History of the Balisong
The Benchmade history, and their Bali-Song knife, began in 1979 when Les de Asis wanted a knife that had the best quality to replace the cheap balisongs, or butterfly knives, he played with as a kid. Les used his high-school experience to develop and make his dream knife a reality. He created his first balisong in his own garage. From there he took the knife he had created, the model 68 Bali-Song, to a gun store where he was asked to make more of them. From this knife came the famous Benchmade Butterfly Logo that millions recognize everywhere.
A balisong’s peculiarity is its two handles counter-rotating around the tang of the blade. When closed, the blade is concealed within grooves in the handles. The balisong knife is the traditional name. There are other names it has. Benchmade has it named Bali-Song (with a hyphen in-between). Another name for the knife is a butterfly knife. It is also referred to as a Batangas knife, after the Province of Batangas, Philippines where it is traditionally made. The balisong was commonly used by the Filipino people for self-defense and as a utility knife. While the meaning of the term balisong is foggy, a popular belief is that it is derived from the Tagalog words “bali” and “sungay” which means broken and horn in English. They were originally made from carved caribou and stag horn. Balisong is also the name of a small area in the Batangas Province, which became famous for crafting these knives.
The Benchmade 67 Bali-Song is another addition to the collection of Benchmade’s balisong archive. Here are the specs for this additional balisong knife.
- Product Type: Balisong (Butterfly) Knife
- Overall Length: 9.20″
- Weight: 6.39 oz.
- Handle Length: 5.27”
- Blade Length: 4.25″
- Blade Thickness: 0.127″
- Blade Material: D2
- Blade Edge: Plain
- Blade Style: Recurve Tanto
- Blade Finish: Satin
- Handle Material: Stainless Steel
- Handle Color: Silver
- Pocket Clip: Not Included
- Sheath Included
- Made in USA
The blade on the Benchmade 67 Bali-Song is not a common blade. There are some common characteristics that it possesses, but for the most part it is a rare blade.
The blade on the 67 Bali-Song is a recurve tanto blade. When talking about this blade, it is best to look at it as two separate blade styles that are mashed together.
Starting with the tanto blade, the tanto is similar to a wharncliff or a drop point, except it has a second diagonal edge and it isn’t as easy to sharpen as the other two blades. It offers a good, strong point that excels at penetration and is less likely to break when penetrating the same material versus a drop point or spear point.
Next is to examine the recurved portion of the blade. Recurved blades offer a great cutting leverage when it comes to draw cuts. Another benefit of a recurve is that it lengthens the cutting edge longer than the actual length of the blade. The design also gives the edge multiple angles to work with. Recurves excel at slicing, whether it’s for food prep or cutting rope. Slicing isn’t the only cutting task that can benefit from a recurve’s contour. Other cuts, such as chopping and slashing, are best done with the use of a recurve blade. That is why you will find recurves on blades used for clearing vegetation, large choppers, and even certain defensive blades.
There are a couple of disadvantages to a recurve edge. Sharpening the blade involves a different technique when compared to sharpening more conventional blades such as a drop point. It can be difficult, and will be frustrating at first. If you are more accustomed to a traditional blade style, the recurve may take a while to adjust to. The ways these blades cut are quite different.
The Recurve Tanto is a sick looking blade. It has a high intimidation factor to it, yet at the same time it is extremely cool looking.
Besides having a great blade style, the Benchmade 67 blade steel is the durable D2 steel. First developed around the time of World War II, D2 steel is a wear resistant steel used for various rigorous cutting tools such as shears and planers. It contains 1.5% carbon and 11.0 – 12.0% chromium; additionally it is composed of 0.45% manganese, 0.030% max phosphorus, 0.030% max sulfur, 1.0% vanadium, 0.7% molybdenum, and 0.30% silicon. It is a popular knife steel due to its edge retention. One setback the steel has is that when it becomes dull, it is harder to sharpen. Due to its high chromium content it is often considered a semi-stainless steel. D2 is a high carbon tool steel. Compared to a steel like 1095 it is not nearly as tough but it is capable of holding an edge for a long time. D2 is also much more resistant to corrosion than 1095. Being a tool steel, this knife is able to accomplish heavy duty tasks.
The satin blade surface is covered with small linear strokes that form a uniform pattern. The blade reflects direct light for a nice shine. One benefit to a satin finish is that many minor wear and scratch marks from regular usage go unnoticed. This particular satin finish shines brighter than many other satin finishes. It complements the rest of the knife with its shine. A satin finish is similar to how a blade is sharpened. The surface is repeatedly sanded down for a smooth, reflective finish.
The handle on the Bali-Song 67 is not similar to any I have felt before. It is confusing because the handles are thin as a pencil but are as heavy as a NHL hockey puck. The majority of the weigh for the entire handle comes from the two balisong handles. This isn’t to say it is a bad thing. The weight is perfect for flipping the knife around, both to simply open it and to perform fancy tricks.
The look that the handle has is phenomenal. The milled out holes in the handle are flawless. They help lighten the weight of the overall knife. Air is able to flow through to keep your hands cool in those high intense situations.
Parts of the Balisong Knife
To better understand what a balisong is all about and how to properly use it, it is best to understand some of the basic parts. The balisong’s handle is comprised of is basically two parts; one fixed handle in one hand and one that rotates on an axis. The axis of butterfly knives is usually made of a rivet or from hex screw. The following covers more detail about the knife components.
The bite handle is the handle that closes on the sharp edge of the blade. It will cut the user if this handle is being held when they go to close it. Stereotypically located on the bite handle is the latch for the knife.
The standard locking system on a balisong knife is the latch. This holds the knife in a stationary position, whether if the blade is open or closed. The latch typically is found on the bite handle. Some latches are spring loaded for a quicker release. The Benchmade 67 has a traditional latch on it.
A pivot joint is a pin about which the tang, the blade, and the handles rotate about. On all balisong knives, there are two pivot joints. A regular folder knife has one pivot joint. The two pivot joints allow the knife to open in its unique “flipping” way.
The safe handle is the handle that that closes on the non-sharpened edge (swedge) of the blade. Generally speaking, this is the handle that does not have the latch attached to it.
The swedge is the unsharpened spine of the blade. Some balisongs are also sharpened on this side of the blade to make it into a double edged blade.
These are but a few of all the parts that go into a balisong, but these are the key parts of the knife. Knowing these will help with operating the knife.
How to Open
Opening the Benchmade 67 Bali-Song is quite simple, and fun! Below is a step-by-step guide to help lead those who do not know how to open the knife:
- Start by holding the closed knife in your dominate hand.
- Unlock the knife. Do this by moving the latch that is being held stationary to disengage the blade.
- Grab the safe handle on the knife (you don’t want to cut yourself with the blade).
- Flip open the handle over your hand exposing the blade.
- Rotate loosely in front of your hand 180 degrees.
- Flip the blade against back of hand
- Flip back and grab rest of handle
This is just a simple list of steps on how to open the knife. There are several different ways to open up the knife. Once you play around with the knife for a while, it becomes easier to open. And given time, you could probably start performing tricks.
Now how to close the knife. It is very similar to how the knife is opened. You could almost take the same steps and just go through them backwards. Here are the steps on how to close the knife:
- Again, start with holding the open knife in your dominate hand.
- Unlock the knife if you locked it into the opening position. Unlike opening the knife, the lock has to be manually disengaged. A squeeze on the handle will not unlock it.
- Flip over the handle that normally conceals the blade edge when closed.
- Rotate the knife loosely in your hand, around the front side of your hand, 180 degrees
- Flip the same handle against the back of your hand. Your hand will be in-between both of the handles at this point.
- Flip it back over your hand and grab the rest of the handle.
