One Tough Survival Knife - SOG Force - Review
Since I touched my first SOG knife - the SOG Seal Team Elite - I have had pretty high expectations for SOG gear. So when I cracked open the box containing the SOG Force I wondered if I might be a little let down...
So in my heart I kind of lowered my expectations just a bit excepting a at least a slight disappointment - Opening the box slowly - The first thing I saw was the knife handle in sheath which is nearly identical to that of the SOG Seal Team Elite knife.
As I released and grabbed the handle my anticipation grew as it had the same solid, "last forever" feel. As I pulled the knife out of the sheath, I know a smile came on my face as I realized that the SOG Force was essentially the SOG Seal Team Elite knife with a blade design more suitable for all around survival. And after my testing and use, my initial experience has only been confirmed.
The SOG Force fixed blade knife was released in Mid- 2011 as a capable survival knife patterned after the almost legendary SOG Seal Team line of knives. The biggest difference between the SOG Force and the SOG Seal Team Elite is the blade design. The SOG Force has a drop point blade... compared to the clip point blade of the SOG Seal Team Elite. Drop point blades are probably the most popular blade design for a modern survival knife. And there’s good reason for this... Drop point blades have a convex curve of the back toward the point, which makes a strong point, but the point is a little less suitable for piercing than the clip point of the SOG Seal Team Elite knife. The SOG Force Blade is a pretty healthy 6 inches in length compared to the extreme 7 inch blade length of the SOG Seal Team Elite.
The SOG Force blade is a 100% fine edge knife from handle to tip with NO serrations (which I know will make a lot of you serious bushcraft dudes happy...) Now when you search online for the SOG Force you may find some photos or legacy web pages that talk about it having a partially serrated edge that’s because the first production run of the SOG Force had a blade that WAS partially serrated.
However it is now available only with a straight edge. Okay, so then a big difference in the edges these two knives is that the SOG Seal Team Elite blade is serrated for about 2 inches toward the handle and the SOG Force is only available in a straight edge.
The SOG Force and SOG Seal Team Elite Blades are both made out of AUS-8 stainless steel, which is a very nice steel when heat treated properly, something SOG is known for. The SOG Force is also coated in a black Titanium Nitrite finish... which makes the steel even more resistant to rust.
So Let’s Talk a Little Bit About Knife Steel... All steels have positive and negative features... the best steels are generally so expensive that the knives made of them are beyond the price range of all but the most discerning knife collectors and knives made of cheaper steels are not what you want in your hand or pack when crisis strikes and your life may be on the line.
So knife manufactures have really tough choices to make - because when it comes down to it - all business is about selling enough product, for a reasonable profit or go out of business.
So for knife manufacturers this translates to, “Sell Knives or Go Home.” And for Americas, it seems we gravitate toward cheaper prices. It think we always want to think that we “got a great deal” but in reality with knives, you generally get what you pay for.
Well SOG was wise in selecting AUS-8 for the bulk of their better knives, like the SOG Force. It’s an affordable enough steel to keep the street price of the Force in a palatable range for many - And when heat treated properly - is able to be sharpened to a very keen edge, retain it’s edge nicely, has good toughness and resists general wear very well.
Great qualities for a survival or tactical knife. Like in the SOG Seal Team Elite, the SOG Force blade steel is nearly a quarter inch thick... and to top it off... this blade retains this thickness from the butt of the knife, through the full length of the knife.... and does not start to converge to make the point until about 1/2 inch from the tip. I can’t imaging what it would take to snap this knife blade... it’s a real beast! You won’t have to feel shy about whacking on the spine of this knife for bushcraft. On the back of the blade toward the handle there is a concave rasp that makes a good resting place for my thumb or fore finger and allows me to control the knife a bit better for finer tasks like carving and slicing.
The SOG Force is full tang, which means the knife steel runs the full length of the knife through the handle and is regarded by most experts as the strongest possible knife construction. Oh... and I almost forgot... the overall length of the SOG Force is eleven and a quarter inches - tip to butt end. The knife weights 10.5 ounces which is surprisingly light considering the size of this knife and the thickness of the blade steel.
The handle of the SOG Force is exactly the same as the SOG Seal Team Elite and is made of Glass Reinforced Nylon (or GRN). The handle is notched in a diagonal checkered pattern for maximum grip. The SOG Force handle is hard and very durable and because it’s over molded onto the blade steel. There’s no need for screws, nuts, bolts and there are no seems. You get the feeling when you hold this knife that it could survive the apocalypse and is about indestructible.
The SOG Force knife handle is not going to skin up nearly as easily as handles over molded with softer, rubberized grips... but on the flip side... although this handle is comfortable enough... it’s hardness and the raised rasp grip pattern could be a bit rough on bare hands if you use it for extended periods of time.
It’s not nearly as comfortable as handles like those found on the Gerber LMF II or the Gerber LHR. For protection, the handle has a nice flair by the fore finger to prevent your hand from slipping onto the blade. And for extra stability and grip there are concave cutouts on the bottom side of handle.
Plus being around 5 1/8 inches in length, there’s plenty of real estate to this handle to accommodate large and small hands well. The SOG Force is nicely balanced with the center of gravity just under the fore finger when gripping the knife. This balance make the knife feel lighter than it actually is and allows it to be quite agile, for a knife of this size.
One of the tasks I often put a good survival knife through is a no spin, knife throwing test. I generally, find that a well balanced survival knife will also throw nicely. So here I am throwing 3 SOG throwing knives followed by the SOG Force.
