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SOG PowerAssist Review

A no-holds-barred pliers-based tool for the hard user; it is so rugged and large that only the most committed users will justify the bulk and mass
SOG PowerAssist
Photo: SOG
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Price:  $75 List | Check Price at Amazon
Pros:  Beefy and large, great pliers leverage and blades, assisted opening and externally accessed
Cons:  Heavy to carry, accessing non-blade tools is time consuming
Manufacturer:   SOG
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 22, 2019
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64
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 21
  • Functions - 40% 7
  • Construction Quality - 25% 5
  • Ergonomics - 20% 8
  • Portability - 15% 5

Our Verdict

The SOG PowerAssist stacks up well in our test and presents unique characteristics. The multi-tool category is targeted at people who need to tackle repair and building tasks while away from a full toolbox. In this light, the PowerAssist has some unique attributes. The assisted opening blades and geared pliers are unique in our test. The materials are of high quality, and construction tolerances are tight. Only our Editors' Choice winner has a more "sophisticated" feel. The PowerAssist is a hard-working, no compromises utility device. It's a complicated piece of machinery made to tackle regular and heavy tasks. This is a tool for the professional. Or for someone with professional level tasks to tackle. Whether you work on your home or car, the SOG is for hard labor in heavy tasks. Complement it with a full, dedicated toolbox, and you'll be prepared for any repair or maintenance task.

Compare to Similar Products

 
SOG PowerAssist
This Product
SOG PowerAssist
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award  Best Buy Award 
Price $75 ListCheck Price at REI
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$25 ListCheck Price at REI
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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53
53
Star Rating
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Pros Beefy and large, great pliers leverage and blades, assisted opening and externally accessedCompact, light, with multiple carry options, smart, effective toolsComprehensive, well-made, aftermarket accessories and carry optionsSmall for carry, effective function, spring-loaded pliersInexpensive and well-made, spring-loaded pliers, scissors, pocket clip, one-handed blade
Cons Heavy to carry, accessing non-blade tools is time consumingFew featuresProprietary bit driver, no pocket clip includedAwkward and squished phillips drive, main blade requires two hands and fingernailHybrid straight/serrated blade, squashed Phillips driver, short main blade
Bottom Line A no-holds-barred pliers-based tool for the hard user; it is so rugged and large that only the most committed users will justify the bulk and massA multi-tool that optimizes ergonomics and portability by reducing the tool set to the most important ones for daily use and carryA full-function tool from a great manufacturer at a reasonable priceFitting into a niche size sub-category, this neither full size nor keychain tool has functions that are worthy and effectiveA budget tool with real value and function, this model is compact with a feature set that does much of what you want and little that you don't
Rating Categories SOG PowerAssist Leatherman Skeletoo... Leatherman Wave+ SOG Micro ToolClip Leatherman Wingman
Functions (40%)
7.0
5.0
8.0
4.0
4.0
Construction Quality (25%)
5.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
4.0
Ergonomics (20%)
8.0
10.0
7.0
5.0
8.0
Portability (15%)
5.0
8.0
5.0
8.0
7.0
Specs SOG PowerAssist Leatherman Skeletoo... Leatherman Wave+ SOG Micro ToolClip Leatherman Wingman
Number of functions 16 5 + bits 18 + bits 8 10
Weight (ounces) 9.3 oz 5.0 oz 8.5 oz, 9.5 oz with case 3.2 oz 6.8 oz, 7.8 oz with sheath
Locking tools? All but pliers All but pliers All but pliers None Scissors and blade
Pliers type Needlenose Needlenose with 2 wire cutters Needlenose, regular, wire cutters, hard-wire cutters, crimper Spring-loaded pliers Spring-loaded regular and needlenose
Tools accessible without deploying pliers Straight blade and serrated blade Blade Blades, saw, file All but phillips driver Blade and scissors
Blades and type 1 fully serrated, 1 straight edge 1 straight drop point 1 straight, 1 serrated 1 straight blade 1 hybrid serrated/straight drop point
Scissors No No Yes No Yes
Number of screwdrivers 4 4 included, more available aftermarket for proprietary driver 5 included/integrated. More available aftermarket for proprietary driver 3 3
File? Yes No Yes, wood/metal and a diamond-coated file Yes Yes
Saw? No No Yes No No
Openers Bottle and can Bottle Can and bottle Bottle Can, bottle, and a unique box opener
Other important features "V-notch" cord and webbing cutter None Ruler Wirecutter Very small ruler
Sheath included? Yes No Yes No Yes
Other carry options Pocket, lanyard hole Carabiner style clip, pocket clip Pocket Pocket, lanyard, clip Pocket, Pocket clip
Closed dimensions (Length by thickness, in inches) 4.6 x 0.8 4.3 x 0.6 4 x 0.7 3.9x0.5 3.8 x 0.7
Open length (pliers, in inches) 7 in 6.2 in 6.3 in 3.9 in 6.2 in
Open overall length (primary blade deployed, in inches) 7.5 in 6.8 in 6.9 in 5.8 in 6.4 in
Length of primary blade effective edge (inches) 2.7 in 2.6 in 2.8in 1.9 in 2.4 in

Our Analysis and Test Results

SOG has designed and manufactured a product that is fast becoming a classic. It takes a familiar form and adds truly beneficial function and design attributes.

