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. Proud of his creation, he took this first Bali-Song into a local guns tore 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 from the owner of a manufacturing operation who was 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 Balis spurred the creation of the first production Bali-Song: The model 68. Over the next seven years, the company expanded its product offerings into 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 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 would now need 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 position in the market—even to this day.
In 1990, Benchmade moved from California to a facility in Clackamas, Oregon and began producing knives there under the name Benchmade, Inc. This was a major turning point, as the company was now located in the epicenter for knife manufacturing. Many technological advancements were now possible and Benchmade became the first company to now and employ a high power laser cutter, allowing for work with steels too hard to stamp. The company also became the world leader in automatic knife manufacturing, which is still true to this day, and began to supply military units.
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.
This May, we are celebrating Benchmade month over here at BladeOps. To celebrate today, we are going to go over the Auto APB family of knives. This family of knives has a variety of different options that you get to choose from and we will be going over those today.
The blade on this family of knives is made out of 154CM steel. This is a high end steel. This is also a relatively hard steel which is considered an upgraded version of 440C through the addition of Molybdenum. This achieves superior edge holding compared to 440C while retaining similar excellent levels of corrosion resistance despite having less Chromium. It has decent toughness good enough for most uses and holds an edge well. It is not too difficult to sharpen with the right equipment. You’ll find a lot of quality pocket knives from top manufacturers like Benchmade using 154CM steel.
You are presented with two different blade finishes for the Auto APB family of blades. The first option is a satin finish. This finish is created by sanding the blade repeatedly in one direction with an increasing level of an abrasive. This finish works to show the bevels of the blade and also to showcase the lines of the steel. This is one of the most traditional blade finishes that you are going to come across.
The second option that you have with the blade finish is a coated finish. This is a black coated finish that works to reduce the reflection and glare while reducing wear and corrosion. On the flip side, ALL coatings can be scratched off after continuous heavy use, and the blade would have to be re-coated. Coatings can prolong the life of a blade by preventing corrosion or rust. A quality coating can add cost to a knife but provide more corrosion resistance, less reflection, and require less maintenance.
The Auto APB family of knives has been designed to be an everyday knife. To create a perfect EDC knife, Benchmade chose to carve the blade into a drop point style blade. This is a great all-purpose knife that can stand up to almost anything. This is also one of the most popular blade shapes in use today. The most recognizable knife that features a drop point is the hunting knife, although it is used on many other knives as well. To form the shape of this blade, the back or unsharpened edge of the knife runs straight form the handle to the tip of the knife in a slow curved manner, creating a lowered point. This lowered point 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. Because of this tip strength and the ability to hold up to heavy sue, drop point blades are popular on tactical and survival knives. Because the point on a drop point blade is easily controllable, they are a popular choice on hunting knives. One of the last reasons that drop point knives make exceptional EDC knives is that they feature a large belly area that is perfect for slicing. The only real disadvantage of the drop point blade is its relatively broad tip, which makes it less suitable for piecing than the clip point. However, this broad tip provides point strength that is not found on clip point knives.
With this family of knives, you are presented with two edge options. You can choose from a plain or combo edge. Plain blades are one continuous sharp edge and are far more traditional. They serve a much wider purpose as their most useful application is what most of us think of when we think of using a knife: a strong, steady pressure. Another key advantage of a plain edge is that it doesn’t snag or fray when cutting through ropes, though with other ropes, particularly ones made of plastics or other synthetic materials, the blade may simply slip instead of cut. A plain edge cuts cleanly. A serrated edge are blades that have some kind of toothed or saw like edge ground into the cutting surface. These are intended to be sued much like a small saw, with a back and forth motion. They’re great for cutting through belts and ropes, fabric, and various other textured materials. Serrated blades also work great on substances that are soft, flexible, or can be crushed easily with downward cutting. The downside to the serrated blade is that especially with ropes and fabrics they can easily cause fraying. And when the blade dulls, it’s much more difficult to sharpen and requires specialty sharpening equipment. A serrated blade does not cut as cleanly as a plain edge knife. Often sharpening requires taking the blade to a professional sharpener, especially if the sharpening is long overdue.
The handle is made out of anodized aluminum. This handle is anodized black and aluminum is usually anodized for color, hardness, and protection. Aluminum is a very durable material for knife handles. It is a low density metal that provides for a nice, hefty feel to the knife without weighing the knife down. When properly texturized, an aluminum handle can provide a reasonably secure grip hat 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.
The handle has a big finger guard to protect your fingers. There is also a large finger groove. The rest of the handle has been carved to fit comfortably in your hand even for long periods of use. Across the palm of the handle, there is a series of diagonal grooves to provide a secure grip. On the butt of the handle, there is a lanyard hole carved into it. This lanyard hole is a fantastic addition for your EDC knife. The lanyard will help you draw out your knife quicker, you can put the knife deeper into your pocket and just have the lanyard hole hang out, and it can help with a solid grip when you are taking on those tougher tasks.
On the very butt of the handle, there is a glass breaker.
The Clip Point:
Like most Benchmade models, the pocket clip is designed for tip up carry only but it is eligible for left or right hand carry options. This is a standard pocket clip.
This family of knives sports an ambidextrous push button automatic opening mechanism. Automatic knives are also known as switchblades and they do have strict laws surrounding them in many states and cities. Before you purchase an APB Automatic knife, make sure that you do know your local laws. This knife might not be legal for owning or carrying. An automatic knife is a type of knife with a folding or sliding blade 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 blade on the APB automatic family of knives is 3.52 inches long with a blade thickness of 0.124 inches. The overall length of this knife is 8.64 inches long and it sports a closed length of 5.12 inches. The handles on this knife are 0.63 inches thick. This knife weighs in at 6.28 ounces. This family of knives is made in the United States of America.
When Benchmade is talking about this series of knives they say, “The first ever ambidextrous push-button automatic. The APB features push buttons on both sides of the handle, because you don’t always get to choose which hand to use.” The Benchmade APB (Ambidextrous Push Button) fami.ly includes both spring assist and automatic models and offers a truly ambidextrous utility. This newly developed versatile design allow the blade to be fired as well as released with either of the oval shaped silver buttons found on both sides of the handle. The spine safety on this series has been elongated to make engaging and disengaging more user friendly—even with gloves.
The steel on this knife is 154CM stainless steel which is a hard, high end steel. This is one of the tougher steels that has exceptional edge holding properties. You can choose between a combo or plain edge, which both make for great EDC knife edges; however, they both sport different advantages. Both of the finishes work to prolong the life of the blade by cutting down on corrosion and wear. The handle is made out of aluminum, which is a very durable material and is also very resistant to corrosion. This is a phenomenal knife that will change the way you think of EDC knives. Come celebrate Benchmade month with us and pick up your favorite version of the APB Automatic family.