SOG Toothlock Folding Knife Review

SOG was named in honor of a covert US Special Ops unit that fought in Vietnam. That unit was known as Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG). Its existence once denied by the US Government, it wasn’t until long after the war that the SOG story could even be told.

The following is excerpted from “US ELITE FORCES-VIETNAM,” an article by Leroy Thompson that further describes the nature of this specialized group and its secret missions:

Separate from “conventional,” unconventional operations of the 5th Special Forces Group were the clandestine operations of Military Assistance Command Vietnam/Studies and Observations Group (MACV/SOG). The Studies and Observation Group (SOG) was a cover name to disguise SOG’s real function, and the name “Special Operations Group,” as it was sometimes called, described its real mission more accurately. Activated in January of 1964, SOG was a joint services unit composed of members from all four branches of the armed forces, including Navy SEALs, Marine Recons, Air Force Special Operations pilots of the 90th Special Operations Wing, but predominantly Army Special Forces.

MACV/SOG’s missions included: cross-border operations into Cambodia, Laos, and North Vietnam to carry out intelligence gathering or raiding missions on the enemy’s ‘home ground’; gather intelligence about POWs and carry out rescue missions when possible; rescue downed aircrews in enemy territory (“Bright Light” missions); train, insert, and control agents in North Vietnam to gather intelligence or form resistance groups; carry out ‘black’ Psy Ops such as operating fake broadcasting stations inside North Vietnam; kidnap or assassinate key enemy personnel; retrieve sensitive documents from equipment lost in enemy territory or in enemy hands; and insert rigged mortar rounds or other booby-trapped ordnance in enemy arms caches (OPERATION ELDEST SON).

Excerpted from US Elite Forces-Vietnam by Leroy Thompson (Squadron/Signal Publications, June 1986)

Today we will be discussing the SOG Toothlock Folding knife.

 

The Blade:

The blade on this knife is made out of San Mai VG-10 steel. A san mai is a layered steel. This steel is going to contain a very hardcore steel that is encased in softer, more resilient outer layers. Keep in mind that there are many combinations of steel that can be used in san mai. The greatest advantage that san mai gives a blade is that it gives it an extremely hard edge, while still maintain the flexibility of the knife. VG-10 is a high end steel that is very similar to 154CM and ATS-34, although it does have slightly more chromium which leads to enhanced corrosion resistance. This steel also has vanadium, which the other steels do not, which does help to make this a tougher steel than the other two similar ones. This steel did originate in Japan, not too far back, and has been slowly introduced into the American market. This steel is a relatively hard steel that can get crazy sharp, while also giving you reasonable toughness.

The blade has been finished satin, which is the most common blade finish in the American cutlery industry to date. This finish gives a very classic look to the knife, while also adding a handful of other benefits. Plus, it is relatively simple to create. The manufacturer has to sand the blade in one direction with an increasing level of an abrasive (usually sandpaper). The finer the sandpaper and the more even the lines, the cleaner that the satin finish is going to look. The satin finish is used to showcase the bevels of the blade while also showcasing the fine lines of the steel. This finish also reduces glares and reflections slightly, while increasing the corrosion resistance of the blade slightly.

The blade has been carved into a modified drop point blade shape that more closely resembles the shape of a clip point blade. The drop point blade is the most popular blade shapes that is in use in the American market today. It is an all-purpose knife shape that can really stand up to almost anything. While the most common place to find the drop point blade shape is on a hunting knife, the shape is used on plenty of other knives as well, even including the Swiss army knives. The shape of the knife is formed by having the knife start out going straight, but quickly curve inward and downward. After the curve, there is a slight portion that is straight and angles towards the point of the knife. This is the section of the Toothlock that is modified. The rest of the knife is the same as a typical drop point. Because of how the spine is curved, it does create a lowered point. The lowered point is going to give more control while also adding strength to the tip. And, because the lowered tip makes the knife so easy to control, you can easily perform fine detail work with this knife. The tip is also broad, which is going to add even more strength to the tip, so that you can take on those harder tasks and not worry about whether or not the knife can even handle it. One of the last reasons that makes a drop point knife so versatile is the incredibly large belly area that is perfect for slicing. Of course, like any knife shape, the drop point is going to have its disadvantages. Because of its relatively broad tip, it is not going to be able to pierce as well as that of a clip point. Remember though, that it is that broad tip that gives the point strength that you cannot find on a clip point knife.

The blade is slightly a combination blade. I say this because only the bottom quarter of the knife is serrated, instead of a larger chunk. The combo edge is designed to really give the user the best of both worlds. They can have the long, plain portion which will give them cleaner cuts, help them perform fine detail work, and be easier to sharpen. But, they do have a small serrated section that can be used to saw through those thicker materials that you may come in contact with.

