Monday, September 12, 2011

SOG Twitch II Review

In my SOG Flash I review I noted that the Flash I was desperately in need of an update. In particular, I lamented over the lack of a flipper. Though the Twitch I, II, and XL aren't updates per se, they are very similar to the Flash series, but with a flipper in addition to the thumbstuds.

Here is the product page. Here is a good street price. Here is Nutnfancy's review. Here is a written review. Here are the Amazon reviews. It received a score of 4.39 stars out of 5 with 38 reviews. There is a smaller Twitch, the Twitch I, and a larger Twitch, the Twitch XL.  Finally there is a very small money clip variant called the Blink.  Using Goldilocks logic I picked the Twitch II (it also had the same dimensions, roughly, of my Buck Vantage Small).  Here is my Twitch II, which I purchased at the Bass Pro Shop for $49.95 (knives in person YIPEEE!):

IMG_0021


Design: 2

This knife, like the Buck Vantage Small, is just about the perfect size and shape for EDC use. The very thin handle slabs and thin blade make this knife extremely slim.  The flipper is sized and positioned well.  I don't like the exposed tang corner at the rear of the blade in the closed position, but surprisingly it doesn't snag.  A few things I don't like about the design that ARE problems: 1) the SAT coiled spring pivot (more on this below); and 2) the weight.  I am not sure why SOG felt the need to give this knife, with its aluminum handle slabs, full metal liners.  The result is that this small-ish knife tips the scales at a beefy 2.6 ounces, more than the larger Spyderco Delica 4 (2.5 ounces).  The blade:handle is a very decent: .76. 

Fit and Finish: 1

The SOG SAT coiled spring pivot is a busted design.  It caused blade play, very minor as it is, in all directions--up, down, and side to side.  I tried to tighten it and play with the pivot, but just like with the Flash I, it never went away entirely until the blade just seized up and wouldn't come out.  In this particular design I think the combination of the SAT pivot AND the lockback gives rise to a significant amount of up and down blade play.  It is certainly tactile blade play (i.e. you can feel it in your fingers).  It is also audible (you can here it clicking).  It is not, however, visible (at which point, I think the knife is not safe).  Other than this issue, the lockback spring was a little too tight when I first got the knife.  All other areas of the knife, the polish on the blade and the matte texture of the handles, for example, were outstanding.  

Grip: 2

This is a tiny little blade with curves and catches in the right place.  Here is a picture of the knife open:

IMG_0027


There is a bit of a curve on the top of the handle that works well for the thumb in close, high pressure work.  The flipper also acts as a finger guard to prevent the hand from slipping forward.  There is a bit of jimping on the flipper as well and more on the lockback release and the blade lock towards the rear of the blade on the spine. The matte finish of the aluminum handle slab is just right--not too gritty, but not too slick either.  The knife is small so I wouldn't go hacking down trees and it is not as grippy in the hand as say, the perfect Spyderco Dragonfly II, but it is pretty darn good.  

Carry: 1

The thumbstuds are very sharply cut and extend well beyond the handle slabs.  This makes them easy to use, but also ensures that they snag your pocket.  I also think, given the well executed flipper, that they are unnecessary.  So I dock it a lot for that flaw.  But, the tiny blade and perfect size, plus a decent pocket clip means that this is a nice to carry knife.  0+1=1 I guess in this case.  

Steel: 0

Cryo freeze it, forge it on the Sun, I don't care, AUS8 is still a crappy steel.  Yes, it does get sharp and yes, it is easy to sharpen, but it just doesn't hold an edge.  After 10 days of MILD EDC tasks--packages, boxes, and odds and ends, I had to go to the Sharpmaker with the Twitch II.  I gave a few passes and it was as good as new, but AUS8 is just below par, especially on a $45-50 knife.  And if you use it after having carried a knife with ZDP-189 for steel it is almost like going back to knapped flint for blade steel.  At this point I don't really see the difference between this steel and Buck's 420HC in terms of performance.  

Blade Shape: 2

If there is one reason to carry this knife, aside from its pleasing size and shape, it is the blade shape.  An elegant, full flat grind, drop point blade with a nice flipper/guard at the ricasso is just too wonderful.  It slices well.  It hacks well.  And, unlike the Spyderco leaf-shape, it does not take up too much room in the pocket.  I love this blade shape.  Love it.  Now with a decent steel, say M390 or ZDP-189, this would be an awesome little blade. 

