Benchmade was founded over thirty years ago and has a rich history that starts even before that. Benchmade is the product of many dedicated employees, a never quit demand for excellence and the de Asis family’s vision and total commitment to culture, service and innovation. Benchmade’s story really begins in 1979 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, that he played with as a kid. Before Benchmade was Benchmade, it went through a couple of different names. 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.
At BladeOps, May is Benchmade month. To celebrate, each day we will discuss a different knife or knife family and today it is the Saddle Mountain Skinner Family.
The blade on this knife is made out of S30V steel. This is a premium grade steel that is made by US based Crucible. This steel has excellent edge retention and resists rust effortlessly. IT was designed in the United States and is typically used for the higher end premium pocket knives ads well as expensive kitchen cutlery. Crucible has added Vanadium Carbides into the steel alloy matrix to bring out the extreme hardness of the steel without lessening the toughness that it has. S30V steel has gained the reputation of being one of the finest knife blade steels that sports the optimal balance of edge retention, hardness, and toughness. One of the only drawbacks to this steel formula is that it does tend to be rather tricky to sharpen.
The finish on this blade is a satin finish to showcase the lines of the steel. To form this finish, the steel is continually sanded in one direction with sandpaper or another similar abrasive with an increasing level of fineness. This is a medium finish, because there are shinier steel finishes and there are also finishes that are more matte. The satin finish does cut down on glares and reflections while providing you with a timeless blade.
There are actually two different versions of the blade shape that you get to choose with the Saddle Mountain Skinner. You can choose a regular drop point or you can choose a drop point with a hook carved into the back of it. The drop point blade shapes is one of the most common shapes that you are going to find on hunting knives. This is for a variety of reasons. For starters, this is a great all-purpose blade shape that can virtually stand up to anything. To form the shape, the back, or unsharpened, edge of the knife runs straight form the handle to the tip of the knife in a slow curved manner, which creates a lowered point. The lowered point helps to add more control to the tip. This is the second reason that the drop point blade shape is such a fantastic shape for your hunting knife. Because the point is so easily controlled, it makes it easier to avoid accidentally nicking internal organs and ruining the meat. The lowered point also helps to add strength to the tip. This broad, strong tip is a huge benefit to the blade shape, but is also sometimes a drawback. The reason that it is a drawback is because with it, you have virtually no stabbing capabilities. But, it is such an advantage because it adds so much strength to the tip, enabling your knife to take on almost any task that you can throw at it. And because the point has so much strength and the ability to hold up to heavy use, drop point blades are popular on tactical and survival knives. One of the last reasons that this is such a perfect shape on your hunting knife is because it sports a large belly that provides plenty of length for slicing. And with a hunting knife, you are going to be doing a lot of slicing and will want the clean cuts.
The second option that you have with this knife is a drop point blade shape with a gut hook in place. This is a blade in which the spine has a sharpened semi-circle ground into it. This gut hook is mostly a blade feature, although a lot of people call them a blade shape. This hook is most often used by hunters for field dressing, the hook in the spine is placed in a small cut in the underside of the animal and pulled like a zipper. Its purpose is to split the skin of a game animal in gutting operations of filed dressing by hooking over the skin, and being pulled along to sever it. The small hook opens the abdomen of the animal without slicing into the muscle, possibly affecting the equality of the meat. The gut hook is made from a semi-circle “C” shape being ground into the blade with the inward part of the “C” being sharpened. This hook needs to be sharpened occasionally but it can’t be sharpened with a typical flat sharpening stone or other knife sharpener. Most hunters purchase a round file and use this to sharpen the inside of the gut hook. This is a disadvantage, because sharpening this hook can prove to be very difficult. However, while this is a very specialized tool, it does the job perfectly, and what’s not to love about that?
Both versions of the blade sport a row of jimping where the blade meets the handle to help with control and add to your gripping abilities when you are doing your messier jobs. Both versions of the knife also have a plain edge. This is perfect for a hunting knife because the plain is most traditional, easiest to sharpen, has the ability to get a finer edge, and excels at push cuts, slicing, skinning, and peeling. All of which will come in handy when dressing your game.
