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, eh 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-Song, Inc. and rented a small shop in a second story mezzanine in California. The original equipment was purchased form 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-Songs, along with Jody Sampson, who ground all the blades. The success of these custom Bali’s 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 evolved 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 describe 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 manufacture and custom. In short, it describes Benchmade’s position in the market—even to this day.
In 1990, Benchmade moved from California to a facility in Clackamas, Oregon and began producing knives there under the name Benchmade, Inc. This was a major turning point, as the company was now located in the epicenter for knife manufacturing. Many technological advancements were now possible and Benchmade became the first company to own and employ a high-power laser cutter, allowing for work with steels too hard to stamp. The company also became the world leader in automatic knife manufacturing and began to supply military units.
To respond to growing customer demand, Benchmade moved from Clackamas to the current location in Oregon City in 1996. With its first ten years of manufacturing experience behind it, and by working with world-class custom knife makers like Mel Pardue and Warren Osborne, Benchmade perfected a business model that involve manufacturing processes to custom knife designs; affording a level of innovation and quality to the larger market that was previously unavailable. This eventually led to Bill McHenry and Jason Williams approaching Benchmade with the AXIS lock… which meant that the future of cutlery was born.
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 talking about the 495 Vector.
The blade on this knife is made out of CPM-S30V steel. This steel is made by United States based Crucible, CPM S30V steel has excellent edge retention and resists rust effortlessly. This steel 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. One of the biggest, and only, drawbacks to this steel is that because of the high hardness, it does prove to be tricky to work with. This shouldn’t be too big of an issue, but if you are a beginner sharpener, I would not recommend starting with this blade.
The blade itself has been stain finished. The satin finish is one of the most popular finishes in the cutlery industry to date. A big reason for this is how traditional it is. It is created by repeatedly sanding the blade in one direction with an increasing level of a fine abrasive, normally sandpaper. The finer the sandpaper and the more even the lines, the cleaner the satin finish is going to look. Because this is a Benchmade knife, you can expect one of the cleanest satin finishes that you can find. The satin finish is used to show off the bevels of the blade while also showcasing the fine lines of the steel. In terms of luster, the satin finish lies right in the middle, cutting down on glares and reflections. As an added bonus, the satin finish cuts down on rusting and corrosion.
The blade has been carved into a spear point blade shape. The spear point blade is similar to the needle point blade because they are both good for piercing. However, while the needle point blade has been designed for piercing and only piercing, the spear point blade is stronger and does contain a slight belly that can be used for slicing. The shape of the spear point blade is made up of a symmetrically pointed blade with a point that is in line with the center line of the blade’s long axis. Both edges of the knife rise and fall equally to create a point that lines up exactly with the equator of the blade. One of the differences between a needle point blade and the spear point is that while the needle point blade has a very sharp but weak point, a spear point knife has a strong point that is also sharp enough for piercing. The spear point blade design does sport a small belly that can be used for some cutting and slicing applications. However, when you are comparing the belly with a drop point or clip point blade shape, the belly is tiny. The spear point blade has been known as a hybrid blade design because it has a good balance between piercing and slicing ability. Plus, it combines the sharp point of a dagger with the strength of a drop point blade, while also maintaining some of the belly that is used for slicing. All in all, the spear point blade is one of the more functional blade designs that you are going to find.
The handle on this knife is made out of black contoured G10. G10 is a grade of Garolite that is a laminate composite made of fiberglass. It has very similar properties to carbon fiber, but because it is slightly inferior, you can make it for a very small price, which means that the overall knife cost is going to be lowered. Although hat 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 or Zytel handles. To make this material, 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, lightweight, and strong. Out of all the fiberglass resin laminates, G10 is known to be the toughest.
Checkering and other patterns add a texture to the handle, which allows you to have a solid, comfortable grip on the knife. Every knife, even tactical knives, benefit from the qualities of G10, because it is durable and lightweight, non-porous and available in a variety of colors. This is a good attribute for your everyday carry knife because you will never know what life is going to throw at you throughout your days. Because it does not absorb any liquids, maintenance will be a breeze. Overall, G10 is tough, light, and durable. Unfortunately, it is going to be brittle and it can lack elegance or character.
The handle is pretty straightforward. The spine of the handle curves from the blade to the butt, which will give you a very comfortable grip. There is a large finger guard, so that even if you do slip, your fingers will be protected. There is one large, but shallow finger groove and then afterwards, it bulges out slightly. These ergonomics are different than your typical ones, but it will still be very comfortable to hold. Plus, you will have a secure hold on the handle at all times.
The Pocket Clip:
The pocket clip can only be attached on the traditional side of the handle and only tip up carry. This is a drawback to left-handed people because it is not ambidextrous.
This is an AXIS Assist flipper knife.
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 AXIS Assist is easily opened, even with one hand. This evolution of the AXIS includes a spring that helps to fire the blade into the open positon one the user pushes it beyond a certain point manually. The AXIS lock also has the added benefit of “suck-back,” which encourages the blade to stay in the closed position. AXIS Assist knives also feature integrated safety lock systems.
The flipper is a small protrusion that extends out of the spine off the handle when the knife is closed. To open a knife with a flipper mechanism, rest your thumb on the handle and manually push back on the flipper, which will spring the knife opened. Not only does the flipper keep your thumb and hand out of the way when you are opening and closing the knife, it also increases the size of the finger guard, which adds an extra element of protection to this knife.
The blade on this knife measures in at 3.6 inches long, with a blade thickness of 0.100 inches. The handle on this knife measures in at 4.82 inches long, with a handle thickness of 0.60 inches. The open length of this knife measures in at 8.42 inches long. This knife weighs in at 4.11 ounces. The Benchmade Vector was made in the United States of America.
G10, stainless liners and expressive styling take the AXIS Assist flipper in a new direction. The CPM-S30V steel is going to be strong, durable, and corrosion resistant which means that the maintenance time you have to put into it is significantly lowered. The satin finish is traditional, giving this knife a very classic look. The spear point blade shape is functional and a great hybrid, which is going to allow you to take on a wider variety of daily tasks. The G10 handle is durable and tough, which means that you can take on even the toughest of your daily tasks. The G10 handle is textured so that you will have a secure grip on the handle even throughout the more extreme daily environments. The AXIS Assist makes this knife easy to open and safe to use, locking the blade into place to safely use it. You can pick up this brand new Benchmade knife today at BladeOps.