In 1988, Benchmade set out to make the best knives in the world—and that’s exactly what they did. They’ve grown a lot since then, and while they have expanded to provide tools for elite tactical operators, first responders, and even collectors, their goal remains the same: make the best knives in the world.
Their knives are made of many things: steel, aluminum, and titanium, just to name a few. But the most important part of a Benchmade knife is expertise. They carefully measure every part at every step in the process. They use the best materials and equipment. They make world-class knives for world class users.
The first step in the process of is turning a sheet of steel into a blade. This begins by laser cutting. A laser cutting technician programs the laser to cut the steel into blanks, which gives the blade its basic profile. These blanks are then hammered out of the sheet and then measured. By taking measurements at every step of the manufacturing process, they guarantee an impeccable knife and streamline the production.
The second step in the process is surface grinding. This is the step where blanks are ground to the exact width. A surface grind technician places each blank in its rack by hand, and each side is ground to its specific thickness. After grinding, the blanks are measured again. The tolerances are within a width of a human hair, which is how Benchmade produces such quality knives each and every time.
The third step is milling, which is when blade holes, handles, and grooves are cut on high-speed mills. One of the holes that is cut during this process is the blade pivot, which is crucial to the folding mechanism. This pivot tolerance is .0005 inches, because even the slightest deviation there becomes exponential at the blade’s tip.
Next is beveling, which is where the blade really starts to take its shape. A Blade Beveling Technician bevels the knife blank one side at a time, making sure that the two sides match perfectly.
The next step is back-sanding, which is when the back of the blade gets special attention. Finishing is also completed at this point. Finishing gives the blade a more refined look because the finishing technician stone-washes the blades in a ceramic medium to remove any burrs and give the blades a clean, polished appearance.
The last two steps are assembly and sharpening. Each and every Benchmade knife is assembled by hand, so its no surprise that there are more hand operations performed at this point in a knife’s production than at any other stage in the process. Lastly, is sharpening. This takes longer to master blade sharpening than any other skill. A sharpening technician puts a razor edge on the knife using a standard belt sander, which takes crazy high concentration. The knife is sharp enough when it can cut through ultra-thin phonebook paper effortlessly without tearing. Then, it becomes a true Benchmade.
Today we will be discussing the Benchmade CLA automatic knife. This is a Black Class model which means that there is no room for error. Their Black Class knives are used by professional when quality tools can mean the difference between life and death. Form law enforcement and public safety to elite military troops, Benchmade feels that their obligation is still the same. They are designing the best equipment for the job.
The blade on this knife is made out of 154CM stainless steel, which is a high end steel. This type of steel is relatively hard, and has been considered an upgraded version of 440C because of the addition of Molybdenum. It is the Molybdenum that helps the steel achieve superior edge holding, when compared to 440C, while also retaining its high levels of corrosion resistant. This steel has a decent toughness, which is good enough for the majority of uses. A bonus to this steel is that it holds an edge well and with the correct equipment, it isn’t hard to sharpen. This is an American made stainless steel with well-rounded characteristics including good edge retention, overall toughness, and corrosion resistance. This blade is a solid choice that helps make a solid knife.
The blade has been finished satin, which means that it was sanded in one direction with a fine sandpaper. This finish is created to show off the bevels of the blade while also showcasing the lines of the steel, and you can tell that Benchmade used a very fine sandpaper, because the lines of the knife are very smooth and clean. This is one of the more traditional knife finishes, because its luster falls in the middle of the spectrum. The satin finish is also the most popular blade finish that you are going to come across in today’s knife industry.
The blade on this knife has been carved into a drop point style blade, which is the most popular blade style used on modern pocket knives. This blade shape allows your knife to be all-purpose, extremely versatile, while still being tough enough to take on the harder jobs. The blade shape is formed by having the unsharpened edge, or the spine, of the blade run straight form the handle to the tip of the knife in a slow curved manner, which creates a lowered point. The lowered point provides a handful of characteristics that are some of the drop point blade style’s main advantage. For example, because the tip is lowered, you are going to be able to more successfully control your cuts and slices. And, the lowered point is broad, which means that it is stronger and less prone to breaking during use. This broad tip is also one of the drop point blade shapes drawbacks, because it doe limit your ability to pierce—especially when compared to the similar clip point style. But, because the tip is lowered and broad, the drop point blade shape is the prefect option for a tactical knife. This blade is going to hold up to heavy use easily. One of the other reasons that this is such an all-purpose knife is because it features one of the largest bellies out of all the knife blade shapes. It is the belly that is going to help you with slicing, which is the majority of tasks that you will be performing with this knife. Because of the phenomenal blade combination of metal and shape, this knife will prepare you for any challenge that you meet.
