In this discussion forum, we'll be reviewing a variety of popular Benchmade knives. These reviews will cover not only statistical data, but actual life use as well. Though I'm a big Benchmade fan, I'll be very direct and candid about each of the knives that I review. Benchmade, as a GREAT company as it is, isn't perfect...and while I'm sure to point out many positive aspects of the knives, you can also count on me to point out any deficiencies that I see and experience. Additional feedback by the members of this group will also provide a valuable broad-base for those interested in Benchmade's product. So join us as we take a hard look at products produced by one of the world's premier knife manufacturers!
Benchmade's Barrage series of folding knives represent an excellent value in modern blade options. Currently, there are two Barrage models available on the market; the 580 Barrage (full-size knife) and the 585 Mini-Barrrage (a smaller version of the 580). Lets take a quick look at the physical characteristics of each model.
ASSISTED OPENING:One of the features that make the Barrrage series very exciting is the use of Benchmade's NEW Nitrous assisted-opening technologies. Both models feature Nitrous and deploy very smoothly. Simply moving the thumbstud outward by approximately 30 degrees, the Nitrous assisted-opening mechanism completes the opening action with authority. I've tried just about every major brands version of the assisted-opening technology and can say that Nitrous seems to work better than just about any other.
BLADE:Both knives feature 154CM steel shaped into drop point patterns. As is the case with pretty much all of Benchmade's Blue Class knives, the fit and finish on both models is exceptional. The steel is nicely polished without being overly shiny. Pattern lines in the steel are subtle and just serve to add to the overall aesthetic appeal of the knives. Unfortunately, the spine of the blade does not have any jimping and there is no readily available form of traction to support the thumb's eventual position when cutting.
HANDLE:The handle material on both knives is Valox, a highly durable plastic. The handle scales are well machined and detailed, providing a high-quality feel. Each individual scale has an alternate groove pattern that, conceptually, is supposed to help add "gription" to the handle. That said, the Valox material is overly smooth and can be quite slippery when wet. I find this to be an odd design aspect given Benchmade's famous Griptillian knife.
PRIMARY USE: The larger 580 model works well for both EDC and Tactical purposes. The large blade serves as an efficient tool for a host of larger cutting tasks from slicing through a variety of rope materials to cutting thick leather, cardboard and even wood. From slicing to light-duty chopping to cutting small, pin point, holes, the 580 doesn't let it's owner down. The smaller 585 model is an ideal EDC blade. Though it gives up .69" in blade length, the 585 model maintains most of the cutting-power of it's larger sibling. Built like a small tank, the Mini-Barrage is one tough EDC companion. The 154CM blade steel is IDEAL in toughness, edge-holding-ability, and edge sharpening.
SECOND KIND OF COOL: Both the Barrage and the Mini-Barrage radiate the Second Kind of Cool. The aesthetic of their obviously over-built form factor communicates a sense of confident brawniness. Benchmade's attention to detail is readily apparent in the fit and finish of both knives. Everything is high-and-tight with the Barrage series; no blade play at all (back-and-forth or -up-and-down). The joints and pins are perfectly set, providing a relatively quiet opening in spite of the speed of deployment. All the right edges are smooth, adding excellent comfort for the user...even during "tougher" tasks. The world-famous Axis lock functions perfectly and adds to the overall cool-factor of both knives. The pocket clips are discrete and add a subtle type of sophistication to both models.
OVERALL TAKE: The Barrage series offers high-value for the modern user. With prices ranging from $92 to $135, they are pretty affordable in general. The quality of these knives will provide the user with years and years of useful service and enjoyment. The Barrage design has two points of detraction; the lack of jimping on the blade's spine and the lack of traction-surface on the handle scales. All-in-all, the Barrage and Mini-Barrage are worthwhile additions to any user's collection!
Benchmade's Presidio series of folding knives are fairly well known in military and law enforcement circles. Though they can be used for EDC applications, the Presidio series is considered a tactical design. Lets take a quick look at the physical characteristics of each model.
BLADE: Both knives feature 154CM steel shaped into drop point patterns. The blades feature a flawless bead-blast finish that feels satin-smooth. From swedge to edge, I couldn't find a single blemish. The grind on the blades really facilitates push-cutting. Though the blade shape is truly a drop-point, the Presidio has great piercing power.
HANDLE: The handle material on both knives is Aircraft Aluminum. Both knives feature a little thicker handle width than much of their competition. This serves to provide the user with a more positive overall grip. Additionally, the handle scales have counter directional grooves that serve to LOCK the handle in against the user's skin without abrading it. The ergonomics on the handle, quite simply put are the best I've found on any knife. Frankly, this is a tactical-centric feature that actually serves to benefit comm0n EDC applications. The shape of the handle provides the user with a thumb-ramp type of swell. That "swell" is jimped, providing very useful "gription". The down-side to the Aircraft Aluminum handle scales is that they add a bit of weight. However, the user receives a ton of benefit from the handle design; easily enough to offset the downside from weight.
PRIMARY USE: As stated above, the primary use of the Presidio design is undeniably tactical. However, the Mini-Presidio is a GREAT EDC choice. The combination of handle design and blade shape make the Presidio a formidable tactical defense knife. The 154CM steel is tough, holds an edge well and is quite durable. Whether performing mundane tasks (opening packages, the mail, cutting string, duct tape...etc.) or serving as a self-defense tool, the Presidio is an extremely effective knife.
