SOG is generally known for making high-performance products based on better engineering and moderately priced materials. The locking mechanism of the TF-3 is an example of better engineering. My tests with this particular locking mechanism confirmed the high performance aspect. It operated smoothly, even in a downpour, and after being subjected to fairly harsh cleaning chemicals. The SOG is for the intelligent user. The blade takes an edge readily, which is what well-treated AUS-8 is known for. Unlike some steels, this knife can be honed to an ultra fine edge. However, repeated cutting of the manila rope and cutting timber wore it down, after a lot more cutting than expected for this test. The blade took a razor sharp edge with a diamond hone.
Bear in mind that proper heat treatment and steel temper are two different things. A blade can be tempered to a high hardness and make a rather useless knife. For example, it could have a hard edge and be so brittle that a little flex will break the blade. AUS-8 requires the proper attention to make a cost-effective steel into an excellent tactical blade. It is a common tool steel. SOG happens to give it optimum treatment, which really makes a difference in its ability to sharpen well.
AUS-8 is gaining a reputation for EDK (everyday carry) knives. CRKT is another company that has elevated AUS-8 (and its cousin 8Cr14MoV) steel. I have tested several M21 Series knives previously and they outperformed expectations, especially considering the cost. Our tests of the TF-3 found that the blade popped out smoothly, but the safety was hard to find and manipulate. The Arc-Actuator locking mechanism is not ambidextrous but it operated smoothly and locked solidly.
We put the TF-3 on patrol and its weight and balance was perfect. SOG uses a unique pocket clip that allows the knife to ride deep in the pocket without compromising deployment, even with gloves.
The SOG TF-3 will give the officer plenty of service for a small investment.
Spyderco Paramilitary 2: The game changer
When I selected the Spyderco Paramilitary 2 (C81GPBK2), it was because, like many officers whose career was in the ’90s, I had an Endura. Not the one in the current catalog, but the one with the moulded pocket clip. It still is clipped to the inside pocket of my wife’s purse. They were great knives when I started my LE career working in the jail. I got it when I was (OK, I admit it) a fire fighter.
The Spyderco Paramilitary 2 (C81GPBK2) resembles early models, but this is an elegant, refined piece. In fact, it is a Ferrari among Chevies in the world of working knives. During our tests, the Spyderco Paramilitary 2 cut, hacked, deployed and balanced in a manner that completely outstripped its size and weight. It uses CPM-S30V steel, a micrograin structure steel known for toughness, or resistance to chipping and breaking. It has a high resistance to corrosion and excellent edge holding characteristics. The Paramilitary 2 blade has the Spyderco Trademark Round Hole, which makes it a quick opener and adds to hand protection.
Of all the things the Paramilitary 2 does, it reigns supreme in handling. It has linen textured G10 scales, which encompass the entire metal frame. The hand only touches G10, which has a cat’s tongue feel to it. Funny, the Paramilitary 2 has a unique feel when opening. The blade is suspended in a cut out frame, which is the easiest design to clean and maintain. There is a detent or resistant feel when one puts the blade in motion, a deliberate feature. The blade swings through its arc in concert with the thumb that moves it, silently. This is not an assisted-opening knife, although one would easily believe it is.
The Paramilitary 2 has a locking mechanism that looks like a liner lock except it actuates on the spine side of the knife, not where the blade closes. It seemed sturdier and smoother than similar designs. Anyone who picked it up couldn’t put it down, including me. It also has a unique feel in the hand, not just the balance but the fact that if someone tossed you a closed one, it could be oriented in the hand immediately, even when wearing gloves.
The knife excelled in cutting tests, didn’t slip in the palm, and its skateboard deck grip feel just about wore out my hands.
The canoe-like pommel on aids in the variety of hand positions one may use here. The top and the bottom of the blade have jimping, which let the user work up close or with a full hammer grip. The lightweight knife could hack and slash like a larger fixed blade, yet it is lightweight enough for EDK. In fact, I ran a few miles and rode over a hundred miles with this one clipped in my shorts.