SOG Team Leader TL-01
Don’t be put off by the name as the SOG Team Leader though sounding a little macho turns out to be a good knife for the hunter. As I discovered there are two versions that offer different steels and blade layouts. The Survivor, which has little use in the UK, shows a massive, diagonally-opposed toothed spine, which would be a nightmare for gutting deer. The one that is available from Heinnie Haynes thankfully has a plain and far more practical back and is made from an advanced steel called Duratech 20CV.
As tough as…
This is a powder, metallurgy, stainless tool steel containing a large volume of extremely hard vanadium carbides, which increase wear-resistance. It is said to be 35% tougher/harder than S30V, which is a pretty good material for blades in its own right. The downside is it really ramps up the price for what is a basic and simple design. In the US the Survivor in AUS8 stainless costs $130 but the Team Leader is $275.
The blade offers an attractive, flat, bead-blasted finish and is what I would term as a spear point as it shows a long, tapered shape, which at 5” might be a bit much for some, but it works for me. Flat ground, it uses a full tang construction with jimping at the rear of the spine for added thumb support, at the rear is a lanyard hole. To say it’s wicked sharp would be an understatement. The long point allows easy cutting in awkward areas such as the anus for freeing waste pipes etc and edge-up the tip is lifted so with care there should be no problems with puncturing intestines etc., with the opening cut.
The handle consisted of two scales of heavily checked Zytel synthetic. The shape tucks in from the half guard then flares out to fill the bulk of the hand and offers a superior grip. This is further enhanced by jimping along the lower frame. Though not small at 10 ¼” and weighing 7.4oz it does not feel big or clumsy. In fact quite the reverse which belies its size.
The sheath is a basic affair. Made of black leather is has a press stud strap for retention and a wide belt loop. It works well enough but the sharpness of the blade could all too easily start to chop it up with careless insertion. After a month or two of use the quality of the leather became apparent as it was starting to get quite flexible. In truth the Team Leader could do with one of their synthetic or heavy duty nylon designs with an inner plastic sleeve to stop internal damage, as offered by their excellent SEAL Pup knife. Yes I know I am always critical of sheaths but they are perhaps more important than what they hold.
That aside I found the Team Leader a cracking design, which tended to tick the majority of my boxes for a general use hunting knife – great blade steel, simple and practical build and tough.
For: Tough and practical field knife
Against: Duratech 20CV steel is not cheap
Verdict: Great working design
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All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates