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SOG PowerAssist Review

SOG has manufactured a no-holds-barred pliers-based multi tool for the hard user; it is so rugged and large that only the most committed users will justify the bulk and mass.
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Price:  $116 List | $71.90 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  ⋅  Apr 17, 2019
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 15
  • Functions - 40% 8
  • Ergonomics - 20% 9
  • Portability - 15% 7
  • Construction Quality - 25% 6

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 SOG is large, beefy, and built to be used every day for many years. The PowerAssist is a hard-working, no compromises utility device. It's a complicated piece of machinery made to tackle regular and heavy tasks.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
SOG PowerAssist
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award  
Price $71.90 at Amazon$169.45 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$119.95 at REI
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$99.95 at REI
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$78.95 at Amazon
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Pros Beefy and large, great pliers leverage and blades, assisted opening and externally accessedSophisticated, comprehensiveLarge, excellent construction, full-size functions, customizableComprehensive, well-made, aftermarket accessories and carry optionsCompact, light, with multiple carry options, smart, effective tools
Cons Heavy to carry, accessing non-blade tools is time consumingHeavy, expensiveHeavy and large; limited portability. Proprietary bit driver.Proprietary bit driver, no pocket clip includedFew features
Bottom Line SOG has manufactured a no-holds-barred pliers-based multi tool for the hard user; it is so rugged and large that only the most committed users will justify the bulk and mass.As a top of the line product, Leatherman has equipped the Charge TTI with every imaginable tool, organized and optimized for compact function; in an extravagant move, they have wrapped it in Titanium.A large, heavy tool that does all you might need but is hard to carry around.A full-function tool from a great manufacturer at a reasonable price.A multi tool that optimizes ergonomics and portability at the expense of the feature count.
Rating Categories SOG PowerAssist Leatherman Charge TTI Leatherman Surge Leatherman Wave+ Leatherman Skeletool CX
Functions (40%)
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Construction Quality (25%)
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Specs SOG PowerAssist Leatherman Charge... Leatherman Surge Leatherman Wave+ Leatherman...
Number of Functions 16 19 + bits 21 18 + bits 7
Weight (ounces) 9.25 oz 8.8 oz 12.2 oz. 14.3 oz with case 8.5 oz. 9.5 oz with case 5oz
Locking Tools? All but pliers All but pliers All but pliers All but pliers All but pliers
Pliers Type Needlenose Needlenose with wire cutters, crimper Needlenose, regular, wire cutters, hard-wire cutters, crimper Needlenose, regular, wire cutters, hard-wire cutters, crimper Needlenose with 2 wire cutters
Tools Accessible Without Deploying Pliers Straight blade and serrated blade Blades, saw, file Blades, saw, file Blades, saw, file Blade
Blades and Type 1 fully serrated, 1 straight edge 1 serrated gut hook type, 1 straight drop point 1 straight, 1 serrated 1 straight, 1 serrated 1 straight drop point
Scissors No Yes Yes Yes No
Number of screwdrivers 4 1 integrated. Many bits included, with more available aftermarket for proprietary driver 4 included, more available aftermarket for proprietary driver 5 included/integrated. More available aftermarket for proprietary driver 4 included, more available aftermarket for proprietary driver
File? Yes Yes, wood/metal and a diamond-coated file Yes, wood/metal and a diamond-coated file Yes, wood/metal and a diamond-coated file No
Saw? No Metal and wood Yes Yes No
Openers Bottle and can Can and bottle Can and bottle Can and bottle Bottle
Other important Features "V-notch" cord and webbing cutter Ruler, cutting hook, wire stripper Ruler, awl, wire stripper Ruler None
Sheath Included? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Other carry options Pocket, lanyard hole Pocket clip, key ring Pocket Pocket Carabiner style clip, pocket clip
Closed dimensions (Length by thickness, in inches) 4.6 x 0.8 4 x 0.8 4.5 x 0.8 4 x 0.7 4.3 x 0.6
Open Length (Pliers) (inches) 7 in 6.2 in 7.1in 6.3 in 6.2 in
Open Overall Length (Primary blade deployed) (inches) 7.5 in 7 in 7.6 in 6.9 in 6.8 in
Length of Primary Blade Effective Edge (inches) 2.7 in 2.8 in 3.1 in 2.8in 2.6 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


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.

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.
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.

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. Even the diminutive Leatherman Squirt PS4 has blunter plier tips.

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

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, also featured in our Editors' Choice Leatherman Charge TTI, 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 the Best Buy Leatherman Wingman and tiny Top Pick Gerber Dime, 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.

The other SOG tool we tested, the Top Pick SOG Baton Q4 is entirely different from the PowerAssist. While the PowerAssist is a set of mechanically-advantaged pliers that holds other features, the Baton Q4 is a ratcheting screwdriver that holds other features. Depending on what you do more of (pliers work vs screwdriver work), you might want to look at the Baton Q4 for your multi tool.

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 something like the Victorinox SwissTool Spirit X. However, in usage, none of these sharp corners interfere.

Portability


This is nearly the heaviest tool in our test. Like the 3/4 pound Leatherman Surge, It is a tool that will live in your toolbox or the included belt holster. 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 deployed. This tested version had to be sent back to SOG for warranty repair of a malfunctioning lock mechanism.
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.

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

Best Application


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.

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.
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.

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.


Jediah Porter