Hands-on Gear Review

SOG PowerAssist Review

Price:  $127 List | $65.06 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
Bottom line:  As a tool for a professional working with his or her hands, the S66 is excellent.
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Number of Functions:  16
Weight (ounces):  9.25 oz
Locking Tools?:  Yes
Manufacturer:   SOG

Our Verdict

The SOG PowerAssist S66 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.



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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Jediah Porter

Last Updated:
Friday
April 20, 2018

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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 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 far pointier than any else 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 appears and is built differently from the other tools on the SOG because it has a different function. Kudos.

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 the heaviest tool in our test. It is a tool that will live in your toolbox or the included belt holster. It 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 well designed and durable. 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 S66 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 S66. 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

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Most recent review: April 20, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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