SOG S44-N Pocket Powerplier Review (VS the SOG B66) - A fantastic affordable multi-tool
This multi-tool is awesome. It is the smaller brother to the SOG 66 PowerAssist, but much better.
The main feature of the SOG multi-tools is that their pliers give double the amount of pressing power due to their compound leverage system. (Definitions: A "compound" is something composed of two or more separate things. So a "compound lever" is a mechanical system which delivers more force through the use of multiple levers) Similar systems are very common in various work tools, but less common in pocket multi-tools. The S44 has everything I loved about the 66 (the awesome pliers) and almost nothing that I disliked (pretty much everything else).
The 66's handles hit each other when the pliers are closed, whereas the S44 has a nice gap between the handles when the pliers are closed. This means you can put much more pressure into the grip when grabbing really small things. The S44 also has smaller pliers that are closer to the hinge, which helps give it a little more leverage for it's smaller size and means that it actually has more gripping power at the inner part of the pliers, but the 66 still has a little more power at the tip for some reason, I guess because of the longer handles.
The S44 did need a bit of oil and loosening of the plier screws to get a nice smooth motion in the pliers.
The S44's pliers are shaped so they can grab things better from a flat surface. Unfortunately the cutters are still in the center and not able to cut flush with the surface.
The pliers on both units are very accurately made and they align perfectly with each other. The 66's pliers are slightly more pointed but I'm very happy with both. The pliers are very strong, and the slightly less pointed tip on the S44 should help make it even less likely to break. The cutters on my 66 were a joke, so for now I'm being super careful with my s44 cutters. Surprisingly they are sharp enough to cut paracord (a very useful kind of string, like the lanyards you see on my tools). The only other multi tool I have which will cut paracord is the Wingman, because it has a pressure-cutter rather than a scissor-like cutter like most other multi-tools have.
The pliers on both SOGs can be opened with one hand if you practice it a little, while the Wingman would take a few extra seconds since you need to use your leg or something to pull it open (you can see an example of both of these in my B66 review). The Fosco (see photos and links below) is very slow to open and does require both hands. I just leave it open all the time.
The SOG 44 Pocket Powerplier only comes in an "S" version, which means "Satin" and has a really nice shiny chrome-like finish, which doesn't get ruined easily. (The "-N" in its name refers to the Nylon pouch, more on that below.)
The larger 66 comes in a "Satin" finish (S66) and a "Black oxide" finish (B66), which is the one I have. The black version has a dirty-looking scratched finish, even if you get it right from the factory. I guess this would be fine if SOG's promotional materials didn't show a beautiful clean dark-black finish. It also leaves black dirt on your hands during the first use.
The 66 is almost twice the weight (267g VS 146g) and yet has basically no advantages over the lovely S44. Actually quite the opposite, the 66 is awful in comparison.. Actually, it's awful in comparison to almost any brand-name multi-tool. I'll compare the two in detail, but I won't go on too much about the 66's issues here since I already covered all that in my full review [LINK].
Another size comparison of the same five tools:
The knives on the Wingman and S44 are both decent. I prefer the locking blade and shape of the Leatherman, but they are both fine. The S44 may be somewhat more carry-friendly in some places because it has a slip-joint instead of a lock (similar to most Swiss army knifes), but some police officers may tell you that it actually does lock, because the blade cannot fully close when the plier handles are closed, which would make it illegal to carry in the UK without a good reason. I'm a big fan of the half-serrated blades on both of them, but the placement of the blade at the outer edge of the Wingman's handle makes it much nicer to work with. The Lock on the wingman can be disabled and the blade on both units can be removed, so in theory both multi tools can become more okay to carry if you're willing to modify them a little. (Warning: I am not an expert on this matter! Check your own local laws!)
The 66's blades have a bit of play (wiggle) and they are near-impossible to open or close, even with both hands, and doing so successfully is surprisingly painful on your fingers. The locking and opening system on this thing sucks so bad that I cannot believe anyone would release this as an actual product. Because of the terrible locking system they will get stuck open, they will get stuck closed, they will get stuck half way, and all of this requires two hands and a lot of attention.
The S44's knife would take about 10 seconds to open with one hand if you're really careful, so it's really not ideal. With two hands it's still a 5-second job. Closing it doesn't feel very safe, just like most other slip-joint knives.
The Wingman's knife opens and closes effortlessly with one hand, although you may want to oil the joint since it has no thumb-knob to push on with your finger. The wingman wins here.
I'm ignoring the Fosco completely because I would never use it as a multi tool since it takes far too long to open and close the pliers, so even though i love it as a plier and it's being used in my studio all the time, I have almost never folded it away from plier-mode to use any of its other tools, except when I was first testing it.
