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PowerLock one-year test update

Offline Runs With Scissors

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PowerLock one-year test update
on: May 23, 2008, 07:41:41 AM
Long time lurker, first time poster.  Sort of like 'long time listener, first time caller' on talk radio, but I digress...  Last year for my birthday I received a SOG PowerLock EOD with the black oxide coating (B61).  After living for a year with it, I figured I may as well post a one-year update, like they do in the auto magazines.

This was my first pliers-type multitool, so I did a bit of research among the big four: SOG, Leatherman, Gerber and Victorinox--in no particular order, so please, no flaming.  The reviews and forums on this site also helped tremendously, so thanks much to all parties involved.

In the end, I chose SOG chiefly for the advertised strength of the pliers.  I'm not in the military or into explosives, but I specifically chose the B61 for two reasons.  First, I figured the black oxide coating would provide added protection against rust in the the humid climate I live in.  The second reason was the blasting cap crimper.  The closest thing to a blasting cap I've ever come across was the tiny red plastic doohickeys I popped in toy guns as a kid.  But I figured, hey, you'll never know when you might need something like this.  It's like the glass hammer/seatbelt cutter I keep in the car.

So shopped around for a good deal, placed my order, and 7-10 days later received my new toy in the mail.  Now, after twelve months (give or take a couple of weeks) of use and abuse, how am I finding life with my toy?  A blow-by-blow rundown, with letter grades for the 'in-a-nutshell' folk:

Yes, the black oxide got all over my hands when I opened the package.  Yes, the black oxide scratches easily.  But it's more than made up for that in rust resistance: nary a speck anywhere.  The main areas that have had the BO worn off are the pivot points for the locks, but that's due to normal wear.  Overall though, the tool has an earthy, 'used' look about it that I dig.  It's also a bit menacing when I whip it out and show it off to people.  The tool, I mean.  GRADE: A-

This was another selling point for the PowerLock: the relative ease of taking it apart to clean it.  I've done that several times, especially early on when I had a problem with sand and, strangely enough, powder off of cheese curls getting in the gears.  (Please don't ask.)  I give my baby a weekly shot of WD40, both as protectant and lubricant.  Some here don't care for WD as a lubricant, but I've found it works decent enough, especially since I clean the tool weekly.

Last week on a whim I used some silicone spray instead of WD.  I normally use the silicone to maintain the O-rings on my SureFire flashlight.  After the spray- and wipe-down, the tool took on a mottled appearance, almost like water spots.  I didn't think the BO finish would be permanently affected, but just to be safe I reapplied WD.  Ah, back to normal.  No harm, no foul.  GRADE: B+

If you've never handled a PowerLock before, they are quite hefty.  Never having handled a Surge or Swisstool before, I can't say how much they weigh in relation, but the PowerLock is quite a load hanging off your belt.  For some reason, I've always thought Heavy Tool = Quality.  Yeah, yeah, that's not always the case.  I'm also not a hiker or camper, so I'm not looking to shed every last possible ounce.  There's something reassuring about its weight that I like.

The tool is also a big sucker, but again, without any prior experience with other brands/models, I can't make a proper comparison.  (Though it looks like the Surge would dwarf it side-by-side.)  GRADE: B

The tool came in great condition.  Even though I've taken it apart a few times, it still functions normally.  There's a bit of slop in the pliers, but this may be due to my not adjusting the hex bolts back to factory spec.  It's something I can live with.  GRADE: A-

Tool Selection/Usage
The pliers, simply put, RAWK--they have awesome grip.  The only niggle I have is about the teeth in the middle of the jaw: they could stand to be a bit sharper and less rounded.  I use the pliers mostly for pulling instead of turning, anyway--and they're great for securely grabbing a hot grate off of a charcoal grill.

I greatly preferred that my first multitool had a pair of scissors.  Either that, or carry around my SAK Classic SD on my keyring, which has come in quite handy through the years.  Gerber has, arguably, the best scissors (Fiskars); Leatherman has what would appear to be the most comfortable (especially the Surge); Victorinox unfortunately doesn't have scissors on their BO models.  The PowerLock has scissors.  That's all I'll say about them.

The awl is a welcome addition.  It's not something I use regularly, but every once in a while, I'll get a stone in the deepest recesses in the tread of my shoes.  It's perfect for popping the little buggers right out.  I wish it had a sewing eye, but then again, I don't plan on stringing together buckskin with catgut anytime soon.

The knife is a combo straight/serrated affair.  The best of both worlds, I suppose.  The blade was super-sharp right out the box and it's stayed sharp, too, with minimal maintenance.  Good thing, since I'm admittedly not the world's best at honing blades.

While I've not used the file on metal, it works great on wood, especially the coarse side.  The saw is decent as well, though a couple of times I've had to stop sawing to pick out shavings from the teeth.  Of course, most of the types of branches I've hacked away at were semi-green, so that may have had something to do with it.

The can opener is the one implement I've yet to use.  I can't say that the thought of dipping an unsanitary metal blade down into a can of foodstuffs is particularly appealing, but then again, I can't say that I won't do it tomorrow, either.  On the other hand, I've used the bottle opener on more than one occasion.  On my preferred bottle of brew, the opener slips off, as if I can't get enough of a toehold underneath the cap.  When I do manage to get a grip (like that will ever happen, ha ha) I just end up pulling up a small lip on the cap.  It's like there's not enough of a 'hook' to the device, so it usually takes me two attempts to get the cap off.

There's a nice array of flathead screwdrivers, though I wish the smallest-sized one (on the can opener) had more of a shank to it.  It's just a little nib--any type of deep or countersunk screw requires breaking out a jeweler's screwdriver.  The Phillips, on the other hand, is spot-on.  It's probably my favorite (and most-used) implement of all.  I use it on everything from electronics to doorknobs.

