The SOG Flash II was the first knife I started carrying daily. I've had this model (a slightly older version than the one currently offered by SOG) for nearly 8 years. It's seen a decent amount of use and has been plenty loved.
I own the aluminum handled version with a partially serrated blade. The following review is considering it as close to new as possible; any wear that has occurred with age will not adversely affect the score. While SOG has slightly adjusted their locking mechanism the knife hasn't changed much since this particular model was purchased; as such, I imagine this discussion is still relevant for current iterations. Also, it appears that SOG is no longer producing an aluminum handled model; this isn't necessarily a bad thing as the glass-reinforced nylon handles drop the price to a more reasonable level. This is the closest model SOG currently offers.
There are plenty of variations of the Flash II. Too many to list. Their MSRP is around $80.00 and they can be found online in the ballpark of $45.00.
Blade Material: 1/2
For some reason SOG loves its AUS-8 steel. I would prefer that they didn't. AUS-8 is a mid-range steel that, in my experience, requires far too much effort to keep sharp. After opening a stack of packages it's back to the sharpener or you're struggling with a dull blade. I've found myself sharpening it at least twice a week just to keep a decent edge. SOG does a decent heat-treatment on it, but it's still a bit of a disappointment. Sure, it's relatively easy to replace the edge, but it's not worth the tradeoff, in my opinion. In the grand scheme of things, it's not a terrible steel, but it's not high-end by any stretch.
Fit of Parts: 1/2
Lateral blade play, even when closed. It's something that I'm so frustrated with on the Flash II that I'm willing to dock it points in both this category and on its locking mechanism. When closed, the blade can travel the width of the inner handle area. It is, by far, one of the most irritating things that I've endured on a knife.
Blade Shape: 2/2
The Flash II sports a basic drop point blade. It's a great everyday carry shape and is well-suited to most cutting tasks.
Blade Grind: 2/2
The full flat grind on the Flash II is executed well. It's a robust grind that stands up to (relative) punishment well.
The lock-up on this knife is sloppy. There is plenty of lateral play in the blade. It wiggles visibly in a manner that doesn't engender confidence whatsoever. I can't remember if it was sloppy from day one, or if it has loosened with use, but even if the latter is the case there is no reason that it should have. I even had the pivot bearing and locking mechanism tightened under warranty and it didn't really change much.
Sure, I haven't experienced catastrophic failure of the locking mechanism, it hasn't closed on my hand or something awful, but a decent mechanism shouldn't allow that much (or any) lateral movement in an open (or closed) blade.
Perhaps this is a problem that has been alleviated with the newer (looking) locking mechanism, but from what I've read, it's problem with all the Flash series.
Design Concept: 1/2
I was initially drawn to the Flash II because it's a neat looking knife. That said, after carrying it for a long while, there are a few things that bother me. For example, the area of the blade that engages with the lock is exposed when the blade is closed; this annoys me. The handle could have been designed in such a manner as to avoid exposing this portion of the blade.
I have the aluminum handled model. The scales are nicely textured and there is adequate purchase when using the knife.
Deployment Method: 1/2
The assisted opening system on the Flash II isn't terrible. It can be addictive to play with but I'm not buying SOG's assertion that it has "wicked-quick blade access." The assisted opening isn't the fastest I've played with (the Kershaw Leek springs open far quicker). Moreover, the thumb stud isn't the best out there; it seems a bit small due to its tapered design and close proximity to the handle. A well-designed manual blade can be just as fast if not faster.
They also say that they had the "foresight to incorporate an additional safety lock" such that there would be "added security" when the blade is closed. I'm a bit confused by this statement. It's a knife that features an assisted opening mechanism. As such, it can be assumed that the knife is designed for rapid deployment. However, the additional safety lock merely adds another step in the opening process. Sure, you can leave it off when the knife is in your pocket but why even have it there? It just seems like a superfluous feature.
Carry Method: 2/2
If there's one thing that SOG has done right with some of their folding knives it's their deep carry pocket clips. I do quite like the rear-mounted clip. It allows the whole knife to sit in the pocket with only the very top of the pocket clip exposed. It's more discrete than other clips, which can be an asset in certain pairs of pants. I don't mind sporting a more visible knife and I doubt others often notice when I do, but it's a great feature.
Moreover, the clip design forces tip-up carry. While choice is sometimes a good thing, there really isn't much of a reason to offer tip-down carry on most knives. There are no good reasons to carry tip-down.
My one gripe is the size of the lanyard hole. It's relatively small. My go-to lanyard material is gutted paracord and the lanyard hole on the Flash II is too small to accept a piece. This isn't something that I would consider a glaring flaw, though, just a minor inconvenience.
Carry Comfort: 1/2
This knife is thick. It's thicker than my Para-Military2, my CRKT M16-14SFG, and various other knives in my collection. That said, it's not uncomfortable to carry. The knife's profile, coupled with the deep carry pocket clip, makes it sit pretty well in a pocket.
The SOG Flash II could make a good entry-level EDC blade. It's not too terribly expensive and, overall, is a decent value for your money.