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. We carefully measure every part at every step in the process. We use the best materials and equipment. We make world class knives for world class users. The first step in the knife making process is laser cutting. Every blade begins as a sheet of steel. In this first step, the laser cuts the steel into blanks, giving the blade its basic profile. The blanks are then hammered out of the sheet by hand. The second step in creating the perfect knife is surface grinding. This is where the blank is ground to its precise width. Benchmade says that their knives have no room for error, and neither does their blank’s thickness. The third step in the process is milling. This is where the blade holes, handles, and grooves are cut on high speed mills. The fourth step is beveling; this is when the blade starts to really take shape. Up to this point, the two sides of the blade are essentially flat. This is because an imprecise bevel can hamper the blade’s balance, sharpness, strength, and mechanism function. The next two steps are back sanding and finishing. The back sanding is where the back of the blade gets special attention. The finishing is where the blade gets a more refined look. The finishing technician stone washes the blades in a ceramic medium to remove an y burrs and give the blades a clean, polished appearance. The last two steps are assembly and sharpening. Every Benchmade knife is assembled by hand. An assembly technician receives all of the components—blade, liner, handle, hardware—and carefully pieces them together. The very last step is sharpening. It takes longer to master blade sharpening than any other skill. Each blade is sharpened to a targeted 30-degree inclusive angel, 15 degrees on each side. Benchmade considered the knife sharp enough only when it can cut through ultra-thin phonebook paper effortlessly without tearing.
Benchmade’s rich history dates back over 30 years. It is the product of many dedicated employees, a never quit demand for excellence and the de Asis family’s vison and total commitment to culture, service, and innovation.
At BladeOps, we are celebrating May as Benchmade month. Today’s celebration focuses on the Rift family.
The steel that this family uses is 154 CM steel. This is a relatively hard steel which is considered an upgraded version of 440C through the addition of Molybdenum. This addition achieves superior edge holding compared to 440C while retaining similar excellent levels of corrosion resistance despite having less Chromium. This steel has decent toughness good enough for most uses and does hold an edge well. If you have the right equipment, it is not too difficult to sharpen.
With this family of steel, you have two choices of blade finishes. The first option is the satin finish. This finish is one of the most traditional blade finishes that you are going to find. It is created by repeatedly sanding the blade in one direction with an increasing level of an abrasive material, which is usually a sandpaper. The satin finish does cut down on glares and reflections slightly.
The second finish option that you are presented with is a coated finish. This is a black finish that helps to reduce the reflection and glare while also reducing wear and corrosion. Unfortunately, all coatings can and will be scratched off after continuous heavy use. At that point, the blade will have to be recoated. Quality coatings do add cost to a knife, but provide more corrosion resistance, less reflection, and require less maintenance.
The steel has been carved into a reverse tanto blade style. This style of blade was popularized by Warren Osborne with his designs for Benchmade Knives. This is not a very common shape and does resemble a Spey blade. This type of reverse tanto is an American Tanto blade that is turned upside down so the angular side is on the top, making the knife look like it has a very drastic drop point. The thing about a tanto knife is that it isn’t an all-purpose knife, it is a knife that does one thing and does that one thing extremely well. The tanto blade shape excels at piercing through tough materials. The thick pint of the tanto blade contains a lot of metal near the tip, so it is able to absorb the impact form repeated piercing that would cause most other knives to break. One of the drawbacks to this blade shape is that it does not have a belly, because the belly has been sacrificed for a stronger tip. And because it lacks a belly for slicing, it is not useful as a general utility knife. However, because this knife family is actually a reverse tanto style, it does sport a belly. This comes in handy when you are working with your everyday tasks. When you choose a knife that has a tanto point, you will be choosing a knife that is specifically tailored to piercing tough materials.
You also have two options for your edge style. The first option is a plain edge. This is the more traditional edge that is tailored to perform a wider array of tasks. The plain edge excels at push cuts, slicing, skinning, and peeling. With a plain edge, the edge is easier to sharpen because you don’t have to worry about the teeth, and you can usually get a finer edge on the blade.
