Hi guys. This is one I actually finished a while back. I hope you enjoy it.
The Legacy of the SOG DEMOFrom Historical Nostalgia to Modern Day Warfare
By Dylan Fletcher
The new SOG Demosports some new materials while still retaining its historical design.
You can’t even mention the new SOG Demo without acknowledging it’s history. SOG Specialty Knives and Tools made a fast and lasting name for themselves in the knife world with their early tools. Spencer Frazer started the company with the recreation of one of the most recognized and respected knives of the battlefield, the SOG Bowie. His high-end commemorative knife laid the foundation for a company that would become a world leader in not only innovative tools and designs across the board, but also the go-to destination for some of the best outdoors and battle ready recreations of Vietnam era knives carried by the forces that made stuff happen.
Joining the lineup along side the SOG Bowie was the SOG Recon Bowie and SOG SCUBA/DEMO. All of these knives stayed true to the original designs, including high carbon steel blades, stacked leather washer handles and brass hardware. Some of the faithfulness to original design was so accurate that a lot of customers would have to know their history in order to pick up how spot on they were. A good example of this was the brass guard on the Recon Bowie and SCUBA/DEMO. When I purchased my first Recon Bowie (Yes, I’ve had more than one. They’re just too cool.), I immediately noticed that the points of the guard were kind of stabby. I contacted a couple of buddies of mine who are “in the know” when it comes to historical battle knives and their reemergences, and inquired if they knew why SOG made them this way. One buddie quickly responded with the answer. He said, “in the original designs for these knives, the manufacturers would make them this way and leave it up to the user to leave them alone or file them down to the desired length and shape. As we know from all the examples of “hero knives” and “theater knives”, modifying the issued tools to fit the user and make them their own was common practice. It’s historically accurate.” Something about that made the knife seem even cooler to me. I ended up following tradition and filing the guard to my own preferences. With the guard made of brass, this was a quick and easy procedure.
It wasn’t too long after I discovered these knives from SOG Specialty Knives and Tools before I owned and used all three of the above named. They were absolutely awesome. The carbon steel SK-5 blades from Seki Japan took and held an edge like no other, the handles were incredibly comfortable, and all the materials quickly took on a used and weathered look that just added to the character. Some of my friends followed suit and purchased the same knives. It was an ongoing joke of ours to ridicule the person sporting the cleanest and most pristine knife. God forbid you break out a SOG with perfect bluing, no scratches, and a light colored handle. It was almost worth it to kick your new knife around a gravel driveway and rub dirt all over the handle before anyone else saw it.
Out of those three, there was only one than I wasn’t perfectly satisfied with, the SCUBA/DEMO. Just the name of this knife beckoned use in the worst conditions. Here’s the catch. High carbon steel, brass hardware and leather washers, while gorgeous, aren’t the best materials in the world for long-term use in those worst conditions. If you didn’t take necessary steps right off the bat to protect the leather washers and give the knife regular maintenance, just as you would expect from these materials, it would start to rust, corrode, and the handle would break down. It took a long time, but it was unavoidable.
Before I myself became part of the knife world on the producing side, I had already met quite a few people “on the inside” in companies like SOG. One of the easiest people to make contact with was Chris Cashbaugh from SOG marketing. SOG does an excellent job of making themselves available to their customers for everything from the smallest question to the largest criticism. They really care about their customers and make it easy for the customer to have a voice. The frontman most involved in this area is Chris.
I contacted him a few years ago with some questions, met him in person three years ago at Blade Show in Atlanta, and he has become my first phone call any time I have anything to do with SOG. The main thing that brought us together is my love for beating the crap out of new knives and my honest criticism of how they perform. I told him from the beginning, “I’ll give these knives the beating of their life and honest feedback. Now, that does mean that I WILL NOT pull any punches. If I think the tool is total junk, you’re going to hear all about it. My promise is absolute honesty, not just with you guys. Anyone who wants to know my opinion of these tools is going to get it. If you guys can deal with that, I’d be happy to test some stuff.” Chris said, “That works perfect for us.”
One topic I brought up several times with him was a bitching session I unleashed on him about the SOG SCUBA/DEMO. It was always the same thing. I would say, “SOG needs to redo this design with true all-weather and harsh environments in mind. I would love to see a version of this knife with a rubbery handle and stainless steels.” He always assured me that I wasn’t alone in these wishes and SOG had plans. In the past few years, SOG has made a huge push in new directions concerning materials and production. This had me excited to see some of my favorites revisited.
Not too long ago, SOG announced that the SCUBA/DEMO was one of several knives being discontinued. I thought, “man, this sucks. I was really hoping we’d see some SD 2.0 or something. It looks like I’m just going to have to see what new models they bring.”
