcomes a spring that then propels it into an open and locked position. In the Flash series knives’ case, the lock is integrated into their AO mechanism. It is essentially a little piston, similar to that seen on push button knives like the Hogue EX01, that you disengage by pulling a tab at the back of the handle down.
On principal I dislike assisted openers: in an EDC scenario, the speed they afford over a manual opener (which is marginal to begin with) is irrelevant, and, because they rely on springs and additional parts to function, they add unnecessary points of failure to your knife.
The Flash I’s implementation is additionally egregious because the piston lock just doesn’t work well: in every Flash I that I have seen or handled, there has been bladeplay. The disengagement tab also rattles when the knife is open. It is a mess.
The Trident, also an assisted opener, uses the Arc Lock, which is very similar to the Axis Lock from Benchmade. I like it better than the Flash I’s piston lock. The Twitch is an assisted opener too, and features a lockback–this is less of an unqualified win than the Arc Lock of the Trident as there is significant bladeplay, but ultimately I still prefer it to the Flash I’s piston lock, if only because it isn’t so noisy when it’s open.
There isn’t much good to say about the Flash I. It has one of the worst handles I’ve ever seen, housing one of the worst locks I’ve ever seen. The steel is uninteresting. It isn’t even all that cheap–there are better knives to be had for less than the $35 it costs.
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