With a rich history dating 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. This is the story of Benchmade.
In 1979 the Benchmade adventure began when 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. Using his high-school shop skills, he blueprinted his dream knife before eventually meeting Victor Anselmo, who helped to 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?”
Over the next seven years, the company expanded its product offerings into fixed blades and conventional folding knives, and evolving its name from Bali-song®, Inc. to Pacific Cutlery Corp.
In 1987 Due to its inability to control quality, price and delivery, Pacific Cutlery Corp. filed for bankruptcy and was dissolved. In 1988, Les reintroduced a new company and new version of the Model 68; This time with a drive to produce product in the US and an even stronger commitment to product availability, quality and customer relationships. The company now needed a new name.
While there was “handmade” and “factory-made,” 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- even to this day.
To this day Benchmade continues to focus on innovation, customer needs, responsible business ethics and operations to bring the highest quality products to the world’s elite.
Today we will be discussing the Benchmade Ball AXIS flipper knife.
The man behind this knife is Butch Ball. Butch Ball developed a passion for knives at a very early age. After building a few fixed blades in the early ’90s he decided in 2000 to begin a true custom shop. Butch starts each knife as a prototype, which he then tests, recreates and tests again. At each stage in this development process, he is thinking of ways to improve the design, whether mechanical or ergonomic. The results of this process are designs that are as robust as they are innovative.
The blade on this knife is made out of 154CM steel that has been hardened to a 58-61 HRC. This is a high end steel that is considered an upgraded version of 440C because of the addition of Molybdenum into the steel. The Molybdenum helps to achieve superior edge holding when being compared to 440C, but it still retains the high levels of corrosion resistance. This last characteristic is surprising because 154CM steel has less Chromium than 440C steel. This is a hard steel that has toughness that is decent enough to get you through your daily tasks. This steel also holds an edge well and when you have the right equipment, it isn’t too bad to sharpen. This steel is designed and made by Crucible Steel Industries, which is a US based steel company.
The blade has been finished with a satin finish. Knifeart.com says, “A hand satin finish involves sanding the blade in one direction with increasing degrees of a fine abrasive (generally sandpaper). A satin finish shows the bevels of the blade, showcasing the lines of the knife while reducing its reflective glare. Hand satin finish is generally done on upscale, high-end, collector-grade knives. The finer the abrasive and the more even the lines; the cleaner the satin finish blade looks. Satin finishes can also be used on the handle or fittings to enhance the look of the knife. A nice hand satin finish takes time and can increase the cost of the knife.”
The blade on this knife has been carved into a drop point blade shape. The drop point blade shape is one of the most common blade shapes in the knife industry today. This is because it is a very versatile shape while also being extremely durable. The shape of this knife is formed by having the spine of the knife run straight from the handle to the tip of the knife in a slow curving manner, which gives the style a lowered point. It is the lowered point that gives the drop point blade more control while also adding strength to the tip. In fact, the tip has so much strength and is able to stand up to some seriously heavy use, making it a great blade shape on any style of knife from hunting knives to even the toughest of survival knives. The lowered point also makes the blade more easily controllable, which allows you to use this knife for fine tip work. One of the reasons that this is such a versatile knife is the large belly that makes slicing a breeze. This AXIS flipper knife has been designed as an everyday carry knife, so the majority of what you will be doing is slicing. The large belly is going to make all of your tasks easy. Of course, like every blade shape, there is one big disadvantage. Because of the broad tip, this knife is not going to be as capable of stabbing or piercing as the similar clip point blade shape.
The blade is a combo blade, which means the upper 2/3 is a plain edge, giving you the benefits from a plain edge such as clean cuts and ease of sharpening. The lower 1/3 is serrated, which will help you to saw through some of the thicker materials. Some people feel like the comb edge gives them the best of both worlds and some people feel like each section is too small to utilize well.
The handle on this knife is made out of blue and black contoured G10. This material is a laminate composite made out of fiberglass. This material is similar to carbon fiber, although it is the inferior material and much more inexpensive. To make this material the manufacturer takes layers of fiberglass cloth and proceeds to soak them in a resin. The next step in the process is to compress them. The last step is to bake them under pressure. This process yields a material that is tough, hard, strong and lightweight. Out of all the fiberglass resin laminates, G10 is known to be the toughest and even stronger than Micarta. Although the stronger the fiberglass resin laminate gets, the more brittle it is going to get.
Because of how the material is made, the manufacturer can use varying different colors to achieve a unique look on the G10 handle. This is precisely what has been done on the AXIS flipper. The handle has a pattern that swirls between bright blue and black throughout the entire handle.
All handles benefit from G10 because it is non-porous, which means it won’t soak up many fluids, making maintenance a breeze. The overall pros to having a G10 handle is that it is going to be tough, light, and durable. However, it is also going to be brittle and some people feel like it lacks elegance because it can look a little too plastic-y.
The handle on this knife has been textured with ridges going across the width of the knife all the way down the length of the handle. This texture will provide more than enough grip for your everyday chores. The spine of the handle is curved towards the butt, which is squared off. The handle is definitely the most unique part of this knife, with the belly of the handle having three deep finger grooves. These grooves help the user to have the most secure grip when using this knife as well as providing a comfortable grip to use this knife for long periods of time. While the finger guard is not very large, the flipper is going to act as a large finger guard.
The Pocket Clip:
The pocket clip is a deep carry clip, which means that it is going to fit more snugly in your pocket and conceal the knife a little bit better than a non-deep carry clip would. This knife has been designed as an everyday carry knife, so the more secure you can get it, the better it is. With this deep carry clip, you won’t have to worry when you are going about your daily business, because it is going to stay securely inside your pocket until you need it.
The pocket clip can only be attached for tip-up carry, but it is a reversible clip for either left or right handed carry, helping to make this knife fully ambidextrous.
This is a manual opening knife, which means that there is no internal mechanism or spring that assists or fully opens the knife for you. When it comes to legal matters, a manual opening knife is going to be legal in a larger amount of states, cities, and areas. However, a manual opening knife is not going to open as quickly or smoothly as a spring assisted or an automatic would.
This knife has been equipped with a flipper. The flipper is located on the spine of the knife as part of the blade. The blade is deployed by suing the index finger to pull back on it. This helps to keep your hands at a safe distance from the blade as well as giving the knife an extra finger guard once the blade is opened. This is because the flipper will swing up and around and end up where a finger guard normally would lie. This helps to make the flipper mechanism an even safer opening mechanism, especially when compared to a thumb stud. One of the last benefits when it comes to a flipper opening mechanism is that by its very design, it is ambidextrous. This helps to make the knife fully ambidextrous. Plus, the flipper comes off the side, instead of out of the blade, like a thumb stud would, so the flipper will not get in the way once the knife is opened. That being said, it is a little bit trickier to figure out how to use a flipper, so take a few practice runs before you get too cocky with it.
The AXIS flipper has been equipped with Benchmade’s AXIS-flipper mechanism. A patented Benchmade exclusive, 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 blade. 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 blade on this knife measures in at 3.18 inches long with a blade thickness of 0.130 inches. The handle on this knife is going to measure in at 4.25 inches long with a handle thickness of 0.59 inches. When the knife is opened, it measures in at an overall length of 7.36 inches long. The AXIS flipper weighs in at 4.68 ounces. This knife was made in the United States of America, so you can feel proud to own, carry, and use it.
When Benchmade is discussing this knife they say, “The AXIS® flipper is relatively compact but has a full-sized feel thanks to the unique handle shape. Adding a flipper is just one more way to deploy the blade on what is already the most versatile locking mechanism on the market.” You can pick up this knife today at BladeOps.