SOG Ultra XR

SOG 2020 Preview: Knife Brand Aims for Quality Overhaul

The knife brand SOG looks to continue a major rebrand in 2020. These are some of the knives that will lead the charge.

SOG is undergoing a huge change in 2020. Spencer Frazier — the leader, lead designer, and spiritual core of the company — announced his retirement, and many of SOG’s evergreen designs are undergoing massive changes.

The company has also committed to better steel. It has traditionally used AUS-8 as its low-end steel and VG-10 as its high-end steel. S35VN popped into its lineup 3 years ago, it added BD-1 last year, and the evergreen upgrade models sport D2 this year.

It’s not a huge change, but D2 is a strong, tough, good all-around steel for the money, and seeing this as the entry-level material is a good if incremental change.

Here’s a quick tour of the 2020 lineup.

Evergreen Upgrades (Aegis, Flash, Trident)

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The Aegis, the Flash, and the Trident all receive major upgrades, all sporting the “AT” designation. They now sport colorful FRN handles, all of which have been revised, with the Flash receiving the heaviest edits. They now come in a variety of colors instead of black or lots of black.

Finally, they all have blades with D2 steel. It’s not a massive upgrade, but it is a noticeable one. AUS-8 holds an edge like a pirate hook holds a vase, so D2’s real edge retention will be noticeable.

One concern I have in seeing these evergreen upgrades is the added weight. The Aegis and Flash were so great, in part, because they were so incredibly light. Seeing them crack the 5-ounce mark is tough. The blades still look great, and in a brief inspection felt great in the hand, so I’m willing to try them out.

Pentagon

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With its dagger-ish blade (it’s not a true dagger, as it’s sharpened on only one side), the Pentagon has always been a more “operator” knife than I typically carry. But this is a good knife, and the use of CTS-XHP makes it even better.

Noted steel junkie and founder of Spyderco, Sal Glesser, described XHP as a combination of 440C’s stainlessness with D2’s edge retention. That is a great combination. Seeing it on this knife is a win, even if I’m not tacti-cool enough to ever need a Pentagon.

Ultra XR

If you liked the Terminus but thought it was a bit big or needed better steel, the Ultra (pictured at the top of this article) is your jam.

While SOG did release an S35VN version of the Terminus, the Ultra XR looks even more pocketable. Its blade is under 3 inches (2.8, to be exact), and it’s S35VN. The knife weighs a paltry 1.2 ounces, as the carbon fiber handle cuts tenths of ounces.

Lastly, the knife sports a deep-carry clip. Given its dimensions, SOG suggests it would make a great money clip knife. I don’t really ever carry knives like that, but something this light and small is just too good for an EDC fanatic to pass up.

SOG is also updating its Power Assist MT, keeping apace with the market. It has a full hex-bit center drive, an assisted-opening knife, and one-hand deployment. It’s also releasing the SOG TAC with the XR lock (unsurprisingly called the SOG TAC XR).

There isn’t a lot of new stuff in SOG’s lineup, but the stuff that is there looks to be huge. Updating best-sellers with new materials and steel is a bold move. The Ultra XR looks to be a guaranteed EDC favorite.

My only real concern is the tweener problem — will these upgrades leave SOG in no man’s land — too pricey for budget folks and not fancy enough for enthusiasts? The Terminus XR was a truly superb knife, and if that’s what SOG is using as the mold for this rebrand, people should be happy.

Grade: B; Small but colorful upgrades to the evergreen stuff, but only one truly new folder

Instabuy: Ultra XR