For our next knife review, we were sent a SOG Jungle Warrior by the kind people over at Nioa.
SOG knives have been around since 1986 and since then they have formed themselves into one of the biggest selling knife manufacturers available. SOG (Specialty Knives & Tools) was named after the Vietnam’s only special warfare unit (Studies and Observation Group) which wasn’t known about by the public until well after the war had ended.
Whilst the SOG Company is not affiliated with the Studies and Observation Group of the Vietnam War, their first produced knife was a commemorative based on SOG’s Vietnam military knife. Since those early days they have increased their product line to include just about every functioning knife design you can think of.
The Jungle Warrior is basically (as the name implies) a knife designed for both fighting and survival purposes. Although the “fighting” aspects of the knife are of not much value to us here in Australia, the survival aspect certainly has it merits.
My first thought’s when I saw this knife was “does size really matter?” because if it does then this knife is a beast! The blade length is just under 25cm which makes it the biggest knife I’ve reviewed so far. The overall length is just under 39cm so as you can imagine it feels very impressive in the hand.
The blade shape is more of a spear point design than anything else which of course is ideal for thrusting cuts and can be quite useful for general camp work as well. There is also a sweep in the cutting edge towards the back portion of the blade. At first it looks quite peculiar but as it turns out it’s a very functional way of using such a long knife to make delicate cuts.
The blade is a full tang design meaning that it extends through the handle which gives the knife maximum strength. There is an exposed pommel at the rear of the handle which is narrow and has a serrated edge to it.
The blade steel is 8Cr13MoV which is a stainless steel with similar properties to AUS8. SOG lists their steel as being heat treated to 56-58 HRC which is normal for a knife of this price range. I try not to look into steel properties too much as it really is a study that is out of my league. All I want to know is a couple of basic things such as, how long does it hold its edge for, how easy is it to sharpen and how much does it cost?
On the top rear section of the blade there is a rather aggressive thumb grip. It’s a little too sharp for my liking but it would be perfect when using gloves.
The handle is made from Kraton which is a popular material these days. It has a soft but firm feel to it and the Jungle Warrior has SOG’s Digi-Grip textured finished to it. There are two lashing plus one lanyard hole in the grip which gives the user some versatility with the knife.
The Jungle Warrior (despite its looks) is actually quite light. Being a hollow grind and only 4.8mm at the blades widest point means that the overall weight is kept to below 470 grams. I wasn’t sure if this would be an advantage or disadvantage to the knifes usability so I decided to wait until till after the testing before I formed an opinion.
The sheath is made from nylon and is a no frills but well-made sheath. The belt loop is wide enough to fit any belt and there are no quick attach options. The retention strap uses a button fastener which I much prefer over the Velcro ones and secures the knife very nicely. There is a small pouch on the front of the sheath which will fit both a sharpening stone and a fire starter without any problems. Overall, it’s a basic sheath that does the job.
Now that the Jungle Warriors specifications are out of the way, let’s move onto my favourite part of any review, the testing!
Straight from the box the knife is sharp but certainly not “shaving” sharp. Granted you don’t need a knife of this design razor sharp but it would have been a nice touch all the same. Unfortunately the blade didn’t want to co-operate during the paper cutting tests so for the purposes of the review, we’ll just call it adequately sharp from the box.
I attempted to make some feather sticks to test the knives carving abilities and this is where I found the sweep in the rear of the blade useful. Because of the blades length you have to use two hands when carving and I found that the sweep locates the item being cut and helps to stop it from sliding up and down the blade. I’m not sure that this was its design purpose but it certainly works. For a knife of this size, it performed the carving tests remarkably well.
For the chopping test I decided to use a 3 inch piece of deadwood to really test out the light weight properties of the knife. I quickly discovered the blades sweet spot and I’ve got to say it that it chops much better than I had anticipated. It doesn’t have the heft of some of the marketed survival knives and I found that I didn’t fatigue as quickly with the lighter knife. Because of this I was able to place more precise cuts which meant less work in the long run. Definitely a big thumbs up for the surprised chopping capabilities of the Jungle Warrior!
Next came the wood splitting test which is undoubtably the harshest practical test of any knife. Using a wooden baton I proceeded to split quite a large amount of firewood into some smaller kindling sized pieces. I found that the hollow grind tended to cause a slight hung up but overall the Jungle Warrior perform well. The Kraton handle grip suffered some minor damage from the baton but that’s to be expected when a knife gets used in this manner. I also found the blade length to be an advantage during this test as I could reach across some pretty large logs.
During both the chopping and splitting tests I was really impressed with the way the handle absorbed the shock. Fatigue was minimal which meant that the tasks seemed like less of a chore. I was also impressed with the black oxide coating on the blade which has held up much better than some other knives that I’ve used.
After the testing was completed, the blade was pretty dull (as you can imagine) but it was nice to see there was no chipping in the edge (yes I accidently hit the odd rock or two). I touched it up using just a steel and found it came back to factory edge fairly quickly. If it was my knife I would probably change the angle to something a little less steep which would give it that razors edge.
Overall I’m impressed by the SOG Jungle Warrior and I can see it being used for everything from camp chores through to despatching the odd pig. When you consider the price tag of less than $100, you really can’t go wrong with this dual purpose knife. Keep in mind that prices are changing all the time but as always, shop around. Most major gun stores stock SOG knives and if they don’t have what you’re after ask them to order it in through NIOA.