The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

SOG Baton Q4 Review

We forgive some shortcomings to recognize this tool for its unique form and application. It is a good screwdriver that does a few more things.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $100 List | $69.79 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Innovative design, endlessly customizable with standard parts
Cons:  Short knife blade, clumsy pliers, loose construction tolerances
Manufacturer:   SOG
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 17, 2019
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60
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 15
  • Functions - 40% 6
  • Ergonomics - 20% 8
  • Portability - 15% 5
  • Construction Quality - 25% 5

Our Verdict

There is nothing in our review quite like the SOG Baton Q4. Most multi tools "start" as folding pliers and add on more features to the handles. The Q4 starts as a ratcheting screw bit driver and adds more inside the handle. This is clever and results in a product that many will find a ton of use for. The execution is a little clumsy, but that can be overlooked if you are the type that often needs a modular, ratcheting screwdriver.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

SOG repeatedly makes unique multi-tools. We find their execution to be a little rough, but the innovation is welcome. The Baton Q4 stands out for a truly unique and very utilitarian form factor. It's design and geometry is a little clumsy, but the drawbacks are easily overlooked by those that will employ its unique function. We have come to understand multi-tools as folding pliers with more tools in the handles. On these "standard" designs, the pliers are optimized while the other functions tag along. The Baton Q4 is a ratcheting screwdriver with a few functions in one end and an overall structure that "breaks" to turn into basic pliers. For extensive work with any sort of screwdriver bit (the Baton includes 12 bits and is endlessly customizable with standard 1/4" drive bits), this Top Pick is the best multi-tool we have used.

Performance Comparison


The Baton Q4, overall, scores pretty mediocre. As a screwdriver, it excels. The pliers are very basic and limited in application. The knife blade is small. The other tools are very limited and unsophisticated. The end result is an overall score that is just above average.

As a screwdriver  the SOG Baton is excellent. Shown here  the Baton  the case and the included bits in their tray.
As a screwdriver, the SOG Baton is excellent. Shown here, the Baton, the case and the included bits in their tray.

Functions


With functions, more is better, to a point. We choose a "multi-tool" because it has "multiple tools". We want multiple tools, of course. But we also need for each of those tools to be functional. Cramming in more, just to have more, is ineffective if the additional features don't work. Any multi-tool is going to optimize one attribute at the expense of the function of one or more of the others. The Baton Q4 optimized the screwdriver function. As a screwdriver, the SOG works nearly as well as a stand-alone option. With aftermarket accessories, it will even more closely approximate a dedicated screwdriver. All the other features of the SOG are significantly compromised in the interest of optimizing the screwdriver.


The Baton Q4 works almost as well as a stand-alone screwdriver, as the Leatherman Surge works almost as well as stand alone pliers and wire cutters. Similarly, the other Top Pick Leatherman Crunch works almost as well as your typical locking pliers. Each of these more specialized products compromises in some way. The Baton pliers are very basic and limited to only light duty work. The Surge is giant in your pocket, weighing over 3/4 pound. The Leatherman Crunch has a small knife blade and other tools, and these other tools are only accessed from inside the plier handles.

Ergonomics


As a screwdriver, the Q4 is very easy to use. With the included bits, our only minor complaint is that the ratcheting bit socket is a little bulky and interferes with screws in tight places. A simple 1/4" drive extension, readily available at any hardware store, addresses this concern. The pliers, though, are less than ideal. While only one of a handful of testers had the following issue unprompted, it is a fairly major one. In certain situations where the user is pushing "in" on the pliers while grabbing or reaching for something, the plier handles collapse rendering the pliers useless. Think about pulling staples from furniture or corrugated cardboard. In order to get purchase on the staple, one must push the tips of the plier jaws into the backing material, pushing said material out of the way. Because of the way the Baton Q4 stows, the handles collapse when pressed in this way. Not only is your "inward" pressure relieved this way, the jaws of the pliers will not close when the handles are collapsed like this. For tasks of this nature, the pliers of the Q4 are completely useless.

In most basic pliers tasks  the SOG Baton is totally adequate.
In most basic pliers tasks, the SOG Baton is totally adequate.

