The Benchmade Knife Company is a knife manufacturer run by Roberta and Les de Asis in Oregon City, Oregon. Its products are geared toward many niche markets, such as outdoor sporting cutlery, rescue, law-enforcement, martial-arts, and military. The company has collaborated with a number of custom knife makers since its beginning.
Benchmade started in California in 1970 as Bali-Song, changing its name in 1988 to the Pacific Cutlery Corporation. In 1990 the company moved to Clackamas, Oregon. In 1996, the company moved to a 144,000 square foot facility in Oregon City, Oregon. Benchmade became known primarily as a manufacturer of butterfly, or balisong-style knives, which it continues to manufacture. These knives have been so identified with the company that Benchmade has registered “Bali-Song” as a trademark and logo. Benchmade’s original Bali-Song design by Jody Samson was awarded Blade Magazine’s Knife of the Year Award in 1979.
Blade steels such as 154CM, D2, CPM S30V steel, CPM S90V, CPM 20CV, N680, and M390 are used in many models. Benchmade is one of the few manufacturers to have offered high speed M2 and CPM M4 tool steels in a production knife.
Benchmade receives a significant amount of revenue from selling restricted-sales knives to the military and law enforcement. Benchmade produces a diverse selection of “auto,” or switchblade knives, along with a range of hunting, fishing, utility, and miscellaneous knives, however balisongs remain a core product.
Benchmade has three different classes when it comes to their knives. The first class is the Blue Class, also known as the Recreation class. This type of Benchmade knife is made for typical use by the everyday person. The next class is the Black Class, also known as the Professional class. This type of Benchmade knife is made for military, law enforcement, and public safety workers. These are the knives made for more challenging work. The last class is the Gold Class, also known as the Collector class. This class of Benchmade knife is made for collectors and are limited edition.
Benchmade has a patent on the locking mechanism used in most of the switchblades they produce. Benchmade additionally holds an exclusive license on use of the McHenry/Williams AXIS Lock, which is a strong, spring operated locking mechanism that is used in both automatic and manual action models.
Benchmade has a long tradition of incorporating knife design from noted custom cutlery makers into their production models. These include Jody Samson, Ernest Emerson, Allen Elishewitz, Mel Pardue, Bill McHenry, Mike Snody, Jason Williams, Warren Osborne, and Bob Lum. Several production Benchmade models based on the work of these designers have become influential within the industry.
Today we will be going over the Benchmade 3351 Stimulus automatic knife family.
This family of knives falls under the Benchmade’s Black Class. This is the class that is used by professionals when quality tools can mean the difference between life and death. From law enforcement and public safety to elite military troops, Benchmade feels that their obligation is the same. This is some of the best equipment for the job. The Black Class slogan is “Black Class: No Room for Error.”
BladeOps offers three versions of this knife design, and all three have a blade made out of 154CM stainless steel. This steel is a high end steel that is relatively hard. It has been regarded as an upgraded version of 440C; it is the superior steel because of the added Molybdenum, which is used to achieve superior edge holding when being compared to 440C, while also retaining similar levels of corrosion resistance. 154CM has good toughness that can stand up to the majority of tasks. When you have the right sharpening equipment and skill level, this steel isn’t too hard to sharpen.
There are two different finishes that you can choose from in this knife family. The first finish is a traditional satin. This finish is created by repeatedly sanding the blade in one direction with an increasing level of a fine abrasive. The abrasive material that is most commonly used is a sandpaper. The finer the sandpaper is and the more even the lines of the sanding, the cleaner and sleeker the blade will look. This finish is designed to show off the bevels of the blade while also showcasing the fine lines of the steel. In terms of luster, the satin finish falls almost smack in the middle. This finish is also one of the most traditional blade finishes that you are going to come across, so if you end up choosing this version, you’ll know that your knife will never go out of style. The satin finish does help to slightly reduce corrosion on this blade, but that characteristic is not a noteworthy one of the satin blade finish.
The second blade finish option that you are presented with is a black coating. While most other finishes are actually changing the blade steel, a coating finish is exactly what it sounds like—a layer of finish is applied on top of the steel. This has its benefits; for example, coatings help to provide corrosion resistance because it adds a layer in between the steel and the environment. The coating option is also going to make your blade matte, which will reduce the chance of your blade giving your positon away due to reflections if you are in the field. However, the coating will scratch off eventually, either due to time or hard use. One the coating has been scratched away, you not only miss out on the sleek look that the blade once sported, but the benefits of a coating are also significantly diminished or removed altogether. If you want your blade to stay protected, you would have to have your blade recoated at that time.
