Benchmade 551BKSN-AS Griptilian Knife Review

Benchmade 551BKSN-AS Griptilian

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.

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?”

Les incorporated as Bali-Song®, Inc. in 1980 and rented a small shop in a 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-Songs, 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.

1987 brought a different tune. 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.


The Designer:

The man behind this knife is Mel Pardue. Benchmade says, “The senior team member, Mel has been grinding sparks, making knives and creating a following for 25-plus years. His style has a class and simplicity all its own. The Pardue collaborations offer great utility to the everyday knife user while at the same time presenting an upscale distinction. Less is definitely more with Mel’s designs.”



The Blade:

The blade on this knife is made out of 154CM stainless steel. This is a high end steel that is made by Crucible Industries. This is a pretty hard steel that is normally viewed as an upgraded version of 440C steel, because of the addition of Molybdenum. The Molybdenum helps the steel achieves superior edge holding, especially when being compared to 440C. However, it also allows the steel to keep its high levels of corrosion resistance even though it has less Chromium in it. The steel is tough enough to stand up to most of your tasks, while also holding its edge well. If you have the correct equipment, the steel is not too hard to sharpen.

The blade has been finished with a coating. The black coating not only looks sleek, but also provides the knife with added wear and corrosion resistance. This is because the coating forms a barrier in between the blade steel and the environment. This protects against any of the elements, including water. The coating on the blade also works to cut down on glares and reflections, which isn’t a huge deal when you are using this knife as your everyday knife, but is a bigger deal when you are using it as our outdoors knife. The drawback that comes with having a coated blade is that when the coating scratches off, it will not provide you with the same benefits that it does when it has the coating on it. This means that the life of the blade will no longer be prolonged and it is prone to rusting and corrosion. Coatings do scratch off after time or with heavy use.

The blade has been carved into a drop point blade shape, which is the most popular blade shape that is on the market to date. The drop point blade is formed by having the spine of the blade extend from the handle to the tip in a slow, curving manner, which creates a lowered point. The lowered point allows the user to have more control over their cuts and slices, which also means that they will be able to perform fine detail work with this knife. The point on this knife is also broad, which is why the drop point blade shape is so durable. This is going to come in handy with your outdoors knife, because you won’t have to worry about whether or not the knife can actually complete the task. This blade shape is also very versatile, mainly because of the large belly that makes slicing a breeze. This characteristic of the drop point knife is going to come in handy the most when you are using this knife as an everyday carry knife. The drop point blade shape does have one major disadvantage: because the tip of the blade is so broad, you do lose out on a lot of your piercing and stabbing capabilities. This should not be a huge issue with this knife, because it is designed as an everyday carry and outdoors knife. Plus, because of the lack of piercing capabilities, you get a lot more strength to the knife, which most people view as the bigger benefit. Overall, the drop point blade shape is tough and versatile, which is a combination that allows you to take on almost any task.


The Handle:

The handle on this knife is made out of Glass-Filled Nylon, which is the same material is Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon or FRN. This is a thermoplastic material that is really strong, really resistant to bending and abrasion, as well as being almost indestructible.

This material is almost indestructible because of the way that it is designed. Although it is similar to the other fiberglass materials such as G-10, Carbon Fiber, and Micarta, GFN has all of its nylon fibers arranged haphazardly throughout the material. This means that it can be stretched or stressed in any direction and not break down. This is different than the other materials, where their fibers are arranged in one direction.

This material is also extremely cheap because it can be injection molded into any shape and textured in the production process. This means that the manufacturer can make these handles at a high volume, which always decreases the cost.

The overall benefits to this knife handle material is that it is strong, touch, requires no maintenance, and does not raise the cost of the knife too much. The overall disadvantages are that it does have less grip than G-10.

Benchmade 551BKSN-AS Griptilian
Benchmade 551BKSN-AS Griptilian

The handle is relatively simple. It has more curves than angles, which will provide a comfortable, and still secure grip to this knife. The spine of the knife curves very slowly from the blade to the butt, which is rounded. There is a long row of jimping right when the handle begins and the blade ends, which will give you more control when you are using this knife. Right before the butt of the handle begins there is another row of jimping which will help with control. The belly of the handle has an elongated finger groove, which is also equipped with jimping. The elongated finger groove creates a finger guard, which will help protect your fingers if you do happen to slip. It also provides a comfortable place for you to rest your fingers and have a solid grip on the knife. The belly bulges out very slightly, which will help with comfort. On the belly of this knife, near the butt, there is a short row of jimping. The middle of this handle has an intensely textured portion that will give the user a more secure grip while they are using this knife. This is especially ideal when you are using this knife as an outdoors knife.


The Pocket Clip:

The pocket clip on this knife is just a standard pocket clip, which means it won’t fit as deeply into your pocket. This means that the knife will not be as secure in your pocket or as concealed in your pocket. The clip is designed to be attached only tip-up, although it is reversible for either left or right handed carry. Because it is reversible, the knife is almost fully ambidextrous.

The clip is black, which contrasts with the sand colored handle and matches the blade. The clip is kept in place by three black screws, which match the rest of the hardware on this knife.


The Mechanism:

This knife has been equipped with a thumb stud to help the user open the knife. The thumb stud is a small barrel that sits in the place of the nail nick that you can find on more traditional knives. The thumb stud is arguably the most common one handed opening system that you can find today. The thumb stud is extremely easy to use, so the user doesn’t have to really get the hang of it, like they would with a flipper. However, in terms of safety, it is not the safest opening mechanism. It puts your fingers pretty directly into the path of the blade when you are opening the knife, which means the user is more likely to slice themselves on accident.

The knife is also equipped with the AXIS locking 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 Specs:

The blade on this knife measures in at 3.45 inches long with a handle that measures in at 4.62 inches long. When the knife is opened, it measures in at an overall length of 8.07 inches long. This knife weighs in at 4.2 ounces and was made in the United States of America.


What Benchmade has to say about it:

Benchmade Knife Company and have teamed up to bring you a special edition Griptilian® with custom laser markings of the logo and iconic skull. Made in USA. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization comprised of active and retired Law Enforcement and Military snipers who volunteer their time to raise equipment and monetary donations at firearms industry and military event/functions. All funds donated go towards the procurement of requested supplies that will deploy with snipers to help aid them in their missions around the globe.
Benchmade is proud to support this effort by donating a portion of sales from this special edition knife directly to



This knife has been designed as a great everyday carry or outdoors knife. You can pick it up today at BladeOps.


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