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Thread: A weekend with the SOG Spec-Elite I. A field report (Picture Heavy!)

  1. #1

    Cool A weekend with the SOG Spec-Elite I. A field report (Picture Heavy!)

    A weekend with the SOG Spec-Elite I (a field report)

    Hi everyone.

    This is my first attempt of a review (more a field report), let's see how it goes:

    The Knife

    I always been attracted to the original Pentagon Elite folders:

    But something on them turned me off. Something like a girl with a great body but an ugly face.
    When SOG released the Spec-Elite series, I found my self hooked again. The strange dagger style was changed for a nice clip-recurved style. I had the chance to handle the Spec-Elite I and II at a local gunshop and the experience makes me start this tread:

    Any way, I couldn't justify the buy of the Spec-Elite II, so I give a try the Spec-Elite I. And that's what I found:

    The knife is a 4" bladed, folder, with zytel handles and full steel liners. It use the SOG Arc-Lock. You can find the specs here:

    The first thing obvious is that is a sweet knife. Very nice finish, clean and elegant lines. The zytel looks and feels like plastic, but the overall package is very sexy:

    The knife is heavy, but not in a "oh my god, there is a brick in my pocket" way, more in a "Hey! this is a solid knife" way.
    It don't have any blade play in any direction, and is VERY smooth, the smoothest lock I ever see. Incredible smooth. You can open and close it with almost no sound, like if all the pieces were covered in cotton or something. Way smoother than my Benchmades axis. I'm VERY impressed with that.

    The handle is very simple and grippy and very versatile, not as confortable as, say the Paramilitary, but easier to handle in any grip imaginable. Be aware, the handle flexes. Some people will be turned off by that, but it don't affect the lock at all, so I don't care.

    The other thing I notice about the handle is how economical is in the use of the space.

    As you can see is roughly the same length of the Paramilitary and the Presidio, but the narrower of the three, and the blade is half inch longer. And when is closed, the blade almost disappear inside the handle. The knife is the more compact of the three but the one that gives more cutting edge.

    The blade is AUS 8, bead blasted and extremely sharp. The steel is ok for me, I'm not a hard knife user, the recurve makes it a very good slicer and the point is very useful, and reasonably strong (more on that next).

    The Weekend

    The next weekend after I bought the knife, me and some friends went to a beach house my parents have. We have there a nice oven, so the hardest use the knives have there is cut and split wood for it. My Becker BK7 usualy serves well, but I think "what the hell! Let's give the SOG a good beating and see how it works" and this is the report:

    First, I cut a branch, just for the start (slightly more than an inch), no battoning, just cutting. It works well, but is a hard work! The edge held well and the lock and handle didn't even notice:

    Second, some light battoning, on small pieces of wood. I use the very tip of the blade to split thinner pieces, the tip held very well, no apparent damage. Later, I make some tinder. The edge was still sharp before all that.

    The knife was doing it good, so I tried some more battoning. This time, a wider branch, about 1.5 inch, I had no mercy on the tip or the lock and both survived well.

    MORE NEXT...


    Sorry for my english
    Last edited by Alberto Salas; 02-04-2007 at 08:10 PM. Reason: Edited for fixing photos...

  2. #2

    The knife was holding good, so I tried a thicker branch, this time about 2.5". Sadly, it was too much for the folder, the knife enters the wood, but refused to move further. I manage to take it off hitting the handle and make a wedge to help it.

    Again it was too much, the uncle Becker had to came to the rescue! But the folder take care of the halves, no problem this time. The blade, handle and lock held perfectly.

    After some work, a nice fire!

    Before all that, a put some edge back to the blade with a file, clean it with water and soap, and back to work! this time cutting meat and vegetables for the diner. Before all the work, that was the result:

    The Afterparty

    After two days with the same treatment, the knife was dull (the file was not very fine) and with some play. Back home, I sharpened it, clean it and tight the screws, the Spec-Elite was looking good again! Sharp, clean and with no side to side play at all.
    But a small amount of the vertical play remains...

    So I took apart the knife, and I found something interesting. First this is the arc lock in all its glory!

    As you can see, the lock bar is not free like in the Axis lock, it pivots arround a pin, that maybe is the source of it smoothness. Any way, when I diassemble the knife, I found this fracture near that pin:

    The pin looks good, but the metal holding it is too thin, so the battoning (I assume) causes the fracture.

    Now, the big question, I still trust the knife?
    Yes, I do.
    if this pin fails at all, the omega springs will hold the lock bar in position, and it will need a massive failure in the handle to make the bar move and let the blade close. Basing in the punishment that the knife passes, it will require an insane amount of force to make the lock fail. Is possible, yes, but very unlike.

    The End

    All in all, I can recommend the knife, it cost about the same of a Benchmade Griptilian or an Endura and is a good working knife. Is nice, strong, fast and unbelievable smooth. Is a very good working knife and sadly very underlooked.

    I'm sure it will serve you well, if you don't buy it for battoning.

    Thank's for watching!


    Sorry for my english

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2002
    PNW: it's beautiful, wet, and green
    Great Review.

    I've had the "shark-tip" model of the same knife for a couple years and love it.

    the lock is strong and it's the smoothest opening knife around.

    SOG makes great prodicts and has very good customer service too.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Among Sparklers
    Great review!

    Sorry to read that the knife broke a little.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    The Dalles Oregon
    Very nice review. I wouldnt use a folding knife for battoning, not when i have a good fixed blade around anyway. But its nice to know that the SOG will hold up to it for a while.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    GREAT review and very good pics, I must say I appreciated the review and comparison to some of my fav folders. I have not picked up this knife yet but your take on it makes me want to give it a look see.
    A Beer is alot like a woman they look good they smell good, and you'd jump over your own mother just to get one!