The other option that you have is a combo edge. This is where the bottom portion of the edge is a serrated portion and the upper portion is a plain edge. Serrated edges excel at sawing through some of the thicker materials, such as rope or branches. And one of the benefits to choosing a combo edge is that you have the portion of the blade to saw through those thicker materials, but you also have the plain edge to perform the push cuts and do all of the detail work.
You have to options for the handle, but both of them are made out of G 10. G 10 is a grade of Garolite that is a laminate composite made of fiberglass. It has very similar properties to carbon fiber yet can be had for almost a fraction of the cost. The manufacturer takes layers of fiberglass cloth and soaks them in resin, then compresses them and bakes them under pressure. The material that results is extremely tough, hard, very lightweight, and strong. In fact, G 10 is considered the toughest of all the fiberglass resin laminates and stronger, although more brittle, than Micarta. Checkering and other patterns add a texture to the handle, which makes for a solid, comfortable grip. The production process of G 10 can utilize many layers of the same color, or varying different colors to achieve a unique cosmetic look on the G 10 handle. Tactical folders and fixed blades alike benefit from the qualities of G 10, because it is durable and lightweight, non-porous and available in a variety of colors. And while it is cheaper to produce than carbon fiber, it still has to be cut and machined into shape which is not as economical as the injection molding process that is used in FRN handles. One of the drawbacks to the G 10 material being the handle is that it does lack elegance.
Your first G 10 option is gray and black. This has a more unique texture design than the other option. The black G 10 option has less intense texturing, and instead has deep grooves down the two sides of the width of your palm.
Both options of the handles provide you with fantastic grip that is going to stay secure in almost any situation. To give you a comfortable grip even after long periods of usage, there is a deep curve where you palm sits.
You have two different mechanism options. The first option is an automatic opening knife. Automatic knives are also known as switchblades, and switchblades are not legal in all areas of the country. Make sure that you know your local knife laws before you choose this version of the knife. An automatic knife is a type of knife with a folding or sliding blade that is contained in the handle which is opened automatically by a spring when a button, lever, or switch 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 closed positon.
The other mechanism option that you have is a manual opening Rift knife. The opening assist is a thumb stud. The thumb stud is arguably the most common one hand opening feature, and is commonly employed by Benchmade. A thumb stud essentially replaces the nail nick found on more traditional knives. The principle is pretty straightforward—grasp the folded knife, place the tip of your flexed thumb on the stud and extend your thumb to swing the blade through its arc until the blade is fully open. Knives with a thumb stud also usually incorporate a locking mechanism of some sort. If the stud extends through the blade, which means that it protrudes on both sides, the knife can be opened with either hand. And the Rift manual opening knives does have the dual thumb stud, which helps make this knife an ambidextrous knife.
Both versions of the knife do sport locking mechanisms and both of them do sport the AXIS locking mechanism. This is a patented Benchmade exclusive, the AXIS 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 b lade. It 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 length of the blade on the Rift family is 3.67 inches long with a blade thickness of 0.114 inches. The open length of this knife is 8.27 inches long, and it sports a closed length of 4.60 inches long. The handle thickness on this knife is 0.56 inches. These knives weigh in at 4.8 ounces. This knife was made in the United States of America. This knife family was designed to be an everyday knife or a tactical knife.
When Benchmade is talking about this family of knives, they said, “This glaringly obvious warren Osborne design features a reverse tanto top for toughness, large bellied blade for utility and textured G 10 handle scales for secure grip. Made in the USA.” The 154 CM steel is a hard, durable, stainless steel. You can choose between a satin finish that gives you a very traditional look or you can choose a coated BK1 black tactical coated blade. The bonus about choosing the coated version for your tactical knife is that there are going to be no glares or reflections to give your position away. However, the coating will chip off over time or heavy use. The G 10 handle is durable, strong, tough, and still lightweight. This knife comes with a removable tip up, reversible pocket clip. So help us over here at BladeOps celebrate Benchmade month by picking out your favorite Rift family knife and purchase it today. Find the AXIS-Lock Folder models here and the Automatic models here.