There are also two different options for your knife handle. The first one is a gray G 10 that has been designed to look like wood. G 10 is a grade of Garolite that is a laminate composite made of fiberglass. IT has very similar properties to carbon fiber, except that it can be had for almost a fraction of the 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 resulting material is extremely tough, very hard, super lightweight, and crazy strong. In fact, G 10 is considered the toughest of all the fiberglass resin laminates although it is a more brittle material. And while it is cheaper to produce than carbon fiber, it still has to be cut and machined into shape which is not as economical as the injection molding process which is used in FRN handles. G 10’s production process can utilize many layers of the same color, or varying different colors to achieve a unique cosmetic look on the handle, in this case, the handle is gray and black and made to look like wood. G 10 is such a great option for your hunting knife handle because it is durable, lightweight, and non-porous, so it won’t weigh you down and it won’t absorb any of the gunk that handles can accumulate during the hunting process.
The second option that you have for this handle is a Dymondwood handle. Dymondwood is a phenolic resin impregnated wood veneers that are laminated and compressed. It is very similar to Micarta, G 10, and Carbon Fiber, except that the base material is different than those other materials. The base material for Dymondwood is wood. Dymondwood is a very affordable option. This is a very stable mateiral that has a very decent toughness. It is more stable than regular wood and is also tougher than most woods. This option is a dark brown with black accents.
Both versions of the handle are very comfortable to use for long periods of time as well as a safe option to use because it has a finger guard. The handle has been carved to fit nicely in your hand, with the curves cushioning your grip slightly.
Both versions of the knife have a lanyard hole on the butt. Dressing your game is a messy job and a lanyard can help to secure against loss during the craziest of environments. The lanyard can also provide safety when you are processing a large animal. When you are field dressing a large game animal, there is a moment when you’ll need to reach inside the ability to cut the esophagus so the intestines can be pulled out. This is a messy situation, which can easily make your knife handle slippery. And if you have a lanyard wrapped around your wrist or hand, you can prevent yourself from your hand slipping down onto the blade form the handle.
The Saddle Mountain Skinner knife is a fixed blade. There are so many advantages to having your go to hunting knife be a fixed blade. For starters, fixed blade knives are stronger and bigger than a folding knife This means that you are really going to be able to dress any sized game. Another one of the benefits to having a fixed lade is that they don’t break. When you are out in the field, you really don’t want your knife to break. And this knife will be able to stand up to most of your tasks. Another one of the benefits is that they are easier to maintain. When you are dealing with a hunting knife, you will want to jump at any opportunity you can to make your maintenance a little easier. Hunting knives are constantly caked in blood and guts after each use, so having a knife that you can just wipe down is going to be a huge plus. With the Saddle Mountain Skinner, cleaning will be straightforward and simple. A fixed blade is also the superior survival tool. A fixed blades offers you more versatility for any number of tasks that can be associated with so called survival knives, which include cutting, digging, splitting, using it as a first aid tool, using it as a food preparation tool, using it as a hunting weapon, hammering with it, and even using it as a prying tool.
There are two separate options for your sheath. You can choose between a kydex sheath or a leather sheath. The leather option is one of the more traditional materials that sheaths are made out of. There are a handful of benefits to a leather sheath, one of the main advantages is the aesthetics. Leather is a well-known material that looks exceptional, it feels nice in your hand and it smells good. Leather is rugged and also very quiet when you are putting a knife in and out of the sheath. However, since it is a natural material, it will eventually become unusable.
The kydex option is a more modern material for sheaths. Whether it is submerged in salt water or exposed to different environments, Kydex will be able to hold up very well. However, it does make a noisy clanking sound and it will eventually dull the knife’s edge.
The blade is 4.17 inches long with a thickness of 0.140 inches. The overall length of the knife is 8.73 inches long. The handle thickness is 0.58 inches. With the G 10 handle, the knife weighs in at 5.13 ounces. If you choose the Dymondwood handle, the knife weighs in at 4.7 ounces.
This is a large fixed blade with a recurved blade that assists in meat cutting and skinning chores. This blade is made out of S30V steel with a satin finish, with the option of getting a gut hook in your blade. This is a fixed blade that has either a Dymondwood handle or a G 10 handle. This fixed blade will change the way you think of hunting knives. Pick yours up today at BladeOps and celebrate Benchmade month.