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I’ve never been a fan of assisted or auto knives. I’ve just never seen the need. A good flipper or thumb stud has me covered in terms of deployment. I suppose I can see the usefulness of an auto knife a LEO backup weapon and the like, but for the average EDC-er it just seemed like a complication — both legal and mechanical — that I didn’t need.

I have to say, though, that after using the SOG-TAC AU Compact auto knife for almost a year, I’ve grown accustomed to it and it’s wormed its way into may EDC knife rotation.

That’s mostly because of what the SOG-TAG AU Compact isn’t. Unlike most of the auto knives I’ve played with in the past, it isn’t big. It isn’t heavy, and it isn’t kludgy.

The SOG-TAC AU Compact is, well, compact. When closed, it’s a very reasonable four inches long. Combine that with its slim form and good pocket clip, and it makes for an excellent EDC blade.

The SOG-TAC AU has anodized 6061 aluminum scales with microtextured grooves for a good grip, even when wet.

It has nicely ergonomic contours with jimping on the blade and milling on the scales and spine for a secure, full four-finger grip.

The blade steel is Cryo D2. That’s a good mid-grade blade steel that takes an edge nicely and keeps it through normal use. D2 is a little more prone to corrosion, which is why most knife makers coat it. It’s available in a standard drop point as seen here as well as serrated and tanto versions.

The other feature I like is the double-action safety SOG’s given the SOG-TAC AU. They’ve combined the XR locking system (think: AXIS lock) that SOG’s incorporated in virtually all of their folding knife line with a safety, which you need in an auto knife. That makes actuation faster and simpler that with most auto knives.

The typical auto knife design has a separate safety and actuator button. That makes for fumbling and a blade that won’t open when you forget to switch off the safety.

SOG eliminates that by making their XR locking system button a safety when pushed forward, or a deploy button when pulled back. It’s simpler and faster. It’s also ambidextrous like all XR locks.

Another great feature of the SOG-TAC AU Compact is its price. Auto knives have always seemed unnecessarily expensive, but not this one. MSRP is $124.95, and you can find it at retail as low as about $90. That’s a good price for a US-made full-featured, well designed auto knife that you can comfortably carry every day.

Blade Material: Cryo D2
Blade Length: 2.94 inches
Overall Length: 7.01 inches
Closed Length: 4.06 inches
Blade Thickness: .11 inch
Opening Mechanism: AU-XR Lock
Locking Mechanism: AU-XR Double-Action Safety
Handle Material: Textured Anodized Aluminum 6061-T6
Weight: 2.8 ounces
MSRP: $124.95 (about $90 retail)

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  1. Owned auto knives. c
    Carried them on and off duty. No thanks. I like my manual openers. More sure. Stronger.

      • I carry a Kershaw auto assist. Says its a Ken Onion design. I’ve never sliced onions with it.

        I live in CA. Auto knives are, pardon the pun, edgy here. Blades are only allowed in very short lengths. Too short to really be much use. The auto knives I’ve seen in Utah were much longer than CA allows and way more money than I want to spend on them. They don’t seem all that sturdy and up to much hard use. At north of 200 bucks.

        • JWM. a Ken Onion design is a very fine knife. Wish I had one. a 3-4′ folder is plenty for me. In town I really don’t want anything larger. Outside of town it’s a fixed blade starting at 5″.

        • Wow, apparently there are a lot of us Kershaw assisted opening fans here. Good company. Hopefully Bruen will also be the basis of numerous knife law challenges. Whether you want to carry an auto or not should be your choice and not missed upon you.

        • Yup, used to carry a Kershaw Oso Sweet because you could get them on sale for under $20, and I tend to lose the damn things.

          Got a Kershaw Leek as a gift a few years ago and absolutely love it.
          Holds an edge well, deploys very easily, and no so expensive that I’d be despairing like I would if I lost a Benchmade.

      • I’ve had a number of mid-level decent blades (Spyderco), and have managed to lose nearly all the plastic-framed ones.

        It pissed me off so much, I grabbed 3 junk Wal-Mart special 1-dollar clipped folders, and haven’t lost one of the 3 yet.

        Crummy steel, but with the 3-wheel diamond electric sharpener, it keeps the edges decent enough.

        For the life of me, I can’t manually sharpen a steel blade, even when using idiot-proof systems like the diamond Lansky sharpeners. I grind metal and am left with dull edges for my efforts… 🙁

        Oh, and it sucks The Truth About Knives went tit-up, I enjoyed reading it years back.

        • h.clay is over at knife mag now. he’s the digi version editor.
          they posted this article and he laments ttak in his comments.
          i post over there using my original nom here, which i lost during their first ddos. by the time they did the reset i had settled in with my subgenius handle.

  2. Not a fan of auto-assist knives. The fewer mechanical parts, the better. Still, I like the overall design on this one.

    • Well we have the added issue in PA that they are specifically banned in 18 PAC 908 Prohibited Offensive Weapons. Unless possessed as a curio or part of a dramatic performance. In light of Bruen all of 908 should be on the chopping block.

    • hahaha, there’s mexican kid around here that asks, “you wanna borrow a knife?” when he’s annoyed.

      • “Young man. Give me that knife.” (Sound of knife thrown and hitting backstop.) Thank you.”

