Benchmade 3551 Stimulus Automatic Knife Family Review

The Benchmade Knife Company is a knife manufacturer run by Roberta and Les de Asis in Oregon City, Oregon. Its products are geared toward many niche markets, such as outdoor sporting cutlery, rescue, law-enforcement, martial-arts, and military. The company has collaborated with a number of custom knife makers since its beginning.

Benchmade started in California in 1970 as Bali-Song, changing its name in 1988 to the Pacific Cutlery Corporation. In 1990 the company moved to Clackamas, Oregon. In 1996, the company moved to a 144,000 square foot facility in Oregon City, Oregon. Benchmade became known primarily as a manufacturer of butterfly, or balisong-style knives, which it continues to manufacture. These knives have been so identified with the company that Benchmade has registered “Bali-Song” as a trademark and logo. Benchmade’s original Bali-Song design by Jody Samson was awarded Blade Magazine’s Knife of the Year Award in 1979.

Blade steels such as 154CM, D2, CPM S30V steel, CPM S90V, CPM 20CV, N680, and M390 are used in many models. Benchmade is one of the few manufacturers to have offered high speed M2 and CPM M4 tool steels in a production knife.

Benchmade receives a significant amount of revenue from selling restricted-sales knives to the military and law enforcement. Benchmade produces a diverse selection of “auto,” or switchblade knives, along with a range of hunting, fishing, utility, and miscellaneous knives, however balisongs remain a core product.

Benchmade has three different classes when it comes to their knives. The first class is the Blue Class, also known as the Recreation class. This type of Benchmade knife is made for typical use by the everyday person. The next class is the Black Class, also known as the Professional class. This type of Benchmade knife is made for military, law enforcement, and public safety workers. These are the knives made for more challenging work. The last class is the Gold Class, also known as the Collector class. This class of Benchmade knife is made for collectors and are limited edition.

Benchmade has a patent on the locking mechanism used in most of the switchblades they produce. Benchmade additionally holds an exclusive license on use of the McHenry/Williams AXIS Lock, which is a strong, spring operated locking mechanism that is used in both automatic and manual action models.

Benchmade has a long tradition of incorporating knife design from noted custom cutlery makers into their production models. These include Jody Samson, Ernest Emerson, Allen Elishewitz, Mel Pardue, Bill McHenry, Mike Snody, Jason Williams, Warren Osborne, and Bob Lum. Several production Benchmade models based on the work of these designers have become influential within the industry.

Today we will be going over the Benchmade 3351 Stimulus automatic knife family.


The Class:

This family of knives falls under the Benchmade’s Black Class. This is the class that is used by professionals when quality tools can mean the difference between life and death. From law enforcement and public safety to elite military troops, Benchmade feels that their obligation is the same. This is some of the best equipment for the job. The Black Class slogan is “Black Class: No Room for Error.”


The Blade:

BladeOps offers three versions of this knife design, and all three have a blade made out of 154CM stainless steel. This steel is a high end steel that is relatively hard. It has been regarded as an upgraded version of 440C; it is the superior steel because of the added Molybdenum, which is used to achieve superior edge holding when being compared to 440C, while also retaining similar levels of corrosion resistance. 154CM has good toughness that can stand up to the majority of tasks. When you have the right sharpening equipment and skill level, this steel isn’t too hard to sharpen.

There are two different finishes that you can choose from in this knife family. The first finish is a traditional satin. This finish is created by repeatedly sanding the blade in one direction with an increasing level of a fine abrasive. The abrasive material that is most commonly used is a sandpaper. The finer the sandpaper is and the more even the lines of the sanding, the cleaner and sleeker the blade will look. This finish is designed to show off the bevels of the blade while also showcasing the fine lines of the steel. In terms of luster, the satin finish falls almost smack in the middle. This finish is also one of the most traditional blade finishes that you are going to come across, so if you end up choosing this version, you’ll know that your knife will never go out of style. The satin finish does help to slightly reduce corrosion on this blade, but that characteristic is not a noteworthy one of the satin blade finish.

The second blade finish option that you are presented with is a black coating. While most other finishes are actually changing the blade steel, a coating finish is exactly what it sounds like—a layer of finish is applied on top of the steel. This has its benefits; for example, coatings help to provide corrosion resistance because it adds a layer in between the steel and the environment. The coating option is also going to make your blade matte, which will reduce the chance of your blade giving your positon away due to reflections if you are in the field. However, the coating will scratch off eventually, either due to time or hard use. One the coating has been scratched away, you not only miss out on the sleek look that the blade once sported, but the benefits of a coating are also significantly diminished or removed altogether. If you want your blade to stay protected, you would have to have your blade recoated at that time.