Performance Comparison



Keep it in your truck, or on the belt sheath, and the full size...
Keep it in your truck, or on the belt sheath, and the full size stature of the SOG PowerAssist won't cost you much. When you need it, you will appreciate the functionality.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Functions


First of all, the most stand-out feature of the SOG PowerAssist is the geared pliers. The gearing and linkage joining the plier handles to the jaws increase the amount of force your hands can apply. No set of pliers, whether included in a multi-tool or stand alone, is intended for use in extended bolt or nut turning. However, the SOG squeezes hard enough to tackle the occasional wrench task without too badly "buggering up" the head of the bolt.

The deep wire cutters in the jaws of the pliers can cut through the largest of wire. In our testing, the handles and pivots all held up to very rugged use. Additionally, this brute tones it down out at the tips of the plier jaws. The needle nose plier surface joins precisely and closely and tapers to a tip pointier than most others in our test.

Behind the pliers, nesting smartly into the handles is a small suite of nearly full-size tools. On one arm rests two blades. SOG equips you with a straight-edged drop-point cutter and a sheepsfoot serrated edge. These blades are both accessible from the "outside" (without opening the pliers) and lock securely open and closed. The lock and opening mechanism is a bit fiddly. However, anyone who chooses the SOG PowerAssist will be mechanically inclined and use it enough to figure out the sequence. A primary reason for the locking and opening mechanism is the assisted-opening feature of these two blades. This tool is the only one in our test that has assisted opening blades. In our pocket knife review testers almost unanimously preferred the knives with assisted opening blades. On the SOG tool, it is indeed handy but feels almost unnecessarily complicated at first. It grew on all of our testers with time.

"It's like cutting with a laser". This tester appreciated the...
"It's like cutting with a laser". This tester appreciated the precise blade work that SOG has put into the S66.
Photo: Jediah Porter

In the other arm of the pliers is a pair of openers, some screwdrivers, a file, and a v-style cord and webbing cutter. This lattermost tool is a specific tool that proves to be very useful when needed. The small Phillips head driver, unlike the improvised and flattened versions included on other multi tools, is full size and constructed of hardened cast steel. It looks and is built differently from the other tools on the SOG because it has a different function. Kudos.

Construction Quality


SOG has a reputation for making beefy tactical knives. They've brought that same construction quality to the PowerAssist. The tool is steel where it needs to be, with composite spacers in one arm of the plier handles. The primary blades can be replaced, as well as the spring-loaded handle cover. All rivets and hinges arrive from the factory with just the right amount of tension. The pliers can be deployed with a flick of the wrist, but friction in the hinges hold them where you want them to stay.

All the tools can be opened easily and lock securely in place every time. Our one issue with the PowerAssist was with the locking mechanism on the screwdriver of one tested iteration of this tool. Over a few years now we have tested two versions of the PowerAssist tool. On the latest, the flat screwdriver got locked open. We tried a variety of things but eventually found that we couldn't get it to close without help from SOG. Thankfully their warranty department was prompt and helpful. We did, though, have to send the tool back and were without it for a few weeks.

The SOG PowerAssist is likely overkill on a backcountry ski...
The SOG PowerAssist is likely overkill on a backcountry ski mountaineering trip, but cutting steak is always enjoyable, regardless of the chosen tool.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Ergonomics


In our test, the enhanced pliers and assisted opening blades of the PowerAssist stand out. Once a user is accustomed to these, the utility advantages are significant. Deploying either blade is a snap, and applying a great deal of pressure through the pliers is a joy. The other tools, however, are a bit cumbersome to access. Not only must the user open the pliers to access them (and close the pliers before using these other tools), one has to lift a spring-loaded plate. This plate serves to pad the sharp edges when using the pliers, but it makes deploying the screwdriver or bottle opener more time-consuming. The SOG has a more "industrial" feel to it. For instance, it has far more sharp corners than others. However, in usage, none of these sharp corners interfere.

Portability


This is nearly the heaviest tool in our test. The SOG does come equipped with a lanyard/keychain loop but is far too bulky to carry that way. Additionally, in the applications for which it excels, having string or keys dangling will get in the way. The belt sheath is durable but has some quirks that concerned our team. A small patch of Velcro engages a flap that holds the sheath closed. Our testers had some concern about the durability of such a small patch of Velcro.

Additionally, the belt loop portion of the sheath is actually a plastic clip. This means that you can clip it on without unthreading your belt. But it also means that it could come unclipped while crawling under your house or leaning into a big truck hood cavity. It never did in our testing, but the possibility does exist.

The S66 and its sheath. Here, note the phillips screwdriver...
The S66 and its sheath. Here, note the phillips screwdriver deployed. This tested version had to be sent back to SOG for warranty repair of a malfunctioning lock mechanism.
Photo: Jediah Porter

At over half a pound, the S66 is a giant among these pocket tools...
At over half a pound, the S66 is a giant among these pocket tools. It is too large for every day carry for most people.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Value


The SOG is an expensive tool for he or she that will use it to its maximum advantage. It is unique in many ways, and therefore it is difficult to compare its value to other tools.

Conclusion


Avid home-improvement and car-repair types will find daily use for the SOG PowerAssist. It is well-made and solid. For "every day carry", we dig a smaller profile and quicker access to tools, even when it means compromised function of individual tools. In overall scoring, the SOG does not particularly stand out. It is worth noting, though, that the only products to score appreciably higher are manufactured by category-dominating Leatherman. SOG is in the mix with this multi-tool behemoth.

Jediah Porter