On the spine of the blade where the blade and handle meet each other, there is a short row of jimping that furthers the control you have over your cuts.
The handle on this tactical knife is made out of green and black G-10. G-10 is a grade of Garolite that is a laminate composite made of fiberglass. This material has very similar properties to carbon fiber, except that it is slightly inferior and can be had for much less inexpensive. To form this material, the manufacturer takes layers of fiberglass cloth and soaks them in resin, then compresses them and bakes them under pressure. The material that you end up with is very tough, super hard, strong, and you get all of those characteristics in a lightweight package. In terms of toughness, G-10 is actually considered the toughest of all the fiberglass resin laminates and even stronger than Micarta. Although, because it is stronger than Micarta, it is going to be more brittle.
One of the major benefits about G-10 with this specific knife is that the production process utilizes many layers, so you can use varying different colors to achieve a unique cosmetic look on the G-10 handle. On this handle, the manufacturer has used layers of green and black to look like camouflage.
Tactical knives especially benefit from the qualities of G-10 because it is lightweight and durable, also non-porous. This means that it is not going to absorb any gunk that you may encounter on the job or in the field and maintenance will be easy for you.
The ergonomics of this handle are designed for comfort and a secure grip. The bottom of the handle bulges out to fit inside of your palm well. There is also a finger guard that protects your fingers from getting sliced if you do slip while using this knife. This is an especially important benefit on a tactical knife because you are going to be using this knife in the heat of the moment and probably not slowly.
The butt of the handle does have a lanyard hole carved into it, which means that you can easily have this knife with you at all times without it getting in the way. Plus, if you wrap the lanyard around the face of the handle, it adds an extra element of grip and texture. This is a solid benefit if you will be in the field often or if you are working in wet or extreme environments.
The Pocket Clip:
The clip on this knife has been designed for tip up carry only, but it is reversible in terms of left or right handed carry. Because this clip is reversible, the CLA knife is almost fully ambidextrous. The clip is black, which matches all the hardware on this knife except for the push button.
This is an automatic knife, which is often referred to as a switchblade. With this, you need to keep in mind that automatic knives have strict laws surrounding them. Purchasing, owning, and carrying an automatic knife is not legal in all states, cities, or areas. It is you, the user’s, responsibility to know your local knife laws.
An automatic knife, or a switchblade, 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 close position.
The deployment button on this knife is round, silver button near the top of the handle. Right underneath the button is a safety lock, which means that when it is activated, there is no way the button can deploy the blade. This means that you can safely have the knife in your pocket without worrying about accidental deployment and injury.
The blade on this knife measures in at 3.4 inches with a handle that measures in at 4.45 inches long. When this Benchmade knife is opened, it measures in at an overall length of 7.85 inches long. This knife weighs in at 3.5 ounces, which is the perfect weight for a tactical knife. It has enough heft behind it that you know you can always rely on it, but it is light enough that it won’t weigh you down when you are on the job or in the field. This knife was made in the United States of America, so you can feel proud to purchase, own, and carry the CLA automatic knife.
The Benchmade 4300 CLA (Composite Lite Auto) side open automatic knife is Benchmade’s first Black Class auto to feature G-10 handle scales. This mid-sized knife features a slim profile design and contoured handle scales for quick and easy pocket deployment. Thanks to the recessed over-sized firing button and integrated slide safety, you can remain confident that this knife is just as safe as it is effective. This model, the 4300-1, features textured green and black handles and a drop point blade in a satin finish. The pocket clip is designed for tip up carry only but is eligible for a left or right hand carry option. Pick up this tactical knife today at BladeOps.