SOG’s Micron II: $25 Keychain Knife

The SOG Micron II on my keychain.  It's heavy enough to notice, but not too heavy where it becomes a pain.

The SOG Micron II on my keychain. It’s heavy enough to notice, but not too heavy where it becomes a pain.

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.

Specs:

MSRP: $25.00
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″

Overview

What the MIcron II looks like in the hand.  Trust me, it's a small knife!

What the Micron II looks like in the hand. Trust me, it’s a small knife!

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!

A shot of the tanto-style blade.  Note the jimping on the spine to improve grip.

A shot of the tanto-style blade. Note the jimping on the spine to improve grip.

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.

"SOG" skeletonized in the handle.  Not a big fan of it, but whatever.

“SOG” skeletonized in the handle. Not a big fan of it, but whatever.

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.

Utility

Spine shot.  It's thin.  Don't want to stress this baby too much.  But the locking mechanism is great, strong -- no wiggle!

Spine shot. It’s thin. Don’t want to stress this baby too much. But the locking mechanism is great, strong — no wiggle!

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.

Drawbacks

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.

Like I said, it accidentally deployed when I pulled it from the pocket in my hooded sweatshirt.  Was it merely a one-time fluke?  Time will tell.

Like I said, it accidentally deployed when I pulled it from the pocket in my hooded sweatshirt. Was it merely a one-time fluke? Time will tell.

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?

Warranty

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.

The Micron II.

The Micron II.

Conclusion

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.

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Theotis November 21, 2015, 4:18 pm

    If you want to keep your knife & not lose it, you would be advised to get a better ring to attach it to your key chain. The thin wire ring you are using in the pictures is usually passed out when you purchase duplicate keys & is not designed for long term use. The wire in those rings is thin & soft and will stretch out, allowing anything on them to separate from the key chain. I’m speaking from 25 years experience as a locksmith.

  • ArvadaDude November 21, 2015, 12:39 am

    I have the EVEN cheaper SOG keychain knife that looks like a key… bought it at wal-mart for like $8. I love it. It was and still is sharp out of the box, has a great lock and fits on my car keys. It cuts tape, opens letter, opens cardboard, cuts string, etc etc. Only thing I don’t like is it’s a bit on the heavy side.

    I’m glad you covered the Micron II, I was curious about it and I think the cheap knives get overlooked. I have some Emersons, a few TOPS, but I also have Cold Steel, Gerber, SOG and kershaw. None of my SOG knives have disappointed me, but… I have bought knives out of the store or online that arrived dull. I would sharpen them, then see if they hold an edge. Buck is the only brand I’m not in love with enough to buy one. I have some shrades, Old TImers, Imperials, and Case that sharpen faster and easier than Buck.

    I wouldn’t mind if I got a Buck 110 as a gift, but I don’t like sharpening them for people. I ran a knife shop for 11 years so I feel like I have a decent understanding of knives. I think the average gift this time of year is indeed a cheap knife and the sentimental value is just as important even if the knife sucks. My Dad gave me a REALLY cheap made in china clone of a Buck and I keep it proudly in my drawer, but every time I see it it makes me smile. Dad was thinking of me and my knives!

  • Geezer G November 20, 2015, 11:47 pm

    I’ve been carrying Ken Onion Kershaw’s for years and have never been disappointed. They come with an edge, keep one and sharpen nicely. Mine are all older made in USA knives and I’ve not gotten any of Ken’s creations since he paired with CRKT, so I can’t comment on current quality, but the ones from the Good old Days are excellent.

  • ted November 20, 2015, 3:31 pm

    I’m a knife guy as well, all my knives are sog and they are razor sharp.

  • wolf November 20, 2015, 11:41 am

    sir: you must be a complete idiot to have to come up with an article on a piece of junk like a kids toy!!! people that are not in the know, these things are so flimsy that you are risking a severe cut by trying to use it for anything more than a dull letter opener. cant you find something BETTER to write about??? i think you need to get out and find a real job!!!

    • James M. November 22, 2015, 8:03 pm

      Whoa, hold on. S.H.Blannelberry is responsible for a lot, and I mean a lot of articles. And not just on guns America. This was a knife given to him by his father. So I’m guessing it’s not just a solid and honest review. But one that he actually spent time trying out a product that he wouldn’t have otherwise. If you don’t like the article, find another. Oh wait, let me guess, your best friends with all the custom knife makers and were born with a one of a kind custom built knife in your hand. Bet you’ve never even touch one made in China. And I thought I was a knife snob.

  • Doug November 20, 2015, 10:39 am

    I had a SOG Micro (original) on my keychain about ten years ago. TSA decided it was a dangerous weapon and confiscated it – ignoring my arguments that I could find a dozen things on the aircraft that would be more dangerous as a weapon than a 1.5″ blade….

  • frank November 20, 2015, 6:45 am

    Why is it the first thing I have to do is put a edge on a new knife. The only exception is the busse team gemini and my combat. God I loves these knifes. Worth the wait and get on the email list for specials, every dollars counts at these prices

  • Edward Roberson November 20, 2015, 4:07 am

    On the dull knife subject: I was recently in the market for a small sized fixed blade to use as a work knife. I wanted a fixed blade that was about the size of a pocket sized folder, about 3″ blade, 6″ to 6-1/2″ overall. I settled on a Swamp Rat Rodent 3. It came to me literally as dull as a butter knife. I sent it back and decided to try a Cold Steel Mini Pendleton, the same thing happened. I finally got an ESEE 3 that came sharp. Yeah, the simple answer would be to sharpen it, but I expect a knife to be sharp when it’s delivered. The Swamp Rat was a 6 week wait. Cold Steel brags about the sharpness of their knives right out of the box, why should I sharpen something like this?

  • James M. November 18, 2015, 7:32 pm

    I’m a knife snob myself. But only because I grew up around blacksmiths, and learned at an early age the value of quality steel and the experience that molds it. I’ve carried a benchmade presido for over 10 years as my daily carry. And have tried countless others from ZT/Al Mar, cold steel, Emerson, etc. But to me nothing comes close to benchmade for the money. I also sharpen knives for friends and family. Kick myself every time I put a nice edge on then weeks later they send it back looking like it a serrated. Another thing is ther is no such thing as too many knives. I usually pass the ones out that don’t “make the cut”. And have gifted many a nice knife that just wasn’t me.

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