The blades on these knives are carved into a spear point blade shape. This blade shape is symmetrical in that it is curved the same on either side of the spine which runs down the center. There is really no secret where this blade style got its name from. The design is often considered as a dagger and is the ultimate choice for a throwing knife. This blade style is often compared to the needle-point blade, because they are both good for piercing. However, the point on the spear point is much stronger and it does have a belly that can be used for some slicing. The spear point knife is a great choice if you are looking for a good balance between piercing and slicing ability. This blade style combines the sharp point of a dagger with the strength of a drop point blade, while still maintain some of the belly that is used for slicing. The spear point blade is considered a fantastic hybrid design that is very useful for a wide variety of different uses.
The Stimulus family of knives also offers the option to choose between either a plain edged blade or a combination blade. The plain edge is going to equip you to take on tasks that require push cuts. A push cut is where you push the blade into the material or object that you are cutting, and then push to continue the process. Some examples of push cuts are shaving, skinning, or peeling an object. The plain edge is going to be easier to sharpen because you don’t have to worry about the teeth. And because there are no teeth, the plain edge is going to give you cleaner cuts and slices than the combination blade would.
The combo blade is where the upper two thirds of the blade is plain and the lower two thirds is serrated. You can still do your fine detail work because of the plain portion, and you are also capable of sawing through some thicker materials with the serrated portion. This style of edge is designed to give you the best of both worlds. The biggest complaint with this style is that the two portions are actually too small to get any work done with either style.
The handle on this Benchmade knife is made out of 6061-T6 aluminum. Aluminum is a very corrosion resistant metal as well as being low density (thus lightweight), which are two of the reasons that it is often used in knife handles. 6061-T6 is just the aluminum alloy name, which means that the type of aluminum used is 6061 and it has been T6 tempered. This alloy of aluminum has one of the highest yield and tensile strengths of all aluminum alloys. Unfortunately, aluminum does have high conductive properties, so if you are going to be using this knife in the winter, you should be prepared for how it will bite into your hand. Aluminum is also prone to scratches and dings.
The handles have been anodized black. Anodizing is used to increase the corrosion resistance of the aluminum handle by forming a layer of oxide on its surface. This process also makes the handle harder, less prone to scratches, and adds a sleek black color to the handle.
While aluminum can be slippery, Benchmade has carved in a couple of deep grooves on the face of the handle to help give you a more secure grip. The ergonomics of this handle also create a comfortable grip. The portion of the handle nearest to the blade flare out slightly for comfort and safety.
The Pocket Clip:
The pocket clip on these knives is black to match the anodized handle. It is designed for tip up carry only, which is a drawback. The clip is held in place by three small black screws which match the rest of the hardware on this knife. The only exception is the firing button, which is silver and the safety on the side of the handle.
The Stimulus family is a family of automatic knives. An automatic knife, or switchblade, is a knife that has a blade that springs out of the handle when a button is pressed. This looks like a regular folding knife, except that there is a firing button on the face of the handle. When this button is pressed, the tension of the spring is released back onto the blade and it flicks open automatically, with no assistance form the user.
Automatic knives do have a strict set of laws that surround them in the United States. They are not legal in all states, cities, or even areas. It is your responsibility, as the user, to know what your local knife laws are. This knife might be illegal to purchase or carry where you are living.
The blade on this knife measures in at 2.99 inches long, with a handle that measures in at 4.11 inches long. When this utilitarian knife is opened, it measures in at an overall length of 7.1 inches. This is a lighter knife, making it perfect to have with you at all times—weighing in at 2.7 ounces. This Benchmade knife is made in the United States of America.
The best-selling original Benchmade 3550 Mel Pardue automatic knife was slightly modified in 2016–producing the new and improved Benchmade Stimulus auto knife. With increased reliability and improved access to the enlarged firing button, this true utilitarian tool certainly doesn’t sacrifice function for form. This Benchmade black class family has a variety of options to choose from. You can get your spear point style blade in either a satin finish or a black coated one. And you can choose between a straight edge or combination edge. These knives feature symmetrical black anodized 6061-T6 handle scales with an integrated safety on the spine near the location of the firing button. This classic automatic knife aims to please with its American-made 154CM stainless steel and the handle offers a slim profile and ergonomic grip. The pocket clip is designed for tip up carry only. Pick up your favorite version of this well-balanced, versatile Benchmade knife today at BladeOps.