“SOG started some 25 years ago in my apartment with a simple mission: To create innovative products that stand apart from the pack. While SOG has grown, our commitment to that original mission has remained the same. Today, it’s one of my greatest satisfactions to receive letters from SOG enthusiasts the world over, expressing the fact that our products have lived up to their highest standards. It inspires us to continue to build superior products that last… knives and tools that help you meet the challenges of a demanding world.”
Born in 1955, Spencer Frazer was a creative kid with a great curiosity for how things worked. As he grew older, while in the Boy Scouts, he gained an affinity for knives and axes. But it wasn’t until much later that this interest would be channeled into actually creating knives and tools.
After graduating from UCLA as a math and science major, Spencer started his own company in the professional audio industry, designing a whole new style of speaker system.
“I learned to work with many different materials as I built models and prototypes,” he says.
Then Spencer went on to work in the aerospace defense industry – in the Top Secret Black Projects Division – as an R&D tool/die and model maker. He recalls, “I saw things there I still can’t talk about.”
At about that same time, while becoming involved in the modern art movement and meeting with top artists, Spencer learned a lot about scale and color. He went on to work in product development, creating toys and consumer products.
All these life experiences converged the moment Spencer saw his first Vietnam SOG Bowie: “The knife was magical in how it looked and felt. You could see the history as well as the functional aspects of the knife.” That single knife spawned the birth of SOG Specialty Knives & Tools, Inc. His one goal: to reproduce the mystical knife… the SOG Bowie. “We started our company by having to sell a one-knife line at the very high price of $200 retail!”
Today, SOG is a true innovator in the knife industry. Having won many industry awards, SOG was one of the first companies to be synonymous with a high-tech modern image. “SOG was the first company,” says Spencer, “to produce a sculptural faceted folding knife. We called it the Tomcat. With the Paratool, SOG became the second company ever to produce a folding multi-tool. And we remain the only company that uses compound leverage in our multi-tools; the only company to have adjustable lock-on clips on our folding knives; the only company to employ one of the strongest locks in the industry with the Arc-Lock; the only company to use exotic BG-42 steel cost effectively in the production of our knives; and the first company in the world to offer an automatic opening multi-tool.”
But those are just a few of the landmarks Spencer Frazer has helped SOG achieve. “I design each one of our products,” he says, “to be functional and comfortable to use, as well as aesthetically pleasing. If I personally don’t like them or wouldn’t use them, they don’t make it into production.”
Today, SOG is distributed and sold throughout the world. Law enforcement specialists, military, hunters, outdoor enthusiasts, industrial professionals, and everyday carry knife enthusiasts have come to rely on SOG in the most extreme conditions. “We don’t settle for ordinary,” says Spencer. “We never did, and we never will.”
Today we will be discussing the SOG Mini X-Ray Vision knife.
The blade on this knife is made out of VG-10 steel. VG-10 is a well-known high-end Japanese steel and is considered to be premium. This steel contains vanadium, which is known for its toughness. The steel is specially designed for high-quality blades used in cutlery. CG-10 can be sharpened to a fine edge that is very durable. This steel also can maintain a hardness of RC 60 without becoming brittle, which is extremely impressive. Because of that, the blade on this knife has been hardened to an RC 59-60.
The blade has been finished with a bead blasted finish. This finish is created by using abrasive glass or ceramic beads that are blasted at the metal with a high pressure, which results in an even, grey finish. A blasted finish reduces reflection and glare due to its even a matte surface. The blasting does create an increased surface area and micro-abrasions make the steel more prone to rust and corrosion. In fact, a blasted blade, even made from stainless steel, can rust overnight if it is left in a very humid environment.
The blade has been carved into a tanto style blade. The tanto blade shape is not designed to be an all-purpose knife. This knife is designed to do one thing and one thing really well. This knife has been designed to excel at piercing through tough materials. This knife was originally designed for armor piercing and is very similar in style to Japanese long and short swords. The knife shape was re-designed in the 1980s by Cold Steel and then was popularized by them as well. The shape of this knife is made with a high point and a flat grind, which is where the super strong point comes from. The tanto point is thick and contains plenty of metal near the tip, so the blade itself can absorb the impact form repeated piercing that would break most other blade shapes. Not only that, but the front edge of the knife meets the spine edge at an angle, rather than a curve. Because of this, there really is not a belly on a tanto knife, because the belly is sacrificed to give the user a stronger tip. The lack of belly means that this knife is not going to be great as a general utility knife, but if you ever need to pierce through something hard, this is the blade shape for you.