Our first tester found this issue and was ready to write off the Q4 entirely. He dutifully and quietly handed the SOG off to more on the test team. The remaining three testers did not experience this issue. They recognized it when prompted, but did not encounter a situation in which it was a concern. The OGL system of thorough testing does its job, and we are happy to offer qualified recommendation of the ergonomics of this Top Pick winner.


As a screwdriver, no other tool we have tested is more ergonomic. As pliers, virtually all of the other tools we tested are better. The Editors' Choice Leatherman Charge TTI is way better. Even the ultra tiny Top Pick Leatherman Squirt PS4 has more precise plier jaws. The pliers of the SOG Baton Q4 are in line with those of the Gerber Suspension.

This image shows the "semi-collapsed" state of the Baton pliers. When you hold the handles and press toward the plier tips  the handles collapse like this. The pliers can then not be squeezed closed. You have to reset and redeploy them. It works fine  but can be annoying and virtually nullifies their use in this context.
This image shows the "semi-collapsed" state of the Baton pliers. When you hold the handles and press toward the plier tips, the handles collapse like this. The pliers can then not be squeezed closed. You have to reset and redeploy them. It works fine, but can be annoying and virtually nullifies their use in this context.

Portability


Portability is a function of carry options, weight, and size. The Baton Q4 tool alone weighs 6 ounces (included bits and cases bump it up to almost 11 ounces). This is about average. The size is funny. Because of its inherent design, the stowed SOG Baton is longer and skinnier than other tools. For deep pockets, it is equipped with a pocket clip. It has dimensions more like a very fat pen than like other multi tools. It also includes a faux leather case that holds the tool together with its bits. This case magnets closed and includes no belt loops. It is more of a case for in-bag transport than for every day carry. Our preferred way of carrying the SOG is clipped inside a pocket, without the case. It can be clipped in a pants pocket like a pocket knife or inside a shirt chest pocket like a pen.


When clipped to your pants pocket, the SOG is more unobtrusive than most. It is definitely longer, but narrower, than the Best Buy Leatherman Wingman. It feels similar in your pocket to the Leatherman Skeletool or the Gerber Crucial.

The Baton  closed up  in the midst of more typically proportioned multi tools. From left to right: Leatherman Surge  Leatherman Wave+  SOG Baton  Gerber Crucial.
The Baton, closed up, in the midst of more typically proportioned multi tools. From left to right: Leatherman Surge, Leatherman Wave+, SOG Baton, Gerber Crucial.

Construction Quality


In the past, aside from one warranty issue, we have had nothing but good things to say about tested SOG tools. The Baton Q4 is perhaps the least polished SOG tool we have tested. Its joints are rattly and the tool locks are a little sticky. The main attribute, the ratcheting bit driver, works flawlessly so far. Our biggest issue with construction quality on the SOG was with the tool's built in bit holder. The Baton Q4 is set up to carry one bit on the tool itself, with a separate holster for 10 more bits. The bit holder on the tool itself is a spring steel jobber that grabs the bit until you need it. Right out of the box, the bit holder wouldn't hold the bit. It was an easy fix to bend the spring steel a little bit (using another tester multi tool), but this doesn't seem like it should be necessary.


We were surprised at the somewhat sloppy construction of the SOG Baton Q4. It is serviceable, and exceeds that of the more budget tools like the Stanley 12-in-1, but isn't nearly in line with the SOG PowerAssist. We did have one issue with one (of two) tested PowerAssists, but overall this sibling to the Baton is much more robust in construction.

The deployed SOG Baton  showing all of its component parts.
The deployed SOG Baton, showing all of its component parts.

Best Applications


Choose this Top Pick winner if you seek a screwdriver that does a little bit more. Choose other multi-tools if you desire pliers that do a little bit more. Out there alone in its category, the SOG is an easy award-winner pick.

The tiny blade of the Baton is functional  but certainly isn't up to burly tasks.
The tiny blade of the Baton is functional, but certainly isn't up to burly tasks.

Value


The Baton Q4 price is in line with the higher end products in our review selection. For the quality, this is spendy. For the uniqueness though, the price is understandable.

The small file on the Baton works for basic things like cleaning your nails up.
The small file on the Baton works for basic things like cleaning your nails up.

Conclusion


The SOG Baton Q4 is a specialized multi-tool from a proven manufacturer. We had some issues with the design and construction, but the form factor is so unique that it will certainly have broad appeal. This is the very essence of our Top Pick Award.


Jediah Porter