Benchmade was started because Les de Asis want to revamp the butterfly knives that he was used to playing with as a kid. He wanted butterfly knives to be made out of the latest materials and with the latest manufacturing technology. Les had taken a high school shop class, so he put those skills to work and blueprinted his dream knife. Later on in his life, he met Victor Anselmo, who helped him grind the first ever pre-Benchmade Butterfly prototype. Les finished this first knife in his own garage. Taking this prototype to a local gun store and asked the owner if he would build 100 more.
When Les started his first business, Bali-Song, Inc., he would build handmade custom butterfly knives, with Jody Sampson grinding the blades. These knives were wildly popular, evolving into the Bali-Song: The model 68. Throughout the next seven years, this company branched out and began design and producing fixed blades and regular folding knives. They also changed their name into Pacific Cutlery Corporation. Eventually this company filed for bankruptcy, but a year later Les introduced a new company: Benchmade.
Les chose this name because while there is “handmade” and “factory-made”, but he felt like his were in between these two groups. There were machines to make all of the parts, but Benchmade’s knives are put together by hand assembly. To this day, they keep up the Benchmade quality, so you know that each of your knives are getting attention. This is one of the key factors in why they are so great. Today, we will be talking about the Benchmade Freek.
The blade on this knife has been fashioned out of CPM S30V premium stainless steel. This steel was designed by Crucible to be specifically for knives, and not just knives, but for high end premium pocket knives and pricey kitchen cutlery. This means that this steel is going to offer all of the characteristics that you want out of your blade. For starters, this steel has fantastic edge retention. It also has high rust and corrosion resistance properties. Crucible added vanadium carbides to the steel, which help to harden the steel. Commonly in knife steels, if you get hardness, you lose toughness. Not with CPM S30V steel. It is surprising how much toughness and hardness that this steel actually has. Many people say that this steel is the perfect balance between edge retention, hardness, and toughness. When this steel first came out, it was definitely one of the most expensive steels that you could get. However, the market has expanded and newer steels have come out, so this price dropped considerably. I’m not saying that it’s a cheap option, but it’s cheaper than it once was. And you still get all of the great qualities that it offers. You can’t go wrong with CPM S30V premium stainless steel. One drawback to this steel is that it has been known to be tough on grinders. If this is going to be a problem for you, try searching for a blade made out of S35VN steel, which gives you all the same great qualities, but is a little bit easier to work with.
Benchmade designed this knife to be an everyday knife and an outdoors knife. The perfect blade shape to fit those two categories is a drop point style, so that is exactly what Benchmade did. Drop points are one of the most versatile knife shapes that you are going to find. They are strong, durable, and can take on almost any task that you happen to throw at it. So what exactly makes this shape so amazing? Let’s start with how it looks. The unsharpened, or back, edge of the blade run straight from the handle to the tip of the knife in a slow curve. This slow curve creates a lowered point. Because of the lowered point, you have much more control over your blade as you work with it. With this control, you can do more delicate work and not be worried about piercing whatever material you are working with. Another reason that you don’t have to worry about piercing anything is because the tip is actually more broad than other shapes, so stabbing is harder. Because the tip is broad and the point is lowered, the tip of this knife is going to be very strong. This makes it a perfect blade for an outdoors lover, because you are going to be encountering heavier tasks while camping, hiking, or just being in the great outdoors. This blade shape is also the perfect option for your everyday carry knife, because a drop point style blade has a large belly with lots of room for slicing. With premium steel and a versatile blade shape, you are going to be able to take on any challenge that comes your way, whether it’s expected or completely unexpected.
The handle is made out of warm gray grivory with a black Versaflex over mold. Grivory is a unique material. The scientific definition for grivory is “a subset of thermoplastic synthetic resins in the polyamide family defined as when 55% or more moles of the carboxylic acid portion of the repeating unit in the polymer chain is composed of a combination of terephthalic and isophthalic acids.” That definition might help some of you guys out, but when I read it, I am still just as confused. The simpler version is that Grivory is a form of fiberglass reinforced nylon. It is actually very similar to the FRN that Spyderco has developed. This material has a higher chemical resistance than other plastics and some metals. It also has a higher strength and keeps its stiffness at extreme temperatures. This material also has a higher resistance to warping than most materials that you are going to come across. Plus, Grivory is pretty resistant to absorbing moisture. Because it is less likely to absorb moisture, it is going to require a lot less maintenance. The Grivory on this handle has a black, textured over mold made out of Versaflex to add grip.
The Freek sports an AXIS lock. The AXIS lock was introduced to the world in 1988, having been designed by Bill McHenry and Jason Williams. Benchmade actually bought the rights of this mechanism and that is when it was named the AXIS lock. This locking mechanism has been patented by Benchmade, so you will only find the AXIS lock on a Benchmade knife. This type of locking system stands out because it is very easy to use with only one hand, and it’s totally ambidextrous. So how does it work? The lock has been made up out of a spring tensioned bar that can slide back and forth on a track that lies inside the handle. These tracks have actually been cut into the handles on the Freek. On the butt end of the blade, there is a flat sport that lets the spring-tensioned bar to lock into place when the knife is opened. To close this style of locking mechanism, you pull the bar back towards the knife and then fold the blade closed. Because this bar is accessible from either side of the knife handle, you can open and close it with either hand easily. There are some drawbacks to having this style of locking mechanism. One of these drawbacks is that there are lots of moving parts involved in the system, so it can be tricky to disassemble if you want to clean or maintain it.
The Pocket Clip:
The handle on this knife features a reversible, tip up pocket clip. This means that the knife has been drilled to carry the knife with either your left or right hand. The reversible pocket clip and the AXIS lock means that this knife is completely ambidextrous. However, the Freek has only been drilled to carry your knife tip up.
The Pros of the Benchmade Freek:
- The steel on this knife is a premium stainless steel.
- The steel on this knife has fantastic corrosion resistance properties.
- The steel on this knife maintains its edge very well.
- The steel on this knife has a great balance between hardness and toughness, which is harder to find than you would think.
- This knife is designed to be an everyday knife and an outdoors knife.
- The blade shape is drop point, which is one of the most versatile blade styles.
- The drop point has a great belly, so slicing will be easy for you.
- The tip is broad and lowered, so you plenty of strength behind it—you’ll be able to do the harder tasks.
- The Grivory handle is strong, resistant to warping, and pretty resistant to absorbing moisture.
- The handle has a Versaflex over mold to add texture and grip.
- Sports an AXIS lock, which is completely ambidextrous.
- The pocket clip is reversible, so the knife is totally ambidextrous.
The Cons of the Benchmade Freek:
- The steel chosen for this knife has been known to be a little tricky to sharpen.
- Although it is a premium stainless steel, you still are going to need to maintain your blade and make sure that there is no moisture when storing it.
- The drop point shape is not great for stabbing or piercing.
- The pocket clip is only drilled to carry your blade tip up.
Benchmade has been a reliable knife company for many years now. Even though they started out only designing and producing Bali-Song, or Butterfly, knives, they quickly branched out to designing other styles of knives as well. These other styles of knives quickly excelled in the knife community. Benchmade has been around the block a few times and they really do know what they are doing when they design and create new knives.
Something that sets Benchmade apart from their competitors is that their knives are not handmade, nor factory made, but bench made. This means that the parts are made like a factory knife, but then each knife gets special attention while it is being assembled. This means that you can feel confident that your knife has been looked at and approved by a person, not just assembled in a line. Each knife has been finished to perfection.
Benchmade’s knife, the Freek, has been designed perfectly. To start out with their knife, Benchmade chose CPM S30V steel, which is a superior stainless steel that sports the perfect balance between edge retention, toughness, and hardness. This means that the steel will need less maintenance and steel retain its high qualities. To complete the perfect blade, Benchmade decided to pair the superior steel with a versatile blade shape, the drop point. This drop point blade has a great belly for slicing and a broad, lowered tip for strength and control. This means that you can perform heavier duty tasks and not have to worry about your tip breaking, but you can also perform intricate cutting detail while working with this blade. A perfect blade needs a perfect handle, so Benchmade chose to use Grivory as the base of the handle. This material is pretty resistant to warping, high temperatures, and absorbing moisture. But, not only that, but Grivory also is more resistant to chemicals than other materials and Grivory has a higher strength to it than most other materials, including not only plastics, but some metals. As a finishing touch to the handle, Benchmade chose to put a Verflex over mold to add texture and provide you with a more secure grip. To complete the handle, they added an AXIS locking mechanism. This mechanism is completely ambidextrous and reliable. However, it can be hard to dismantle if you are trying to clean or maintain it. To finish off this knife, Benchmade chose to use a reversible, tip up pocket clip. Because the knife has been drilled to carry either left or right handedly, the Freek is one hundred percent ambidextrous. Finding such a perfectly ambidextrous knife is harder than it would seem like.
Benchmade knocked it out of the park with this knife.