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Last Updated: August 23, 2019
To many, SOG is known for their more inexpensive knives. As far as folders go, when you say “SOG Knives” people often have images of the Aegis, Trident and Flash in their head. Perhaps a SEAL Pup fixed blade might be on the back of their mind as well when they are thinking of the brand. This is fine, as SOG makes some excellent high value knives, but they do a lot more than make knives in the ~$50 and under range. The Visionary II just happens to be one of these knives.
Buy the SOG Visionary II at BladeHQ
Made in SEKI City Japan and retailing for around $100, it only takes a moment upon handling the knife to realize that this is not your typical SOG. I think these are somewhat under-appreciated blades so I’m excited to take a closer look and share some thoughts on the knife.
General Dimensions and Blade Details
The Visionary II has a 3.75″ blade, an overall length of 8.37″ and a weight of 4.3 ounces. With these dimensions, and the inclusion of an arc lock (which is very similar to an axis lock) I can’t help but compare this knife to the Benchmade Griptilian. Indeed, the stats are similar (3.45″/8.07″/3.8oz for the Grip). They also share similarities in handle construction (reinforced plastic handles over steel liners) and they both feature mid/high end blade steel. However, the Visionary is a completely different knife so I’ll try to remain as detached as the hamster wheel in my head will allow.
The blade shape on the Visionary II is a modified drop point. It’s a sleek and sexy design with a swedge and belly forming a nice sturdy tip. There is a slight recurve for draw cutting and the entire knife has been given an attractive black powdercoat. This blade shape strikes me as particularly well suited for tactical applications. You have some good penetration power and recurves can be devastating when used on soft materials. I also think there are a lot of good utility applications for this blade, so we could have a larger EDC knife on our hands too. All in all this is a very nice blade, it’s well thought out and beautifully executed with a keen edg and high hollow grind.
The steel on the Visionary II is VG10. This is a very nice mid to high end Japanese stainless steel. VG10 is capable of getting extremely sharp, and will do a good job holding onto that edge. It’s a high quality steel and I find it to be a substantial upgrade over the AUS8 found in SOG’s more affordable offerings.
Handle, Ergonomics and Pocket Clip
The handles on the Visionary II are glass reinforced nylon (GRN), which is very similar to FRN (in fact I think it’s actually the same as FRN). Underneath the GRN we have full stainless steel liners. These liners are not milled out, but instead have been given an almost mirror polish. They are very well put together and line up flush. The rest of the handle is a simple, open back design with a couple pillars and a small lanyard hole.
Ergonomics on the Visionary II are good. The handle is plain but it features a nice finger choil and the corners have all been nicely rounded. On the spine of the blade there is a nice thumb ramp with some functional jimping. This style of handle emphasizes maximum reach rather than choking for ultimate control. It’s a design well suited for tactical tasks, but could do detailed work in a pinch.
The pocket clip is odd looking but well done. It’s been given a black coating, and like many SOG folders this is a deep ride clip that allows for ambidextrous tip up carry. Clip retention is good and despite the admittedly funky design, I think it works well and is a good clip overall.
Deployment and Lockup
The Visionary II has ambidextrous thumb studs for deployment. They are fairly easy to get at and with some force the knife springs to life. Honestly, compared with something like the Griptilian I found deployment to be a little difficult. Maybe it’s the shape of the thumb studs, maybe it’s the positioning, maybe it’s the washers. This is me being extremely picky, but something about it just didn’t 100% click. I suspect that swapping out the teflon washers for phosphor bronze washers would offer a substantial improvement in speed. I will say the deployment was very smooth overall.
Lockup on the Visionary II is solid. The nice thing about the arc-lock on these higher end SOGs is that it is fully ambidextrous and you can disengage it with one hand. If you are unfamiliar with this kind of lock, it is similar to the axis lock. If we are to do an apples to apples comparison here, my preference leans slightly towards the axis lock. But I know some people favor the arc lock. Really they are both pretty similar and function very well.
SOG Visionary II Review – Final Thoughts
All in all the Visionary II is a nice offering from SOG. What you get here is a well made Japanese knife, with good steel, excellent fit and finish and solid construction. I like the powdercoated blade, the comfortable handle, and how everything is assembled to very tight tolerances. To me deployment was just slightly awkward, but perhaps I needed to spend more time playing with the pivot (blade centering was perfect by the way).
