The other day I popped into a local big-box sporting goods store in a vain attempt to locate some .22lr. On my way out the door I noticed a nifty little knife on one of the impulse racks. It was the SOG Key Knife – a small lock-back, cleverly disguised as fittingly-enough, a key.
They are even trying to tap into the everyday carry movement. The letters EDC are prominent on the blister and cardstock packaging.
We have all seen keychain knives, most notably the ubiquitous Swiss Army Classic, but this little knife is actually shaped/disguised as a key as opposed to being a key-fob that happens to be a knife. It is about twice the thickness of a standard key, but it is not significantly longer in length. It fits neatly in line with the keys already on one’s ring. While it lacks the “cool” factor of Chris’s belt buckle Gerber Touche, it integrated seamlessly into my EDC kit.
I already own another small SOG knife – a Micron II. It lives on my fishing lanyard and I have been pleased with its small, locking tanto blade. So the decision to blow the whopping $9 on the key knife was not a particularly difficult one. To my surprise, this little knife exceeded my relatively low expectations, and then some.
I brought the knife home and put it through the TTAK knife testing protocol: cutting unsupported paper, cardboard, and rope. I still need to go out and buy a spool of 1″ sisal, but in this case I substituted a piece of polyethylene and some 1/2″ climbing rope.
Rope Test: Out of the blister pack, the SOG key knife cut the 3/8″ polyethylene in 4 swipes. I could have done it in fewer, but I didn’t want to risk breaking the knife 3 minutes after opening it. I tried to cut climbing rope, but after a couple of swipes, I decided to put the rope on the bench and try to saw through it. This made quick work of the really tough 1/2″ rope.
While I would consider this a mediocre result in a larger knife, lets face it – the only time you should be using this knife to cut rope is to escape from bondage. This isn’t a knife meant for heavy duty use. However, given that this knife’s most analogous competitor is the key-ring Victorinox Classic, the reliable locking mechanism on the SOG makes it vastly superior.
Paper Test: A couple of quick passes across the ceramic stones of a Spyderco Sharpmaker and I was ready to try slicing paper. The knife simply glided through pass after pass of unsupported notebook paper.
Cardboard Test: The SOG cuts through cardboard with ease for the first 12 linear feet or so. It became more difficult, though certainly remained functional for the next dozen. Even after 2 dozen linear feet of cardboard, it was still plenty sharp enough to peel and slice an apple. A quick rinse and 3 passes down the ceramic rods of the Sharpmaker, the knife was ready to return to service.
Ratings (Out Of Five Stars)
This knife is not meant to draw attention. It is meant to be an unobtrusive addition to one’s keychain. The fit and finish are perfectly acceptable.
The blade is 1 1/2″ of mystery metal.. It is made in Taiwan and not China however. This might not mean anything in terms of quality, but if I can support the manufacturing base of a free country instead of the Chinese, I consider it a win. The blade opens and locks easily, and there is no noticeable wobble.
The ergonomics of this knife are surprisingly good for such a small tool. The key’s “teeth” provide a positive, no slip grip.
I am sure that with purposeful abuse I could snap the blade off, but this is not meant to be a heavy duty knife. The blade takes and holds a fairly good edge. At least as well as any other mystery metal blade I have tried.
Overall Rating: ****
The SOG Key Knife needs to be evaluated for what it is. It is not meant to replace my Spyderco Native as my primary EDC knife. However, it is an excellent secondary or tertiary knife for anyone’s EDC kit. I am happy to have added it to mine.