Multi-tools are designed to be there when you need it, and accomplish the task at hand without having to stop and make a trip to the tool box. Often times, a tool box isn’t even available, and the multi-tool has to be a jack-of-all-trades. With a year of use behind my SOG Power Assist, I can readily report that the Power Assist is up to the task.
Luke’s One Year Assessment:
Since this is the second half of this year long report, I’ll spare you the details and specifics of the Power Assist. What does bear repeating is that the Power Assist is an all stainless multi-tool designed with two assisted opening blades, one plain edge, one serrated. These assisted opening blades are built into one side of the handle, and open with a minimum amount of effort without having to open the entire tool. A built in latch prevents the blades from opening when not called upon, and each blades locks open when deployed.
The Power Assist is built on the SOG Power Plier jaw mechanism. Each jaw of the pliers is controlled by a gear driven pivot system that uses mechanical advantage to compound the energy exerted by the user. This is hands down my favorite aspect of the tool… the pliers are incredibly strong. The power you’re able to exert with the jaws is way above what you exert on the handles. This truly shines when holding or twisting on bolts, rounded off nuts, and the like.
Truth be told, this is my second Power Assist. My first one, the one originally sent to me for this review, suffered a breakage in the blade lock release. During normal use, the button tab that allows the user to release the blade lock broke off, preventing me from unlocking the main blade. As best as I can tell, the lock release button sheared off flush with the internal locking bar during unlocking the plain edge blade. I was still able to unlock the blade using the tip of a mechanical pencil, but this problem effectively took the main blade out of regular use. After contacting SOG, they insisted I return the Power Assist to them for repair or replacement.
Within about two weeks, I received a replacement Power Assist straight from SOG. My replacement Power Assist showed some design changes, most notably in the pivot bolts for the jaws and tools of the multi-tool. While my first version of the Power Assist had hex-head style pivots bolts, my second version had Allen-wrench adjustable bolts. From what I can tell, my second version is otherwise exactly the same as my first. While this problem was a little frustrating, I can report that SOG’s customer assistance is top notch.
Use of my Power Assist ran the gamut from cleaning fish and removing hooks in south Louisiana, to adjusting the iron sights on my M4 carbine, to adjusting my carburetor on my old Bronco while high in the central Rockies of Colorado. The Power Assist accompanied me nearly everywhere, and since this was intended to be a full year review, I used it for everything that came up. On one fishing trip, I carried the Power Assist as my only knife/tool for several days. It did everything from preparing trot-lines, to opening beer, cleaning fish, and repairing trolling motors. From a ‘one-knife’ scenario, the Power Assist was able to hold its own with the combination of tools typically employed for these types of uses. During a subsequent camping trip, I combined the Power Assist with the SOG Aegis folder, and found this combination to be perfect for me. Throw in a quality fixed blade and all the bases would be covered comfortably.
In my garage I found the Power Assist very handy to have around. While doing quite a lot of fabrication on my old Bronco, I used the wire cutters on the Power Assist extensively. Anyone that has experience with a wire welder, like my Miller 130 machine, will tell you that you constantly have to cut the welding wire at the tip to keep things running smoothly. Over the year of use I would estimate I cut welding wire approximately 200 times. While welding wire isn’t particularly difficult to cut, doing it so much while it’s often red-hot is quite the task. I have yet to have any issues with the Power Assist’s cutting jaws.
A great feature, and one of my favorites, is the crimper under the Power Assist’s jaws. This is a fantastic feature that isn’t used much, but when you need it, it’s all that will do. I’ve crimped dozens of barrel connectors while wiring up headlights, ignitions, etc, with great success. Another aspect of the Power Assist I’ve grown to appreciate is the file with flat screwdriver tip. The screwdriver tip on the long file gives you plenty of reach without having to squeeze the handles into hard to reach places. I appreciated this while adjusting fuel/air mixture screws while out on the trail. The file itself kept my cutting edges up to par, and held up very well through typical use.
I have had equal success with all the other tools as well. The drivers all perform like you would expect, and lock securely into place. The V-cutter is nice, but it’s really the only feature I didn’t have much use for. It did perform very well on heavy duty zip-ties, small cord, and webbing during testing, but I typically deferred to the sheep’s foot shaped serrated blade instead of the V-cutter in use. If I were to pick the tools to include in the Power Assist, I’d build it just like SOG did, except with a wood saw instead of the V-cutter. Ultimately this is the end user’s choice, as all tools on the Power Assist are replaceable and able to be purchased individually from SOG.
Overall I’m very happy with the SOG Power Assist. Even after the initial breakage, I would confidently recommend the Power Assist to anyone looking for a quality multi-tool. The pliers are incredibly robust, and the included tools will handle just about any task you’d encounter while out an about. The blades are easy to open and close, sharpen easily, and hold their edge well. The stainless construction makes for a durable tool that’s easy to maintain. With a MSRP of $119.25 straight from SOG, I found the best street prices in the $70-$75 range from major online retailers. For roughly seventy bucks, the Power Assist is big value. If you’re looking for a quality multi-tool that will hold up over time, give the Power Assist a look.
David’s One Year Thoughts:
The Power Assist was the first multi tool from SOG I’ve had the pleasure of using for any length of time, and over the past year it has been enjoyable to use. Whenever the opportunity has arisen to use it, I am reminded of the beefy, sturdy quality of the tool. The single most incredible stand out feature of the Power Assist is the pliers. Whenever a really great set of pliers is need around the house I’ve ended up grabbing the SOG out of my tool box instead of any number of other choices. The fact that there are two knife blades, screwdrivers, a file, and the V-cut tool are mostly secondary.
The main reason why the Power Assist has ended up as a tool box and house based is not because of a lack of quality. The overall size and weight makes it slightly less convenient to carry around than my other multi tools, and the assist mechanism that limits one side of the handle to only holding two knife blades removes the ability of the tool to have a saw built in. Because of those two reasons, it isn’t perfectly suited for the way I use a multi tool.
Everything else about the SOG has been excellent. The geared pliers’ mechanism has held up perfectly, showing the same amount of grab and the same finely tuned motion as when it was brand new. Some of the tools on the market will loosen up over time; thankfully the Power assist has not. The knife blades have performed to the level of expectation that I’ve come to expect from AUS-8 steel, which means that they hold an edge very well, but not as long as most of the fancier super steels that are on the market. The file and the screwdrivers have held up well, with the file cutting just about as efficiently as it did brand new even after plenty of use, and the screwdriver bits have not rounded, chipped, or warped.
Overall I am still just as impressed with the SOG Power Assist as I was when I first received it for review, and it has earned a permanent home in my toolbox. I’d still highly recommend it for someone who wants the quality of a SOG multi tool combined with the quick action of an assisted blade pocket knife.