SOG’s “Aura” line of products includes a Camping, Hunting and SEAL version and Nioa kindly sent me the Hunting version for review.
The Aura Hunting has been designed as a low budget hunting knife with the idea of providing users a high performance knife without the usual associated costs. According to SOG the design was developed from studying the original Rezin Bowie knife from 1838 and then making a few changes to give better appeal to today’s hunters. Whether you consider this to be a forward or backward evolution of the original Bowie, there are certainly a few features that puts the Aura into a league of its own.
The blade length is 5 inches which in my opinion is a handy size for a hunting/utility knife. It’s .160 of an inch at its widest point which combined with its length makes for a fairly stout blade. SOG has used a medium sweep to the front of the blade edge which is there to help with any skinning and butchering tasks. There is also a gut hook on the back of the blade which is a sure sign of a hunting dedicated knife (more on that latter).
As far as I can tell, the Aura Hunting has a partial tang which means that the metal extends down into the handle but definitely not the full length of it. SOG has however put the spare room to good use by including a carbide sharpening rod. Whilst full tang knives are the ultimate when it comes to overall strength, for the purpose of a dedicated hunting knife you could argue that a partial tang is all that’s needed.
The steel used by SOG on this particular knife is 7Cr13 Stainless which is basically a budget priced steel containing stainless properties. The steel is heat treated to 54-56 HRC. The edge comes useably sharp straight from the box and during the course of the review I only had to touch it with the sharpening rod once whilst doing some butchering tasks.
The Aura Hunting has thumb grip notching on the back of the blade which are certainly aggressive but at the same time not overly aggressive. It appears that SOG has designed these to be user friendly both with and without the use of gloves. I prefer thumb notching on my hunting knives and unfortunately most value priced knives seem to over-look this feature. Well done SOG!
The handle is advertised as being made from glass-reinforced polymer that is over-moulded with a pliable material to help ensure a non-slip grip. The feel of the grip is firm and almost hard but it does seem to offer non-slip properties even with wet hands. The length of the handle is 5 inches which is the same as the length of the blade and I find it just a bit too long for my small hands. There is also a lanyard hole at the butt of the handle should you wish to attach one.
As mentioned earlier, enclosed in the handle is a handy carbide sharpener. The usable length of the rod is 2 inches and SOG has put some thought into its design. As well as there being a round section, there is also a flattened and grooved section which can be used for sharpening fishing hooks and other edged items. The carbide itself is fairly coarse and is great for giving the edge a quick touch up. I think the sharpener is an excellent idea by SOG and the way it’s incorporated into the handle makes it a unique design feature.
The sheath is as you would expect from a knife of this price range and is made from a nylon material. The belt loop is large enough for the widest belt but of course there are no quick attach options. The sheath is assembled using single stitching. I can’t comment on its durability as I simply didn’t have the knife for a long enough time. My biggest gripe with the sheath is the retention strap which doesn’t seem to be very durable. Whilst it does function properly, it’s attached to the sheath using only a single row of stitching. The stitching has a few loose threads which isn’t exactly confidence inspiring. The fastening of the strap is done using Velcro which feels flimsy and doesn’t bite enough to give a secure hold. However, even with these shortcomings the sheath still has all the fundamentals of a product within this price range.
Given that this knife has been designed with hunters in mind, I decided the only real way to test it was to take it out on a Goat hunt. The SOG Aura would be the dedicated butchering knife on this trip and I figured that a few Goats should be enough to put it through its paces.
It didn’t take long before the Aura was called into duty and it performed as expected. The sharpness of the blade meant that skinning was effortless and very little pressure was required to get it to cut. The gut hook was fantastic and at no time did I feel the need to use my dedicated gutting knife. I also liked that the blade is stout enough to be used to pry joints apart if needed. I always seem to be in a hurry so having a knife that doesn’t require a perfect cut is always handy.
The edge did require a touch up with the steel after the first Goat had been completely butchered, but with the inclusion of the sharpener it was a quick and easy task.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, the SOG Aura Hunting has been marketed as a high performance low costing knife. At around $75.00 retail, the knife certainly does represent good value and it would be close to perfect for your occasional weekend hunter. The sheath has its shortcomings but that can be said for most knives within this price range.
Overall I’m happy with the way the Aura Hunting performed. Unfortunately I didn’t have the knife long enough to comment on its durability such as rust resistance and handle strength, but with SOG’s excellent reputation I would be surprised if hunters didn’t get many years of use from the knife.