All in all, this is a very solid offering, and a nice upgrade over SOG’s more basic offerings. If the Visionary II is a knife you like on paper, then I think that you will be pleased with it. Recommended to those that like the design.
I recommend purchasing the SOG Visionary II at Amazon or BladeHQ. Thanks for reading.
On my Spec Elite, I often used the arc-lock to free the blade to flick open. Check the main pivot screw to see if that is too tight.
It looks really good. The size is good and VG10 is an extreme good stainless for fine edges. If I’m not mistaken VG10 is the middle layer of Fallkniven’s laminate steel. The blade shape is also identical to the Spec-Elite I & II. A good multi-role style.
It is good to see some better steels being used by SOG. They seem to have no issues doing this in their folding blades. I just they would pass that on to their fixed blades. A VG10 fixed blade visionary would be a wonderful knife for either defense, edc, or hunting. Good post.
Thanks RK! Just to clarify, I can flick open the Vis II, but it’s just a little awkward (maybe it’s me – I’m incredibly awkward at times). It was a really minor issue. VG10 is used in a lot of nice knives, I think you are right, Fallkniven uses it on some of their blades, Mcusta uses it, Spyderco uses it and many more. It’s a healthy upgrade from AUS8.
I agree, a fixed blade version of this one would be really cool! Thanks for reading man.
That’s one sleak lookin’ sumbich right there. Knice review Daanno!
Thank you Scott! 🙂
So a Japanese-made SOG-designed griptillian?
While I applaud the move to VG-10 I still can’t get over the ugly clip or the very “aestetic” blade. Most of all I can’t get over the cheap feeling each and every SOG has left me with (even before I knew how much good knives cost my mates wobbly Flash II felt….cheap). They make decent multitools and cheap fixies but I think I’d rather spent my money elsewhere.
As usual you do a good job, just too bad that it’s on a bad blade IMO. Ah well, life is hard for some…^^
Aesthetic considerations aside I gotta stand up for the quality on this one. It’s really solid. I’ve had blade play with some of the cheaper Taiwanese SOGs so I know exactly where you are coming from, but this Japanese built SOG is a tank.
And lol, yeah… I review em all. I try to mainly review stuff I’m really excited about, but occasionally I’ll get something in a trade and figure “well, I have the knife, might as well do a review.” Maybe it’s not a knife I’m super excited about, or maybe I was excited at the time but kinda went cold. Either way I try to provide the straight story. You’re right – it’s a hard life but someone has to do it. 😉 Thanks for reading man, always nice to hear your thoughts.
You wouldn’t know who it is that makes these? If it’s G.Sakai (who make amongst others Spydercos’ Seki blades) I’d be surpriced if it was anything but excellent.
In all honesty, the quality of a proper Japanese knife is on par with some of the best 1’st world quality blades. With the Sage-series showing the quality that can be had from Taiwan things are looking up for the rest of the asian knife industry (and also it gives SOG even less of an excuse to send out rattly blades).
If I’d have a store where I could try these out I might change my mind. I’d definitely give it a once-over.
I’m not sure if they are made by G. Sakai, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did – the fit and finish is easily on par with my Japanese Spydercos. I agree, the knives coming out of Taiwan these days are just incredible, and the Japanese have proven again and again that they know how to make beautiful and highly functional knives. Honestly I think the blade play in SOG’s more inexpensive folders are more a byproduct of their design – the lack of liners and assisted opening mechanism practically asks for play. Here the Visionary has full liners and a nice beefy pivot, in practice it really makes for a big difference.
I definitely encourage giving this knife some hands on time if you get the chance. I think you will be pleasantly surprised!
A little late by yes, they were made by G.Sakai. I know because I saw them being made at the factory in Seki. Along with the Spydercos.
Unfortunately SOG has ended all Seki production and gone to Taiwan.
I have a number of Benchmade assisted knives and otherwise manual openers. The Barrage Tanto is my favorite. Great everyday carry. Recently I acquired a SOG Vulcan which is my current EDC. Although it’s not axis-assisted, the arc-lock and a slight flick of the wrist opens it very quickly. Very fine Japanese built version. I also have a little SOG Bluto that’s pretty cute. Makes a good skinner of small game.
