Navy SEAL Rorke Denver: I Carried SOG Knives

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Rorke Denver probably qualifies as a ‘trusted’ source for the low-down on what combat gear works and what sucks. The SEAL-turned actor has had plenty of opportunities to watch guns and knives (and the people who carry them) fail in the crucible: he served in the teams for 14 years as a SEAL platoon commander and training officer. What knives went downrange with Lt. Cmdr. Denver? SOG.

Desert Dagger

In his book Damn Few, Denver debunks the myth of the Rambo knife and names names when it comes to his favorite edged gear:

For most SEALs, the big Rambo knife is mostly a myth and I never carried one. But like most warriors, I always had a fixed-blade knife with me, a SOG Desert Dagger with a six-inch blade or the slightly smaller SOG Pentagon with a five-inch blade.

I have buddies who are knife pros. They’ve convinced me that a folding-blade knife is a broken knife, great in your pocket at home, not so great in battle. Fixed is just stronger. I used it to cut a line, open a package, slice open a mattress in a hunt for hidden weapons. That knife was in action many times a day. The handles and the grips are easy to hold whether hands are wet or dry.

I hung my knife vertically on my body armor, handle up, blade down. That way if someone came at me in close quarters in such a way that my hands were pinned against my chest, I’d still be able to grab the handle of the knife. It would have to be a highly motivated bad guy to still hang on as I was slicing at his hands or his eyes.



The Bride famously used a Desert Dagger in her knife fight with Vanita Green in “Kill Bill: Vol. 1.” SOG stopped production of the Desert Dagger shortly after the film made it famous, a marketing move which makes sense to absolutely nobody.

Thanks (in part) to Uma Thurman and Quentin Tarentino, you’ll be lucky to find a Desert Dagger for sale these days. If you do it’s likely to be at an auction site, and you’re going to say goodbye to several hundred dollars.

Thanks, Quentin. Just for that I’m not linking to your movie, but here’s a link to the Act Of Valor trailer instead.


  1. knightofbob says:

    If I’m not mistaken, the Kill Bill movies came out around the same time as SOG stopped producing blades in Seki. Several models were extremely redesigned (like the Pentagon) or dropped entirely, due to poorer production values from the new contractors in China. That would be my guess as to the fate of the Desert Dagger.

    Never picked up a Desert Dagger, but I have a Seki Pentagon, and it’s gotten more than its share of use and abuse over the years. It still looks practically new, and I think I’ve had to sharpen it once. I’ve handled a couple of the new production runs, and they feel like toys in comparison. If you can find one of the models they still make in the US, SOG still makes a good product. I’d avoid the rest of the line, though.

    1. Charlie says:

      By “Rambo” knife we are referring the the Ka-Bar correct?

  2. ChuckN says:

    It seems Fairbain and Sykes had a pretty good handle on the
    ideal commando knife.

    I wonder about the “Rambo” knife. I know more than a few
    who had one or something larger but it was always used like
    a short machete. Everyone still carried a kabar or dagger for
    fighting. Maybe this was just more of an Army thing.

  3. Aharon says:

    The only people I know who carry Rambo knives are actors and mall ninjas.

  4. Out_Fang_Thief says:

    Rambo knife: Any generic knife purposely made to look good on camera.
    Cinematic awesomeness almost never follows function, or even utility.
    A former girlfriend bought me one of the Rambo knives for my birthday,
    I don’t remember which Rambo, just because I mentioned how awesome
    it looked…on film. Chicks, go figure. It’s still hanging around somewhere.

  5. Sam L. says:

    I read somewhere, (IIRC, it was Col. Applegate) that the F-S suffers two faults–it doesn’t index to the hand (can’t easily tell by feel where the edges are directed), and the stick tang is too narrow and weak. Always thought I might like to have one, and always passed on it. Got a Gerber Mark II back in the late ’60s.

    1. Chris Dumm says:

      Gerbers were indeed legendary blades back then. They were even damned good in the 1980s.

      1. NavyRetGold says:

        I bought a Gerber Fast Draw a couple years ago, and about the only difference between it and a bag of shit was the bag. The SOG Flash II that I sharpened for a friend seemed to also come from that same bag. I also bought a Gerber Icon, and while it was better than the Fast Draw, its a long way from being a good EDC or tactical carry. I’m done with Gerber. I’m not even gonna start with SOG. Maybe SOG’s fixed blades are more reliable than their folders but I’m not going to pay money to find out. Agree with you on the vintage Gerbers being good. I have a set of steak knives and a carving set from the ’70s that were wonderful, worth every penny and more, and they still see use on special occasions.

  6. Tim G says:

    The Randall dive knife is my personal favorite.

  7. Gaston Louis says:

    I have the larger 10″ blade Rambo Mission made by Lile, and this larger knife is an excellent survival knife, not intended for military use where chopping, notching and shelter building are not really what is required: Military use emphasizes prying or stabbing.

    Interesting point the SEAL makes about the dagger’s handle-up carry, to still be able to draw with the arms pressed against the chest…: Simple yet non-intuitive…

    The Seki-made SOG desert dagger is a good dagger (6.5″ not 6″) if the original dull edges are heavily re-profiled by a professional, but as it is, it comes quite dull, if pointy… The older Gerber Mark IIs, or the special editions, have thinner zero edges that are far superior in cutting ability to any of the Seki-made daggers: This superiority includes the similar Gerber Guardian serie, but the handle on those seems much less well designed and secure to me.

    The grip on the SOG desert dagger is indeed excellent, but the sharpness cannot compare at all to a good Mark II, though the point is less fragile. I consider the special variants of Gerber daggers (Limited editions with sandpaper-like gray grips and zero edges) to be the superior daggers for combat, due to their superior as-delivered edge performance, and superior grip.


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Navy SEAL Rorke Denver: I Carried SOG Knives

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