Picture this – You’re at a neighborhood barbeque when someone asks you to cut some potatoes. But, oh no! They forgot to bring a knife. No problem – You pull out your fixed blade, the potato salad gets made, and no one is freaked out by your trusty tool. Yeah, that’s not this knife. The SOG Pillar is more about living in the wild, slaying prey with your bare hands, and building a shelter out of their hides.
First, I’d like to thank SOG for sending this knife over for review. They’re also a pretty a patient lot. I’ve had the Pillar for a little more than a month, but other reviews and articles kept bumping it to the back of the line. Now, after a couple of day hikes, I’m finally ready to share my thoughts. Here we go.
The SOG Pillar is ten inches of tooled testosterone. Just writing about it makes me want to run into the woods and start chopping down trees. Instead, let me take a deep breath and give some dimensions:
Blade Length: 5”
Blade Thickness: 0.16”
Overall Length: 9.9” (See? Almost ten.)
Weight: 7.3 oz
As you can see by the comparison shots, this is a fairly large knife. Its clip-point blade features a flat grind over a stonewashed, machine ground edge. The steel here is CPM-S35VN, one of my personal favorites for edge retention and toughness. The full tang extends back into a canvas micarta handle, with torx screws holding the scales in place. There’s also a vague harpoon sharp going on here. Look at the swedges along the blade spine. These surfaces are smooth enough to run your finger over, while still being more than capable of striking a ferro rod.
Though it may look like a style-first knife, I found the Pillar’s ergonomics to be very good. The micarta handle fits perfectly in my palm, with a nice cutout near the blade guard. There’s also a medium-sized forward finger choil. Those with extra-large hands probably shouldn’t use this area, however. It’s just big enough for my medium/large hands, and anyone with bigger mitts will probably make contact with the blade. Still, the rest of the handle offers ample room. I found it to be quite comfortable in a variety of grips.
The sheath is composed of Kydex, paired with a multi-mount clip system. Retention is excellent, and the screws are easier to adjust than those on my ESEE Izula 2. Like most sheaths of this sort, vertical belt carry can be a bit problematic. The low mounting point means that you’ll regularly find the handle poking you in the ribs. I found scout-style, horizontal carry to be the most comfortable option.
Are there negatives here? The aesthetics, maybe. If you’re not into aggressive designs, then this one may not be for you. But, hey – I’m generally not a fan of tactically-styled blades. This one changed my mind, and it may just change yours.
4.5 stars out of 5
On to performance. As it turns out, the Pillar looks like a monster because it is a monster. Thanks to its strong ergos and solid blade steel, this knife laughed off everything I threw at it. Kindling prep and feather-sticking? No problem. Fire making? Go ahead – run that ferro rod over its squared-off shoulders. Food prep? It sliced through onions, carrots, and potatoes like they weren’t even there. It even survived a tip test, stabbing and prying into a fallen tree with no ill effects.
Okay, okay. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. But with the Pillar, that’s such an easy thing to do. Just ask my left index finger, which got a little kiss from the blade during the woodworking portion of the test. This was entirely my fault, as I was caught up in the exhilaration of using a well-designed tool. The good news is that, because of its razor sharp factory edge, the cut was painless and quick-healing.
I covered the sheath aesthetics above, but let’s take a minute to discuss its performance. Out of the box, I wasn’t exactly sold on this design. I don’t like the two-fastener approach, even though it allows for a multitude of configurations. Personally, I’d prefer to fill all four clip holes. But once I switched over to a scout-style carry, the elegance of its execution was immediately apparent. You can draw left-handed, right-handed, cross-body – pretty much however you want. I am going to knock it one quarter of a point, because I found the spring button to be susceptible to the occasional inadvertent press. It’s not a huge deal, but certainly something to keep in mind.
UPDATE: The spring button can indeed be locked and unlocked by sliding it to the left or right. I’ve increased the score accordingly.
Normally, I like to give a somewhat blow-by-blow account of the testing. But really, I’m not sure what else to say here. The Pillar cuts like crazy, rides like a champ, and does everything asked of it.
5 stars out of 5 (Formerly 4.75 out of 5)
SOG offers a Lifetime Warranty on their knives. Their website admonishes customers to “keep in mind that this warranty does not cover an item that is damaged by misuse, abuse, improper maintenance, alterations, accident, or normal wear and tear as determined at our discretion… Don’t go using your knife as a screwdriver, your multi-tool to split rocks, or [sic] your pack to contain a wild hyena. In other words, use common sense and don’t do stupid things.”
You know what? I think I’ll just let them explain the rest. Here’s their blurb on sharpening:
“Knives, multi-tools, gear, and other sharp pointy items should be maintained properly with routine cleaning, oiling, and sharpening… SOG knives are designed and made to be used. Any knife being used regularly will need occasional sharpening. Unfortunately, we have not figured out how to make a knife that doesn’t dull. Therefore, SOG offers complimentary sharpening and service on all of our knives and tools. We will even cover the return shipping to get your newly refurbished and sharpened knife back to you.”
I… I don’t think I have anything to add to that. Between its solid materials and excellent construction, the Pillar could truly be your knife for life. So, let’s review – A lifetime warranty, free sharpening service, and paid return shipping. What else could you ask for? Perfect, guys. Just perfect.
5 stars out of 5
At $190, the Pillar is the most expensive fixed blade I’ve used thus far. This made things a little difficult during the initial writing of this review. But the more I thought about it, the easier this decision became. Yes, SOG sent me this for free. But, consider the humble ESEE Izula-2 (for which I did pay). It’s a great little knife, but its 1095 steel and sub-3” blade costs almost half as much as the SOG. Would I rather have two Izulas or one Pillar? That’s not really a tough decision.
The bang-for-buck factor really hit home once I researched SOG’s warranty. That’s some damn fine coverage for a blade that’s already built like a tank. While it may not be the cheapest fixed blade in S35VN, it’s certainly within the realm of value.
Plus, have you checked the prices on Bark River knives lately? You’re generally looking at a bump of $70 or so for a similarly-sized blade. Though I’d like to own one, I have no desire to smack a Bravo against a log. But whenever I see tree branches in the front yard, I need to break out the Pillar. It’s fun, intoxicating, and a little scary. At least, that’s what the neighbors probably think.
5 stars out of 5
That’s it – I can’t wait anymore. As soon as this review is posted, I’m grabbing the Pillar and heading for the hills. I want to spend as much time with this one as possible before sending it on to the next reviewer. That is, if I can find the discipline necessary to rid myself of this monster.
I know this review probably sounds a little fanboy-ish. But really, guys, I’m just flat-out impressed with this blade. I’m bitten, it’s under my skin, and there may be another SOG in my collection before the next full moon.
Where to Buy
Amazon (Rated 4.8 out of 5 stars over 15 user reviews as of 11/1/17)