Our sixteenth Dalton of the Week is the SOF 96. This model,
with its unusually shaped handle with built in guards and very
rounded edges, is one of the most sought after models amongst
collectors. It is also one of the less common "thick
blade" Daltons, sporting a 3/16" blade. I am aware of
three major variations of what we now generally call the SOF 96.
The base model never actually had a name. It did not have the
micarta inserts of the SOF variant and there were only a few
made. In fact, the one I have is the only one I've ever seen.
Here's a picture of the base model:
These models used slab handles that were held apart by the pivot assembly, stop pin, and several spacers. None of the variants had pocket clips and as far as I know, they all had the etched Dalton logo. They were supplied with Eagle sheaths.
You'll notice that this one has a considerably different grind than the next two. It has an almost full length upper swedge, where the others have a drop point blade without the swedge and a very high and deep hollow grind. If anyone else out there has a base model, I'd really like to hear about the blade grind. These were made well before the Dalton shop had CNC blade grinding equipment, so the blades were all hand ground. There could easily be other blade grinds in this model.
The dimensions are as follows:
Overall Length: 8 - 1/8"
Blade Length: 3 - 9/16"
Blade Thickness: 3/16"
Handle Thickness: about 0.550" (0.590" across the pivot assembly)
The actual SOF 96 marked variants seem to be the most common (none of these is really very common). They had ivory micarta inserts in the handle and the SOF marking was engraved into the front insert. I have seen the logo colored in both green and in red. We think that there were about 27 of these made. I have heard that at least one of them had a serrated blade. As mentioned above, these have a thick blade and a very high and deep hollow grind. You really have to feel the blade to appreciate it. Although the spine is very thick, that deep hollow grind results in a blade whose cross section is similar to a straight razor, with a very thin cutting edge. Here's the SOF marked variant with red inked logo.
The third variant was a special run of five pieces that were ordered by an East coast dealer. The dealer requested that the SOF logo not be engraved on the handle. Here's the picture:
And...as you may have guessed...all of these were made in 1996.
Many thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Dalton for providing the information on this model.