Hi Marcus, Thanks for stopping by. I owned a Vulcan for a short period of time and agree that the Japanese SOGs are their best – they are actually pretty solid and decent knives.
Wow, finally so,some hit it on the head with that introduction. I think everyone thinks of Sog’s flash, aegis, trident line before they even consider these VG10, Seki Japan knives. I’m assuming because unlike the Visiomary, the trident, aegis, flash are more affordable and people flock to them and make judgment.
I, however, first purchased my Sog Mini Xray vision back in 2002 and loved the quality and then found out about the plasticy series. I now own 6 Sog’s with their VG10, arc lock line. Visionary 2, mini xray vision, spec elite 1, (2) Bluto, and a Vulcan.
I have their Flashback and Flash 2, also. I find myself usually abusing them more because I know they’re a bit more affordable.
Thank you, Alex!
hey I am looking at buying a good self defense pocket knife that is really durable and keeps a sharp edge. I could also see using this knife rarely for around the house chores or other. I mean I still want to be able to use this knife in a pinch for everyday tuff but the main focus is tactical. I think VG 10 is a good choice and I like the visionary 2, the other knife I was looking for was also a SOG called the Twitch 2 XL I wonder what your opinion is on a comparison on these two knives for my above requirements or if you have a different suggestion? I do not like part serrated or anything I like knives that are like this one or the SOG TAC in design. I ask you your thoughts good sir. by the way awesome review very informative and you did a good job trying to be unbiased 🙂
Thanks for stopping by and providing some feedback. I am glad to hear you have been enjoying the site. I’ll take your other comment into account as well in forming a suggestion or two for you, for a self defense capable folder that is assisted opening.
Given your price range (less than $170) I might start by suggesting the Benchmade Barrage (which is likely at the top of your budget). The Benchmade Volli is closer to $100 and has a lot of the same features of the Barrage so I think it’s a good choice for an assisted opening folder as well. These are no-nonsense folding knives that are reliable and make use of a spring assist. These would probably be my top choice for you.
For even less money (~$50) you may want to check out the Kershaw Knockout. It’s not as stout as the Benchmades but it’s a larger assisted opening folder and gives you some options for getting at the blade.
The Zero Tolerance 0566 and 0350 are two assisted openers in the $100 range. They are a little smaller, and the 0350 is difficult to sharpen with it’s curved blade, but they could both work for you.
SOG makes a decent knife but their best ones are their Japanese made folders (like the Visionary II) and Vulcan. These aren’t assisted openers. Their Taiwanese folders like the Twitch 2 XL aren’t as stout as some of the other folders I have recommended.
Of course if you open up your options to un-assisted openers there are a ton. A good place to look would be my best tactical knives page. Lots of good suggestions in there.
Thanks again for reading. Good luck finding the perfect knife!
I forgot one thing lol I do want it to be assisted open if possible. I just noticed that this is not and doesn’t even have a kick or lever on the side to open it and just relies on a nob to open… how fast can it be open. for example I work security for high end events .. if I need a knife out I need it out fast. can it be deployed quickly enough for my possible situations that I might encounter at work and on the street? options..? thoughts…? also I can’t probably afford a knif higher in price that 170 anyway .. I know this is a lot of info but I wanted to know if you had an idea if a perfect or at least a good enough knife for my needs existed in my price range?
I know this is a really old review but I just bought the knife new in store for $70.. Mine came centered, no play and a good edge..As you said, the ARC lock is similiar to the Axis but not as smooth..I know what attracted me to the knife.. I’m a big BM 940 fan.. The handle looks very much like a larger 940.. They got Benchmade twice. It’s the best SOG folding knife I’ve found. The Zoom seems nice too but I don’t like A/O knives..
I’m not a fan of recurves but it’s not bad and nice blade shape overall. The FRN handles feel solid and of decent quality. I’ve used it some and it’s a good slicer..Mine is a little stiff opening/closing but manageable.. Lube seemed to make it better then worse..
Id buy the knife again.. Decent job by SOG…
Although it’s an older review I am glad the information is still valuable and accurate. I am glad you are enjoying your Visionary II. I think this is one of the nicer SOGs out there. It remains a good choice even years later.