Gear The SOG Blade Light Aaron Cowan January 9, 2015 Join the Conversation When I was 12 years old I wanted a SOG SEAL Pup because I imagined that’s what SEALS used to cut steak and necks. I can’t remember if Charlie Sheen used one in the movie Navy SEALs but I know if I handed him one today he might use it to bang out a line of…well, maybe not wise to be handing him knives. Anyway, when I was 12, SOG knives were The Awesome. The epitome of everything a knife should be. If there were people being dispatched by blade in the name of freedom anywhere in the world in the 1990’s, it was a SOG knife and Kenny Loggins was probably on the soundtrack, at least that’s how I thought it went. I never got the SEAL Pup, or any SOG knife. Never once owned a SOG product until I opened a package sent for review; inside was the SOG Bladelight Tactical. My first thought – Seriously, what the hell? This is a fixed blade utility knife with an OAL of 9.2”, a blade of 4.5.” The steel makeup is 8CR13MOV, which is a high-end budget steel that many knife makers use. It comes with a GF nylon sheath that has a built in sharpener, precision cutting notch for cutting while the knife is still sheathed and attached to your belt/gear via a belt clip. That’s all pretty standard fare. The knife also takes a single AAA battery in the grip to power six tail-cap activated LEDS to provide a total output of 20 lumens for…night cutting? I have to be honest; I have never needed a knife with a light built into it. The Blade Light Tactical has six of them with a (admittedly impressive) run time of 288 minutes. But it’s still a light. On a knife. The obvious design problem is that the inclusion of a light and power source has removed the ability of a traditional full tang blade, instead the blade is anchored to a glass-reinforced nylon handle. Thus the Bladelight suffers a loss in strength for the inclusion of a device that already exists (e.g., a light) separately in numerous forms, from wrist to head mounted. The options are many. Obviously this is my biased opinion on light/knife combos but that actually isn’t my biggest problem with this knife. See, I didn’t know it was a light-knife until after I opened the package and discovered the first thing I didn’t like about it; the grip. I don’t know what material is used to make the molded grip but it has the friction consistency of a water balloon. Not-too-bad grip when dry; somewhat-to-seriously-dangerous when wet. There isn’t much of a blade guard to speak of except for a shallow quillon that is made of the same material as the hilt itself. My initial impression of was that I would cut myself with it. Manifest destiny maybe, in any event that’s exactly what almost happened when I set to testing edge retention and strength. The Bladelight is ergonomic, I’ll give it that. It’s comfortable in the hand and very light. I like comfortable, but a light knife, especially in a fixed blade usually gives me pause and makes me question the strength of the knife. As the blade (at its thickest) is just shy of 4mm, the blade steel is high carbon and generally known for its strength but thickness counts from what I’ve heard so I wasn’t going to be surprised if I managed to snap the blade. Back to the lights; SOG specifies they are for use with night vision. Okay, I get the idea; red light preserves night vision but their description says “for use with night vision optics” and I have to say, doing much of anything at arm’s length in Sam Fisher mode is aggravating. I usually just flip the NODS up and do it old school because refocusing is going to take time I’m not willing to dedicate to the task. Can you do it? Sure. Has there been a huge cry from the cutting-things-with-night-vision-on community for such a knife? I don’t think so. Night vision also has a built in illuminator (most models, anyway) that illuminate where you are looking/cutting if you need the extra light (and it has the added advantage of being IR, not visible light). So, if you wanted to do some surreptitious blade work, you technically don’t need knife headlights. For those without night vision, the blade lights could certainly come in handy if you wanted to preserve your dark adapted peepers and still get some cuttin’ done, so there is that. To the testing; the blade ships arm-shaving sharp. 8CR13MOV is known for taking and holding a sharp edge, which is what I was hoping for. Cutting various fabric presented no issues and the relative thinness of the blade made piercing even layered cardboard much easier than some other knives. The Bladelight doesn’t have much of an ass behind it; it weighs just over 4 ounces, which limits some of the velocity and leverage you can generate with it. It also presented me with a near-miss due to the handle slickness and some quick downward motions against mattress fabric. I didn’t cut myself, but my hand slipped enough that it could have happened had I used a little more force on the down swing. With a drop point design, the Bladelight is not optimal for prying, which is fine because many knives aren’t but there is an uncomfortable amount of flex in the blade that originates at the guard; you know, where the knife mates to the handle. This obvious weak point was discovered with some moderate prying force and I could tell it wouldn’t be hard to snap the blade at the base using more pressure. After a few minutes of pressure on the blade, the handle seam began to separate. This is obviously not a purposeful design feature. (Note – in fairness I must point out that fellow reviewer Nathan Murr did like his version of the SOG Blade Light and gave it a positive review. It's entirely possible some models are much better than others.) As a general purpose cutting knife, the Bladelight isn’t such a bad performer. It cuts, it has a built-in light and the sheath is functional. I would chalk it up to more of a light duty or hunting knife than something you should toss in a bug out bag or run on your plate carrier next to your occupationally required grenades. The grip texture and shallow guard also make me question the design. I get what SOG was trying to do, I just don’t think anyone asked them to do it. What really kills it for me is the price point; just over $100 for the Bladelight. It's made in China; for full disclosure I want the best product at a price I’m willing to pay and I’m not so Budweiser and American Flag tanktop to think that only American made products are high quality. However, this knife simply feels cheap and rushed. I see no reason why they couldn’t have produced the same product at the same price point while offering a full tang and better grip. It’s not the worst knife I’ve ever seen, but it is the most expensive bad knife I have ever used. For half the price they are asking, I would consider it a decent addition to the roadside emergency kit. For $100 I’m going to buy a roll of duct tape, a similar full tang knife made of 8CR13MOV and a small LED flashlight, combine the three and save money. Explore RECOILweb:Preview - Alexander Arms Ulfberht Semiauto .338 Lapua Liberty Ammo: Animal Instinct 30-06 SpringfieldFRAC, ASA Call-To-Action on eForm 1 SilencersFirst Look: TOPS Knives FORK NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Target Pack from RECOILFor years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. Now we've compiled over 50 of our most popular targets into this one digital PDF download. From handgun drills to AR-15 practice, these 50+ targets have you covered. Print off as many as you like (ammo not included). Click here to get IMMEDIATE ACCESS to a digital PDF of this target pack!