Benchmade is almost a dynasty at this point, but it took years to get them to this point. Benchmade tells their story like this:
The Benchmade adventure began when Les de Asis wanted a knife that reflected the latest in materials and manufacturing technology to replace the cheap butterfly knives, known as Bali-Songs, he played with as a kid. Using his high school shop skills, he blueprinted his dream knife before eventually meeting Victor Anselmo, who helped to grind the first ever pre-Benchmade Bali-Song prototype. Paired with handles that Les sourced from a small machine shop in California, he assembled and finished his first Bali-Song in his own garage. Product of his creation, he took this first Bali-Song into a local gun store and the owner asked, “Could you build 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 was purchased form the owner of a manufacturing operation who looking to retire. Utilizing the rudimentary technology available to him at the time, Les began building handmade custom Bali-Songs, along with Jody Sampson, who ground all the blades. The success of these custom Bali’s 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 evolving 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 introduced 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.
While there was “handmade” and “factory-made” it was “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 piston 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.
Over at BladeOps, we are celebrating the month of May as Benchmade month. To celebrate, we are going over all the different knives that we carry and taking a rundown on why they are such an excellent knife. Today, we are going over the H20 Fixed blade family of knives.
The blades on this family of knives are made out of N680 steel. This steel contains about 0.20% nitrogen and over 17% chromium making it extremely corrosion resistant. This steel has been designed as an outdoor and rescue knife, so this steel is the perfect option. This formula of steel can even be immersed in salt water without corroding. It can resist rust so easily because during smelting, N680 steel is infused with nitrogen, an elemental gas. The nitrogen interacts with the chromium inside the steel to give the chromium “more space to work with” so to say. This allows the chromium to better defend the iron from reacting with oxygen. If iron reacts with oxygen, rust forms. This steel is a fine grained steel that can take a very fine edge. This is a fairly cheap type of steel but it also has fantastic qualities about it. Unfortunately, because it is a cheaper steel, it will not hold an edge as well as some of the other more expensive steels on the market. On the flipside, this steel does not take a lot of edge to sharpen the blade. The hardness on this steel is a 57-59 HRC.
The blade has been finished with a satin finish. This finish is created by sanding the blade in one direction with an increasing level of an abrasive, which is usually a sandpaper. The main characteristics about this blade finish is that it shows off the lines of the blade. This is one of the more traditional blade finishes that you are going to come across.
The blade shape is one of the most unique aspects of the H2O fixed blade family. It is technically called an opposing bevel blade shape. This blade sports a blunt tip. This knife has been designed as a rescue knife and this is when the blunt tip comes in. When you are trying to get into cramped spaces, you don’t want to have to worry about stabbing the person that you are rescuing. This way, you can get as close to the victim as you possibly can, without causing further injuries. On the back of the blade, they have incorporated a hook that is perfect for cutting through straps, webbing, and other pliable materials. This hook is sharp enough to be able to cut through most materials that someone could become stuck in. On the other side of the handle, there is a combo edge. With a combo edge, you truly get the best of both worlds. With a plain edge, you get the more useful applications in basic situations. The plain edge portion of the blade is going to serve a much wider purpose. One of the advantages to the plain edge portion is that they excel at push cutting. This is where a knife is used by applying force forward and pushing the knife edge in. An example of this is wood carving. The next thing that the plain edge excels at is slicing. This is when you use the knife in a back and forth motion, but it isn’t quite a saw. The benefit to the serrated portion of the blade is that the teeth can cut through the thicker materials. When you are using this knife for a rescue knife or an outdoors knife, the serrated portion is going to come in handy. The serrated edge can easily saw through seat restraints, straps, and webbing.
The handles are made out of a rubberized over mold called Santoprene. Santoprene is a thermoplastic elastomer which belongs to a diverse family of rubber like materials that can be processed and recycled within the manufacturing process. Santoprene looks, feels, and behaves like rubber, but due to the PP content, offers simple, flexible part design and manufacturing. It essentially is a high performance elastomer which exhibits the properties of rubber while providing the ease of processing of plastics. It has proven to be a dependable polymer for flexible engineered parts that require long term performance. To put this in layman’s terms, Santoprene handles are a blend of synthetic rubber and polypropylene. This provides added slip resistance while increasing the durability of the knife. You can get this handle in a bright yellow or a muted black.
