If your tastes run along the lines of the great Japanese knife designers, then you’ll really enjoy the SOG Knives Kiku folder. It’s under review today.
Talented American Knife Designers
I know many American knife designers, and they are some pretty talented folks. I got to know quite a few of them when I was the West Coast Field Editor for Knives Illustrated magazine, for which I wrote for more years than any other writer. So I had the opportunity to speak with a lot of custom knife makers/designers over the years. However, many folks believe that when it comes to Japanese knife makers/designers, they have the rest of ‘em beat hands down!
Marriage of SOG Opening Device and Design by Japanese Knife Designer Kiku Matsuda
SOG Knives partnered with Kiku Matsuda, a well-known Japanese knife maker/designer, to come out with several of his world famous designs. Under review this time around is the Kiku SOG spring-assisted opening folding knife. The knife design itself belongs to Matsuda, but the SOG spring-assisted opening device is owned by SOG. The marriage of the two is really quite something to behold.
Aware Winning Collaborations
Over the years, SOG and Matsuda collaborations have won awards and continue to drive innovation in their designs. There is just “something” about a Kiku designed blade that lets you know it is his design. It is very elegant, to say the least. The deep grinds on the blade really get your attention.
Much to the dismay of the “not made in the USA” crowd, all of SOGs knives are made overseas. You had best get used to this, since we live and operate in a global economy, like it or not. And if you tell me that you only buy “Made in America” products, I’m calling you a liar, plain and simple. Try going to Walmart or any big box store; you’ll be hard pressed to find much of anything Made in America. That’s just a fact of life.
Don’t fool yourself by thinking that, when you go to a big name sporting goods store, that you are buying only products Made in America. Good luck with that. Many firearms on the market these days are made in other countries. I read some place that 90%-95% of our footwear comes out of China. So if you’re not buying shoes or boots then you are going bare foot, because odds are your foot wear is made overseas.
I’ll get off my soap box now. Save the hate mail and comments if you don’t buy knives made in other countries other than the USA. You get as good of a knife as you want made from overseas.
This Kiku folder is right up there with the best materials you can use. The VG-10 stainless steel blade is hi-tech steel. It holds an edge a very long time, and it doesn’t chip like so many lesser stainless steel blades do. The handle constructed using two full-length stainless steel liners, and the handle material is linen Micarta, which is tough stuff. The handle scales are advertised as green, but they are very light colored, almost white. I do like the nice contours on the Micarta handle material, plus it is rough textured, which makes for a sure hold in all weather conditions.
Clip and Blade
There is a reversible pocket/clothing clip that secures the knife in your trouser pocket, and it has the “SOG” letters cut out of the clip. That’s cool looking. The VG-10 blade has a satin finish to it. However, you can also get one with a black oxide coating for a stealth look, if you like. The blade is 3.5 inches long. Many people prefer this length in a folding knife, which works for me. The top/rear of the blade has friction grooves for a sure and positive thumb placement when using the knife in the popular fencing grip. The blade also has an ambidextrous thumb stud that is used to start the blade opening out of the handle scales. At about 20-degrees, the SOG spring-assisted coil spring technology takes over, and the blade opens automatically from there on.
If I had one complaint, it is that I’d like to see the thumb stud on the blade a little larger. It was difficult for my thumb to get a good purchase on it all the time, and I missed getting the blade open at times.
Closed length of this Kiku is 4.50 inches, and it weighs in at 5.60 oz, which is substantial for a folder of this size. However, when it’s inside your pants, you quickly forget the knife is there. There is a button lock in the handle. Once the blade swings fully open, the blade is locked tight. There are no worries about it closing on your fingers. The VG-10 blade comes in at Rc 59-60, which is a little bit hard. Then again, most stainless steel blades are Rockwell harder than carbon steel blades, yet the blade is not brittle.
Something Special In Your Hand
This particular folder has that “something” about it when you open the blade and hold it in your hand. It feels like it was designed to fit your hand only! Outstanding job! I’m a knife designer myself. I can’t make knives, but I do design them. It takes a certain “something” to get a knife to feel just right in your hand and in everyone else’s hand. There is lots of trial and error, to be sure.
For testing, the Kiku assisted-opening folder rode in my right front pocket for close to a month. But at some point, I had to replace it with another folder I was testing for a future article. During the time I carried this Kiku folder, I put it through its paces and cut everything from wet rope to poly rope, which is tough stuff to cut on the best of days, to slicing cardboard boxes open, to cutting up cardboard boxes. The Kiku was used around the kitchen a bit as well. It was my blade used for cutting whatever was on my plate during meals. During all my testing, the Kiku folder never needed to be re-sharpened or touched-up. It held its edge.
One test I’m sure our readers are tired of reading about is cutting my blackberry vines. In Western Oregon, we have an endless supply of these vines on our small homestead. It’s a good material for testing sharpness of any knife blade. A single swipe with the Kiku resulted in the thickest blackberry vine being cut in half. That’s nice, very nice!
My Gun Shop Critics Loved It
I can always get input on any knife design I get in for testing by heading to the local gun shop. There are a few harsh critics there, to be sure. I keep telling a few of them, if they can design better knives themselves to start designing on their own. They’ll find out in short order, it’s a lot harder than it looks. However, they are always quick to point out any flaws in designs or they have some questions about a knife design that I didn’t come up with myself. So their input is valuable to me. They all loved the SOG Kiku folder, except for the small thumb stud used for opening the blade. Everyone said it was too small.
SOG knives, almost all of them, are always in big demand and are on back order quite often. So, if you’re interested in a top-of-the-line assisted opening folder that is designed by an award-winning Japanese knife designer, then take a close look at the Kiku folder. It’s a lot of knife for the $175 retail price. And, if you simply can’t get over the fact that the knife is made in Taiwan, that means there will be one more knife available for another buyer. Check it out.