Why the Trident AT is a dream knife for first responders

This diversely useful tool is made of quality materials that the average officer can afford


At SHOT Show this year, I was front and center when SOG (Studies and Observations Group) announced the company was going in a different direction.

I’ve used SOG’s gear for around 20 years and my curiosity was definitely piqued.

One of the products representing this change is a folding knife called the Trident AT.

The blade is a clip point made of cryogenically treated D2. (Photo/Sean Curtis)
The blade is a clip point made of cryogenically treated D2. (Photo/Sean Curtis)

Somewhere amid the early stirrings of the pandemic, I received one in the mail to review. I was promptly impressed.

TARGET FOCUS

SOG took a hard look at the professionals the company wanted to attract to this knife and what kind of features that audience wanted to see.

To begin with, the Trident AT's blade is made from D2, a rugged tool steel that has outstanding characteristics such as good hardness and enough chromium to rate it as semi-stainless.

However, SOG didn’t stop there, cryo-treating the blade and giving it a titanium nitride finish for good measure.

The texture on the Trident’s handle is aggressive. (Photo/Sean Curtis)
The texture on the Trident’s handle is aggressive. (Photo/Sean Curtis)
The glass breaker is a nice touch that could come in handy and its placement is well thought out. (Photo/Sean Curtis)
The glass breaker is a nice touch that could come in handy and its placement is well thought out. (Photo/Sean Curtis)

The blade deploys quickly because it has assisted opening. This is not a switchblade, but when you put a little bit of pressure on either of the ambidextrous thumb studs, the blade pops open. It locks into place with the AT-XR lock, a system that has been reputedly tested to keep the blade open up to 2,400 pounds of pressure. On top of that, there is a spine-stationed safety that is also ambidextrous. By activating the safety, you can ensure the blade does not deploy when you are using some of the other features (more on this later).

The clip is capable of being moved to either side of the knife to accommodate left or right-hand draw. There is an extended loop at one end of the handle to attach a lanyard – this also works as a thumb index for the glass breaker on the other end of the knife. Part of the final third of the handle is actually cut away, creating an ingenious line or seatbelt cutter.

The knife is a first responder’s dream, providing many of the tools you might need at common incidents. The blade is 3.7 inches, giving the Trident AT a total deployed length of 9.03 inches. The handle material is glass-reinforced nylon and the total weight is 5.15 ounces.

MY OWN OBSERVATIONS

Taking the knife out of the box I was surprised at the texture on the handle. It is likely the roughest/grippiest texture of any knife I’ve handled in a long time. This is a bold gambit from SOG. As anyone who has ever lost a knife from their grip knows, sometimes dropping a blade means it’s gone forever. There are also more frightening scenarios where dropping a knife might mean the difference between life and death. I grew to like the assurance the texture gave. When I stuck my hand in my pocket and the handle scratched the back of my hand, my memory recalled an old FTO barking at me to keep my hands out of my pockets.

I tested the line/belt cutter and found that with tension and the right motion, it would cut all the materials I threw at it. (Photo/Sean Curtis)
I tested the line/belt cutter and found that with tension and the right motion, it would cut all the materials I threw at it. (Photo/Sean Curtis)
Even the lanyard loop indexes well on the thumb and is jimped for extra grip. (Photo/Sean Curtis)
Even the lanyard loop indexes well on the thumb and is jimped for extra grip. (Photo/Sean Curtis)

Deploying the blade, I was impressed with the assist. It takes some pressure to get it to deploy – enough that I had no concerns with it deploying in my pocket unbeckoned. I’ve even dropped the knife a few times without having it open, but once you start it going, it gets out quickly and locks into place.

Another point: I’ve seen some knife companies send out blades that are serviceably sharp. I can’t stand this. The Trident AT shaved hair out of the box and I applaud SOG for this. The unit I received for testing was a clip point model (Trident AT Blackout) and the shape was completely functional while staying relatively easy to maintain.

Along the spine of the blade and the grip, extra jimping provides traction for a steady grip, even in slippery conditions. (Photo/Sean Curtis)
Along the spine of the blade and the grip, extra jimping provides traction for a steady grip, even in slippery conditions. (Photo/Sean Curtis)

Taking the knife in my hand I was stuck with the idea of how hard it would be for me to lose it. With the blade deployed, my thumb found jimping along the spine of the blade, extra grip for some hard use. Reviewing the grip, I saw a smoothed beach (so to speak) allowing the thumb to slide forward from either side to push the thumb stud. Everywhere I looked, the designed features worked well. The only minor exception might possibly be clipping the knife to your pocket. The location of the clip, very near the line cutter, sometimes had me catching the edge of my pocket in the cutter. I learned to watch when I placed the knife in my pocket and catch the right angle to alleviate this.

IMPRESSIVE OUTING

When I looked at the MSRP of $94.95 I was surprised. I’ve seen companies offer comparable folders with fewer features and charge more money. There is no wiggle between the blade and the handle. It locks up solid, won’t close until you disengage the lock and has a rich feature set that should serve you through many incidents. On top of that, it’s backed up by a lifetime warranty and you can send the knife back to SOG for sharpening.

I’m so pleased to see a manufacturer creating a diversely useful tool using quality materials that the average officer can afford. If this is the “new direction” SOG is taking, I can’t wait to see what comes next.

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