Benchmade knives are made of many things: steel, aluminum, and titanium, to name a few. But perhaps 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 and this is how:
- Every blade begins as a sheet of steel. A laser cutting technician programs the laser to cut the steel into blanks, giving the blade its basic profile. The blanks are hammer out of the sheet by hand, and for the first item, the steel begins to look like a knife. The blanks are measure to make to make sure they meet specifications. Measurements are taken every step of the manufacturing process to guarantee an impeccable knife and streamline production. If a part isn’t up-to-spec, it doesn’t become a Benchmade.
- The second step is surface grinding. This is where the blank is ground to its precise width. This is the step where a surface grind technician place each blank its rack by hand and each side is ground to its specified thickness. Benchmade says, “Our knives have no room for error, and neither does a blank’s thickness.”
- The third step is milling. Blade holes, handles, and grooves are cut on high-speed mills. One of the holes that is cut here is the blade pivot, which his crucial to the folding mechanism. The pivot tolerance is .0005 inches, because the slightest deviation there becomes exponential at the blade’s tip. Handles require the same precision in order to fit the liners and blades properly and ensure a smooth mechanism.
- Next is beveling. This is the step where the blade really starts to take shape. A Blade Beveling Technician bevels the knife blank one side at a time, and one of the most critical tasks here is to make sure the sides match perfectly. An imprecise bevel can hamper the blade’s balance, sharpness, strength, and mechanism function.
- Next is back sanding, which is where the back of the blade gets special attention. This is also the step that the blade gets finished. Finishing gives the blade a more refined look. When the blade is cleaned up, it is taken to laser marking to receive its one-of-a-kind Benchmade mark.
- Last is assembly and sharpening. Every Benchmade knife is assembled by hand. Then the blade is sharpening. It takes longer to master blade sharpening than any other skill. A sharpening technician puts a razor edge on the knife using a standing belt sander, and this step takes extraordinary concentration. Each blade is sharpened to a targeted 30-degree inclusive angle, 15 degrees on each side. The knife sis sharp enough when it can cut through ultra-thin phonebook paper effortlessly without tearing. Then it is a Benchmade.
Today we are going to be discussing the Benchmade Mini Loco.
The blade on this knife is made out of CPM S30V steel, which is often just known as S30V steel. This steel was designed and created by Crucible Steel, which is based in the United States of America. They designed this steel specifically for knives, with high end pocket knives and expensive kitchen cutlery in mind. Because of this, you can expect this to be one of the best steels for your blade that you can find. While this premium steel does have excellent edge retention and resists rust effortlessly, it is actually the vanadium carbides that set it apart from other steels. Crucible added the vanadium because it brings extreme hardness into the steel alloy matrix. This steel is known as one of the finest knife blade steels with the perfect balance of edge retention, hardness, and toughness. One of the only drawbacks to this steel is that because of the hardness, it is tough to sharpen.
The blade has been finished with a satin finish, which is the most common blade finish that you are going to find in the cutlery industry today. The finish is created by repeatedly sanding the blade in one direction with an increasing level of a fine abrasive (normally sandpaper). The satin finish is used to show off the bevels of the blade as well as showcasing the fine lines of the steel. This finish is a very traditional one, because it falls pretty much right in the middle of the luster spectrum. Because of the satin finish, the Benchmade Mini Loco is a very classic knife.
The blade has been carved into a reverse tanto blade. While most tanto’s do not have a belly, because of the straight edge, the reverse tanto does. The belly is not large, so don’t expect to be able to sue it for all of your slicing needs, but it is big enough to take on your typical everyday tasks. The point is lowered, because the unsharpened edge mimics the shape of a clip point, with a straight back until about two-thirds the way up the knife, where it slants down to the tip. Because of the lowered tip, you can expect better control, which means that you will be able to perform fine detail or tip work with this blade. However, because the tip is shaper and lowered, it is not going to be as tough as your typical tanto blade. Although it is a reverse tanto, you do still have enough tip strength to pierce through thicker materials.
This blade sports a plain edge, which is easier to sharpen, easier to get a fine edge, and gives you the ability to take on a wider variety of tasks. The plain edge also gives you cleaner cuts because there are no teeth to tear apart the material that you are working with.