The blades on these knives are carved into a spear point blade shape. This blade shape is symmetrical in that it is curved the same on either side of the spine which runs down the center. There is really no secret where this blade style got its name from. The design is often considered as a dagger and is the ultimate choice for a throwing knife. This blade style is often compared to the needle-point blade, because they are both good for piercing. However, the point on the spear point is much stronger and it does have a belly that can be used for some slicing. The spear point knife is a great choice if you are looking for a good balance between piercing and slicing ability. This blade style combines the sharp point of a dagger with the strength of a drop point blade, while still maintain some of the belly that is used for slicing. The spear point blade is considered a fantastic hybrid design that is very useful for a wide variety of different uses.

The Stimulus family of knives also offers the option to choose between either a plain edged blade or a combination blade. The plain edge is going to equip you to take on tasks that require push cuts. A push cut is where you push the blade into the material or object that you are cutting, and then push to continue the process. Some examples of push cuts are shaving, skinning, or peeling an object. The plain edge is going to be easier to sharpen because you don’t have to worry about the teeth. And because there are no teeth, the plain edge is going to give you cleaner cuts and slices than the combination blade would.

The combo blade is where the upper two thirds of the blade is plain and the lower two thirds is serrated. You can still do your fine detail work because of the plain portion, and you are also capable of sawing through some thicker materials with the serrated portion. This style of edge is designed to give you the best of both worlds. The biggest complaint with this style is that the two portions are actually too small to get any work done with either style.

Benchmade 3551 Stimulus Automatic Knife
Benchmade 3551 Stimulus Automatic Knife

The Handle:

The handle on this Benchmade knife is made out of 6061-T6 aluminum. Aluminum is a very corrosion resistant metal as well as being low density (thus lightweight), which are two of the reasons that it is often used in knife handles. 6061-T6 is just the aluminum alloy name, which means that the type of aluminum used is 6061 and it has been T6 tempered. This alloy of aluminum has one of the highest yield and tensile strengths of all aluminum alloys. Unfortunately, aluminum does have high conductive properties, so if you are going to be using this knife in the winter, you should be prepared for how it will bite into your hand. Aluminum is also prone to scratches and dings.

The handles have been anodized black. Anodizing is used to increase the corrosion resistance of the aluminum handle by forming a layer of oxide on its surface. This process also makes the handle harder, less prone to scratches, and adds a sleek black color to the handle.

While aluminum can be slippery, Benchmade has carved in a couple of deep grooves on the face of the handle to help give you a more secure grip. The ergonomics of this handle also create a comfortable grip. The portion of the handle nearest to the blade flare out slightly for comfort and safety.


The Pocket Clip:

The pocket clip on these knives is black to match the anodized handle. It is designed for tip up carry only, which is a drawback. The clip is held in place by three small black screws which match the rest of the hardware on this knife. The only exception is the firing button, which is silver and the safety on the side of the handle.


The Mechanism:

The Stimulus family is a family of automatic knives. An automatic knife, or switchblade, is a knife that has a blade that springs out of the handle when a button is pressed. This looks like a regular folding knife, except that there is a firing button on the face of the handle. When this button is pressed, the tension of the spring is released back onto the blade and it flicks open automatically, with no assistance form the user.

Automatic knives do have a strict set of laws that surround them in the United States. They are not legal in all states, cities, or even areas. It is your responsibility, as the user, to know what your local knife laws are. This knife might be illegal to purchase or carry where you are living.


The Specs:

The blade on this knife measures in at 2.99 inches long, with a handle that measures in at 4.11 inches long. When this utilitarian knife is opened, it measures in at an overall length of 7.1 inches. This is a lighter knife, making it perfect to have with you at all times—weighing in at 2.7 ounces. This Benchmade knife is made in the United States of America.



The best-selling original Benchmade 3550 Mel Pardue automatic knife was slightly modified in 2016–producing the new and improved Benchmade Stimulus auto knife. With increased reliability and improved access to the enlarged firing button, this true utilitarian tool certainly doesn’t sacrifice function for form. This Benchmade black class family has a variety of options to choose from. You can get your spear point style blade in either a satin finish or a black coated one. And you can choose between a straight edge or combination edge. These knives feature symmetrical black anodized 6061-T6 handle scales with an integrated safety on the spine near the location of the firing button. This classic automatic knife aims to please with its American-made 154CM stainless steel and the handle offers a slim profile and ergonomic grip. The pocket clip is designed for tip up carry only. Pick up your favorite version of this well-balanced, versatile Benchmade knife today at BladeOps.


