The SOG Flash II folder (FSA-98) is a handy, yet sleek assisted opening pocket knife that works great for a daily use EDC knife. As far as tactical folders go, this baby is hard to beat. Both for price, quality, and utility. I wore mine everyday for 2 years. After I broke it, I felt naked without it.
If you’ve read my review on the SOG Seal Pup Elite, you may be able to tell that I have a sort of love affair with SOG Knives. The flame of that love affair has been reignited from their excellent customer service. I recently broke my 2009 Flash II at work while cutting open a giant cardboard shipping box. The knife got wedged in the walls of the box and when I tried to yank it out, it somehow torqued the blade and snapped it. I was baffled. I wrote a letter and shipped the knife back to SOG explaining what happened. No questions asked, a new knife showed up on my door step a week later. Talk about standing behind your product with an awesome warranty.
This review will be based on the new Flash II folder I received in the mail, which has slightly updated design features than my previous one. However, it is, for argument’s sake, the same knife in my eyes as it’s main use mode isn’t effected by the minor design changes.
The Flash II feels light and nimble in your hands. You will notice this right when you pick it up. It weighs a scant 3.1oz which puts it right into backpacking consideration. The assisted opener mechanism flips open with surprisingly fast speed but is not overpowering. Some knives, such as my new Kershaw Blur, open quickly, but a little too forcefully. You’d never guess a knife could have recoil, but many assisted openers these days almost jerk themselves out of your hand when you open them. (This is more prevalent the smaller the knife). The Flash II opens quickly but deliberately, it doesn’t bounce. It’s not faster than it needs to be. And it opens with a satisfying *snick*.
The 3.5” AUS-8 stainless steel blade is of high quality, and comes with a factory edge like you wouldn’t believe. It’s a mirror edge! I’ve never seen an edge that smooth out of the box. Unfortunately, it doesn’t hold an edge as long as some other knives. It is AUS-8, so it can take an edge rather easily, but just not hold it very long. I don’t really get too worked up over this, because every knife needs to be sharpened. And if you absolutely need something kept razor sharp, like a filet or skinning knife, then you shouldn’t be carrying that as an EDC! The SOG Flash II logo is different from my original Flash which had the “splitting bullet” logo. On the back is their patent number.
In my opinion, drop points are the best for EDC knives. The point is key for opening boxes, packages, picking your teeth, or digging out crud underneath your fingernails. The overall profile of the knife, along with being a drop point, is very similar to a kitchen knife. The blade edge pops right up into a flat heel straight back to the spine. There’s no observable primary grind bevel, or contours like the Seal Pup Elite or my Kershaw Blur. It’s very simple, yet functional. However, by looking closer, there is a bevel, as the blade is thicker at the spine than at the edge.
I go with a partial serrated edge for a daily use knife. Yes, it’s a slight pain to sharpen (just need a rod with your stone) but the serrated edge is great for cutting rope, cardboard, or the occasionally troublesome branch in the yard. The teeth come as sharp as the blade from SOG.
The glass reinforced nylon (Zytel) handle is part of why this knife feels so light in your hands. It feels almost fragile at first, but once you put a few miles on this knife, you’ll see that this plastic is hard to dent, scratch, or even make any sort of mark on. I continue to be impressed by this material choice, it beats the weight and the cold feel of an aluminum handle.
My 2009 model feels like it had a different handle, which I had some caveats with. Luckily, this new 2011 Flash II addressed those without me ever even speaking up. I don’t know if this was a 2010 or 2011 change, but my 2008/9 had scales that only slightly flared out at the butt. The handle, where it meets the bottom of your palm (while holding the knife blade up) was just a tad wider than the rest of the handle. This meant that sometimes, the knife would like to slip up, if the blade was held up, or slip out if the blade was held down (Jason-style). Also, when holding it in a reverse grip, there was not much handle on the butt for a thumb to be placed for extra grip. There was also the clip that extended directly out of the bottom. In this newer model, the butt of the handle feels like it flares deliberately outward and much farther, as if to catch the bottom of your palm or widen out for more thumb purchase. Its just an added bit of material that makes the grip feel far more secure. I could be wrong and this could just be me, since I no longer have the previous knife to compare to. If anyone can confirm this, please let me know!
Like I mentioned before, actuating the assisted opening mechanism results in a satisfying *snick* of an opening. Not to hard, but not too slow. The thumb knobs on both sides of the blade multi-level and rounded, no sharp corners here. The closure method has changed from my previous SOG, which was a piston-drive slide lock. The new Flash II’s employ a half-moon shaped blade lock called the “Arc-Lock”. The previous piston-lock had positive pressure against itself, so it would need to be pushed back to lock the blade. The newer “Arc-Lock” doesn’t require much pressure at all to swing the lock to the close position. It also has a light, satisfying click as it moves, like the feeling of hitting the right digit on a combination lock.
Flash II’s also employ a safety lock to prevent accidental opening of the knife. The safety on this knife is much smoother than on my previous one, but I can’t vouch for whether that was a design change or just specific to the knife I got. The safety moves smoothly “On” and “Off”, where as my other one required a forceful click into the “Off” position. I never really care for the safety while I used the Flash as my EDC knife (it was my first EDC out of college in CT – where assisted’s aren’t allowed). It wasn’t until I got my Kershaw that I realized they are a godsend.
Let me preface this by noting that some people hate safeties and consider them a waste of time, especially if you had to deploy the knife in an emergency. Really? It takes half a second to click “Off” the safety when pulling it from your pocket. We’re not really talking about trying to shave off minutes here. Unless you’re a combat soldier, I’m guessing you’ll drop your knife on the ground more times in a day than you’ll ever deploy it in an emergency in real life. I have dropped my Kershaw on the ground so many times and, without fail, it opens itself every time. This is not only a hazard to yourself or those around you (don’t wear flip-flops around me) but it could also severely chip or ruin your blade. A safety switch clears that danger. I’ll never get another assisted opener EDC without a safety.
Some people don’t like the clip on these SOG’s. They complain that the clip bends out too easily. I hadn’t had a problem with that. I think that because the pocket clip juts out of the butt of the knife, it can ride amazingly low when pocketed. I love this about the knife. It’s a fact that other knives lack and something you don’t notice (or can find out) until after you’ve bought the knife. My Kershaw, which is a great knife, rides far too high for my liking. I mentioned this in my other review on it. The SOG rides so low that pretty much only the clip is visible. This is a boon when you don’t want to necessarily advertise that you’re carrying a knife. You can wear it in more places, where a knife might not be appropriate (but still legal!). I wear this knife at work a lot and I don’t think anybody has ever noticed, especially when the carabiner from my keychain is partly covering it. Just something to think about…
In the end, I must say that the 2011 SOG Flash II addressed the issues I had with my previous 2009 SOG Flash II. The safety was smoothed out and the handle was redesigned. I’m hard pressed to find any notable cons or negative aspects of this knife. Maybe the blade needs to be stronger, since I broke my last one? But I haven’t tested this new one out enough (ie broken it yet) to be able to attest to that.
I think the quality and the overall feel of it are from knives far more expensive. Which makes it the perfect EDC knife. It’s lightweight and you’ll forget it’s even in your pocket. Go buy one.
Find out more about the SOG Flash II here: http://sogknives.com/store/FSA-98.html