A gentleman’s knife used to be a small pocket knife, something a gent would carry primarily to keep himself well groomed. Even though not many folks have carved pens from a goose quill since Ben Franklin’s day, these pocket companions usually had a “pen blade,” probably a nail file/cleaner, and maybe an ear spoon. In other words, stuff to keep a gentleman dandy looking just dandy.
That was a long time ago. Today a gentleman’s knife usually will be a discrete implement to assist in various more timely functions such as keeping its owner alive. A modern gentleman’s knife is still a tool, but the task at hand is more defensive, or hopefully deterrent, than hygienic.
For a knife to optimally fill this role, it needs to be big enough for the job yet small, flat and discrete enough for legal, comfortable, accessible carry. It must be handy to deploy. It must have the aesthetic to cops, judges and juries of being something a law-abiding gentleman would carry for utility but which he had to use for defense. This is no place for chromed daggers and grotesque offshore “fantasy” knives.
Because the first, and most important if it works, defensive use of a knife is as a deterrent, even a gentleman’s knife has to be of a dimension and configuration that it telegraphs to a potential attacker that Mutually Assured Destruction is one of your favorite hobbies. Part of the deterrent cachet of a folder, as far as convincing an attacker that you mean business goes, is rapid deployment. A rapid and audible deployment can be even more convincing.
If the businesslike appearance of the knife and your confident demeanor don’t convince an attacker to seek a softer target, your knife must have the design and materials to efficiently and decisively disable an attacker.
One such series of knives that meets all these criteria is the Aegis, another cleverly conceived and well-executed design from SOG Specialty Knives & Tools honcho Spencer Frazer. In Greek, the word “aegis” means protection. In Seattle, the name Spencer means outside- the-box engineering that always works.
In this instance, Frazer has come up with S.A.T. (SOG Assisted Technology), which one-handedly opens the Aegis with only a positive nudge to the thumbstud. It is as fast as an auto opener, more positive than many auto openers, and not legally an auto opener. The blade is deployed with an authoritative “snap,” and may be closed one-handed with the blade-lock release. When closed, the blade may be optionally locked with a thumb safety.
There is a clever reversible clip for tip-up carry on the rim of a pants pocket or duty gear, and this knife is eminently deep-pocketable as well. It has a thin cross-section, a profile that readily indexes to the hand, and very clean lines for snag-free withdrawal.
The Aegis series is available in many configurations and options, all good where they mesh with your mission requirements. Let’s tally the specs for the flagship AE-02 model, then expand on some of its noteworthy details.
The Aegis AE-02 has an overall length of 8.25 inches, or 4.875 inches folded. The blade, of AUS 8 stainless hardened to 57-58 Rc, is 3.5 inches long by 0.125 inch thick. It is almost symmetrically pointed, straight edged, flat ground, and comes surgically sharp. The finish on the knives we tested was matte black titanium nitride for corrosion and abrasion resistance. The knives are also available in satin finish and, on some models, with digitalcamouflage grips. A tanto-style blade and serrated edges are also available. This unit weighs 3.5 ounces. The flatblack handles are formed from glassfilled nylon and have tacky rubber inserts and DigiGrip™ texturing for your tactile pleasure. The overall shape and surface of these knives are excellent, leaving no doubt of their exact position in your hand.
SOG cryogenically treats these blades to increase toughness and wear resistance, by taking the knife slowly down to less than -300°F and then back to room temperature. This stress relieves the steel on a molecular level and increases overall strength and edge retention. As a result, knife edges stay sharp longer with significantly less micro- fracturing and edge-chipping.
The patented SOG Assisted Technology is accomplished through the balanced action of opposing high-tension coil springs. As you begin to open the blade, the force to propel the knife open becomes greater than the closing force and the blade will open on its own. The interplay of opposing force rotates the blade fully open once the operator nudges the thumb stud. Quick, handy, positive and safe, we like it a lot. MSRP for the Aegis AE-02 is $114.
The AE-22 Mini Aegis is the tough, capable little brother of the AE-02 Aegis. The Mini Aegis has an overall length of seven inches, 4.062 inches folded, yet still carries a three-inch, .110-inch thick blade of AUS 8 stainless—also hardened to Rc 57-58 and cryogenically treated and delivered spooky sharp. It also is flat ground and has a straight edge, the same-spec GFN black grips, reversible pocket clip, and the same controls in the same location as the AE-02. Because it weighs a scant two ounces yet has a three-inch blade, it is a lot of knife in a very compact and light envelope. MSRP is $90.
Because of the light weight, compact dimensions and facile operation of the Aegis series, they are worthy of consideration for a lady’s personal defense as well. When deployed, they do not look like a cute toy picked up at the cosmetics counter. They obviously mean business, are capable in trained hands, and the Mini Aegis would hide in even a small hand.
Variations on a theme in the Aegis series include many options in dimension, blade style, finish and handle color. There is probably an Aegis model to fill any requirement for a discrete yet capable gentleman’s knife or backup blade for duty or outdoor use.