I found the SOG Force easy to control and honestly much more accurate and pleasurable to throw than the SOG throwing knives because of how meaty this knife is. It stuck almost every throw and usually ended up closer to my intended target than the SOG throwing knives.
All this to say, if you need to throw the SOG Force, you certainly can with some practice... because it is well designed and balanced. Okay, now one of the few drawbacks to this handle is toward the butt end.
Many survival knives flair or curve at the butt end to give you more of a grip for bushcraft stuff like chopping. Because the SOG Force does not have a rubberized grip or a butt end flair the knife can tend to slip and slide around in your hand.
Chopping is certainly possible with this knife, but you’ll just have to grab the knife a little tighter, which will likely cause your hand to fatigue sooner or blister faster than with some other survival knives.
Now toward the butt of the knife we have a nice over-sized lanyard hole, that’s a full quarter inch in diameter. You won’t have any problem fishing quality paracord through this hole.
Beyond the butt end of the handle, the knife steel juts out into a pretty aggressive and substantial pommel. This pommel comes to a point which makes it a bit better for breaking things like glass than the flat-ended pommel on the SOG Seal Team Elite. However, both are very effective glass-breaking tools.
So I couldn't resist, and took this knife out back and busted through a car window with it. Yeah, so the SOG Force pierced through the car window just about as easily as my Gerber LMF II ASEK, which also has a pommel that comes to a point.
Now lets talk about the sheath... Ballistic Nylon Sheath
As far as I can tell the nylon sheath of the SOG Force is exactly the same as the Sheath for the SOG Seal Team Elite. This sheath is made of a heavy duty ballistic nylon. It feels tough and durable. The craftsmanship of this sheath is evident in the triple stitching along the edges of the pouch. There are also 7 rivets at key stress points around the sheath. Two along the top. Two where the pouch meets the sheath back. Two at the sheath bottom. And one at the center of the sheath just below where the point of the knife and internal blade guard rests.
Four of these rivets have grommets holes through them... these holes are great for lashing the sheath to things, lashing things to the sheath or tying the bottom of the sheath to your leg.
On the front of the sheath there is a nice sized pocket with an adjustable velcro strap perfectly sized for holding some gear like - your favorite multi tool, fire steel, a sharpener or even an extra 9mm mag.
Theres a polymer sleeve inside the sheath that holds the knife tightly and prevents it from slicing through the nylon. And I like that this sheath design allows for right or left handed carry.
There is a nylon strap with Velcro that holds the knife handle tight against the top of the sheath. I don’t really prefer Velcro closure straps for holding quality knives because they can get full of dirt and leaves and can get gummed up over time and not work as well.
Plus Velcro can be noisy in the field which is a more important consideration for combat and tactical knives. I prefer sheath straps with snaps, however with the primary purpose of this knife being survival, Velcro should work fine.
Other than the Velcro closure system, the SOG Force ballistic nylon sheath is well built, tough, very functional and light weight. Oh yeah... and this sheath really shines in the multitude of carry options that if offers.
The SOG Force sheath is MOLLE compatible... and through the use of this crossing strap and snap system on the back... it can be adjusted and securely fastened to just about any pack, belt or vest.
This long rear strap is actually two lengths of strap doubled over and sewn together... so it’s not likely that this strap is going to break or wear out. And I really like that is uses a quality snap to hold things tight.
Owner reviews for the SOG Force are generally through the roof averaging well over 4.5 out of 5 stars. Many owners comment on the SOG Force’s tough build and quality materials. Many say that the SOG Force is built for a lifetime of use... and often comment that with the tough, over molded handle, there’s really nothing to wear out.
We rate the SOG Force survival knife at 4.5 out of 5 stars for the exceptional quality of materials in it’s price range, the tough over molded handle, it’s durability, edge sharpness and retention, and how good this knife feels in the hand and performs in the field.
We reluctantly took off half a star because being primarily designed to be a survival knife, the handle really could use a flair or curve on the butt end to aid in holding the knife for bushcraft tasks like chopping - And the sheath strap really should have a snap instead of a Velcro closure system.
Regardless, this is one of the nicest standard nylon sheaths that we’ve seen come with any knife if this price range.
So Who is This Knife For?
The SOG Force is an excellent survival knife for military and tactical applications, diving, hunting, camping, backpacking, extreme adventures, a bug out bag or emergency kit or for anyone who wants a nice all purpose survival knife that is designed for a lifetime of use and ready for just about anything, when called up for duty.
What’s the Cost?
Just in case you are wondering, the street price of the SOG Force often falls just under $100. Of course it’s not the cheapest survival knife but if you want a rock solid survival knife that is going to last, save your pennies and consider the SOG Force.
And to make this knife package into a cool survival kit, add to the sheath pouch your favorite multi-tool and the innovative SOG pocket sharpener and fire starter and you have really nice survival system that is ready to serve you well whether you’re on the battle field or in the back yard.
Other Alternatives If you want to save some money or want a smaller knife survival knife, see my reviews of the SOG Seal Pup, the Gerber LMF II, the Gerber Prodigy or for beginners and at less than half the price, the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival knife might be a nice place to start. If you want a more aggressive combat, survival or tactical knife, see my reviews of the Gerber LHR, the SOG Seal Team Elite, the Gerber Silver Trident or the Schrade Extreme Survival Special Forces knife.
So we’ve just taken a look at the SOG Force survival knife. For your convenience I’ve included links to the SOG Force and all of the other knives and gear that I’ve mentioned, throughout this review. So... don’t forget to subscribe to our our Monthly Survival e-Mag to the right... I hope to see you one the other side... And remember... Be Prepared... Because You Never Know...
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