Benchmade has a rich history that dates back over 30 years. 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. It was in 1979 that the Benchmade adventure began. 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. He used his high school shop skills and blueprinted his dream knife. He eventually met Victor Anselmo, who helped him 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 gun store and the owner asked, “Could you build 100 more?” When he was coming up with a name for the company he recognized that there was “handmade” and “factory made”, but 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.
May is Benchmade month at BladeOps, so to celebrate we are breaking down Benchmade part by part. Today, we are going to be talking about the Benchmade edge and what gives them their edge: the materials and mechanisms that they choose to use.
When Benchmade was talking about the mindset that established their reputation, they said, “For over twenty-five years, Benchmade has been designing and manufacturing world class products for world class customers. When Benchmade was founded, the mission was to create something better; something exceptional. Today, we continue to innovate with the goal of taking performance and reliability to the next level. To exceed what is expected. Whether you are using a Griptillian for every day duties or taking the fight to the enemy with the Infidel, our knives are built to perform. When you choose to purchase a Benchmade, you do so because you want the best. You demand it. And programs like our LifeSharp Lifetime Service and Warranty are the foundation of our commitment to excellence. We live it and breathe it, and we know what you mean when you say: It’s not a knife. It’s my Benchmade.”
Because Benchmade is building knives for the most demanding customers, ranging from special operations forces to elite backcountry hunters, and building for the best requires the best raw materials. They select premium blade steel and pair them with aerospace grade handle materials to create premium grade knives and tools that provide great value for our customers.
This is an extremely durable makeup of layers of fiberglass that have been soaked in a resin, then highly compressed and baked. This material is impervious to moisture or liquid and physically stable under climate change. This material is extremely tough, hard, very lightweight, and strong. However, this does tend to be a brittle material. While you are most likely to find this material in black, they do offer other colors.
A contemporary premium composite of thin strands of carbon tightly woven into various weave patterns, then impregnated with resin which is most commonly clear but can be color tinted. It offers great looks and is exceptionally strong for its minimal weight. This is a strong yet lightweight material that is also rather expensive. And while it is strong, it is far from indestructible and suffers from being brittle. This is because all of the carbon fibers are woven in a single direction, so while it is strong in that direction, it will break apart when stressed in other directions.
This is a birch powder composite material that has been backfilled with resin, Dymondwood is much more resistant to environmental hardships than natural wood. This is also sometimes known as stabilized wood, because it is almost as if the wood has been injected with plastic. This material bodes well to long term and heavy use.
This is a nonferrous metal originally developed as a premium aircraft grade aluminum, it offers a solid handle form and function at a nominal weight. This material is typically color anodized. Aluminum is a very durable material for knife handles. This is a low density metal that provides for a nice, hefty eel to the knife without weighing the knife down.
This is an amorphous nylon copolymer with exceptional dimensional stability. Benchmade uses 50% or greater glass fill.
This is a thermoplastic elastomer that is molded to specification. It offers excellent flexibility with high tear strength and fatigue resistance. Resistance to many harsh chemicals. These features contribute to improved performance in a rage of tough jobs.
This is considered an exotic metal alloy with an excellent strength to weight ratio that offers exceptional performance in a knife. Titanium is corrosion resistant to natural elements as well as many industrial chemicals. Titanium actually offers the best corrosion resistance of any metal. This is a very similar material to aluminum but it is a little heavier. Although it is considered a lightweight metal and is much stronger than aluminum Something unique about titanium is that it is one of the rare metals that has a warm feel to it, so it doesn’t make you suffer nearly as much in the winter times as something like aluminum.
This is an American made stainless steel with well-rounded characteristics including good edge retention, overall toughness, and corrosion resistance. This is a solid choice for most applications. This is considered a high end steel which is basically an upgraded version of 440C through the addition of Molybdenum. This steel has decent toughness that is good enough for most uses and will hold an edge well. It is also not too difficult to sharpen with the right equipment.
This steel is air hardened tool steel developed to cut other steel. This American made steel offers fantastic toughness and edge retention for hard use applications. It is, however, a semi stainless steel, so care is required. A semi stainless steel means that it falls just short of the required amount of chromium to quality as full stainless yet it still provides a good amount of resistance to corrosion.
This steel has excellent edge retention and great corrosion resistance, which is a rare combination to find in steel. This steel is a great choice for someone who is looking for low maintenance cutting performance. This is a Powder Metallurgy tool steel.
