SOG and the Seki Connection

Sep 11, 2014
In the process of putting together my little classic SOG display I was able to dig up a lot of information as to how these knives came about. In the early 1980s when Mr Spencer Frazer decided to start a knife company based on a replica of the distinctive MACV-SOG Special Forces Bowie he needed a knife maker who could produce the high quality and rather expensive (for the time) models. He turned to Randall Knives of Orlando FL who, even then, with a several years' waiting list was of no help. But Mr Bo Randall suggested that he contact Mr A.G. Russell who might be able to help him out. Mr Russell introduced Mr Frazer to the Japanese knife makers of Seki Japan, a city with an 800 year history of bladesmiths. The knife maker who ended up making the classic bowies for SOG was Mr Ichiro Hattori, who has been in knife making field for some 60 years starting from the age of 18 in his father's knife company. Heading his own company since 1971 he has, in addition to SOG, made knives for Beretta, Kershaw, Tekna, Browning, Boker and others, and sells his custom creations under his own name as well. In addition to awards in Japan, a leader in the Seki knifemaking community, Mr Hattori's work is highly respected throughout the world in the knife industry. Mr Hattori is also reported to be producing the laminated knives for Fallknieven. This explains why the vintage Seki classic SOGS are held in such high esteem with respect to quality, fit and finish. Mr Hattori produced the Classic Bowies for SOG from 1986 to 2005, when SOG shifted their manufacture of their fixed blades to Taiwan. Today SOG still markets a number of high quality folders that are made for them by G.Sakai of Seki Japan. G. Sakai, which started as Sakai Cutlery in 1958, actually stands for Gerber Sakai, as the first foray into the international market was in the production of the "Silver Knight" folder for Gerber back in 1977. Since then they have been the OEM manufacturer for Spyderco, Al Mar, and others. As far as I can tell, this is the only source of VG-10 knives in the world today.


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Just for fun, this is a photo found on a German knife site forum.
Can you identify each one and who was the maker?


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First knife on left is probably a boker USmc force recon Bowie manufactured by hattori.?

The 'nam era originals were stamped kiffe japan
Kiffe being a defunct 60's wholesale outfit based in NYC

It has long been generally agreed by military knife collectors
That the original nam era knife was a commercial venture
And was never officially gi anything...
So it is simply amazing that despite it's questionable lineage
That Its basic blade pattern would still persist as something marketable years on...
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Just for fun, this is a photo found on a German knife site forum.
Can you identify each one and who was the maker?

From left to right:

Hattori Made, Boker marketed, Force Recon
Hattori Made, Boker marketed, CISO-MACV-SOG Vietnam Bowie, serial numbered, the follow up to this one was the Son Tay Raid
Hattori Made, SOG marketed, DEMO
Hattori Made, SOG marketed, Recon
Hattori Made, SOG marketed, 5th Special Forces
Hattori Made, Hattori marketed, TV-1
Figured this would be answered quickly with the experts we have here. Of course everyone is right.
The photo could be accurately described as a collection of Vietnam era replica SOG knives, or Hattori knives,
or even just leather handled fixed blades. :)
I missed a chance to try to get a Boker USMC Recon because I was running around trying to figure out
what it was and it sold before I got a handle on it. That unique Marbles Plum knife style of blade threw me off.
And yes you can see the bloodline in the current SOG Creed.
The Recon Bowie's banana blade is another unusual shape. Apart from a Randall that I believe was made I think there aren't too many knives that have that over extended swage. Hattori does make a Hunter in YLB carbon steel called the YH-2 that reminds me a little of that sweeping blade.
Of the 3 SOG knives that Hattori still makes I find the TV-3, a model with the leather handle but using
AUS8 interesting to look at. Perhaps only because SOG never offered any such model.


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My favorite style that Hattori made is the version they made for Boker that was a commemorative for the Son Tay Raid. The blade grind was like the sterile 6" from the Vietnam period. Weird thing is I can buy a Randall for less than a production knife from Japan.
From the photo I've seen the Boker Song Tay commemorative is literally indistinguishable from a SOG S1 apart from the inscriptions, serial number and possibly hilt/pommel. Would
that be correct?
I guess with the Boker models having been marketed in Europe the odds of my running across them isn't very high.
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From the photo I've seen the Boker Song Tay commemorative is literally indistinguishable from a SOG S1 apart from the inscriptions, serial number and possibly hilt/pommel. Would
that be correct?

Notice where the top grind begins on both knives. The SOG Bowie is a copy of the style used as a presentation piece while the Hattori is more typical of the original sterile/serial numbered knives.

Here is an early 6" Vietnam era Knife, Indigenous:

Thanks great photos. I see the grind line difference. Doubt I would have ever noticed it
on my own.
Excellent guide.
There's a Parker SOG knife made by Tak Fukuta (first Japanese knife maker to become
a member of US knifemakers guild) that clearly looks like the type III blade style.


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I have never seen a type 1 blade style that wasn't a commemorative for the 5th Special Forces. They could exist but I haven't seen one.
FYI, The illustrated guide of line drawings of sog knives
came from the late tom Clinton's self published book on the subject
which came in the form of a simple file folder.

There are also different finger guards, btw.

I can offer no personal insight on originals
And Keep strictly to what was printed years ago
In the Greg walker / Ben baker interview.
Which can be read on the sog knives website.
Download PDF fall 1991
"The saga of the Cisco/sog recon knife by Ben baker - fighting knife fall"
It never fails to refresh with every re-read.
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Thanks for the info on the Tom Clinton book.

Is the link to the article in the Fall 1991 "Fighting Knives"?
I can't seem to get the link you gave to work.

Yes the various different guards, blade styles etc, according to the article
are the result of various makers involved. I have no doubt that Yogi Shokai and
Japan Sword contracted with Seki makers to produce them. Who in turn may have
spread out the work among themselves. There is speculation that Ichiro Hattori's father
was involved in the production of some of the originals and although I haven't found anything
to substantiate it, considering the making process and location it is certainly possible.
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