    "There are 3 B's in my life Booze, Babes and Blades, I am not sure which one will kill me first.....but eventually one will".....They call me Barrabacon!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Spartanburg, SC
    I've been curious about this knife for a while. One thing that irritates me about the Benchmade designs is that the edge next to the handle is difficult to sharpen because the handle is in the way. Not so on this design. I also like the steel liners. Until your pics I wasnt sure what they looked like. I would love the larger model for non work carry, but the 4" blade model is most likely the more practical version. So the zytel had no durability problems? How small an angle can the blade be sharpened and not hit the thumb studs? I tend to remove the studs for my Axis folders for major resharpening, but not for touch ups. I prefer an angle combination of 15/20, or even 12/20 if the steel is run like BM's AUS 8, at or above 60 HRc. The 20 is for touch ups, and prevents the need to remove the thumb studs.

  8. #8
    Excellent REAL WORLD REVIEW! The review is practical and informative. It is unfortunate for the break, however, I do not think a full failure will occur without heavy batoning and SOG will probably replace the knife. Overall, this review shows that it is indeed a rather solid design! Great write up!

  9. #9
    Thanks for passing guys.

    ac1d0v3r1d3, just for the records I never batton my folders. I take care of my knives, they cost me a lot of money! I don't know what happened to me that weekend, I went crazy

    me2, I think the same, the 4" version is the most practical of the two. No problems at all with the zytel, I hit it while battoning and dropped the knife on concrete a couple of times and the handle shows no damage.
    I sharpened with the 40º angle of my sharpmaker (20 and 20 if I understand the mechanics) and the studs gave me no problem at all.

    Nick, as I said, I still trust the knife, of course I will never batton it again (aside life or death situations ). I don't think SOG will replace it, no after reading that review! Anyway, the guarantee broke the moment I open the knife. I will try to fix it myself some time, I will tell you how it goes.


    Sorry for my english

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Very informational review. Great job! Super useful pics!

    BTW, I felt the same way you did about the original, the Pentagon Elite -
    sold mine. Great knife, but not quite a great knife, somehow.

    __________________________________________________ _

    Anyway, so what's happened here, in part, is that the pin
    is too close to the top of that thin metal liner. Why the heck did they do that, I wonder.

    The Arc Lock is a real nice system, super smooth and quiet like you
    say. But I could never really trust it, somehow, even though I love
    the way it operates.

    A bit more clearance from the top of that liner could make a big difference -
    or maybe a touch of reinforcement to the liner in that specific location.

    Also, I'm not sure I agree that the omega spring would keep the lock
    secure if that pin blows out of there.

    And finally, SOG could have stepped up the steel here - a blade of
    AUS 10 or VG-10 or ATS-34, I think would have made it a real standout

    These things aside, for the money - street price - it's a very, very good knife
    and as you say deserving of more attention. Nicely made product.

    And definitely an improvement over the Pentagon Elite.
    Last edited by rifon2; 02-05-2007 at 01:44 AM.

  11. #11
    Great review, thanks dude! I've got the pentagon elite 4 inch model, and I like the arc-lock quite a bit, but find that I don't care for the blade shape too much, so the Spec-Elite looks like a welcome addition to SOG's lineup. As far as the break in one of the liners, I wonder how the Benchmade Ritter Grip would hold up to the same amount of work... Anyway, thanks again for the great, informative, review! I'm very intrigued by this knife...

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    NC, near Charlotte.
    What an outstanding review!
    Thank you for sharing it with us all.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Alberto Salas View Post
    Nick, as I said, I still trust the knife, of course I will never batton it again (aside life or death situations ).

    Sorry for my english
    I would think it would be even worse to batton if the situation was actually life or death. Why risk your only knife?

    other than that, great article. I have been looking around sometime for an excellent survival knife. SOG look like a good place to start.

  14. #14

    Rifon2, I still trust the lock. If I understand the mechanism, that pin should not support any strength, is only the pivot for the lock bar who absorves the punishment, so the lock bar will fail before that pivot will. Aside the bladeplay, I don't see a security problem.

    Any way, you're right, the pin is awfully close to the top!

    Ohmyheckinslc, I don't have the Ritter Grip, but I have a couple of axis. The axis is a simpler mechanism, don't have that pin. Speaking only about the lock, I think the Grip would hold up even better.

    Thanks for the kind words!


    Sorry for my english

  15. #15
    Wow, this review had it all. Excellent stuff!!! Please, do more reviews...

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by ignoramus View Post
    Wow, this review had it all. Excellent stuff!!! Please, do more reviews...
    I would love make more reviews! I will make one as soon as I get an interesting new knife, in about half a year

    BTW, I had a home video showing the knife, untill now I haven't figured a way to uploade it Here it is:

    I'm not as skilled as many of you folks, but you the idea of the smoothness and speed of this toy.

    Thanks for watching!


    Sorry for my english

  17. #17


    Great info. I was asking on another thread about the PE, I agree that this looks like a lot better all-around knife.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Deep South
    I really enjoyed the review. I might just buy one. I have had the Pentagon Elite for several years and found it a bit flimsy in the handle. I think the Arc lock is good though.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Chicago, IL
    Great review, I really liked your graphics comparing the Sog with the Benchmade and Spyderco.


  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Bellevue Ne
    Just wanted to say thanks for your excellent review - it inspired me to order the larger version, which arrived today. One thing I noticed immediately was that the inner edges of the zytel handles are very sharp, especially at the thumb cutout. How were yours? A little time with some sandpaper should take care of it. Other than that I'm very impressed with this knife - it's big, it's light but very robust, the blade was perfectly centered and shaving sharp, and the lock is smooth and strong. For such a large folder, so well made at such a relatively low price, it's a real real bargain.

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