This steel is made by Crucible and offers excellent edge retention and resists rust effortlessly. It was designed in the US and is typically used for the high end premium pocket knives and expensive kitchen cutlery. The introduction of vanadium carbides brings extreme hardness into the steel alloy matrix. Dollar for dollar, this is generally regarded as one of the finest knife blade steels with the optimal balance of edge retention, hardness, and toughness. However, this steel does tend to be tricky to sharpen.
This is an Austrian powdered steel with a uniform micro structure that provides superior levels of edge retention, toughness, and corrosion resistance, which makes this steel one of the most well rounded premium steels in the world. This steel is considered an ultra-premium steel and is manufactured by Bohler Uddeholm.
This steel is also considered an ultra-premium grade steel and is made by Crucible. This steel approaches the very pinnacle of wear resistance and edge retention. As you’ expect the carbon content is very high but the secret ingredient to this steel is the extreme quantities of vanadium, almost three times that you would find in S30V steel. This steel is definitely more expensive and it does require high amounts of patience to sharpen, but nothing will hold and edge better or withstand abrasions more effortlessly.
This is an Austrian steel that has been developed for extremely harsh environments like salt water. It also offers the best corrosion resistance available, and as a bonus, it is an easy steel to sharpen and has a keen blade edge. It can get such a keen edge because it has such a fine grain. This is a cheaper alternative to H1 steel.
This is an American powdered steel that is the toughest available. This steel is able to handle virtually any task and it excels in edge retention and wear resistance. However, it does require cleaning to keep it corrosion free as it is not stainless. This is considered a premium grade steel and excels at toughness.
A staple American made tee lint he cutlery industry. Widely used for its good balance of hardness and corrosion resistance. An excellent value priced steel for its performance.
This is a hand crafted specialty steel that uses layers of different metal and forging techniques to create its unique look. This steel is mainly used in special applications, and while it is durable for everyday use, it is specifically designed for its unique visual appearance.
The best performing stainless Damascus steel in the world using the latest gas atomized PM technology with very high cleanliness. IT has incomparable toughness and strength combined with excellent edge retention and corrosion resistance. This allows for a very user friendly Damascus steel that is made to be abused.
The mechanism of opening and closing a knife are essential to its function. Is it easy to actuate? Can it be opened with one hand? Is it ambidextrous? Will it absolutely not fail when you need it the most? These are critical considerations when it comes to the mechanism.
A patented Benchmade exclusive, AXIS has been turning head and winning fans ever since its introduction. A 100 percent ambidextrous design, AXIS gets its function from a small, hardened steel bar that rides forward and back in a slot machined into both steel liners. The bar extends to both sides of the knife, spans the liners and is positioned over the rear of the blade. It engages a ramped tang portion of the knife blade when it is opened. Tow omega style springs on each liner, giving the locking bar its inertia to engage the knife tang. As a result, the tang is wedged solidly between a sizable stop pin and the AXIS bar itself. Available in manual, AXIS Assist or Auto AXIS configurations.
The monolock mechanism is basically a locking liner on steroids. The knife liner is one in the same as the knife handle and thus it is designed and made to function as the locking mechanism. Subsequently, a thicker material is used to provide enough surface area to be functional handle and in turn creates a large surface area to lock the blade with. If executed properly, the monolock design rates very highly in strength and function.
Built form the framework of the locking liner with some innovative updates. The lock engages using tensile strength, compared to the compression hold of more traditional locking liners. With the Nak-Lok, the possibility of personal injury is greatly reduced with the opening finger never crossing the blade’s path.
This is another patented Benchmade exclusive, the Nitrous boosts the blade with ease. As the blade is closed, the two torsion arms that run the length of the handle liners are secured in place and make contact with the blade tang. As tensioned against the blade tang, the user rotates the blade open to a 30-degree angle, the torsion arms take over and continue the blade opening process on its own. The huge advantage to the Nitrous design over other similar concepts is that the blade must be rotated open to beyond a 30-degree angle which offers added user control.
As much an art form as it is the ultimate example of form following function. The Bali Song, or butterfly knife, is of Filipino ancestry dating back to nearly AD 800. Its basic form consists of a pin hinged, tow piece handle which when closed encases the blade for carry. Opening and closing can be accomplished with a single hand, making the tool that much more utility capable.