Benchmade 3150BK Impel Automatic Knife Review

Benchmade Impel Knife

Benchmade has a rich history that dates back over 30 years. Benchmade came about as a result of many dedicated employees, a never quite demand for excellence, and the de Asis family’s vision and total commitment to culture, service and innovation. Benchmade really began in 1979 when Les de Asis wanted a knife that reflected the latest in materials and manufacturing technology to replace the cheap butterfly knives that he had played with as a kid. When Les was in high school, he had taken a shop class, so he put those skills to use and blueprinted his dream knife. He eventually met Victor Anselmo who helped him grind the first ever pre-Benchmade prototype. Les paired this prototype with handles that Les sourced form a small machine shop in California. Les actually assembled and finished his first Bali-Song in his own garage. He was proud of his creation and took it to a local gun store when the owner asked him if he could make 100 more.

In 1980, Les incorporated as Bali-Song, Inc. and rented a small shop in a second story mezzanine in California. The original equipment that this company used was actually purchased from the owner of a manufacturing operation who was looking to retire. Les utilized the rudimentary technology that was available to him at the time and began building handmade, custom Bali-Songs, or butterfly knives. He was building these knives along with Jody Sampson, who was grinding all of the blades in the operation. It was the success of these custom butterfly knives that spurred the creation of the first production Bali-Song: The model 68.

Over the next seven years, the company expanded its product offerings into fixed blades and conventional folding knives and evolved its name from Bali-Song, Inc. to Pacific Cutlery Corp.

In 1987, due to its inability to control quality, price, and delivery, Pacific Cutlery Corp filed for bankruptcy and was dissolved. In 1988, Les reintroduced a new company and new version of the Model 68; This time with a drive to produce product in the US and an even stronger commitment to product availability, quality, and customer relationships. The company now needed a new name.

Les recognized that while there was “handmade” and “factory made”, it was actually “Benchmade” that described the quality of Les’ product. He was building an operation that made precision parts, but with hand assembly on the finished products. This was a “bench” operation and Les wanted the name to reflect the marriage of manufactured and custom. In short, it describes Benchmade’s positon in the market—even to this day. To this day, Benchmade continues to focus on innovation, customer needs, responsible business ethics and operations to bring the highest quality products to the world’s elite.

Benchmade has a wide variety of quality tools. When you are carrying a Benchmade, you can count on your knife to be reliable and durable, no matter the situation. At BladeOps, we respect the high quality products Benchmade produces and are celebrating them during the month of May.

 

The Blade:

The blade on the Benchmade 3150BK Impel is made out of CPM S30V steel. This steel is made by Crucible, which is a US based company. This steel has excellent edge retention and resists rust effortlessly. This steel was designed in the US and is typically sued for the high end premium pocket knives and expensive kitchen cutlery. The introduction of vanadium carbides brings extreme hardness into the steel alloy matrix. Dollar of dollar, this is generally regarded as one of the finest knife blade steels with the optimal balance of edge retention, hardness, and toughness. One of the only drawbacks to this formula of steel is that it does tend to be tricky to sharpen.

The finish on this blade is a black, coated finish. A coated finish reduces the reflection and glare while reducing wear and corrosion. However, ALL coating can be scratched off after continuous heavy use and at that point the blade will have to be recoated. Coatings can prolong the life of a blade by preventing corrosion or rust. Quality coatings add cost to a knife but provide more corrosion resistance, less reflection, and require less maintenance.

The blade on this version of the Impel has been carved into a drop point blade shape. This is a fantastic all-purpose knife that can stand up to anything. A drop point is one of the most popular blade shapes in use today. One of the most recognizable knife styles that features a drop point blade is the hunting knife, although it is use on many other types of knives as well. To form the shape of this style of blade, the back, or unsharpened, edge of the knife runs straight form the handle to the tip of the knife in a slow curve manner, which creates a lowered point. It is this lowered point that provides more control and adds strength to the tip. While the tip on a drop point is not as sharp as the tip on a clip point, it is much stronger. And because of this tip strength and the ability to hold up to heavy use, drop point blades are popular on tactical and survival knives. Because the point on a drop point blade is so easily controlled, they are a popular choice on hunting knives. The lowered, controllable point makes it easier to avoid accidentally nicking internal organs and ruining the meat. One of the reasons that this style of blade is so versatile is because of the large belly area that is perfect for slicing. The Impel knife has been created to be an everyday knife, so the large belly is a huge advantage. When you choose this knife, you are preparing yourself to take on all the daily tasks that you expect to encounter, but also the twists and turns that life is known for throwing at you.

