Comparison of the old versus the new SOG Micro TOOLCLIPIntroduction
I haven’t done a review in a little while, and thus I feel I am out of practice somewhat. Be that as it may, I think a review of the Micro TOOLCLIP from SOG is in order, especially in comparing the older offering to the new.
Now I just found out yesterday that SOG has moved their new Micro TOOLCLIP offerings to Tool Logic. I can’t speculate on why they did this, but after this review, it may give you the clues or possibly even the answer.
Now, a lot of people associate quality with SOG products. Their multi-tool offerings may not be your cup of tea, but most people will agree that their quality control is excellent. I waited with bathed breath for my 4 copies of the new Micro TOOLCLIP from SOG. I was very excited when SOG announced that they were introducing a new version of a golden oldie to many multi-tool enthusiasts. Before my typing of this short review, several MultiTool.org members were not very happy with their copies of the New Micro TOOLCLIP, citing poor quality control, to downright unusable pliers and wire cutters due to excessive plier play. To coincide with this, SOG has only made a very limited run of the new versions due to production issues. It looks like Tool Logic will get the production in the future. if you are reading this and you have a new version with the SOG label on it, keep it as it will be a collector item down the road, if not right now.Enough of the verbosity and onto the actual review.
The SOG Micro TOOLCLIP came out at the same time as the larger TOOLCLIP, which was back in 1991. The new version of the Micro TOOLCLIP came out in late December 2010 after a long delay in releasing the product, and it would appear, in very limited quantities. I do not know the story behind the delay, but I am sure it would make for riveting reading.
Let us get into comparing the two offerings of the old and the new. Can the new beat the old?
(New Micro TOOLCLIP on the top, old Micro TOOLCLIP on the bottom).
Right off the bat, you can see the family resemblance, but there are obvious differences. The new model has a smaller Micro TOOLCLIP on one side of the handle. Likewise, there is also a new rotating keychain loop fixed on the outside of the handle. A new spring for the plier handles is a nice functional feature. The Jaws are quite different even though similar in some ways. There is a new plier locking mechanism, and the tool selection if quite different also. There are more subtle differences which I will attempt to get into in this review.
The new model has upgraded the pocket clip to metal, and it now sports a laser etched SOG logo. The position of the clip now places the pliers down in a pocket as opposed to the older tool with its plastic clip.
Now here is a subtle difference. The older Micro TOOLCLIP has a flat head screwdriver/scrapper on the end of the plier handle. The Newer version now sports a Phillips driver. Now, the older tool has a wider handle spread, meaning you can actually use that flat head driver without having the main body get in the way. The newer version is constrained by that spring mechanism. To add to the injury, the new plier handle has a greater curve. I tried using the Phillips and found that the body came into contact with the surface, meaning I had to angle the driver into the screw slot not giving me positive contact. In other words, that Phillips isn’t as easy as it should be to use at times.
You can’t help but see that they changed the tools selection on both generations. The original had a serrated blade which is absent on the newer version. You now get a combo bottle opener/flat head screwdriver instead of that serrated blade. This can either make or break this tool for you. It was nice to have a serrated blade if you had to do a lot of rope work. However, being able to open your beer after a hard day’s work is also great.
The knife blades differ. The older version has a more traditional blade with a well defined spine and grinding angles. The newer blade does not have these features. Also, the older blade is deeper then the newer offering. Note the difference in nail nick placement.
Another major difference is the file. The older tool (top in the photograph) had a file/flathead screwdriver/wire stripper. The newer tool forgoes the wire stripper for a dual sided file and flathead screwdriver.
Here you can see the other side of that file. Personally, I like the newer file over the older simply because you have a larger surface area, and it is double sided, making it far more versatile then the small one the old version had. The wire stripper is not such a big loss as you can do that duty with the wire cutters…if you are careful.
Here you can see the details of that moveable plier handle. The new version is on the left, and the older vesion is on the right. Well, you can see that the older version was squared off and the newer one is rounded. The older one feels a lot better ergonomically in use then the newer one. Greater surface area for the palm to come into contact is always a good thing. I found that my palm wanted to roll off the newer handle a little. Not much difference but enough to notice when comparing them side by side. Also note that the older model has a rougher finish which sort of translates into less slip.