Benchmade 4300-1 Green/Black CLA Automatic Knife Review

In 1988, Benchmade set out to make the best knives in the world—and that’s exactly what they did. They’ve grown a lot since then, and while they have expanded to provide tools for elite tactical operators, first responders, and even collectors, their goal remains the same: make the best knives in the world.

Their knives are made of many things: steel, aluminum, and titanium, just to name a few. But the most important part of a Benchmade knife is expertise. They carefully measure every part at every step in the process. They use the best materials and equipment. They make world-class knives for world class users.

The first step in the process of is turning a sheet of steel into a blade. This begins by laser cutting. A laser cutting technician programs the laser to cut the steel into blanks, which gives the blade its basic profile. These blanks are then hammered out of the sheet and then measured. By taking measurements at every step of the manufacturing process, they guarantee an impeccable knife and streamline the production.

The second step in the process is surface grinding. This is the step where blanks are ground to the exact width. A surface grind technician places each blank in its rack by hand, and each side is ground to its specific thickness. After grinding, the blanks are measured again. The tolerances are within a width of a human hair, which is how Benchmade produces such quality knives each and every time.

The third step is milling, which is when blade holes, handles, and grooves are cut on high-speed mills. One of the holes that is cut during this process is the blade pivot, which is crucial to the folding mechanism. This pivot tolerance is .0005 inches, because even the slightest deviation there becomes exponential at the blade’s tip.

Next is beveling, which is where the blade really starts to take its shape. A Blade Beveling Technician bevels the knife blank one side at a time, making sure that the two sides match perfectly.

The next step is back-sanding, which is when the back of the blade gets special attention. Finishing is also completed at this point. Finishing gives the blade a more refined look because the finishing technician stone-washes the blades in a ceramic medium to remove any burrs and give the blades a clean, polished appearance.

The last two steps are assembly and sharpening. Each and every Benchmade knife is assembled by hand, so its no surprise that there are more hand operations performed at this point in a knife’s production than at any other stage in the process. Lastly, is sharpening. This takes longer to master blade sharpening than any other skill. A sharpening technician puts a razor edge on the knife using a standard belt sander, which takes crazy high concentration. The knife is sharp enough when it can cut through ultra-thin phonebook paper effortlessly without tearing. Then, it becomes a true Benchmade.

Today we will be discussing the Benchmade CLA automatic knife. This is a Black Class model which means that there is no room for error. Their Black Class knives are used by professional when quality tools can mean the difference between life and death. Form law enforcement and public safety to elite military troops, Benchmade feels that their obligation is still the same. They are designing the best equipment for the job.


The Blade:

The blade on this knife is made out of 154CM stainless steel, which is a high end steel. This type of steel is relatively hard, and has been considered an upgraded version of 440C because of the addition of Molybdenum. It is the Molybdenum that helps the steel achieve superior edge holding, when compared to 440C, while also retaining its high levels of corrosion resistant. This steel has a decent toughness, which is good enough for the majority of uses. A bonus to this steel is that it holds an edge well and with the correct equipment, it isn’t hard to sharpen. This is an American made stainless steel with well-rounded characteristics including good edge retention, overall toughness, and corrosion resistance. This blade is a solid choice that helps make a solid knife.

The blade has been finished satin, which means that it was sanded in one direction with a fine sandpaper. This finish is created to show off the bevels of the blade while also showcasing the lines of the steel, and you can tell that Benchmade used a very fine sandpaper, because the lines of the knife are very smooth and clean. This is one of the more traditional knife finishes, because its luster falls in the middle of the spectrum. The satin finish is also the most popular blade finish that you are going to come across in today’s knife industry.

The blade on this knife has been carved into a drop point style blade, which is the most popular blade style used on modern pocket knives. This blade shape allows your knife to be all-purpose, extremely versatile, while still being tough enough to take on the harder jobs. The blade shape is formed by having the unsharpened edge, or the spine, of the blade run straight form the handle to the tip of the knife in a slow curved manner, which creates a lowered point. The lowered point provides a handful of characteristics that are some of the drop point blade style’s main advantage. For example, because the tip is lowered, you are going to be able to more successfully control your cuts and slices. And, the lowered point is broad, which means that it is stronger and less prone to breaking during use. This broad tip is also one of the drop point blade shapes drawbacks, because it doe limit your ability to pierce—especially when compared to the similar clip point style. But, because the tip is lowered and broad, the drop point blade shape is the prefect option for a tactical knife. This blade is going to hold up to heavy use easily. One of the other reasons that this is such an all-purpose knife is because it features one of the largest bellies out of all the knife blade shapes. It is the belly that is going to help you with slicing, which is the majority of tasks that you will be performing with this knife. Because of the phenomenal blade combination of metal and shape, this knife will prepare you for any challenge that you meet.