Grind: 2

Oh joy of joys, the SOG grind.  SOG's grinds, in my opinion, are simply superior to all other production knife company's grinds.  It is not until you hit the $300 mark that you find equally nice grinds.  The secondary grind is very wide allowing for a steep angle and easy sharpening.  The lines and edges are beautifully even and smartly tapered (when they should be).   This is what SOG does best and it shows on the Twitch II.  

Deployment Method: 2

I don't normally like assisted opening on EDC blades, but this is so fast and easy to use that...I guess...fine, it is okay.  It is not necessary, but does work very well.  It is also kind of addicting.  The flipper makes all the difference in the world because what is addicting here is fiddly on the Flash I.  

Retention Method: 1

The clip is very middle of the road.  It is too wide (promoting snagging) and a little too stiff.  But it works.  I would have liked to see a bayonet-style clip like on the Flash I or a tip attaching clip like on the Vantage (God knows its possible, what with the steel sandwich look at the end of the knife, there are a few spacer slabs that could have done double duty).   

Lock: 1

The lockback lock bar is VERY tight.  I can't figure out why either.  Perhaps the extra tightness compensates for the blade play using force to reduce wiggle when precision fitting parts can't.  It is really annoying, but has gotten better.  

Overall Score: 14 out of 20

This is a better knife than the Flash I.  It is a very good size and shape.  The blade is wonderful, but the knife is a little heavy and the fit and finish could be better.  Still, if you are looking for a mid-priced, mid-sized pocket knife you could do a lot worse than the Twitch II.  You could also do better: say a Delica, or a Dragonfly, or a Buck Vantage Small Pro.  With tighter tolerances on the lock and blade and better steel (come on, at least VG10), this could be an all-time great.  As it is, it is above par and fun to carry, but nothing approaching a classic.  A Sebenza with a flipper done in this size is probably my dream knife.  Chris Reeve, did you hear that?  Seriously, how about a flipper?

7 comments:

  1. I think that the twitch 2 is a nice looking knife. Normally I'm not interested in SOG's designs but this one is both unique to their other offerings and quite distinct in comparison to other companies. As far as the fit and finish, I couldn't agree more. The pivot is sloppy; a joke really, when compared to something like a $10 Sanremu for example. Nice to look at, but that's about it.

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  2. How do you feel about the new wood handled twitch?

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  3. I own the Twitch II and have found it to be a pretty darn good EDC. I like the design.

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  4. I enjoy your reviews, but i'm afraid you are over simplifying the issue of steel.

    Very few folks seem to realize that good sharpening skill is integral to optimal edge retention.
    AUS-8 can actually hold a pretty decent edge, especially cutting organic media, (cardboard will dull anything pretty quickly,) but you HAVE to know how to sharpen it properly, if you simply use a Sharpmaker, you're not refining the edges enough to prevent micro chipping. This is what's causing the blade to dull. (It's also why users like Sandvic steels- they have such fine carbides that micro chipping doesn't often occur, even if you don't refine the edge.)

    If you don't want to sharpen, and don't do much heavy cutting, a ZDP-189 blade will seem like perfection. But it has its own weaknesses to achieve its edge retention. For most users, a little more SKILL would be vastly more useful than a more expensive knife & "super steel."

    To put it plainly; if you don't know how to use and sharpen a knife the get the most out of it, how can you accurately judge its capabilities?

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    1. Gabe,

      You are right. I have slowly changed my approach to steels. I still prefer ZDP-189 as a bit of maintenance goes a long way, but I have warmed up to AUS-8. Not SOG's particular formula, but just AUS-8 in general.

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  5. I just picked one of these up ay Lowe's in Blaine,minnesota.
    For my purposes it seems just fine. Looks good, opens fast.sits well in mypocket.
    I would recommend it to my friends.

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  6. The twitch 2 is a unique knife in a knife world were the truly original is hard to come by. Not only is it an AO lockback, but when have you ever seen a lockback flipper? It solves the problem of the slow lockback deployment that drives away so many from that style of locking mechanism and it throws in a flipper to boot! It is original, well executed and the fit the FNF is pretty good, too. Too many reviews fail to see this knife for what it is - a creative gem inside a modest but classic low- keyed exterior.

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