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?”
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 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.
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 HUNT North Fork.
This knife falls into the Benchmade HUNT series. When Benchmade is discussing this series, they say, “Research projects, R&D lab tests and many miles of field research provided the foundation for the design and development of Benchmade HUNT. Built from advanced materials usually reserved for spaceships and surgical equipment, these technologically advanced hunting knives provide refined performance and rugged durability.” There are a few things that set their HUNT class apart, the first is the edge retention. They believe that edge retention is one of the most important features while field dressing an animal, and CPM S30V blade steel delivers.
The second is durability. They use CPM S30V in all these knives, which is a powdered metal steel, this steel outperforms other blade steels thanks to its uniform grain structure.
The third part that sets this series apart is the corrosion resistance. CPM S30V steel is a true stainless steel that requires little maintenance and out performs other steels like D2 by 619%.
The blade is made out of CPM S30V steel that has been hardened to a 58-60 HRC. This steel is made by Crucible Industries, which is a US based steel company. This steel is known for being a premium steel that was specifically designed for high end pocket knives as well as kitchen cutlery.
This means that the steel is going to have the best qualities that you could ask for from a knife. When Crucible is explaining this knife, 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 to or better than 440C in various environment.” One of the only drawbacks to this steel is that because of how hard it is, it does prove to be a little difficult to sharpen or work with. This shouldn’t be too big of a drawback, except if you are a beginner sharpener. Crucible explains the CPM process by saying, “The CPM process produces very homogeneous, high quality steel characterized by superior dimensional stability, grindability, and toughness compared to steels produced by conventional processes.”
The blade has been finished with a satin coating, which is the most common blade finish that you are going to find on the market to this day. It is created by repeatedly sanding the blade in one direction with an increasing level of a fine abrasive. The satin finish is used to showcase the bevels of the blade while also showcasing the fine liens of the steel. The satin finish does reduce corrosion slightly, although not in a way that would make a significant difference for the maintenance of this knife. This is a very traditional finish, which pairs perfectly with a very traditional knife.
The blade has been carved into a drop point blade shape. The drop point is a great all-purpose knife that really can stand up to anything. This is one of the most popular blade styles today, especially on hunting knives. The blade is formed by having the spine of the knife run straight form the handle to the tip of the knife in a slow, curved manner, which will give you a lowered point. It is this lowered point that provides more control and adds strength to the tip. And although the tip is not going to be as sharp as it would on a clip point, it is so much stronger. It is this tip strength that makes drop point blades a great option for tactical and survival knives as well as hunting knives. And because the point is lowered, it is going to be more easily controlled, which is ideal for a hunting knife. A lowered, controllable point is going to make it easier to avoid accidentally nicking internal organs and ruining the meat. The drop point blade style also has a very large belly that is ideal for slicing or even skinning. All in all, the drop point blade shape is the perfect blade shape for your hunting knife. One of the only disadvantages to the drop point is that because the tip is relatively broad, you are not going to have as many piercing or stabbing capabilities.
The handle on this knife is made out of Dymondwood, which is a type of stabilized wood. Wood has been used on knife handles since the time that knives really came into existence. When a wood handle is a quality wood handle, it is going to be durable and look great. Wood is also a relatively inexpensive material, even for heavy duty knives. Wood has the ability to add class and beauty to a knife, which is why it is a popular option on traditional and collectors’ knives alike.
When it comes to choosing which wood is best for your knife handle, it is best to first look at what your knife is going to be doing. If it is going to be getting wet, like this hunting knife is going to be, you should look to a stabilized wood, which means that the wood has been injected with plastic. Manufacturers inject polymer resin and then compress under a high pressure, which creates a very dense and durable material. However, this does not take away from its natural beauty, because it still looks like the wood that it was originally made out of.
The handle, like the rest of the North Fork knife, is extremely simple, yet very classy. The spine curves down from the blade to the butt in a slight curve. This will be comfortable in your hand because there is nothing extreme about it. The belly of the handle is also very simple. There is a large finger guard, which will protect your fingers from getting sliced. This is an important feature of a hunting knife, because it is likely to get extremely slippery at times. There is a medium sized finger groove. After that groove, the handle goes straight to the butt. As a complete bonus, there is a lanyard hole.
The Pocket Clip:
The pocket on this knife is a standard pocket clip, which means that it isn’t a deep carry clip. This is a little bit of a drawback, especially in a hunting knife because you want it to be the most secure it can be in your pocket. The pocket clip can only be attached for a tip up carry; however, it is reversible for either left or right handed carry. This helps to make the knife ambidextrous, which is a huge advantage. With a reversible pocket clip, the knife can be as comfortable as possible.
This is a manual opening knife. In terms of efficiency, this knife is not going to be as efficient as a fixed blade or an automatic knife. In terms of legality, a manual opening knife is going to be legal in more states, cities, or areas than an automatic knife.
The blade has been equipped with a thumb stud. The thumb stud is one of the most common mechanism that is used for one-handed opening mechanisms. The thumb stud sits on the side of the blade near where the blade pivots on the handle. This makes for a comfortable way to open the knife with one hand without having to switch which hand you are holding it with. One of the drawbacks to the thumb stud is that it does put your hand very close tot eh blade itself. There are plenty of stories of people actually cutting themselves while opening the blade. If your thumb does slip, it might get sliced. Keep this in mind when you are quickly opening the knife. Also keep it in mind when you are first getting used to using this knife.
This knife has been equipped with Benchmade’s AXIS lock. 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 steel measures in at 2.97 inches long with a thickness of 0.114 inches. The handle on this knife measures in at 3.90 inches long with a handle thickness of 0.53 inches. The overall length of this open knife measures in at 6.97 inches long. The knife weighs in at 3.16 ounces. The North Fork was made in the United States of America.
When Benchmade describes this knife, they say, “A compact AXIS® folding hunting knife with a recurved blade to assist with processing duties. Keep one in your pocket and a fixed blade in your pack.” You can pick up this knife today at BladeOps.