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.
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?” This was in 1979.
The next year, 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 are going to be talking about the 556 Mini Griptillian folder knife.
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 on this knife is made out of 154CM steel that has been hardened to a 58-61 HRC. This steel is relatively hard and normally considered to be an upgraded version of 440C. This is an upgraded version because of the added Molybdenum into the steel matrix. Molybdenum helps to achieve superior edge holding when being compared to 440C while still allowing the steel to keep its high levels of corrosion resistance. This is surprising because the steel does have less Chromium. This steel does have a decent toughness that is going to allow you to get the job done when it comes to your everyday tasks. Plus, because of the hardness, it does hold its edge really well. This steel is designed and made b Crucible Industries, which is a high end steel manufacturer that is based in the United States of America.
The blade has been finished with a satin finish. This finish is one of the most popular finishes in the cutlery industry today and for good reason. Satin will give you a classic look while enhancing the fine liens of the steel and showing off the bevels of the blade. This finish is created by repeatedly sanding the blade in one direction with an increasing degree of a fine abrasive. The fine abrasive that is most commonly used is a sandpaper. As a key, the finer the abrasive and the more even the lines, the cleaner the finish is going to look. Because this is a Benchmade knife, you can expect to have a very clean satin finish on the blade. This finish also cuts down on glares, reflections, and even a little bit of corrosion. However, this finish does take time and labor, so it can increase the overall cost of the knife.
The blade has been carved into a drop point style blade. This is a blade style that is going to stand up to almost anything while also being able to accomplish most tasks because of the versatility. This blade is one of the most used blade shapes on the market, and you can tell why. The spine of the knife is going to run straight from the handle to the tip of the knife in a slow, curved manner, which gives the blade a lowered point. Because the knife has a lowered point, you are going to have more control over the tip which means that you can perform fine detail work. Plus, the tip on a drop point knife is pretty broad, which is where the style gets all of its strength from. The Mini Griptilian has been designed as an everyday knife as well as an outdoors knife, so the strength from the tip is going to be ideal when you are using it as an outdoors knife. Drop points also feature very large bellies that make slicing especially easy. This belly is going to come in handy when you use this knife as an everyday carry knife. The most common task movement with this knife you are going to find yourself doing is slicing. The bigger the belly, the easier the slice. Drop point knives do have one major disadvantage which is how broad the tip is. This is weird, because earlier we listed it as a major advantage. Well, it’s both. It’s an advantage because you are going to get the strength that you wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else. It is a disadvantage because it does take away a lot of your piercing capabilities.
The handle on this knife is made out of Glass-Filled Nylon, or GFN, for short. This is the same material as FRN and is similar to the name brand material Zytel. This is a thermoplastic material that is extremely strong, resistant to bending and abrasion, and is almost indestructible. As a complete bonus, this is an inexpensive material.
It is an inexpensive material because it can be injection molded into any desired shape and textured in a multitude of ways throughout the production process. Because of this, the material can be produced and a high volume which equals the low cost.
This is such a strong material because all of the fibers are arranged in a haphazard manner, which means that it is going to be strong in all directions instead of just one. This material is similar to G10, Carbon Fiber, and Micarta, except that those materials have the fibers arranged in a single direction. It is that reason that makes the other materials so brittle and this material so durable and strong. When GFN is moved or stressed in any direction, it is not going to break apart.
There are complaints that it feels like cheap plastic because it does tend to feel a little bit hollow. Some people feel like this material does not offer much character. And some people are disappointed because G10 offers a more secure grip.
The handle is pretty simple. There is a row of jimping on the spine of the handle near the blade to give you ultimate control over your knife. IT then bulges out slightly as it curves towards the butt of the handle. Near the butt, there is another row of jimping. The butt is rounded, which gives this knife a very curvy look. There is a finger guard and a finger groove on the belly of the handle. In the finger groove, there is another row of jimping for added control. On the face of the handle, there is a middle portion that has added texture to give you a good grip through all of your tasks.
The Pocket Clip:
The pocket clip is not a deep carry clip, which is a drawback. The clip can also only be attached for tip up carry. However, it is reversible for either left or right handed carry, which helps to make this knife fully ambidextrous.
The knife is a manual opening knife, which means that there is no mechanism to help open it. In terms of legality, this is a major bonus, because you don’t have to worry about any of the strict knife laws that surround automatic knives and some spring assisted knives. However, in terms of efficiency, it does prove a little bit harder to open quickly and efficiently. His shouldn’t be too big of a drawback, but it might deter some people. One of the other benefits of a manual opening knife is that you don’t have to worry about it accidentally deploying. The manual opening knife is much more traditional. While maintenance is not necessarily easy, it is going to be easier than with an automatic knife because you don’t have to worry about a spring wearing out or snapping.
To help you open the knife, the Mini Griptilian has been equipped with a thumb stud. This is a very common opening feature that you are going to see on pocket knives. The thumb stud also allows for easy, one handed opening. The thumb stud is easy to get the hang of and essentially replaces the nail nick that is found on many traditional pocket knives. That being said, there are its drawbacks. The thumb stud is a small barrel that extends off of the blade. Some people feel like this gets in the way, because even once the knife is opened, the small barrel is coming out of the blade. Another disadvantage is that when you are opening this knife, it does put your fingers directly in the path of the blade. There have been plenty of reports of someone trying to open their knife with a thumb stud and slicing their fingers on accident. This should not scare you, you should just be aware that you do need to be cautious when using this feature.
The blade has also been equipped with Benchmade’s 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 blade on this knife measures in at 2.91 inches long, with a blade thickness of 0.100 inches. The handle on this knife measures in at 3.87 inches long with a handle thickness of 0.51 inches. The overall length of this knife when it is opened is 6.78 inches long. This knife weighs in at a mere 2.81 ounces.
When Benchmade is talking about this knife, they say, “When it comes to all around functionality, you can’t beat the Griptillian®. There are more shapes, sizes and colors available in the Griptillian than any other product family from Benchmade.” You can pick up this knife today at BladeOps.