The handle on this knife is made out of dark grey G10. G10 is a glass based epoxy resin laminate, which is formed by soaked layers of glass cloth in epoxy resin and then compressing them down and heating them until they set. G10 is very similar to Micarta and Carbon Fiber, because they are all resin laminates. However, when it comes to G10, the base material is different than the Micarta and Carbon Fiber. Out of all the fiberglass resin laminates, G10 is consider to be the strongest, although it is going to be brittle.
One of the best aspects of G10 is that checkering and other patterns can easily be added to the material, which help make for a solid, comfortable grip. Tactical folder benefit from the qualities of G-10 because it is a very durable material as well as being very lightweight and non-porous.
Although this material is cheaper to produce than carbon fiber, it does still have to be cut and machined into shape, which is not as economical as the injection molding process that is used in FRN handles.
Overall, G10 is tough, light and durable. But, it is brittle and it does lack elegance and character.
The handle is pretty simple. It does have a large finger groove, which gives you a comfortable place to rest your fingers as well as improving your grip on the knife. Because of the finger groove, there is also a finger guard, which helps to protect your fingers in case of slipping. The spine of the handle bulges outward while the belly of the handle curves inward, which work to create a comfortable grip in case you have to use it for longer periods of time. To improve texture slightly, there is a raised portion on the palm of the knife. On the butt of the knife, there is a lanyard hole put it. If you choose to attach a lanyard, it can help you withdraw the knife quicker or even just add a touch of your own style to the grey knife.
The Pocket Clip:
The pocket clip on this knife is a deep carry pocket clip. This is a big advantage because this Benchmade knife has been designed to be an everyday knife as well as a tactical knife. The deep carry aspect comes in handy in different ways depending on how you want to use it. As an everyday carry knife, the deep carry clip will keep the knife safe and snug deep in your pocket. This way, you don’t have to worry about it falling out while you move about your day. If you are choosing to use this knife as a tactical tool, the deep carry mechanism will allow you to conceal your knife as much as possible.
The clip is reversible for either right or left handed carry, which helps to make this an ambidextrous knife. However, it can only be attached for tip up carry. The clip as well as most of the hardware on this knife is silver, with more of a stonewashed look. The screws that hold the clip into place are black, just like the rest of the screws on this knife.
This knife is a manual opening knife that utilizes the AXIS mechanism and a thumb hole.
The AXIS lock is a patented Benchmade exclusive that has been turning heads 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. TI engages a ramped tang portion of the knife blade when it is opened. Two omega-style springs, one on each liner, give 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.
The thumb hole is extremely common and can be opened with just one hand. Opening a folder equipped with a thumb hole is just like using a thumb stud and by its very design, it is ambidextrous. Plus, unlike a thumb stud, the hole doesn’t protrude from the blade and get caught on anything.
Because this is a manual opening knife, you don’t have to worry about any strict knife laws like you do if it was an automatic knife. Because of the AXIS mechanism, it will still open quickly and efficiently.
The blade on the Mini Loco measures in at 3.38 inches long with a blade thickness of 0.145 inches. The handle on this tiny knife measures in at 4.38 inches, with a handle thickness of 0.59 inches. When the knife is opened, it measures in at 7.62 inches. This knife weighs in at 4.47 ounces. The Benchmade 818 Mini Loco was made in the United States of America.
When Benchmade is talking about this knife, they say, “This overbuilt, premium tactical knife features refined custom hardware. Smaller than its big brother, the 818 is perfect for everyday carry or as a backup knife.” The CPM S30V steel is durable while keeping a sharp edge for long periods of time. The steel has the perfect balance between edge retention, toughness, and hardness, which means that it isn’t going to be brittle like many hard steels. The reverse tanto blade shape gives it the durability of a traditional tanto blade while also providing a small belly that allows you to slice, making this knife a good option for your everyday carry knife. The G 10 handle is durable, but lightweight, which means that you won’t be weighed down when you carry this knife with you every day. Because of the reversible pocket clip and the AXIS mechanism, the 818 Mini Loco becomes a completely ambidextrous knife. This is a great option for right and left handers alike. The thumb hole makes this knife a breeze to open, even if you just have one hand. Whether you use this knife for an EDC or a tactical, you are going to fall in love. Pick up this new Benchmade knife today at BladeOps.