Well, new models came, and one had me jumping. Right there in the new lineup for 2011, SOG DEMO! It had everything I’ve been wishing for for years. This is what I truly believe the original SCUBA/DEMO would have been if the boys who designed it during Vietnam had access to the materials we have today. A lot of people forget, knives weren’t made out of this stuff back then. It’s not like those guys made the decision not to use AUS-8 and Kraton. Those things didn’t exist. I have to believe that if they had access to materials like this back then, we would have seen a knife very similar to SOG’s new version.
SOG decided to drop the “Scuba” part of the name, which is fitting considering the amount of demolition this knife is capable of.
The second I saw this knife in the new lineup, I started blowing up phones. I said, “I only have one question. What do I have to do, who do I have to kill to get one of these RIGHT NOW. I want one the second they are manufactured. As always, I’ll beat the face off of it and if it’s not up to par, you’ll know quick.”
Before I knew it, I had one in my hands. Unfortunately, I immediately had to skip town to go do a big competition and had back to back obligations after that keeping me from having any time to test out the new knife. Finally I found time to get out and beat the snot out of this knife.
First, let’s go over the features. The blade of this knife is AUS-8 steel with a 6” cutting edge, which is more than enough for just about any normal knife use. That length also gives you plenty of penetration for reaching vital organs through uniforms and vests. Also, you have 4.25” of serrations on the back for cutting through fibrous materials like webbing, rope, etc. to save your cutting edge for other chores. The serrations have a lot of other uses too. It just requires the user to be creative. The cutting edge of the blade has a flat choil a little over an inch long that lets you get you index finger over the guard for choking up for finer work, or for helping yank the blade back out of anything it may get stuck in. The spear point style blade facilitates easy stabbing penetration as well as a nice curve to both edges. The tip of the point is just below absolute center line of the knife which gives the point of contact great placement for stabbing, drilling, etc. The length of handle purchase is almost 4.5” from the index finger curve of the guard to the end of the buttcap. That’s a good bit of room for large or gloved hands. My hands are pretty big and I get plenty of grip. The Kraton handle also has finger grooves that help with the grip and are subtle enough not to make a reverse grip uncomfortable. The texture on the Kraton handle makes the grip absolutely glued to your hand. There is no worry at all of this knife going anywhere you don’t want it to. The white washers in the handle add a nice look, but don’t really do anything else. They look really good though. The materials used and the coating on the blade make this knife virtually maintenance free. Other than sharpening when necessary, there’s really nothing else to do. Even if the coating gets worn, the blade steel is very corrosion resistant on its own. Unlike the SCUBA/DEMO, the guard on this one is nicely rounded and requires no modifying. It’s perfect from the factory.
The sheath that comes with this knife is a high quality leather sheath with a snap closure pouch on the front and sharpening stone. The stone supplied is your typical size, but instead of some nasty grey rough wet stone, you get a slightly nicer white sharpening stone. If the sharpening stone isn’t your preferred filler, this pouch will fit a lot of small tools, flashlights, and so forth. The retaining strap for the sheath is well placed in my opinion, on the side opposite the cutting edge. It does rub the serrated edge a little, but in my opinion is the lesser evil.
Instead of the usual crap sharpening stone that typically inhabits the pouch on most “survival” knives, the SOG comes with a rather nice sharpening stone that you can actually use.
Something that I consider a “feature” of any knife or tool, though often overlooked by customers, is the warranty. Like all the high end stuff from SOG, this knife comes with a terrific warranty. SOG Specialty Knives and Tools puts a lifetime guarantee on this knife excluding any misuse or stupidity by the user. Just use the knife the way a knife is meant to be used and it’s guaranteed for life. That’s sounds pretty good to me.
Now let’s get on to how this knife performs. Here’s the important info, pudding proof, etc. All the cool looks, features, warrantees are worthless if the knife doesn’t do work.
I’ve never gotten a knife from SOG that wasn’t shaving sharp out of the box. By the way, if you ever do, from any company for that matter, let them know. It’s our job just as much as theirs to keep their quality control in check. SOG has never let me down and this DEMO was no exception. I gave her the old arm hair test right away and the hair abandoned arm with terrified looks before the blade even came close.
I tested this knife over several outings and always gave it the roughest of beatings. The first serious test I do with any fixed blade is batonning. The reason is because, this is ridiculously hard use, and if the tang fails from this, testing is over. If the knife can take it, strength is no longer a question. I chopped down a ton of branches of various woods and smashed the SOG DEMO through all of them.With the chopping, this knife isn’t the size that would be expected to chop well, so I didn’t consider it a negative that it took longer than something designed for chopping. When it came to batonning, as expected, the DEMO breezed through it like a country boy through a catfish dinner and asked for desert. The cutting edge felt exactly the same as when I started. The only slight drawback to this work is the serrations on the spine. They did a great job of chewing up my baton, but not so much to keep the work from getting done. The serrations are thick enough that it wasn’t biting too deep into the baton.
Though not designed for chopping, the SOG Demo bites through hardwoods with surprising ease.
Batonning and splitting are no problem for this “tough as nails” knife. Nothing needed tightening afterwards. Although, the baton didn’t come out so lucky.