The "-n" in the product name means I ordered it with a Nylon pouch/sheath. For a dollar or two more you can get the S44 with a leather pouch. The leather pouch is maybe a little more stylish, but the one I got with my 66 smelled really awful and I had to rub hand lotion into it several times to make it smell like normal leather (not a big issue I guess). I still like the leather pouch, but if you do choose it you will need to also get some hand lotion, because otherwise you might smell like... well.. I'm sorry to say it.. a woman's thingiemajig.
As a note, another reviewer on Youtube also said his leather version smelled fishy too, so it wasn't just this one. The leather one will scratch pretty easily, although I don't think it looks bad with scratches. The button on it may last longer than the Velcro closing on the nylon version, something I'm not worried about because it's very easy to replace velcro, even just with a bit of glue if you can't be bothered to sew it on.
Both pouches are pretty lightweight, 63g on the 66 and 31g on the S44.
The belt connection:
Both SOGs are really missing a pocket clip on the tool itself, although this can be added fairly easily if you're a DIY sorta person. The difference between the leather and nylon pouches that really matters is their belt connection.
The Nylon one has a lovely belt clip that is super easy to clip on and off, and yet doesn't fall off on its own and can be used even when you're not wearing a belt since it can clip onto almost anything, but in theory the belt clip can still be pulled off depending on what it's clipped onto, so it's not quite as secure as the leather one.
The leather one requires you to undo your belt in order to attach it or remove it, and if you want to carry it without a belt you will need to add some sort of clip. The leather one is very nice and slightly more secure, but the nylon one is just exceptionally lovely to work with, especially since I don't want to undo my belt every time I want to take my SOG somewhere.
You can very easily attach a good DIY belt clip to the leather pouch (hint: take one off an old mobile phone case) or attach a DIY safety strap to the nylon one. So basically either one can work and it's just down to preference. I'd recommend the nylon one.
Conclusion and links:
The SOG 66 has great pliers but the rest of it is really quite awful and very overpriced, there's no point in it because the S44 is much cheaper and much better.
The S44 is very well priced in the USA, which is where I ordered mine from. It's so good that I ordered one for my dad too. It's awesome for good gripping power as well as for delicate work due to it's awesome needle-nosed pliers, and has very useful tools too. If I'm not mistaken it comes with a lifetime warranty. The first time I spoke to them they were very fast and sent me a replacement B66 plier-head very quickly, the second time they didn't reply at all, so it may be a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to customer service. The metal quality is great, better than many others, but due to the doubled force and the extra-pointy plier tip they are more likely to take damage.
● eBay UK link: http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/710-534...
● eBay USA link: http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-532...
● Amazon UK link: http://amzn.to/1vO1xp9
● Amazon USA link: http://amzn.to/1wqxzfO
The SOG S60 Powerlock [LINK] is a bit of a mix of both of them. It's fairly expensive like the 66 but also has better tools and has a better design.
The Fosco [eBay LINK] is dirt-cheap and has crazy gripping power for its size (even more than the SOG), and it continues to grip even when you let go which is sometimes almost like having an extra hand. The tools on it are a bit of a bonus, but they work fine, I've definitely seen worse. But it's not very quick to open so if you don't plan to use the extra tools on the Fosco you can probably save a few "currency units" by getting some long nosed locking pliers [LINK], although they won't be as compact and most of them won't be as needle-nosed as the Fosco. When working on some projects, a work-bench vice is also very useful as an "extra hand". I doubt the Fosco has any warranty at this price but I didn't check. I worry this tool will break from the huge amount of pressure it can press with, even though it's held up amazingly so far. WEAR EYE PROTECTION WHEN USING THIS TOOL.
The Wingman is an awesome multi-tool at a brilliant price. It has half as much gripping power as the others and you can definitely feel the difference (I even measured it), but makes up for it with comfort, spring loaded pliers, a pocket clip, a fast knife opening, excellent cutters that never seem to fail and insanely good durability. If I'm not mistaken it has a 25 year warranty but I don't know what the service is like because my Wingman has survived all the abuse I could throw at it with barely even a mark, although it does look a bit ugly currently because of the Sugru rubber I put on it.
● Amazon UK link: http://amzn.to/1jKThCR
● Amazon USA link: http://amzn.to/KREbyX
● Leatherman on eBay: http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/710-534...
● Leatherman on B&H: http://bhpho.to/1igKJBR
● Alternatives from Adorama: http://bit.ly/1uKABIV
● Leatherman Sidekick: http://amzn.to/1g9SPA0
If I had to choose one, I would get the Wingman, but I would also say "screw-off! I want TWO!". No, seriously, half the time I need pliers, I need two of them together. I like the Leatherman and SOG the most. They are still my most used tools by far. I love having all three of them and I won't be selling any of them.
I'll be getting rid of the SOG B66 and Leatherman Style PS though, because for me they aren't really usable as multi-tools, just as really expensive pliers.