On A Mission.
The roller coaster ride known as the cutlery industry has undergone many changes over the past 25 years, but one thing has stayed consistent. SOG Specialty Knives & Tools — commonly known as SOG — still makes tough knives built for the long haul. The tactical segment of the knife world was a lot different in 1986 than it is today. The tactical boom spawned out of the first Gulf War in the early 1990s, and grew to be the hottest genre in the cutlery arena today. At that time, finely engraved gents folders ruled the roost in custom knives, and aside from a fledgling company that was making knives with holes in their blades, the oft-copied Buck 110 was pretty much it in the manufacturer’s lines.
It was around this time SOG owner Spencer Frazer hatched an idea to produce a modernized version of the legendary Studies and Observations Group Bowie knife borne to fame in the jungles of Vietnam. With assistance and encouragement from his wife Gloria, Spencer made modifications to the original design to make it better, such as impregnating the stacked leather handles with resin and making the blade steel thicker so it can be all it can be. The young entrepreneur was not new to design. A math and science major at UCLA, he had experience designing and marketing an audio speaker system of his own creation. After graduation, Frazer went to work on top-secret projects in the aerospace defense industry as a tool and die maker, giving him valuable insight. This, along with an active interest in the modern art movement at the time, gave him a broad and open-minded perspective on how to design and engineer products.
The game changer was when he saw his first his first Vietnam SOG Bowie. Previous game over, a new one was about to begin. He researched the knife extensively, and with Gloria at his side, the couple put together and launched their first adaptation of the storied knife. At $200 a pop, their reproduction was very expensive for the day, but they sold enough of them to refine their work and branch out into other designs. By the early 1990s, when all hell broke loose in Iraq, they were perfectly situated to provide knives for military personnel and a hungry consumer market following on its heels.
Story By Pat Covert
Photos By Chuck Pittman, Inc.
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