(1/25/11) Once again another brilliant review by Patrick R. from Kansas. Thank you Patrick.
SOG Field Pup Knife
I received a SOG Field Pup as a gift a couple years ago. At the time I did not have a hunting knife, so fit the bill perfectly. I’ve had plenty of time to get to know this knife in the intervening time.
The Field Pup consists of a 4″ AUS-8 slightly recurved blade with a full tang covered by a Kraton handle. The Kraton is a firm, yet soft feeling synthetic material that is present in abundance with this handle. It fills out the hand very well, and with the finger grooves on the underside, it sits in the hand comfortably. A lanyard hole is present in the end of the handle, so a paracord lanyard can be attached to wrap around your wrist for extra security.
The blade is 4″ of AUS-8 stainless steel with a slightly recurved belly and aggressive jimping on the thumb ramp. Your thumb will not slip off of this area, and it may even be aggressive enough to tear up a glove. AUS-8 is an entry-level steel that used to be top-notch… over a decade ago. It is easy to sharpen, but it’s edge retention depends completely on how it is heat treated. SOG is known for doing a good job with AUS-8, and it seems to be the primary steel for most of their knives. However, it’s performance is easily overshadowed by newer steels that are almost as easy to sharpen but are tougher and have better edge retention, such as ATS-34, 154CM and s30v. For basic steels, 154CM is far superior.
The particular knife I received must have been missed by quality control, as the AUS-8 simply does not perform to the level I expect of AUS-8. My son has a Benchmade mini Griptillian with a blade of 440C stainless steel, which is supposed to be comparable to AUS-8. SOG’s reputation with AUS-8 means these steels should perform about the same. The Benchmade knife outperformed this knife in almost everything, and it was a folder with a smaller blade! The Field Pup had the advantage when it came to anything requiring a fixed blade knife, obviously, but the blade suffered.
My other fixed blade knife — my Gerber Freeman s30V knife — is light years beyond the Field Pup in steel quality and toughness. However, my Field Pup is more comfortable in the hand due to the Kraton grip that gets grippier when wet instead of slicker like the Gerber’s stag handle. While my Gerber could completely process two deer before needing to be resharpened, the Field Pup only made it through two back quarters before it needed to hit the Spyderco Sharpmaker again.
I don’t abuse my knives, as they are cutting tools and not axes, saws, or machetes. Still, my Field Pup has nicks in the blade instead of areas where the edge has rolled over. This should not happen with AUS-8. I should be able to make a fuzz stick for starting a fire without worrying about the blade. I should be able to whittle slivers off a log or branch without having to resharpen every 10 cuts or so. Not so with my Field Pup.
The leather/kydex sheath is nothing special, but it is very functional. It holds the knife securely even without a snap. The kydex ”clamp” along the edge of the sheath holds the leather together with three rivets. A generous belt loop makes it a breeze to get on and off of your belt. Since I received my knife, I believe SOG has switched to a nylon sheath for this knife.
What I like:
I love the handle. It is very comfortable, fills the hand well, and is very grippy, even when wet with water or blood. The pseudo-guard on the front of the handle keeps your index finger from slipping forward onto the blade. The jimping on the thumb ramp is very aggressive, making the likelihood or your thumb slipping very remote.
What I don’t like:
The blade. The performance of the steel was sub-par, not only compared to my “snob steel” expectations, but also to what AUS-8 is supposed to be capable of. I don’t know if my knife received a poor heat treat or what, but it should have performed as well or better than 440C steel. The bevel was incredibly uneven and the knife did not arrive razor sharp like knives are supposed to.
Ideally, SOG would make the Field Pup with at least 154CM, if not D2 for the blade. This would elevate the Field Pup to a whole new level of usability, both for camp and for hunting. As it is, I wouldn’t recommend it for a knife unless you are on an incredibly small budget and are very good at sharpening knives. For just $15 more, a better knife can be found that will perform better.
Manufacturer’s Specs for SOG’s Pup Knife:
- Blade length: 4 inches x .13 inches
- Overall length: 8.5 inches
- Weight: 4 ounces
- Edge: Straight
- Steel: AUS 8
- Rockwell Hardness: HRC 57-58 (Typical of a tool steel)
- Handle: Kraton
- Finish: Satin
- Sheath: Nylon