The wire cutters, however, are the least-used part of the PowerLock.  They're right there, and they work great, but I'm a bit hesitant to overuse them for fear of pitting them.  I must confess, they did come in quite handy when I was tasked to strip a few rooms' worth of copper wire salvaged from a renovation project.  Other than that, I've mostly deferred to dedicated strippers 'n' nippers.

My PowerLock is apparently from an older generation.  My bottle opener has the litttle V-notch wire stripper.  From what I've learned, the bottle opener component isn't available with the notch anymore.  Suits me just fine--just a bit more built-in utility.  GRADE: B- (this would've been higher if not for the scissors)

The tools clump.  Yes, that's something that annoys some people, but I'm perfectly comfortable with it.  At least I'm able to access the tools, unlike some other brands I've come to look at, which require fingernails to dig the implements out.  Speaking as someone who's bit his nails for most of his life, the clumping feature is okay (though I'm slowly but surely recovering from my nail-biting habit.)

I have a love-hate relationship with the handle covers--or as I call them, the wings.  Ask me on Wednesday if I like them, I'll say yes; chances are on Thursday I'll be against them.  The tool is certainly lightened with them off, but as I said above, weight isn't an issue.  Ease of access may be, though.  The pliers are more comfortable with them off, but only marginally more so than with the wings on.  GRADE: B- (only because I can't decide about the wings)

A few months ago I contacted SOG customer support with a question, and they were very prompt and informative with their reply.  If I ever need their services again, I'm confident that they'll be as helpful in the future.

The sheath that came with my PowerLock was leather.  Leather, Cordura--I have no personal preference.  However, the sheath seems to ride high on my belt.  One thing I've noticed is that the loop on the back is wide and loose enough to allow the sheath to be tilted at an angle.  This may or may not be by design.  Tilting the sheath as I wear it (right rear, above my hip pocket) allows better access to the tool than if the sheath was vertical.  Think of the chest pockets on the Army ACU--they're canted to allow better cross-body access.  GRADE: A

I love my PowerLock.  It's something I keep with me nearly all the time, rarely out of arm's length.  Granted, some of the functions of the tool could've been executed a bit better, and some of the implements thought out a bit better.  But if there's one thing I've learned in doing my original research, there's no such thing as a perfect multitool.  If there was such an animal, there'd only be one company making them and a hundred others would be out of business.  As it is, the animal I got a year ago has behaved itself and performed admirably.


us Offline WH867

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Re: PowerLock one-year test update
Reply #1 on: May 23, 2008, 08:04:47 AM
Great review, and welcome to the forum.   I agree with pretty much everything you said.  I like the looks of my BO Powerlock but usually EDC a regular stainless one.  I have used my wire cutters quite a bit and have'nt  Noticed any problems so far.

ph Offline edap617

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Re: PowerLock one-year test update
Reply #2 on: May 23, 2008, 09:01:17 AM
Welcome to the forum RWS!

gb Offline Mike, Lord of the Spammers!

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Re: PowerLock one-year test update
Reply #3 on: May 23, 2008, 09:42:43 AM
Welcome to the forum mate, and thanks for a great review :cheers:
Give in, buy several Farmer's!!!!!!

au Offline MultiMat

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Re: PowerLock one-year test update
Reply #4 on: May 23, 2008, 02:52:19 PM
Thats a great review, how about some pics of your black beauty  :pok:. That is a top name you have there too  :D :D

"Downunder Mod (that sounds dirty, doesn't it?)"
Yeh Baby :P >:D >:D

Offline Leatherman123

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Re: PowerLock one-year test update
Reply #5 on: May 23, 2008, 08:23:30 PM
Welcome to the forum! Great review BTW!

us Offline Spoonrobot

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Re: PowerLock one-year test update
Reply #6 on: May 23, 2008, 08:30:34 PM
Welcome to the forums.

That is a wholly awesome review of the PowerLock. Are you planning on sticking with the tool for the future?

england Offline Dunc

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Re: PowerLock one-year test update
Reply #7 on: May 23, 2008, 09:37:42 PM
Welcome to the forum  :D Very nice review too .


us Offline ducktapehero

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Re: PowerLock one-year test update
Reply #8 on: May 23, 2008, 10:15:05 PM
Great review. I have an SOG Powerlock but it just sits in my wife's car. I don't wear sheaths so the bigger tools I own get stuck somewhere I can access them easily. - or follow me on Twitter- @ducksthoughts

It's hard to say nipple without smirking.

ca Offline Grant Lamontagne

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Re: PowerLock one-year test update
Reply #9 on: May 24, 2008, 12:36:31 AM
A B+ isn't such a bad grade for a multitool- I have found that they are always a compromise of some sort, but they sure beat the alternative. 

Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.

us Offline Smitty44

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Re: PowerLock one-year test update
Reply #10 on: May 24, 2008, 07:09:30 AM
Welcome,and great review,you need to get some more MT's so we can get some more good reviews.

Offline Anthony

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Re: PowerLock one-year test update
Reply #11 on: May 24, 2008, 06:44:26 PM
Great review man and welcome!

I've used the wire cutters on my Powerlock a lot and there's no damage to them, so I woulden't worry about that.  I even snapped a coiled spring with the hard wire cutter notch and aside from some of the BO coating coming off, the wire cutteres are unharmed.


england Offline Benner

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Re: PowerLock one-year test update
Reply #12 on: May 24, 2008, 10:26:45 PM
Nice review mate.  :)  And welcome to the forum.
I'm back!!



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