On the spine of the blade where the blade and handle meet each other, there is a short row of jimping that furthers the control you have over your cuts.


The Handle:

The handle on this tactical knife is made out of green and black G-10. G-10 is a grade of Garolite that is a laminate composite made of fiberglass. This material has very similar properties to carbon fiber, except that it is slightly inferior and can be had for much less inexpensive. To form 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 you end up with is very tough, super hard, strong, and you get all of those characteristics in a lightweight package. In terms of toughness, G-10 is actually considered the toughest of all the fiberglass resin laminates and even stronger than Micarta. Although, because it is stronger than Micarta, it is going to be more brittle.

Benchmade 4300-1 Green/Black CLA Automatic Knife
Benchmade 4300-1 Green/Black CLA Automatic Knife

One of the major benefits about G-10 with this specific knife is that the production process utilizes many layers, so you can use varying different colors to achieve a unique cosmetic look on the G-10 handle. On this handle, the manufacturer has used layers of green and black to look like camouflage.



Tactical knives especially benefit from the qualities of G-10 because it is lightweight and durable, also non-porous. This means that it is not going to absorb any gunk that you may encounter on the job or in the field and maintenance will be easy for you.

The ergonomics of this handle are designed for comfort and a secure grip. The bottom of the handle bulges out to fit inside of your palm well. There is also a finger guard that protects your fingers from getting sliced if you do slip while using this knife. This is an especially important benefit on a tactical knife because you are going to be using this knife in the heat of the moment and probably not slowly.

The butt of the handle does have a lanyard hole carved into it, which means that you can easily have this knife with you at all times without it getting in the way. Plus, if you wrap the lanyard around the face of the handle, it adds an extra element of grip and texture. This is a solid benefit if you will be in the field often or if you are working in wet or extreme environments.


The Pocket Clip:

The clip on this knife has been designed for tip up carry only, but it is reversible in terms of left or right handed carry. Because this clip is reversible, the CLA knife is almost fully ambidextrous. The clip is black, which matches all the hardware on this knife except for the push button.


The Mechanism:

This is an automatic knife, which is often referred to as a switchblade. With this, you need to keep in mind that automatic knives have strict laws surrounding them. Purchasing, owning, and carrying an automatic knife is not legal in all states, cities, or areas. It is you, the user’s, responsibility to know your local knife laws.

An automatic knife, or a switchblade, is a type of knife with a folding or sliding blade contained in the handle which is opened automatically by a spring when a button on the handle is activated. Most switchblade designs incorporate a locking blade, in which the blade is locked against closure when the spring extends the blade to the fully opened position. The blade is unlocked by manually operating a mechanism that unlocks the blade and allows it to be folded and locked in the close position.

The deployment button on this knife is round, silver button near the top of the handle. Right underneath the button is a safety lock, which means that when it is activated, there is no way the button can deploy the blade. This means that you can safely have the knife in your pocket without worrying about accidental deployment and injury.


The Specs:

The blade on this knife measures in at 3.4 inches with a handle that measures in at 4.45 inches long. When this Benchmade knife is opened, it measures in at an overall length of 7.85 inches long. This knife weighs in at 3.5 ounces, which is the perfect weight for a tactical knife. It has enough heft behind it that you know you can always rely on it, but it is light enough that it won’t weigh you down when you are on the job or in the field. This knife was made in the United States of America, so you can feel proud to purchase, own, and carry the CLA automatic knife.



The Benchmade 4300 CLA (Composite Lite Auto) side open automatic knife is Benchmade’s first Black Class auto to feature G-10 handle scales. This mid-sized knife features a slim profile design and contoured handle scales for quick and easy pocket deployment. Thanks to the recessed over-sized firing button and integrated slide safety, you can remain confident that this knife is just as safe as it is effective. This model, the 4300-1, features textured green and black handles and a drop point blade in a satin finish. The pocket clip is designed for tip up carry only but is eligible for a left or right hand carry option. Pick up this tactical knife today at BladeOps.