It will take time getting used to, but operating the Bali-Song 67 can be done. It is different than opening a traditional folder, or auto knife. However with some practice, these knives can open much more quickly than the fastest of autos.
Why get a Bali-Song
Why would anyone want to get a knife like the Benchmade 67 Bali-Song? There are many different laws and regulations, and the populous reputation that connote a negative feeling to them. One reason is that they are so much fun to play around with. Secondly, they are a safe knife once opened. Unless a pin breaks or some other freak accident, they will not close on your hand. Another reason to get one is the fact that they can be opened one handed faster than many spring assisted knives. They are also slim, lightweight, and easy to carry. It is very difficult to open one accidentally when locked, including in a pocket. They are often stronger and more secure because of their two pins. Another benefit to having a butterfly knife is for their use with those that wear gloves when working. Such as yard work or working in the shop. This is because they are large and easy to operate with gloved hands.
Some other benefits of the owning a balisong include:
- The shocking appearance it gives off. The balisong is impressive when revealed and wielded in a dramatic fashion. With all the tricks that can be done with a balisong, the action alone can plant fear in any opponent’s mind. Helpful for those dark alley ways at night.
- The Bali-Song has one of the strongest locking mechanisms. There is little chance of it opening up accidentally. It can be used with no fear of the blade bending onto the hand or even closing on the hand of those that use the knife.
- Balisongs typically can give you a long reach. This is more so true than folders that have to be more bulky and clunky to reach the same length. Having a long knife can be useful in any number of ways.
- The handles of the balisong can provide to be a blunt impact self-defense tool without the blade ever being deployed.
With any knife, there are limitations to them. Some of those limitations include:
- Balisongs have a greater need for space when deploying than many other knives.
- They are not as discrete as other knives, especially when opening. They are most definitely a flashy knife.
- There is much practice required to effectively open a balisong. Those that struggle with fine motor skills in their hands may have a difficult time trying to use this knife.
- There are the obvious legal issues that many places have. I’m not even going to go there for various reasons. The biggest takeaway from this point though is that it is all one big hassle to deal with. Nobody has time for that.
For a better understanding of how the 67 Bali-Song actually works, below are the results of several tests to assess the strength and ability to work as a knife. Normally, these tests are conducted by cutting different materials such as paper, cardboard, rope/paracord, and plastic. (These are common items that are cut from a day to day basis, and test the capability of the knife.) In addition to those, to test the strength of the tanto, a piercing test was conducted.
Piercing- The piercing test was only conducted on cardboard (no one or anything was harmed in the testing of this knife). With an initial thrust, the blade was stopped at the thickest point of the blade, meaning only a quarter of the entire blade went into the cardboard. After a couple of more tries, the entire blade was able to pass through the box. If you can give enough thrust to pass the tanto portion of the blade, the thin recurve portion of the blade will pass through without touching the cardboard. Basically, if you give it enough thrust, the rest will follow.
Paper- Cutting though the paper was a breeze. Envelopes stand no chance against the Benchmade 67 Bali-Song.
Cardboard- It was simple to cut through the cardboard, especially when doing so in a sawing motion. The recurve blade is created just for that reason. A rocking back and forth motion was able to slice through the cardboard with ease.
All types of synthetic material were able to be cut; from tape to shopping bags, and from thicker bottles to heavy packaging plastics. The 67 Bali-Song was easily able to cut through them all.
Clean as a whistle! The cut was easy to make and no threads went uncut. It almost took one sweeping motion to cut right on through. Benchmade has always been good at providing a good blade to cut with. One that is sharp, durable, and always ready to work for you.
The Bali-Song 67 from Benchmade is a hit. Flipping these knives around is a lot of fun. The recurve tanto introduced me to a whole new world of possibilities for this blade style. I might have to ditch my drop point for a while and see if the recurve is better. This knife would make a great addition to any knife collection.