The edge on this knife is a plain edge, which is the perfect option for your everyday carry knife. The plain edge is designed to take on a wider range of tasks. A plain edge is going to excel at push cuts, slicing, skinning, and peeling. Many people do worry that without the teeth on a serrated edge, you aren’t going to be able to cut through the thicker materials, like branches and ropes. While this is mostly accurate, when you get a plain edge sharp enough, you will be able to tackle those materials. A bonus of the plain edge is that it is going to be easier to sharpen, because of the lack of teeth. And, you can usually get a finer edge on a plain edge as opposed to the serrated edge. Because this knife does sport a plain edge, your cuts and slices are going to be much cleaner.

Benchmade Impel Knife
Benchmade Impel Knife

The Handle:

The handle on this knife has been made out of 6061-T6 Aluminum. This is the most common type of aluminum that is used today and it has tremendous tensile strength. Aluminum is a very durable material for knife handles. It’s a low density metal that provides for a nice, hefty feel to the knife without weighing the knife down. This is a big benefit, because you want to feel like you have weight behind the knife that is going to be able to tackle your tasks, but you don’t want a crazy heavy knife. When it is properly texturized, an aluminum handle can provide a reasonably secure grip that is also comfortable and easy for extended use. On the downside, if you use your knife quite a bit during colder winter months, you might find the handle uncomfortably cold given its conductive properties. Aluminum is generally considered inferior to its stronger, yet more expensive brother Titanium, which tends to be found on the more premium knives.

To add texture, Benchmade has added a G10 inlay to the palm portion of this handle. G10 is a laminate composite made of fiberglass. This material is similar to carbon fiber, except that you can get it at a much cheaper cost. To make this material, the manufacturer takes layers of fiberglass cloth and soaks them in resin, then compresses them and bakes them under pressure. The material is very tough, hard, lightweight, and strong. It is very easy to add checkering or other patterns to the handle to provide you with sufficient texture.

The aluminum on the handle is a classic silver and the G10 inlay is a classic black. The handle has a comma shape to it, with the butt of the handle being much thinner than at the front portion. The Impel does have a finger groove, that is slightly more shallow than a traditional finger groove, but also slightly elongated. This works to give you a very comfortable grip, with the handle molding perfectly to your handle.

 

The Pocket Clip:

This is a standard pocket clip that is made out of stainless steel. The knife has been designed to attach the clip tip down.

 

The Mechanism:

This knife is a push button automatic knife. Automatic knives are also known as switchblades or flick blades. This is a type of knife with a folding blade that is contained in the handle which is opened automatically by a spring when a button on the handle is activated. Most switchblade designs incorporate a locking blade, in which the blade is locked against closure when the spring extends the blade to the fully opened position. The blade is unlocked by manually operating a mechanism that unlocks the blade and allows it to be folded and locked in the closed position. The ability to purchase or carry switchblades or automatic knives continues to be heavily restricted or prohibited throughout much of the world. In the USA, switchblades remain illegal to import from abroad or to purchase through interstate commerce since 1958 under the Switchblade Knife Act. But, in 2009, an amendment provides that the Act shall not apply to spring assist or assisted opening knives. This means that the Impel might not be legal to own or carry in your area, so make sure that you know all of your local knife laws before you purchase or carry this knife.

 

The Specs:

The blade on the Impel measures in at 1.98 inches long with a blade thickness of 0.100 inches. The overall length of this opened knife is 5.03 inches long and it sports a closed length of 3.06 inches long. The handle on this knife is 0.35 inches thick and the Impel weighs in at 1.39 ounces. This knife has been made in the United States of America.

 

Conclusion:

The Benchmade 3150BK Impel auto knife a push button design with an integrated slide safety. This Lerch design automatic knife has a plain edge blade of S30V premium stainless steel with a BK1 black tactical coat. The steel has the perfect balance between strength, toughness, and edge retention—which is a hard balance to achieve. The black tactical coat does cut down on glares and reflections while also prolonging the life of the blade; however, all coating finishes will be scratched off after periods of heavy use. The Impel also has a machined aluminum handle with black G10 inlay. The aluminum is hard and durable while the G10 inlay provides you with plenty of texture to have a solid grip on this everyday carry knife. The Impel comes with a removable tip down steel pocket clip. This small automatic knife falls in the Cali Legal class with a blade just shorter than 2″. The Impel has extremely fast action and tight lock up. Especially nice is the slide safety that is right next to the button. Makes for easier one handed operation. This is the perfect carry auto for the office but it’s solid construction makes it just at home pretty much anywhere.

Come help us celebrate Benchmade month this May at BladeOps and pick up your Impel knife today.

 

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