SOG Aegis Mini

   08.07.13

There are very few knives out there that have the fanatical devotion and time in the spotlight like the SOG Flash I.  Thanks in large part to Nutnfancy, the SOG Flash I is something of a benchmark, a knife all other EDC knives are judged against.  When the single most popular gear reviewer on the planet says, “This is my favorite knife”, things change.  But for all its acclaim, I found the Flash I to be cramped, sloppy, and underwhelming for the money.  In many ways, the Aegis Mini is the knife folks think the Flash I is.

Description

The Aegis Mini has what I think of as the knife design golden proportions–a 7 inch overall knife with a 3 inch blade and a 4 inch handle.  The knife sells for around $50, and is a medium sized — nothing “Mini” here, except for its staggeringly low weight. (As it turns out I’d like an even smaller version of this knife, something in the 2.5 inch range).  The entire knife weighs 2 ounces.  When you first get it and pick it up you will be amazed.   A knife this size, according to that part of your brain devoted to blades (which is pretty big if you are bothering to read this) will tell you this knife should weigh around 3 to 4 ounces.  The 2 ounce weight is simply amazing. 

The handles are FRN or FRN-equivalent material.  The knife’s blade is made of AUS 8 steel.  The lock is a housed Arc lock (as opposed to the exposed and ambidextrous Arc lock on knives like the Vulcan Mini).  The blade is a classic drop point shape with a full flat grind.  The clip is a deep carry, over the top of the pocket clip.  This knife is an assisted opener using the SOG Assist Technology.  It deploys via thumb studs.  The knife also has a safety switch which, so far as I can tell, is as useful as your appendix, coccyx, or another vestigial organ in the human body.

Testing

The Aegis Mini was an easy pocket companion thanks to its stellar weight.  During the time I was testing the knife it did the slew of normal EDC tasks–opening packages, cutting string off my shirts, slicing my son a piece of cheese.  It excelled at most of these tasks as the flat grind and thin stock make it a wicked slicer. 

The clamshells weren’t a problem, per se, but they did cause a little flex in the blade–nothing of concern, just a little more than I like to see.  The Aegis Mini also helped with fire prep.  We have a fire pit in the backyard, and my son is a huge fan of S’Mores, or more precisely their ingredients as he refused to eat the whole thing together.  This gave me an great chance to do some cutting. 

We had some maple scraps laying around, rock maple, and I created a nice bed of shavings.  After that I used the Aegis to debark some rougher logs.  Finally, a few quick slices helped me produce a needle-like roasting stick.  In these heavier duty tasks, the Aegis Mini did okay.  The debarking, which was totally unnecessary, but a realistic semi-prying task, caused some serious flexing and movement in the lock.  This was probably the closest I got to a real problem.  The fuzz sticks and roasting sticks however turned out fantastic as the razor like edge of the Aegis threw shavings fast and furious.

Design

Your going to find reviews were people complain about the “plastic” handle and the AUS-8 steel.  I like G10 and I like high-end handle materials, but in this role, an EDC knife, the FRN-like material works very well.  It is plenty grippy and tough, but the real benefit is the insane weight savings.  That alone makes the Aegis Mini a real contender. 

AUS-8 steel is a medium performance steel in the marketplace today.  It takes a very good edge, but does not hold it as long as other steels and it is slightly more rust prone than say VG-10 another mid-market steel. 

The thumb studs are okay, as are almost all thumb studs.  The SAT opening is entirely unnecessary.  I get that people like them and assisted knives sell incredibly well, but they are just wholly unnecessary.  Properly made manual knives are as fast as assisted openers, have less parts to fail and weigh you down, and run into none of the fear factor issues that an assisted opener does.

Implementation

The years of reviewing knives has proven to me that SOG’s grinds are as good as it gets in the production world, and the full flat grind on the drop point blade is great.  The stock is thin to begin with, but the grind just hogs out the material until you are left with a potently keen edge. 

The satin finish is okay, but below the standards of the higher end SOG knives like the Vulcan Mini.  This is not a Seki City made blade and you can tell.  In slicing cuts the Aegis’s blade shape and grind work very, very well.  In more chopping style cuts, the thin stock makes you hesitate a bit.  It never fails, but it was a little too strained under loads.

The fit and finish is fine overall, with two notable issues.  First, the SAT mechanism always introduces a little blade play.

IMG_0017

The Twitch I reviewed had it.  The Flash I I reviewed had it.  And the Aegis Mini has it.  The Aegis had the least amount of blade play, but it was still there.  This is not an audible clicking noise or even a visual amount of blade play, but it is something you can feel.  There is very little of the easier to fix, side-to-side blade play, but there is noticeable up and down travel.  Adjusting the pivot won’t fix the issue. 

The second problem I had was with the pocket clip.  It tended to sway side to side when it was in the pocket, swinging a little like a pendulum when there was pressure placed on it.  This has to do with the fact that there is only one attachment point and the metal clip is seated in a plastic handle providing little rigidity.  Neither of these issues are major problems, but they are noteworthy.

Function

The knife carries very well, as you can imagine.  The deep carry clip, even with a bit of wiggle, drops the blade far into your pocket.

IMG_0019

It also holds the knife snug.  The knife’s shape helps, but really this is all about weight.  Nothing you can do to a design improves carry more than shaving weight, and this thing is featherlight.

Deployment is fast and loud thanks to the SAT.  The Aegis Mini also has much easier to access thumbstuds than the cramped Flash I does.  I have never accidentally deployed it or the Flash I that I tested, leading me to believe that the lock is placed there for the benefit of others, not the knife user.  As far as assisted opening systems go, the SAT is good, but I just find all of them to be an unnecessary addition.  Good design and fit and finish can made a manual just as fast.

The lock here is a housed Arc lock.  It held fast and firm, was easy to disengage (I quickly figured out how to do it with one hand).  There was no issue at all with the lock except for the fact that it necessitates right handed use to disengage it one handed.

I liked the knife in the hand.  It cut well and stayed put.

IMG_0049

It did feel a little flexible in high effort cuts, and the jimping is mostly for show (especially on the bottom of the handle).  I wish the choil was more refined, but it was not bad at all.  In all, this is a much better knife in the hand than the very similar and much more praised Flash I.

Conclusion

The Aegis Mini is the knife everyone thinks or wants the Flash I to be.  As a light to medium duty EDC, you will be hard pressed to find a lighter option in this price range. 

The Al Mar Ultralight series has similar materials without the gee whiz assisted opener for even less weight, but they are two to three times the cost. 

The blade play and clip wiggle are something to be aware of but are not deal breakers. 

This is an average knife, really, until you factor in the incredible weight. The weight is what makes the Aegis Mini special and worthy of your consideration.  If you plan on doing very little chopping or prying with your EDC knife (and really you should not do those things with a small folding knife), the thin stock won’t bother you.  I’d love to see this knife without the SAT as it would be even lighter, but alas market forces conspire against my preferences in this regard.  It is also the lightest knife among its price and size competitors (the Spyderco Delica, the Kershaw Skyline, and the Benchmade Mini Grip).  Among those four the differences really come down to preference as none of them make huge mistakes.  That is pretty elite company in this part of the market.

Read More