        {Sister Mary Elephant}… 🙂

  3. Yes, ban these because they are too dangerous. Meanwhile in the Walmart cooking isle a stainless 8″ cleaver….

    Knive laws are even dumber than gun laws.

  4. I have to agree with the comments, but auto’s are nice. I just wouldn’t carry one. I do own a couple, and an OTF too. They don’t accomplish much. Assisted is another topic. I like assisted. Especially when it’s a flipper and it’s a ZT 😉

  5. Gov. Mary Fallin saw fit in 2015 to sign the bill making “switchblades” legal to own and carry in Oklahoma. The irresistible urge to exercise that newfound right (privilege?) has resulted in a drawer-full of auto side-openers and OTFs for EDC rotation. Each of them is more than adequate for ordinary pocketknife purposes, and every deployment is still so damned cool.

    • “Gov. Mary Fallin saw fit in 2015 to sign the bill making “switchblades” legal to own and carry in Oklahoma.”

      That’s happening all over the country.

      Knife rights are ascendant… 🙂

      • It’s about time, too. I’ve always found any and every type of knife law to be even more ridiculous than most gun laws. I’ve always wondered what type of simple minded fool thinks, in a country where anyone can own and tote about an axe, that any kind of pocket knife requires regulation.

  6. It’s just another bloody knife for god’s sake not some Holy Relic.

    Here in the UK we have enough of these things that’s for sure and just as there are GUN NUTS in the USA we have KNIFE NUTS [and no doubt form reading the opening comment the USA has PLUS GUN NUTS.’] That knife you are showing us could get you a criminal record in the UK and rightly so. I mean what the hell do you use it for. It ain’t no good for whitling and certainly no good for butchering so perhaps the question should really be ‘how many dollars are you getting for pushing it £GB100 quid for a bloody knife ? You must be delusional.
    As a butcher amkong mymany other acquired skills though now retireed I do do a little casual butchering on the side of Small Animals such as poultry, pigs, Lambs’/Mutton and venison and I do carry in a roll a whole set of knives legally but I am not allowed to, have them on open show in my car or easily available which basically means in the boot. On the other hand never in my life have I been challenged. I suppose a grey haired old bugger like me hardly looks much of a threat anyway.

  7. For all you TV-addicted Anglo-Twits, we are AMERICANS, not kill-crazed ruthless psychopaths! Get off your blame wagon! Hollywood products are NOT reality!
    A knife is simply a necessary tool.
    As a boatbuilder (FM radiotelephone, SONAR, small and large wiring) I actually wore out a folding Gerber. Since then I have yet to find a safe pocketable replacement that would stand up to the workload. And not open in my pocket or close on my thumb.
    If knife makers spent more time designing better sheath systems to holster their designs, they might be more deployable, and I would start buying from them. Still haven’t found a short-bladed, big handled tool that checks the boxes for me. Mostly wire-stripping, countless times in a work day. (Think deploying, using and reholstering knife while crawling in a dark 135 degree crawlspace attic filled with fiberglass).

  8. Auto or assisted knives do have a purpose.
    People with severe arthritis or even a missing digit or hand are some good reasons.
    Most American made autos, regardless of brand or cost are junk (I have 2 benchmade autos, feel like cheap junk in hand)
    I also have an Italian made ‘switchblade’ of the old world design, made in italy.
    The damn thing actually has a spring so strong it recoils when you open it.
    Assisted? Love em, especially the Kershaw Leek.
    They do take a little maintenance just like a firearm.
    The main fail is the torsion spring, which weakens over time.
    Kershaw will send you free replacement springs.
    Bottom line though, is that any folder is a knife that is already ‘broken’.

    • the leek carries just fine without the educated paper clip.
      delicate tip, tho.
      dividend in m390 is good.

      • they now designate m390 (discontinued) as cpm-20cv which is the crucible’s powdered version of the bohler steel. they are equivalents.
        few on fleabay for mid 90’s now.

  9. Interesting comments for the most part. Never carried an auto out of fear of opening in my pocket and stabbing me in the thigh or belly or hand. Same reason I dont carry tip up. Have an Ebay auto on my desk to open mail. Still this is pretty cool looking. Dont know if I need a $90 letter opener though.

  10. Being old and beat up my routine carry knives are a bit different. I have carried autos – but mostly as backup. Still carry my beat up Swiss Army which gets me by for most things. I will neither confirm nor deny that I have ‘several’ others for special situations 😉 And I won’t even go into how many I have within arms reach as I type.
    BTW – if you are not a member of Knife Rights, join – they are doing yeoman’s work in expanding knife carrying around the country.

  11. I just read the article again. Aluminum scales. Yuck. Dont like the way they feel in my hand. Cold too. Still a cool looking knife, just not for me.

    • Jimmy:
      I don’t ordinarily carry a knife but have to differ with you on the aluminum. Home Depot sells a folding box cutter with aluminum scales that beats all hell out of the plastic scaled ones I’ve had in the past, which were attacked by lubricants applied (to prevent corrosion) after being used to open bags of ice melter.

  12. Reading comments on this website sucks, the pages keep shifting and jumping around on my android. I feel sick. @Ttag Please fix.

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