The Benchmade story all began when Les de Asis wanted a knife that reflected the latest in materials and manufacturing technology to replace the cheap butterfly knives he had played with as a kid. He used his high-school shop skills and blueprinted his dream knife before he eventually met 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?”
In 1980 Les incorporated as Bali-Songs, Inc. and rented a small shop in second story mezzanine in California. The original equipment was purchased from the owner of a manufacturing operation who was looking to retire. Utilizing the rudimentary technology available to him at the time, Les began building handmade custom Bali-Sons along with Jody Sampson, who ground all the blades. The success of these custom Balis spurred the creation of the first production Bali-Song: The Model 68.
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. Les went with Benchmade, because while there was “handmade” and “factory made,” 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.
To this day Benchmade continues to focus on innovation, customer needs, responsible business ethics and operations to bring the highest quality products to the worlds’ elite.
Today we are discussing the Benchmade 318 Proper.
The blade on this knife is made out of CPM S30V steel, which is commonly found on Benchmade’s knives. This steel was made specifically for knives. This steel was designed by Crucible Steel, which is a steel manufacturer based in the United States. Because Crucible designed this steel specifically for high end pocket knives and expensive kitchen cutlery, you can expect all of the best qualities from it. When crucible is talking about this steel, they say, “CPM S30V is a martensitic stainless steel designed to offer the best combination of toughness, wear resistance, and corrosion resistance. Its chemistry has been specially balanced to promote the formation of vanadium carbides which are harder and more effective than chromium carbides in providing wear resistance. CPM S30V offers substantial improvement in toughness over other high hardness steels such as 440C and D2, and its corrosion resistance is equal or better than 440C in various environments. The CPM process produces very homogeneous, high quality steel characterized by superior dimensional stability, grindability, and toughness compared to steels produced by conventional processes.”
This modern gentleman’s knife has been finished with a satin finish. This finish is created by repeatedly sanding the blade in one direction with an increasing level of a fine sandpaper. This is used to show off the bevels of the blade while also showcasing the fine lines of the steel. This finish cuts down on glares and reflections, while also cutting down on corrosion. This finish does take time and manual labor, which does increase the cost of the steel. In terms of luster, this steel falls right in the middle; you are going to find finishes that are more reflective and finishes that are more matte. The traditional finish is perfect for such a classic knife.
The blade has been carved into a clip point blade style. The clip point style of blade is an all-purpose blade and is one of the most popular blade shapes in use today. The blade is formed by having the unsharpened edge of the knife run straight from the handle and then stop about halfway up the knife. At this point, it turns and continues to the point of the knife. This cut-out area is straight, and is referred to as the clip, which is where the name of the knife comes from. Clip point knives look as if the part of the knife form the spine to the point has literally been clipped off. Because of the clip, the point is lowered, which means that you are going to have more control when you are using this knife. And because the tip is controllable, sharp and thinner at the spine, the clip point style blade excels at stabbing. This is because the blade has less drag during insertion and faster withdrawal. One of the reasons that a clip point knife is so versatile is because of the large belly that is perfect for slicing. There is only one drawback to the clip point blade, which is its relatively narrow tip. Because it is so sharp and narrow, it has a tendency to be weak and can break fairly easily. All this means is that you should not use it to pierce through tougher materials.
This blade features a plain edge, which is pretty classic for a gentleman’s knife.
The handle on this knife is made out of Micarta. Micarta is a material that is made out of the organic compound Phenol, which is a type of resin. To make this material, thin layers of linen cloths are soaked in a phenolic resin, which produces a product that is lightweight, strong, and has a little more character than G-10 does. Funnily enough, Micarta was not originally used for knife handles like it is now, but was introduced to the world as an electrical insulator.
One of the biggest drawbacks to Micarta is that it actually has no surface texture itself. Because of how the Phenol is made, the material ends up being extremely slipper and smooth. Because of this, it does require a lot of hand labor to produce and carve some sort of texture into the knife. Because of the time and manual labor, the material is pretty expensive, which means that the actual knife cost is going to be higher.
