The SOG, in many ways, is average. It is slightly above average in overall score, slightly below average in price, and just a little below average in size for the full-size tools. With no other non-award winning tool in our test striking this balance of average scores, the sum of its attributes rises above simple mediocrity. If art is in the balance, the Pocket PowerPlier is a masterpiece. Hovering around average in a variety of competing attributes is a tough mark to hit, and the SOG does it. It doesn't quite earn an award, but we found excellent performance. Read on for our comprehensive elaboration and thorough examination.
SOG Pocket PowerPlier ReviewPrice: $73 List Pros: Relatively compact, especially considering the usefulness and quality of the features
Cons: No scissors or bit driver
Bottom line: Well built with limited features.
Weight (ounces): 8.1 oz
Locking Tools?: All but pliers
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The smooth hinges, tight tool set, and unique mechanically advantaged pliers set the SOG apart from the rest. Only the SOG has the linkage pliers, while only the highest-end products share the high construction quality in our review.
The SOG scores above average, as compared to the rest of the field. Only four of the products score better than the SOG. Of those, three earn awards. The Editors' Choice is in a class of its own. The Best Buy Leatherman Wave has the same exact features of the Charge, with less sophisticated materials and fewer included accessories. The Leatherman Crunch is truly unique, with locking "vise grip" style pliers. Finally, the Victorinox SwissTool Spirit X is likely the closest competitor to the SOG.
There are tools with more functions, and there are tools with fewer. The SOG functions are each carefully chosen, thought out, and built. On some models, some features seem contrived or as if they were an afterthought. Not so on the Pocket PowerPlier. The set of features is predictable and clean, with almost everything you want and nothing more. Two blades, a set of drivers and openers, and a pair of saws serve to accomplish most household tasks.
We like tools with scissors included, as this seems like a feature that our test team uses quite frequently. Of all the options on a multi-tool, we appear to use the pliers, blade, and scissors the most. Of these "big three", all tools have pliers and blades. It is the scissors that set apart the rest. It is no surprise, then, that of our five award winners, four of them have scissors. The one that does not have scissors (The Leatherman Crunch) has locking pliers that are truly unique. No other product on the market, much less in our review, has locking pliers. If the Crunch had scissors, it would be a contender for Editors' Choice, no question. All this is to say that, no matter how high quality or otherwise comprehensive the tool set of the Pocket PowerPlier, as long as it omits scissors it will suffer in the features category. Aside from scissors, the Victorinox and SOG closely compare. On both the construction quality and ergonomics are excellent. It is the presence of scissors on the SwissTool Spirit X, and therefore the functions score, that edges it ahead overall.
The Pocket PowerPlier just feels good in your hands. While it has a weight and size that puts it just outside the "full size" category, the handles and tools still function like those on the larger tools. The pliers are easily the most powerful of any tool outside the "full size" category and tie with the best of those that are much larger. The handles and tools are rounded where you want them to be, without compromising the utilitarian function. When deployed, the pliers handles make a compact pair of levers in even smaller-than-average fists.
Aside from "feel", we also look at the deployment of the tools when assessing ergonomics. In an unusual, unique move, SOG sets up the Pocket PowerPlier with half the tools accessible without deploying the pliers and the other half contained within the closed form. Why this is, we can't discern. We dig that the two blades, two openers, and two main screwdrivers are accessible without deploying the pliers. Of the tools they could have chosen to set up this way, these are the right choices. Why they couldn't just make the other half of the tools accessible this same way, however, is a mystery. Gerber, for instance, with both their Bear Grylls Ultimate and their Suspension, has all the fold-out tools accessible without deploying the pliers. The best comparison to the SOG is with both the Leatherman Wave and the Leatherman Charge TTI. On both of these, roughly half the tools are accessible without deploying the pliers.
However, with these Leatherman products, the execution is smoother, and it allows the overall form factor to be more compact. We can nitpick back and forth on the tool deployment. It is important to point out here that the close competitor Victorinox SwissTool SpiritX has all its tools accessible without activating the pliers.
For its function, the compact size and unique belt sheath of the PowerPlier make it very portable. First, the pliers and blades of the SOG Pocket are essentially the same size and utility as that of the largest products in our test. As compared to the Editors' Choice Leatherman Charge TTI or either Gerber tools, the blades, and pliers are similar if not better. However, the SOG is noticeably smaller and lighter than these other tools. SOG packs in full-size function with smaller and lighter carriage.
The least portable half of our tested tools cluster between 240 and 270 grams in weight. The SOG competes with these on functions and ergonomics but comes in at 230 grams. The overall shape of the SOG is smaller, while the belt sheath is more compact and easier to use than those for the beefier tools.
On the other end of the spectrum, the keychain style tools in our review are far more portable than the SOG. The Top Pick Gerber Dime packs features into a form that is less than 1/4 the size of the SOG. Splitting the difference, our Best Buy Leatherman Wingman is easily small enough to carry pocket clipped but has fewer features than the SOG.
In terms of ergonomics, the SOG simply "feels good" when it comes to construction quality. Right out of the box, and after months of daily use, the hinges and pivots are tight and smooth, without binding. The blade held an edge after weeks of camp kitchen use, and the hardened steel screwdrivers withstood clumsy, cramped, slip-prone usage with no sign of damage.
This is a tool for the discerning manual laborer. Someone who works with his or her hands knows quality tools and knows the value of having the right tool for the job. However, that user is sometimes away from her dedicated tool box. For those times, something well made and powerful like the Pocket PowerPlier will rise above any compromises.
The SOG, as compared to our entire test roster, is almost exactly average in price. With above average scores and an average cost, the value should be self-evident. If it has the features you want, this is an excellent choice. Basically, if you are ok without scissors, the SOG is a good value. If you want scissors, something else will work better for you.
We like testing multi-tools. More than in other categories, there is a tactile sense of quality. Even after decades of experience and years of objective testing, we can tell a tool's quality and usefulness within seconds of touching it. The SOG is a tool that inspires confidence right away. Closer examination indicates some compromises (mainly, no scissors and no bit driver), but the final product is compact, useful, and will last you a long time.
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Most recent review: June 24, 2017
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