Friday, November 14, 2014

Review: SOG Bladelight

 As first published on RecoilWeb ....

My love for gadgets is well known, and I try to lean towards the useful over the peculiar, the multi-functional over the one-trick-pony,   so when I got the chance to fool around with this new offering from SOG Knives, I jumped at it.

This is the BladeLight, from SOG. From just looking at it, you might be forgiven in thinking that it was a fairly standard dive-knife looking blade.

Its glass reinforced nylon handle, and high-sheen 9Cr18MoV blade don't really stand out, although the clear acrylic hand guard and tail-cap ring do add a certain "future-blade" look, they don't really betray the blades secret arsenal until you look a little closer and see that mounted at the very neck of the blade are six white LED's!

Mounted three to a side, these lights issue a mild 25 Lumen output, from the single AA battery that mounts in the body of the handle but the placement, and clever design of the sheath means that the light is right on target, where you need it.

The hard molded sheath features a button release, but will also allow a hard-pull draw, but most importantly, has six cut-outs, to allow the LED's to be used whilst the blade is sheathed, in "flashlight mode.

With belt loops, as well as a hefty built-in belt clip, the knife as a whole can be used as a flashlight without waving a blade around in peoples faces, be it camp-site, or road-side.
The LED's are activated by a stiff push-button mounted on the tail cap, and via some clever engineering the LED's back-scatter some light through the blade and illuminate the acrylic ring that circles the base. The battery is fitted by unscrewing the tail-cap.

The whole knife is IPX-7 rating for water resistance to full immersion for 30 minutes at a depth of 1 meter. Perhaps not a dive-knife, but certainly fit for water-borne activities and other wet tasks.

My thoughts immediately went to dressing game. I've only needed to field dress game a couple of times in the dark, but it wasn't a lot of fun, and I can imagine that having a light that IS my knife, would have made that messy task just a little easier.
With slight jimping along the back, and the molded grips set into the glass reinforced nylon handle, this blade is a little on the free-and-easy in the hand, I prefer something with a bit more grip to it, especially if I am going to be doing something slick and messy.

The blade also doesn't feature a full tang, and as a result, is both very light (to the point of feeling a bit effete) and also having a weird balance. I don't tend to go for big knives (if you can put aside my KA-BAR Zombie Killer collection), but this knife just doesn't have the heft I wold have expected for its size.  At 28.7cm (11.3") overall, with 14.5cm (5.7") of blade, this piece weighs only 201g (7.10oz).
Its an elegant looking piece, well matched to its sheath and well thought out.  The sheath offers a selection of pretty standard mounting options, with rivet holes as well as belt loops top and bottom,

A nice afterthought is the little removable nylon pouch, which came with spare batteries for the LED's, but could easily be re-fitted with a stone, compass or other survival kit.

I used the knife as my fire-side cooking knife a few times, to get a feel for how well the LED's illuminate, not only where I was going, and what I was doing, but also to see how much of a help it was when I was right up in the fire, or in fact, carving.

For both at-the-coals work, where smoke and heat may make it difficult to check how things are going, and back at the camp-table where carving and jointing needs to happen quickly and neatly, I found the LED's to work just fine, in or out of its sheath. The chickens and rabbits I roasted turned out a treat, and having those twin sets of LED's running right down the blade meant I had zero guesswork about how the meat was done, or where fiddly joints sat. I even stabbed the blade into a log for a little area illumination as I moved the coals about.

Its a bit gimicky, but it's certainly well put together and thought out. For the light use I put it through, the SOB BladeLight did exactly what I expected of it, and did so admirably.

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