Because of how texture is added, some people feel that Micarta can be easily scratched throughout everyday use. This is not accurate. Micarta is extremely hard and is not easy to scratch at all. The handle will scratch if subjected to an extremely hard or sharp impact, but it will survive throughout your regular every day-to-day tasks.
The texture that Benchmade has added will provide plenty of grip when you are using this as an everyday carry knife. The handle, just like the rest of the knife, is very classic and traditional. The handle is mostly rectangular, although the spine of the handle does bulge out slightly and the belly of the handle does curve in slightly. This ergonomics are designed to give you good, comfortable grip on the knife while you go about your tasks. Another element that works to give you a secure grip is the butt of the handle that flares out slightly.
At the butt of the handle, there has been a lanyard hole carved out. Many people feel as if an everyday carry knife does not need a lanyard. However, because this gentleman’s knife does not have a pocket clip, the lanyard is going to come in handy. If you hang the lanyard out of your pocket, you can easily pull your knife out whenever you need it. Without the lanyard, you are going to have to dig around before you actually get ahold of your knife.
The Benchmade Proper is a fully manual opening knife that utilizes a nail nick to assist you in opening. The mechanism that this knife sports is a slip joint.
Nail nicks are one of the oldest forms of knife opening system that can be traced. It is still commonly used in production knives. They are simple to use, although most people do have to use both of their hands to really get this manual knife open.
According to Wikipedia, “A slipjoint knife consists of a handle with one or more folding blades. These blades are held in position by a strong ‘back spring’ which biases them towards the open or closed position. Contrast this with a penny knife, which has no locking mechanism other than friction, or locking knives which mechanically lock the blade in position.” Slip joint knives are one of the most popular styles of pocket knives that you can find.
The slip joint mechanism is really a classic mechanism, because they have been used for hundreds of years. This knife really gives you a sense of nostalgia that comes from the style as well as the locking mechanism. Plus, slip joints do not give a false sense of security. Because of how technology has advanced, especially when it come sot locking mechanisms, many people feel that their knife can take more of a beating than it actually can. Since this is such a simple and common locking mechanism, most people know exactly how much of a beating it can take. This means that you are more aware of how you are treating your knife and it will most likely last longer. Plus, one of the biggest advantages is that a slipjoint style knife is legal almost everywhere.
The Pros of the Benchmade Proper:
- Very hard blade steel.
- Great edge retention.
- Even though it is hard, it is still tough.
- The blade resists corrosion and rust effortlessly.
- The satin blade finish is very traditional, going perfectly with the gentleman’s style.
- The satin blade finish cuts down on glares and reflections.
- The satin finish cuts down on corrosion.
- Clip point blade shape is very sharp.
- Clip point blade has a very controllable point.
- The clip point blade is good for piercing.
- The clip point blade offers a large belly that makes slicing a breeze.
- Micarta is tough.
- Micarta is lightweight.
- Micarta is extremely durable.
- Comfortable, simple handle.
- Handle has a finger guard.
- Handle has a lanyard hole in the butt.
- Legal almost everywhere.
The Cons of the Benchmade Proper:
- The clip point has a narrow and weak tip.
- The blade is hard to sharpen and work with.
- Micarta is an expensive material, which translates to an expensive overall knife.
- Micarta is brittle, like many resin-based materials.
The blade on the Proper measures in at 2.82 inches long, with a thickness of 0.090 inches. The handle measures in at 3.85 inches long, with a thickness of 0.40 inches. When this knife is opened, it measures in at 6.65 inches long. The Proper weighs in at 2.28 ounces.
This is a simple yet modern take on a classic gentleman’s knife, the Proper is a compact and convenient folding knife for everyday use. The CPM S30V steel is high quality and will resist rust effortlessly, which means you can take this knife with you throughout your everyday and not worry about it rusting. The clip point blade style allows you to take on a wide variety of tasks, complete with a large belly that makes slicing easier than ever before. Maintenance is a breeze with the combination of the steel and the Micarta handle. The Micarta handle is strong and tough, plus it gives you a handle that has plenty of character. The classic nail nick opening mechanism gives this brand new knife a feeling of nostalgia and the good old days. This knife looks like your grandpa’s rough and tumble knife, but it has the materials of a modern day one. You can pick up this new everyday carry Benchmade knife today at BladeOps.