SOG got their start with one fixed blade combat knife. It’s hard for me to imagine a knife company’s future balancing on the edge of one blade, but that’s how it went. Thankfully that knife was popular so we now have many SOG knives to enjoy today. One of those knives is the SEAL Pup, a fixed blade military inspired knife that can trace its roots all the way back to that original SOG blade. It’s got a definite pedigree and some proud traditions behind it.
Thankfully SOG doesn’t rest on their laurels, and their knives get continually updated. The SEAL Pup is one such example. I purchased this SEAL Pup in 2011 and the dimensions are the same as the SEAL Pup Elite (a slightly more expensive version of the knife). The only differences are that the Elite uses AUS8 blade steel, is made of slightly thicker stock, can come with a plain edge (vs partially serrated) and has some rasping on the top of the blade (some really gentle jimping). These are nice improvements, but I think they are marginal. The major updates (that the new SEAL Pup has) are the bigger, ergonomically improved handle and longer edge – those are the things that matter the most. I’ll try and get my hands on a SEAL Pup elite for a future review but for now, let me say, I was very impressed with this knife – especially with it’s sub-$50 price tag.
First off, the SEAL Pup isn’t a large survival knife or a bushcrafting knife. All it takes is one look and you can see this knife is more oriented for tactical use and general utility. The partial hollow grind is not designed for batoning through wood. The steel is stainless, not a high carbon tool steel. Similar things can be said about the sharp tip and double clip blade shape – they aren’t dedicated survival knife features. While it could work in the woods, if you are in the market for a dedicated survival blade that you plan to use extensively in that role I would suggest looking elsewhere.
However, I understand we don’t always get to pick our survival situations, so many might view the Pup as a potential survival blade. If it’s all you have – rock on, I definitely think it will work. But in my mind the SEAL Pup is geared more as a smaller tactical/combat knife which means in addition to serving as a defensive tool, this knife will serve for basic functions like opening packages, cutting rope, preparing food and stuff like that. I think the SEAL Pup would make for a cool camp knife, and could be carried along on day hikes and similar excursions. I also think this could make a good BOB knife. It’s light enough to be an easy carry.
General Dimensions and Blade Details
The SOG website claims the SEAL Pup has an overall length of 9″ a blade length of 4.75″ and a weight of 5.4 ounces. Mine was closer to the SEAL Pup Elite, with a 4.85″ blade and overall length of 9.5″. I don’t have a small scale so I couldn’t weigh the knife, but I know with the sheath this knife still weighs under 10 ounces. That is a great carry weight, and like I alluded to in the “purpose” section, carry-ability is important. That big and bad 30 ounce survival knife might be the best wood splitter in the world, but if you are stuck out on a day hike and didn’t feel like strapping that high carbon beast to your back that morning, I’ll tell you – the SEAL Pup could literally be a lifesaver. So in short, I love the practical dimensions of this knife.
The blade shape on the SEAL Pup is a very cool modified bowie shape that calls back to the “One Zero” knife used by the original SOG special forces team in the Vietnam War. Visually, it’s a very cool design. The SEAL Pup is given a hollow grind and there is a big swedge along the top. Mine came with a combo edge although you can find a plain edge version if you buy the SEAL Pup Elite. Also, the SEAL Pup comes with an attractive metallic gray powdercoated finish. This is a durable finish; it’s not some cheap painted finish that will rub off in the sheath.
The SEAL Pup comes in AUS6 steel. AUS6 is obviously similar to AUS8 – it’s a softer steel that is easy to sharpen. I know it may turn some people off, but I actually find AUS6 to be very tough. For a utility blade and potential survival knife, I think AUS6 is decent because the steel resists chipping and cracking very well. However, it a softer steel and will lose its edge faster than AUS8 because it has a lower carbon content. I would recommend spending the extra money and upgrading to AUS8, which is found in the SEAL Pup Elite. All in all, AUS6 is ok here, not outstanding.
Handle and Ergonomics
The handle is one aspect of the SOG Seal Pup that has been recently updated. The handle is made of black glass reinforced nylon (GRN). GRN a tough handle material that has a nice solid feel in the hand. The handle does not feel light or cheap. This is a full tang knife (or near full tang) so it’s a very strong design. Everything feels very well made.
The Ergonomics on the SEAL Pup are great. The handle has been given 4 finger grooves and has a ramp for your thumb. All the edges have been rounded and almost every inch of the handle has been textured. I find the handle to be both comfortable and grippy. Also, the size of this handle is great too. The previous version had a smaller handle that was less comfortable. I take a large glove, and the upgraded handle fits me well in both forward and reverse grips. This is a very practical design that I am extremely satisfied with.
There is also a large lanyard hole in the pommel that could be a great option depending on how you plan on using this knife.
I was extremely impressed with the sheath on the SEAL Pup. Keep in mind, at retail this is a ~$50 knife. I’ve said it before, but for many knives the sheaths can be a major drag on an otherwise great knife. The SEAL Pup comes with a nylon sheath. You have the option of buying a kydex sheath from SOG for around 20 bucks, which is not a bad. That said, I actually really like the nylon sheath.
First of all, the nylon is of high quality. Next, everything is well built. All the seems are double stitched and riveted. The backing is reinforced with plastic (in between the nylon layers) which provides form and rigidity. The sheath itself has a plastic insert that fits the blade of the SEAL Pup snugly. Even if you don’t use the retention strap, the knife will not fall or shake out. The retention strap is a snap AND velcro. This is an awesome touch. The outside of the sheath has a little pouch with the SOG logo stitched onto a velcro flap. That could be a good spot for a small sharpening stone. My only concern with the sheath is that the retention strap could get cut while quickly drawing the knife.
As you can see, there are multiple attachment points on the back of the sheath. You can thread it through all kind of belts, webbing, etc in addition to the 4 eyelets that can be used to lash the knife down. However, the sheath is not molle compatible. This strikes me as an unfortunate oversight as many people would assume that this style of sheath would work with molle webbing.
All in all I was extremely happy with the nylon sheath on the SEAL Pup.
SOG SEAL Pup – Final Thoughts
What is there left to say? I am very pleased with the SOG SEAL Pup. I have spent a lot of time talking about the design, but I didn’t mention that the fit and finish were also very good. Keep in mind this knife was made in Taiwan, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Everything is well put together. The finish on the blade looks awesome, everything fits together tightly. I love the blade coating, and the edge is razor sharp. Combine that with the refined design of this updated version and I don’t think you will be able to find anything like the SEAL Pup at this price. If you need fixed blade capabilities in your tactical, utility or light duty survival knife then I highly recommend the SOG SEAL Pup.