The handle will provide you with a very secure grip in any situation, including the stressful or wet ones. To keep your grip comfortable for long term use, there is a deep finger groove and a slightly curved palm portion. To protect your fingers form slipping and getting cut, there is a thick finger guard.
The H2O fixed blade family of knives also boasts a lanyard hole. Since this knife is designed to be a rescue and outdoors knife, there are so many reasons to have a lanyard on your knife. For starters, you can secure your knife against loos. This knife has been designed to use in water and you do not want your sharp knife tossing and turning around loose in the water. With a lanyard, you can guarantee that you don’t lose your knife. Another reason to use a lanyard on your knife is for safety while using. If you are using the knife in deep snow or where there is potential for dropping it in water or mud, tie a longer cord to the lanyard. Then tie the cord to your belt or run it through a button hole. That could save you from losing one of your best tools. The third reason to tie a lanyard onto this knife is for greater visibility. If you happen to put your knife down while doing some task, you may lose it or forget where you put it. The easy solution is to get a knife with a high visibility handle, but if you happen to choose a knife that does not have a bright handle, you can tie a piece of fluorescent flagging to the handle of your knife.
There are so many pros to having a fixed blade, especially for your outdoors or survival knife. For starters, they are strong and big. You can basically get a fixed blade in any size that you are seeking, but one trait that spans across all of the sizes is the pure strength of the blade. The next big benefit to this knife being a fixed blade is that they don’t break. You don’t want your outdoors or rescue knife to fail you in a time of need. They don’t break for a variety of reasons: one is that there are no moving parts on a fixed blade. The second one is that there are really no weak spots in a fixed blade where the blade can snap. The third reason that they fixed blades are such a great option is that they are easier to maintain. You don’t have to worry about the hinge as you do with a folding knife. And, cleaning is going to be super straightforward and simple. Especially since this knife can be submerged in salt water and not corrode. The blade length is also ideal on this knife. With a fixed blade, you can have a much longer blade because it does not have to fit in the handle and they are usually thicker and less prone to snapping. One of the last major reasons that a fixed blade is such a fantastic option is that they are a superior survival tool. A fixed blade offers more versatility for any number of tasks associated with so called survival knives, including but not limited to cutting, digging, first aid, hammering, and sometimes even prying. With the H2O being a fixed blade, you won’t have to worry about it failing.
The sheath is a plastic sheath. This specific sheath is extremely durable. It can be submerged in salt water or exposed to different environments and the sheath will hold up fairly well. On the flip side, it is not much to look at. And with the repeated taking out and putting in of your knife, the sheath will dull the edge of your blade. This plastic molded sheath that features a single push button lock release and PFD compatible clip.
The blade on this knife is 3.43 inches long with a thickness of 0.116 inches. The handle thickness on this knife is 0.470 inches. The overall length of this knife is 7.56 inches long. The knife weighs in at 3.1 ounces and the sheath weighs in at 1.10 ounces. This knife is made in the United States of America.
The Benchmade H2O is a dive knife that doubles and triples as a rescue and outdoors knife. The N680 steel provides you with maximum corrosion resistance, cutting ability, and edge retention. This knife is built with a blunt tip so that you are ready for anything that gets thrown at you without having to worry about piercing the wrong thing. The handle on this model is black Santoprene which is very durable. This knife comes with a plastic molded sheath that features single push button lock release and PFD compatible clip. When Benchmade is talking about this knife they said, “Born from water, the H2O fixed was originally developed for an elite military program. The knife features a blunt tip, opposing bevel for torsional strength and an integrated hook for cutting through straps, webbing, and other pliable materials. Designed and manufactured in the USA with Austrian blade steel.” This knife is an excellent addition to your collection, especially if you are going to be working in the water often. Come celebrate this month of May as Benchmade month and pick up your yellow or black H2O today at BladeOps.