During the Vietnam War, the Studies and Observation Group (SOG) specialized in operating behind enemy lines to perform search-and-rescue and prisoner snatch operations, and its troops carried a Bowie knife that was the envy of many a grunt. Today, that Bowie knife is still made to the same specs as it was 30 plus years ago and in the same factory by the company that now bears the name of the unit it once supplied, SOG Specialty Knives & Tools.

SOG Knives has built a strong reputation among knife users by manufacturing hard-use affordably priced knives of high quality. Recently, SOG introduced the Flash Series of clip-it knives. SOG already had an extensive line of clip-it knives, but the Flash is the company's first venture into assisted-opening knives.

Don't confuse assisted-opening folding knives with switchblades or "automatic" knives. Assisted-opening folders do not open with the push of a button like a switchblade. Instead, the operator must partially open the blade, and then an automatic mechanism takes over and the blade is ready for business.

The Flash II that we tested is an excellent knife and well designed to suit the needs of law enforcement users. When called upon with a flick of our thumb, the SOG Assisted Technology (SAT) smoothly and rapidly produced the blade. And we had no worries about the blade opening accidentally. For safety, SOG incorporates a lever lock to keep the Flash closed. Like with many firearms, the lock/safety is off when you see red. This well-designed lock requires definite engagement to go off/on and will not "bump" off.

Another feature that aids in ease of operation and user safety is the external blade release; in SOG terms a "piston lock." The external release helps keep your fingers out of the way when closing the blade and is easy to use even with gloved hands-something that liner locks tend not to be. The piston lock is located in such a manner that the user will not accidentally unlock the blade, so you won't close the blade when in use. A simple rearward push/pull on the lever releases the blade and lets you close it.

To ensure a solid secure grip, the Flash Series incorporates checkered Zytel or machined aluminum grips. These grips also have two finger grooves for your fore and middle fingers, giving additional assurance of a secure grip on the knife.

The Flash Series is priced to fit into the budget of law enforcement officers, with the MSRP varying from $44.95 to $99.95, depending on the exact model you pick. Options available include: half serrated blade, black titanium nitride coated blades, and a choice of grips in Zytel or aluminum. Additionally, the Flash comes in two blade sizes: 2.5 inches for the Flash I and 3.5 inches for the Flash II.

The Flash II's drop-point blade is easy to sharpen and holds an edge when used for cutting hemp or rappelling rope. During daily activities such as opening a letter or cutting a sandwich, the edge seems to hold up forever.

As for comfort and concealment, the Flash II carries securely in waistbands, hip or front pockets, and sits exceptionally well in the slash pockets of Royal Robbins 5.11 tactical pants. Overall, the Flash II is a lot of knife for the money and will serve you well on and off duty.

Flash IIac

Blade Length: 3.5 inches
Overall Length: 8 inches
Weight: 3 ounces
Blade Material: AUS8 stainless RC 57-58
Handle Material: Zytel or hard anodized aluminum
Price: $59.95 to $99.95

Scott Smith is a former military policeman and U.S. Army Ranger.

Scott Smith is a former military policeman and U.S. Army Ranger.