The blade has been sharpened into a combination edge, or more commonly, a combo edge. This is where the upper half of the blade is a plain edge and the lower half of the blade is a serrated edge. This is designed to give you the best of both worlds. You can get your clean cuts and perform fine detail work with the upper half and saw through thicker materials with the serrated half. There is a common complaint that because both of the portions are so small, you cannot actually benefit from either of them.
The handle on this knife is made out of glass-reinforced nylon, or GFN. This is the same material as FRN and is the common brand of Zytel. This is a thermoplastic material that is very strong, resistant to both bending and abrasion, and is practically indestructible. Plus, this material is incredibly cheap because it can be injection molded.
One of the key characteristics about this material is that they nylon fibers are arranged haphazardly throughout the handle which means that it is going to be strong in all directions. This is different from G-10, Carbon Fiber, and Micarta, which all have their fiberglass strands aligned in a single direction. The handle on this knife is black.
The GFN is going to be strong, tough, inexpensive, and require zero maintenance. This means that it is going to be a very quality knife handle material that is going to get the job done on a tough knife such as this one.
The handle, like the knife itself, is very simple. The spine is straight from the blade to the butt, angling down slightly. The belly of the knife angles up towards the butt, creating a tapered end. There is a finger guard which is going to protect you if you accidentally slip. The finger groove is small, but deep, creating a comfortable hold. As a total bonus, this knife does have a lanyard hole carved into the end of it.
This is a side open manual folding knife that has been equipped with the Arc-Lock system that SOG has designed. Because it is a fully manual folding knife, you won’t need to worry about the strict laws that surround automatic knives in our country. That being said, always know your local knife laws before purchasing a new knife, just so that you aren’t breaking the law. However, because it is a manual opening knife, it is going to be trickier to bring into play and it is not going to be as smooth as an automatic or assisted opening knife would be.
The knife has been equipped with a thumb stud, which is going to help you open this knife. The thumb stud is a small barrel that sits near the handle on the blade. You use your thumb to get friction on the stud and then swing the knife open. Unfortunately, the thumb stud is a little bit complicated to get used to and it does put your fingers in the path of the blade when you are opening the knife.
The Arc-Lock is a very ambidextrous locking mechanism. SOG says, “With its ambidexterity – and all the other attributes knife enthusiasts so relentlessly seek – the Arc-Lock might just be the perfect lock.” For starters it has immense strength. It has been tested at over 1000 pounds of force (measured at the lock) which far surpasses the conventional lock strength. Next is the locks speed: it is lightning quick and can be opened with one hand as well as closed with one hand. The Arc-Lock is also safe. It has a spring-action that securely retains the blade closed, while keeping fingers safely clear of the blade while you are unlocking it. Last, but not least is the durability. This lock is self-adjusting over time and can be easily cleaned for long-term optimal performance.
The blade on this knife measures in at 3 inches long with a blade thickness that measures in at .125 inches. The handle on this Mini X-Ray Vision measures in at 4 inches long. The handle on this knife has a thickness of 7/16 of an inch and width of 1 1/8 inches. The overall length of this knife measures in at 7 inches long. This is a lighter weight knife, weighing in at a mere 3 ounces. This knife originates from Japan.
The SOG Mini X-Ray Vision knife has an amazing VG-10 combo blade that rotates out of glass reinforced Zytel handles. The Mini was produced for those who love the X-Ray Vision and wanted a smaller knife. The X-Ray Vision series was created as a “tactical and practical” solution for those who love the SOG Vision but prefer a bead blast blade and the Zytel handle–which make it even lighter than the Vision. This knife has great lines that focus the power of the knife on the cutting edge and tip. The knife is made with the Arc-Lock system and also comes with a deep carry pocket clip. For strength, quality, and craftsmanship, the Vision is one of the best folders on the market.
When SOG is talking about this knife, they say, “Created for optimal performance and value, the X-Ray Vision series are the newest members of this high-tech family of folding knives. This knife is further enhanced with our revolutionary Arc-Lock™ for fast-access and full “lockup.” The X-Ray Vision series keeps a low profile with its bead blasted blade finish and black glass-reinforced nylon (GRN) handle to keep it lightweight and comfortable to hold and carry. A reversible low-carry pocket clip allows both righties and lefties to carry the X-Ray Vision conveniently in pocket, pack, or on vest, belt, or jacket.”
This knife has actually been since discontinued through SOG, but BladeOps does still have some in stock. If you want to get in on this great knife, you better hurry over to BladeOps and pick up some of the last few in stock.