Now let us look at those jaws. The newer version is on the left, and the older one is on the right. Well, you can clearly see the new jaws locking mechanism on the newer tool. It is that small slider button found just behind the hex bolt. It works great as it moves a piece of steel into a notch in the back of the pliers when closed. To open the tool, just push back on the double sided slider button. I did find an issue when trying to move it with only one finger on one side. It resisted. You have to use two fingers on both sides to get an even pull that won’t sometimes bind. I still like it better than the older version which worked on a two position plastic S clip that slid on and off of the plier handle tip. This plastic piece did sometimes get in the way. The newer version did fix that minor annoyance. Note also that the newer version opens a little wider than the older tool. While we are on this photograph, take a closer look at the differences in plier shape and wire cutter surface area. The newer version has a subtle wire cutout in the handles which you will need because the wire cutters are more recessed then they were on the older version.
While we are still on the differences in plier shape and design, the above photo shows the differences in plier notch and wire cutter. The newer tool may open wider, but the notch is also shallower. Both feature a shear type wire cutter. Note that the older version has two pins for strength. The newer version only has the one with a smaller head at that. On the plus side, that hex bolt means you can hopefully adjust the tension if it gets too lose over time. Also note that the older pliers have a tighter manufacture tolerance to the newer ones.
The above photo shows the easiest way to identify an older tool to the newer one. The older tool has the larger Micro TOOLCLIP, which in this photo is the bottom tool. The newer Micro TOOLCLIP is above the older one. The newer model had to have a smaller logo because of the cutout for the knife blade nail nick…another easy to spot way to differentiate these tools on eBay.
A closer look at those pocket clips. I very much like the newer over the old. You can’t beat a steel clip over a plastic one.
I had to prop these tools in order to get an inside shot…hence the two newer Micro TOOLCLIPS on each side. What I want you to focus on however, is the two black models in the middle. The newer Micro TOOLCLIP is on the right, the older version, on the left. Note that the interior construction is vastly different. The older tool has more of a quality snap to it. The newer tool lacks this important feedback. Also take a look at the plier construction. Which one do you this is built heavier duty?
A different angle to the above photograph.
Here, you see both tools from a top down view. You can clearly see that pesky plastic retention clip on the tip of the handle on the older tool on the right. The newer tool on the left does not have this. I guess one could argue that the plastic clip also acted as a protector to your pocket and fingers. I am sure it served both purposes. I just found it got in the way overall. Note the very subtle increase in thickness of the plastic handles on the newer tool that the old one lacked.Conclusion
Well there you have it. I was very excited with the announcement of the new update of a venerable old model in the SOG lineup. There were many release date delays, which proved in some fashion that SOG had quality issues with the production. I have 4 copies, and some do show some slight quality variations. Some forum members have had real stinkers that should have never gotten out of the factory doors…but with that said, these are highly desirable to collectors due the limited run, and the recent news that SOG has not discontinued this tool, but has decided to send production to one of their subsidiaries…Tool Logic. SOG has a good reputation for excellent quality control…and it looks to me, that they found the new run of the Micro TOOLCLIP did not hit their high standards mark as often as they would like it to. But I could be wrong on this info, as I am only going on what I have read in Multi-tool.org.
With that said there is also a lot to like and dislike about the new Micro TOOLCLIP.New Micro TOOLCLIPPros:
- Hex bolt construction on jaw pivot point.
- Metal pocket clip.
- Sliding jaw lock.
- Spring loaded handle.
- A better file.
- Subtly beefed up handles.Cons:
- Quality control all over the map.
- Phillips on handle tip has poor geometry in relation to body.
- Shorter wire cutters.
- No folding tool spring action snap.
- Slippery rounded handle not as nice as the square older one.
- Missing serrated blade and wire stripper found on the older model.Old Micro TOOLCLIPPros:
- Higher quality control translates in higher overall fit and finish compared to the newer version.
- Handle geometry to body allows proper use of the flathead screwdriver/scraper found on the handle tip.
- Square flat handle with rougher texture has better ergonomics.
- Does have a serrated knife for rope work.Cons:
- Plastic pocket clip.
- Annoying plastic handle retainer clip.
- File is only one sided and much smaller than the newer version.
- Double bottom jaw pins for strength and durability.
- No hex bolt construction…not user adjustable.
- Handle is not spring loaded.
- Lack of a Phillips driver.
The newer version does improve on several of the older tools faults. Many of these improvements are subtle and minute…but they do add up. There are also some big issues, such as quality control. The lack of fit and finish found on some member’s copies as witnessed by photographs, does indicate a sort of lottery when buying this first and possibly only SOG run. As a pure collector piece…go for it. As a user, you may also find a lot to like about this small tool provided you can get a good copy.