As I’ve said in the past, I’m a knife snob. I like high-end, over-built, prohibitively expensive blades. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I can’t afford to splurge on luxury automobiles or vacation homes that I choose to spend big bucks on blades. After all, a man has to have his hobbies.
My dad knows I like knives and guns. He’s not really a “gun guy” or a “knife guy.” He is more of a “book guy” or “computer guy” (that’s not to say that one can’t be a combination of two, or really all four for that matter). For my birthday, which was a few weeks ago — thanks to James M. and the other GunsAmerica readers who wished me a happy bday — my dad bought me a SOG Micron II pocketknife.
I decided I’d share my thoughts on this little nifty keychain knife, despite the fact that it’s really something I would never buy myself. I’ll get into it more in a second, but in a nutshell, it’s a $25 knife that looks and feels like a $25 knife.
Product type: folding knife
Finish: hardcased black
Blade shape: tanto
Edge type: straight
Blade steel type: 420
Hardness rc.: 51-53
Overall length: 5”
Closed length: 2.75″
Product weight: 1.40 oz
Blade length: 2.25″
Blade thickness: 0.05″
Before I get to the knife, a little bit about SOG Speciality Knives, Inc. SOG’s been around since 1986 and they’ve built their reputation on producing knives for elite military units, most notably the United States Navy SEALs. The obvious sales pitch being: if it’s good enough for the warrior class, it’s good enough for Joe consumer. And there’s no doubt that it’s worked over the years. With over 200 employees, SOG is one of the bigger knife manufacturers around.
In full disclosure, one of the first knives I bought was a SOG SEAL Pup Elite, a real menacing looking knife that I think I still have today, somewhere (I’ll see if I can dig it out from wherever it might be for a review). So yes, I was sold on the SOG corporate ethos. If the SEALs have it, so must I!
Of course, SOG makes a whole bunch of other knives besides those specifically designed for combat. The Micron II being one of them. Where to begin on the Micron II? Well, aesthetically the matte black finish on the blade and handle is cool. It’s sleek looking, and functionally speaking it won’t stand out. I like the tanto-style blade, it gives it a special touch that adds to its cool factor. However, the edge — a simple flat grind — was dull. I mean, really really dull. I like my knives to be hair splitting sharp and this little blade wasn’t even close!
The stainless steel handle on the Micron II has “SOG” chiseled out on one side, which gives it a corporate flair that I just don’t care for. Plus, one could argue it weakens the integrity of the handle. At the butt of the knife, there is a hole that is aptly suited for a key ring.
Probably the best feature of the knife is its strong longback locking mechanism that locks the blade firmly into place with zero wiggle or rattle. It’s exactly what one wants in a folder, any folder regardless of the size. I’m not going to test the lock to failure, but during the light cutting, slashing (cardboard boxes), stabbing and prying I did with the Micron II it held up nicely.
The Micron II is not a primary utility knife. I’d argue that it’s too small, too weak of a knife to sustain day-to-day use in any real or demanding capacity. In other words, I wouldn’t depend on it for all the tasks one typically needs a knife for: hunting, camping, backpacking, kitchen work, tactical endeavors, search and rescue, industrial use, self-defense.
What it is then, is a backup knife, a keychain knife, a novelty knife; a knife that is there for menial, non-demanding tasks: cutting tags off of clothes, slicing tape on cardboard boxes, removing plastic wrap from stuff wrapped in plastic, etc. It’s there in a pinch, and because of its conceal-ability and diminutive size, it’s easy to carry on one’s person in any number of ways: around the neck, in a pocket, on a keychain, in a purse (or man bag), in a backpack, in a glovebox.
You know, they always say that the best knife is the one you have on you and because the Micron II is so easy to carry, well, there’s a good chance that it’ll be on you when you need a knife. Just don’t expect it to perform as well as your main every day carry knife.
Well, there’s no other way to say it, but 420 is cheap steel. To SOG’s credit, it’s not something they hide from consumers. In their Buyer’s Guide, they rank their steels in three categories: “Good,” “Better,” and “Best.” 420 falls into the “good” category, which contains the following description:
These entry-level, rust-resistant stainless steels are typically made in Asia and offer good value. Compared to higher grades, they tend to be softer and require more frequent sharpening to maintain the best performance, but do adequately hold an edge. Examples: 420, 440A, 7CR13MOV.
Now, let’s be real and fair, at the $25 price point one shouldn’t expect premium steel. You should expect steel that will need frequent maintenance and upkeep, and with the Micron II, that’s what you get.
Another drawback that I experienced when carrying the knife on my keychain is that it deployed when I pulled it out of the pocket of my hooded sweatshirt. I don’t know how it happened, I’ll I know is that I was getting the mail and as I turned the key to unlock the mailbox I was poked in the hand by the tip of the knife. Good thing it’s as dull as it is, otherwise I’m sure I would have been cut. While there is a thumbnail groove on the blade to help one open it, I’d argue that the knife really takes two hands to open, but that said, the fact that it opened on its own while being drawn from a pocket suggests that it opens too easily. Maybe it was an aberration, but if it happens again I’m taking it off my keychain.
Now, I guess I can also complain about the factory edge and how dull it is. I kinda already did. I’ve noticed this problem not just with SOG but with a bunch of other knife manufacturers. I would say that more often than not I’m underwhelmed with the sharpness of new knives I purchase. It’s an easy fix, obviously. You just sharpen it. But I’m wondering if you’ve experienced this same phenomenon? Why do knife makers send out dull blades?
I always bring up the company warranty when discussing knives. I think it illustrates how much faith the manufacturer puts in their products. An obvious rule of thumb, the better the warranty, the better the product. SOG states the following:
All SOG products are guaranteed against defects in workmanship and materials for the life of the original purchaser. This guarantee is voided (as determined by SOG) by misuse, abuse, improper maintenance, or alterations of the product and does not cover any normal wear or tear that might occur. Using your SOG folding blade or fixed blade knife for any purpose other than cutting or puncturing is considered abuse and may void your warranty.
They then give these examples of non-warranted items:
“Rusted/spotted/stained blades or handles (coated or not), broken or bent knife tips, worn tool components, dull/chipped knife blades, scratched blade/tool coatings, worn/loose Kraton slabs, sheaths and pouches (if brand new sheaths are determined to be defective they are replaced separately from the knife/tool), and broken/lost thumb studs.”
I’ll let you make of it what you will.
I suppose I’ve been a bit hard on the Micron II. But all things considered, it’s not a bad buy. I looked on Amazon, and the Micron II retails there for around $12. I don’t know what my dad paid for it, but for $12 — probably with shipping and taxes it’s closer to $18 — it’s not going to break the bank. Would I buy it, which is the quintessential question that a reviewer addresses (often tacitly)? No. As I mentioned, I’m a knife snob. That said, I’m not going to re-gift mine or give it away. I’ll hang onto this little nifty knife, both for sentimental value and the fact that, who knows, it may come in real handy one day.
I should also say that my critical review shouldn’t turn you away from SOG. They got some pretty cool knives that I’d really like to get my hands on. And if I find my SEAL Pup Elite, I’ll write up an overview on that as well.