It’s been quite some time since SOG Specialty Knives Inc. company has ventured into the higher-end folder market. That’s all changing now.
Until now, SOG Specialty Knives Inc. has focused on the more budget-oriented segment of the market, and that’s what’s made SOG a staple in sporting goods and outdoor stores all over the world.
SOG’s very first focus was fixed blades. In 1986, founder Spencer Frazer launched his own line of tactically oriented fixed blades.
His inspiration? The knives Special Forces used in Vietnam. Since then, the company has evolved into one of the country’s largest knife companies. It makes everything from fixed blades and folders to multitools, keychain knives, and everything in between.
SOG’s most recent foray into the world of more enthusiast-oriented knives that would take on the likes of Spyderco, Benchmade, and Zero Tolerance was the SOG Terminus XR, released in 2019. That knife featured a BDZ-1 blade, attractive styling, and a new locking system for the company.
Benchmade’s patent on the lock had expired and SOG was one of many companies to produce its own slightly different version. SOG’s is called the XR Lock, and it seems poised to be a staple of the company’s folding efforts going forward.
“FOR 2020, SOG HAS UPGRADED TERMINUS XR WITH A NEW S35VN VERSION THAT IS INTENDED TO BE A SLIGHTLY LESS-EXPENSIVE ALTERNATIVE TO SOME OF THE MOST POPULAR AND WELL-REGARDED EDC KNIVES.”
For 2020, SOG has upgraded the Terminus XR with a new S35VN version. It’s a slightly less-expensive alternative to some of the most popular and well-regarded EDC (everyday carry) knives in the world.
With the price increase that comes with the upgrade in blade steel, SOG has also introduced a less-expensive version with D2 blade steel and G10 handles to fill that gap. The Terminus XR S35VN has an MSRP of $89.95 and the D2 variant goes for $54.95.
The latter comes in a few different colors, but for this review we’ll focus on the pricier S35VN version, which only comes in the color shown.
New Take on the ‘Tactical Slipjoint’
The Terminus XR is based on a knife that was a unique SOG offering in its own right. The original Terminus is what the company has called a “tactical slipjoint.” It doesn’t have a locking blade, but everything else about it definitely reminds you of a small tactical knife.
When placed side-by-side, the familial resemblance is undeniable, but the XR is a much different knife for sure.
The first big difference you’ll notice is the scale material. The Terminus XR S35VN uses carbon fiber over G10 scales with a significant amount of milling to increase grip. While not true through-and-through carbon fiber, it is very attractive, especially at this price point.
The Terminus XR’s blade is a very classic-looking near clip point with a very nice multi-angle satin grind that would look right at home on a much more expensive knife. The look is rounded out with a fairly minimal amount of billboarding on the blade and a clip with SOG logo milled right into it. (That may be a turnoff for some.)
The blade shape remains the same from the previous Terminus XR, but the upgrade from BDZ-1 to S35VN is a pretty big one. S35VN is one of my favorite EDC steels, so I was very happy to see it. It has very good edge retention, better-than average corrosion resistance, and is fairly easy to sharpen.
The Terminus XR also has an excellent sharpening coil that should assist in that task. SOG is pretty new to using this steel, so I can’t comment much on its Cryo heat treat, but it seemed to perform as one would expect it to.
The Terminus XR did come very sharp out of the box and slices pretty well with its thin 0.11-inch blade stock. There’s also a pretty decently robust tip for such a thin blade. The only disappointments I had with the blade were that it was a bit thick behind the edge (27 thousandths) and it did come with an uneven grind up near the tip.
With a blade length of 3 inches and an overall length of 7 inches, the Terminus XR is by no means a big bruiser, but it did fit my large-size hands pretty well. It’s also quite comfortable in the hand. There are no unwanted sharp edges, and the jimping on top of the blade is right where you’d want it and effective while not overly aggressive.
At 3.3 ounces, the Terminus XR just misses that magical “ounce per inch of blade” ratio that a lot of EDC fans often look for. However, the deep carry reversible clip works very well and the thin 0.45-inch handle makes it carry very well.
The only downside I had carrying the SOG was that the jimping on the flipper tab sometimes rubs uncomfortably against your pinky finger when you try to reach past it in your pocket.
Deployment on the Terminus XR is mostly good, but somewhat of a mixed bag. The XR Lock is solid. It works as you’d expect an omega spring-based lock to work.
Flipping the knife open by just releasing tension on the lock works great and closing it the same way gives you 80% of the joy you’d get from a more expensive Benchmade.
However, the SOG runs on bearings rather than Benchmade’s bushings and you can feel those bearings running over the liners. It’s not a grinding or anything, but you can feel it.
The knife does fire out very reliable on the thumbstuds, but they do feel a little sharp for my tastes. The flipper tab deployment is also just a bit lazy. It works well enough, but I wish they’d have just left it off and gone with just the thumbstuds. But you do get three deployment methods that all work relatively well, so that ain’t all bad.
I did have a couple of QC issues with my particular Terminus XR S35VN that I’d be remiss not to mention. First, there was the aforementioned uneven grind. I didn’t really consider this to be a deal breaker. The second is that the blade is just a bit off-center. I also kind of forgive this. SOG is new to this lock and there is sure to be some sort of learning curve. The last is a bit weird… this is actually my second Terminus XR.
I ordered the S35VN from a very reputable dealer and it arrived sealed in the box. The box said S35VN on it, but when I opened it, it was the older BDZ-1 version inside. To SOG’s credit, I called them and sent it back and they sent me the correct one in about a week’s time. So, no harm, no foul on that one, but do check that blade steel marking!
The original BDZ-1 Terminus XR made my top ten budget knife of the year list, so obviously I’m a fan of it overall. I’m also excited about what it means for SOG. The company introduced a wide range of more enthusiast-oriented knives at Shot Show 2020 (many using the XR Lock) and I’m very eager to try out several of them.
Being a knife reviewer, I admit to being a bit of snob. I just get to try too many and get spoiled. It’s been awhile since I was really excited about SOG as a brand, but I truly am now.
Blade Material: S35VN
Blade Length: 3.00″
Overall Length: 7.00″
Blade Width: 0.98″
Blade Thickness: 0.11″
Blade Finish: Satin
Handle Material: Carbon Fiber over G10
Frame Material: Stainless Steel Liners
Lock: XR Lock
Weight: 3.3 ounces
SOG Specialty Knives
Address: 6521 212th Street SW Lynnwood, WA