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SOG Knives Trident Elite Folder Review

“To each his (or her) own,” is one of the most applicable phrases you can find when it comes to selecting ANY defense or utility tool.  Virtually everyone has different preferences.  That said, SOG Knives makes a selection from which almost anyone should be able to find a knife that fits their preferences.  For me, the Trident Elite comes pretty close (for a folding knife).

The ONLY thing I don’t care for on this design is the deep pocket carry clip.  That’s not to say that there is anything wrong with such and, in fact, I know a bunch of folks (uniformed and otherwise) who prefer the deep pocket carry for a variety of reasons.  I have trouble getting a good grip on it and an easy draw from the pocket with deep carry positioning.  So, my personal preference is for a knife that rides just a bit higher in the pocket.  Again, that’s not a negative statement about the knife or the design; just my personal preference.

With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the knife specifications and potential for utility as well as rescue use.

The blade is 3.7” long and of clip point design.  There are no serrations on the straight edge and the blade is finished in Black Tini.  SOG also makes a Trident Elite with a satin finish blade should you prefer that.  Made from AUS-8 stainless steel, the blade has a Rockwell Hardness rating of RC 56-58 which is good for a utility/rescue blade (in my opinion) and is .12” thick.  While that might seem a bit on the slim side, we have to remember that this IS a folding blade and any added thickness in the blade adds not only weight but bulk – neither of which is desirable in a folding knife.

Closed the knife is 4.8” long which is fairly standard for a folding knife of this type.  Locked open its overall length is 8.7”.  Given that the blade is 3.7” long and the knife grips/handles are 4.8” long, if you do the math you find out that there’s only .2” of added (wasted) steel.  That’s pretty good as many folding knifes have as much as .5” of added length when folded open.  The knife’s weight is 4.4 ounces – barely over a quarter pound.

The knife is of assisted-opening design and it opens with authority once you get it started far enough.  The thumb-stud for pushing it open is ambidextrous and the grips are mirror-image so opening it with either hand feels the same and requires the same motions.  The only differences when comparing each side of the blade are:

  • The clip – which is not reversible as best I can tell.  The knife is set up to be carried right handed, below the belt (pants pockets).
  • The safety/lock – which is on the opposite side of the knife from the clip (or what I refer to as the “inside” because when the knife is clipped into your pocket, that’s the side against your body).

The locking system, although not named or specified by SOG, is what I’ve come to know as the Axis locking system.  The release is just forward of the safety/lock and also on the inside of the knife.  The grips are made from glass reinforced nylon with a rubber overmold and there is a glass-breaking tip built into the knife’s front end, just forward of the pivot pin.

The last feature I’d like to call your attention to is the groove that is manufactured into the grips which allows a portion of the main blade to be used as a rescue cutter while the knife is folded closed.  We should all be familiar with the safety benefits of tools specifically designed for cutting webbing, strings, etc.  Those safety benefits are often (always?) lost if you perform those cutting chores with a knife that is folded open – or with a fixed blade knife.  With the design of the Trident Elite, you can perform those cutting chores safely, without having to fold the knife open.  In fact, if you fold the knife open, that groove becomes nothing more than an identifying characteristic in the handles.

Now, on to the performance testing…

As is my usual modus operandi when testing a knife, I headed out back to my shed to see what I could find to test this knife’s cutting abilities with.  Along the way I remembered that SOG Knives originally designed the Trident series with work on or near the water in mind, so a high resistance to corrosion should be one of the key features.  With that in mind, I postponed cutting tests until after I’d let the knife sit in a bucket of salt water for about a week.  Then I took it out and let it sit on my shed’s work bench to dry… and potentially rust.

After a week in the water and a week of drying without any maintenance, oiling, etc. the knife didn’t show any signs of corrosion or rusting that I could find.  Happy with that, I went about collecting my assortment of stuff to be cut… if the knife would.  The list included:

  • Fishing line
  • String
  • Twine
  • Rope (that ugly ½” yellow plastic crap)
  • Rope (1/2” cotton weave)
  • Nylon webbing (1”)

One thing I discovered that I hadn’t paid attention to prior to the cut tests:  The opening on the rescue groove of the knife is 3/8”.  While the open knife had no issues at all cutting the two types of ½” rope that I pulled out, the rope obviously wasn’t going to fit into the rescue groove to test cutting it in that fashion.  So, in addition to the other materials I had I also pulled out several lengths of 550 cord (paracord) and cut it up as well.

The rescue cutter works well and is one of the strongest reasons I can see for using the safety/lock on the knife.  While having to disengage that lock might slow you down if you’re deploying this knife as a defense tool, that lock HAS to be locked if you’re going to use the knife as a rescue cutter.  Otherwise, if what you’re cutting is rough to cut and puts enough pressure on the knife edge, what you get is the knife being pushed open.  Now, even if you don’t cut the material AT ALL and the blade is pushed toward opening, it can only be pushed to the limit of the rescue groove and that IS NOT far enough to get the assisted opening feature engaged.  In other words, using the rescue cutter feature without the safety lock engaged WILL NOT result in the knife being pushed open in your hand.  Now for that legal caveat:  That statement is based on my testing and experience and is not a guarantee.  I strongly recommend that you keep the safety lock engaged and simply train to disengage it before opening the knife.

MSRP for this knife on the SOG Knives webpage is $96.  A quick Google search revealed several places selling the knife for as low as $69.95 so do your research if you’re in the market for one.

Stay safe!