Well, it's been almost two years since I picked up my very first Flash II from SOG and I figured I'd give you an update, as well as a general overview of the knife's performance up until now. The Flash II is American-made and can be had for around $45 in stores. I believe I paid $38 for mine, remembering that this was two years ago. I have a review of my second one up on here somewhere, but I can't find it at the moment. I remember I was more than satisfied, and as I re-review the exact same knife, I'm still pretty darn pleased. The model number is FSA-8. Here are the specifics, and some updates on them...
The Handle: It's black Zytel, and it's 4-1/2" long. This is just long enough for me in a folder, and it's been a joy to use on and off as my EDC. The hardness of the Zytel makes for a good scratch-resistant material without tearing your hands up. The finger choils (there are two of them, see the picture) are purposeful and comfortable, although using the front-most one can irritate your index finger at times. Choke back to the second one and you've got more reach and a more comfortable grip. The pattern molded into the handle is also aggressively textured without being rough. It looks like a cross between a diamond pattern and fish scales. The back of the handle is smooth except for some light jimping molded into the first 1/2". This jimping is too close together to be useful to me, although the swell created by it helps out with that problem.
The entire handle is held together with Torx screws; three T-8 for the handle screws and one T-8 for the blade pivot pin. I've taken the Flash II apart no less than a dozen times just to tinker with it, and the screws haven't stripped or anything. No stripping of the Zytel (plastic) handle either. There's a lanyard hole in the butt of the handle, but I've never used it because it's too small. It's barely 1/8" in diameter, and I just can't get cord of any real strength through there.
The pocket clip is adjustable for left or right-hand carry, and it's tip-up only. This doesn't bother me, and I rather like how low the knife sits in your pocket. Only the pocket clip is visible. Or, I liked it at first. With the knife fully inserted in my pocket, it takes some getting used to if you're going to get it out with any kind of speed. Naturally you want to grab onto something to pull it out, but the only thing to grab onto is the clip itself. So you grab the clip, and guess what? You're keeping the knife in your pocket because you're squeezing the clip against the handle, trapping your pocket material between the metal clip and the grippy handle. So maybe you'll have to hook your middle finger on the tip of the clip and pull it out until you can get a grip on the handle. I love the idea of a low-riding clip, but when it makes taking out the knife a two-step process, it's a hinderance more than a help.
The Blade: The blade is 3-1/2" long and it's made of AUS-8 steel. It's 1/8" thick and flat ground. It's a traditional drop point shape, and the sweep helps out with cutting. There's a thumb stud on each side of the blade. When I got my first Flash II, it came out of the box razor sharp. Every one I've had since then came the same way. Edge retention is pretty good, and resharpening is both easy and dare I say... fun? The flat ground blade really makes a nice slicer. It's got enough length for anything you'd use a pocket knife for, and doesn't come off as overly tacti-cool. The blade has a nice satin finish, which I love. I like to see a shiny blade, and this fits the bill. With use, the blade has a few wear spots and isn't as pretty as it was almost two years ago. But it's worn well, and can still reflect my ugly mug like a mirror with just a light wiping. There's no jimping on the spine, and to be honest, it doesn't need it. The ramp on the handle does a good job of keeping my fingers off the spine of the blade. The blade is long and sharp enough for general use. Thickness is ideal and the grind is great. It's just a nice blade.
The Lock: The Flash II uses SOG's piston lock (don't know their name for it) and it still locks up solidly. For those of you unfamiliar with the piston lock, picture the AXIS lock, Ultra Lock, etc. but on one side of the handle only. It won't flick open like the AXIS lock allows you to, but it locks up in almost the same manner. Instead of omega springs, a cylinder spring presses the piston (which is metal) between the blade and the handle, locking it open. To unlock, simply pull the piston back. After years of use, the lock still works great. I can't detect any looseness of the spring or the locking mechanism, and taking it apart shows no ill effects. There's no blade play in any direction, although I had to tighten the blade pivot screw on my very first one.
SAT Technology: This is SOG's assisted-opening mechanism. It's essentially a coil spring that's attached to the blade tang at one point, and the handle on the other point. A slight push with your finger sends the blade rocketing open, and it locks with an authoritative "thwack". The blade makes contact with a steel stop pin; not the plastic handle. This is good as there's no plastic to crack from metal striking it at high speeds.
If you're interested, cutlerylover has a great video showing a SAT knife (the SOG Trident) disassembled, showing how everything works... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utRyZlpbUK4
Over time, the spring hasn't developed any slack or laziness, and this was a concern of mine after owning switchblades (which also use a coil spring). Everything is still solid and crisp, the way a good assisted opener should be.
There's also a safety on the Flash II, although I freely admit that I never use it. The blade has never sprung open on me, even when dropped, and I feel that the safety is unnecessary. If you're interested, it's there. Up (towards the back of the handle) shows red, and the safety is off. Move the safety downwards and it's on. The blade cannot open with the safety on. Simply move it upward to take it off again.
The SOG Flash II was a great knife when it first came out, and it's still a great knife today. I think that with the re-introduction of bi-metal blades and newer assisted-opening mechanisms, the "old" knives are being overlooked. A Kershaw Scallion or SOG Flash I may not be the latest in composite blade technology or double spring-assited mechanisms, but they're just as reliable and safe as they were years ago. Mine has held up to some pretty rough use (for an EDC) and apart from some scratches, it's as nice as it was the day I got it. If you haven't held a Flash II yet, try one out.