 

SOG Toothlock Folding Knife
SOG Toothlock Folding Knife

The Handle:

The handle is made out of GFN with a stainless steel liner.

GFN or Glass-Filled Nylon, is a type of thermoplastic material that is strong, resistant to both bending and abrasion, and is almost indestructible. Something that is almost too good to be true is that it is also a very inexpensive material.

This is an inexpensive material because it can be injection molded into any desired shape while also being textured in a multitude of ways in the production process. These characteristics means that it is going to have high volume manufacturing and a low cost.

This is such a strong material because all of the nylon fibers are arranged haphazardly throughout, which means that it is going to be strong in all directions as opposed to G-10, Carbon Fiber, and Micarta. These other three materials have their fiberglass strands aligned in a single direction. That being said, many knife lovers did not like this material at first because they said that it felt cheap as well as hollow. They also felt (and do continue to feel) that G-10 is going to offer a more solid grip.

Stainless steel is going to prove the knife with excellent durability as well as being resistant to corrosion, which will cut down on maintenance. However, this is not a particularly lightweight material. Because it is just the liner, it does not create a major disadvantage. Instead, it can actually add heft to the knife without weighing it down, which is an advantage.

The handle, as well as the blade, is incredibly unique. The shape of the handle is relatively normal; it is the texture that SOG has added that sets it apart. It has rows of dashes going up and down the handle to add texture. In the middle of the handle there is a circle stamped into the material with two swords crossing each other. Also, this knife is more about angles than curves. There are some sections of extremely thick jimping at certain points on the handle. Above the jimping are indents to create a more comfortable section for you to place your fingers. Overall, this handle is designed to give texture and plenty of it. The knife does have a harsh look to it though.

 

The Pocket Clip:

The pocket clip on this knife is silver, which matches the blade and contrasts with the handle nicely. It has been slightly skeletonized, with the bottom portion cut out, as well as the round section at the very bottom cut out. This pocket clip is reversible for either left or right handed carry, which does help to make this knife more comfortable for more people to use. However, it can only be attached for tip up carry, which is a definite disadvantage, as that is the more dangerous positon for it to be attached.

 

The Mechanism:

This is a fully manual knife, which means that it is going to be legal in more areas than an automatic or a spring assisted knife. This is a major advantage, because you don’t have to worry about the strict laws that surround those other types of knives. However, there are disadvantages to a fully automatic knife. They are harder to bring into play quickly and they are not as smooth as the other styles of knives.

To assist you in opening this knife, the blade has been equipped with a thumb stud. This is a small barrel that is attached around the portion of the blade where the handle begins. The thumb stud is one of the most common styles of opening mechanisms that is available on the market, especially when it comes to one-handed opening mechanisms. However, this is a harder mechanism to get the hang of and it does put your fingers in the path of the blade when you are opening it.

 

The Specs:

The blade on this knife measures in with a length of 3.1 inches long and thickness of .12 inches. The handle on this knife measures in at 4.30 inches long. The overall length of this knife when it is opened is 7.3125 inches long. This knife weighs in at 3.3 ounces, which is a great weight for a knife that you plan to have with you at all times. This knife originates from Japan.

 

Conclusion:

Built with an amazingly comfortable Zytel handle with all the right curves to make it fit your hand, the Toothlock knife has a reverse curve blade built of VG-10 stainless steel.  The TK-02 has a part serrated blade.  This knife sports a high performance piston lock but has the extra bonus of a kick start device.  Pull the lock down and the blade gets nudged out to start the opening journey.  From there, you can flick your wrist to open it the rest of the way, or go with the more traditional thumb studs.  The lock bar has two lobe geometry.  The Toothlock is not only innovative, it is one of the best new manual folder knives we have seen.  Good design, great materials, and high quality construction all combine to make the Toothlock folder knife a great SOG addition to your collection.

When SOG is explaining this knife, they say, “Thoughtfully designed for anything that comes its way, the Toothlock easily opens and closes with one hand. It combines preparedness with attractiveness while using SOG’s newest locking mechanism that allows for rapid deployment and a solid blade lockup. The aggressive grip pattern gives users a handle surface that is non-slip and easy to hold. It features a VG-10 san mai stainless steel blade that holds its edge for longer periods of time. The blade shape cuts effortlessly while maintaining a thick reinforced tip for power penetration. It can be carried conveniently with its reversible low-carry pocket clip.”

You can pick up this knife today at BladeOps.