SECOND KIND OF COOL: For the tactical user, the Presidio oozes "coolness". The design is kind of modern, high-tech...and intimidating. The Presidio knife is what it looks to be; a very serious piece of equipment. It feels "good" in the hand, has some "heft", and...of course...features the magnificient Axis-Lock. This will sound rather "bold", but lets face it; as of this posting, there isn't a cooler locking-mechanism out there.
OVERALL TAKE: The Presidio series exemplify what makes Benchmade a hallmark knife company. The quality, fit, finish, innovation, and design of the Presidio is incredible...particularly for a production folding knife. These knives (both the full-size and the "mini") come as close to being "flawless" as any production knife I've ever owned or handled. While I've certainly seen (and owned) prettier Benchmade knives, I have to say that the Presidio is, far-and-away, my favorite Benchmade.
Hi! I really liked your review with interesting insights. I own the 522S Presidio with a 440C blade. Complete satisfaction. Great knife with great looks. I suppose it is said that the 154CM blade is better, but will I notice the difference? I doubt it.
Thanks Jakub! 440C is a very underrated steel. My experience with it is very good and I've generally found that whether it is 440...1095...Aus8A...154...VG10...CPMS30V...the heat treat process is critical to making a very good steel. I've seen well treated 440C perform as well as CPMS30V for most tasks. I've also had some very good luck with D2.
It would be fair to describe Benchmade as a historic knife company. In so many ways, they have really raised the bar for knife manufacturers everywhere. In particular, they do folding knives extremely well and their offering effectively covers a wide range of aesthetics and applications...from EDC to tactical to collector's editions, Benchmade has just about everything you could ever want in a folding knife. Today, we'll be taking a good look at a fairly new design; the Nitrous Stryker.
BLADE: Both knives feature high-quality D2 Tool Steel. Though forum group-think has labeled this steel as being "brittle", it is actually a very tough and very durable material. It fits the intended application of these knives very well. In particular, the Stryker design reduces weight by being able to go with thinner steel due to D2's toughness. Both the full-size and the mini Stryker feature modified spear point blade shapes. Benchmade modified the spear point by adding some much needed belly, making the knife much more effective for non-defensive tasks.
HANDLE: The handle material on both knives is textured G10. Benchmade developed the Stryker platform with tactical application in mind and the handle scales reflect this. The texturing is just aggressive enough to provide excellent "gription", but not so aggressive that it is likely to chew up clothing. The handle scales are a little on the thin side, helping to reduce the overall weight of the knife. Unfortunately, they also make the knife a little hard on the hands during more intense cutting tasks (though gloves offset this issue easily enough). Adequate jimping is provided at the spine of the blade and works very well.
PRIMARY USE: The full-size Stryker is certainly designed for tactical application. It's size, construction and exceptional deployment (via the Nitrous technology) make it ideal for defensive situations. It also handles most EDC tasks quite well. The Mini Stryker is just a smaller version of it's bigger brother. While not ideal for defensive situations, it will do it's part just fine in a pinch. That said, it is IDEAL for most EDC tasks. The modified spear-point blade shape greatly enhances the general usefulness of the Stryker design. As both knives are pretty light, they make easy-going companions.
SECOND KIND OF COOL: Anybody that likes "tactical" aesthetics should feel an immediate affinity with the Stryker designs. Offered in a variety of blade shapes and colors, the Stryker knives certainly say "all business". Sleek and fast...the knives store easily in a wide variety of clothing. Both knives feature the Nitrous technology, which makes deploying and using the blades, easy and hassle-free. As tactical blades go, Benchmade has really hit a home run with the Stryker platform.
OVERALL TAKE: From military to LE to sheepdog, these knives have a lot to offer! It would be nice to have a little thicker handle scales (to increase comfort during use). It would also be nice to be able to switch the pocket clip to other locations. An ideal combination of power, shape, balance, easy-deployment, good ergonomics, sleek profile and light weight make the Stryker an outstanding choice!
Benchmade's Dejavoo series of folding knives really take on a different direction than most people are used to seeing from the company. Conceptualized by famous knife designer, Bob Lum, the Dejavoo knives certainly borrow from Spyderco (perhaps subconciously) and yet serve as fine examples of Mr. Lum's genius. Lets take a quick look at the physical characteristics of each model.
BLADE: Both knives feature S30V Premium steel shaped into what Benchmade refers to as a "high-ground utility" pattern. When I look at the knives, I see a modified drop-point with a leaf-shape influence. As is the case with pretty much all of Benchmade's Blue Class knives, the fit and finish on both models is TRULY exceptional. Grind lines are kept to a minimum, as the overall design concept for the Dejavoo platform is one of simple elegance. Unfortunately, the spine of the blade does not have any jimping and there is no readily available form of traction to support the thumb's eventual position when cutting. Given that the blade's shape provides a thumb-ramp, this seems like a rather odd oversight.
HANDLE: The handle material on both knives is a smoothly-machined G10. While I describe the G10 as "smoothly-machined", this doesn't mean that the handles lack traction. In fact, the G10 is surprisingly "grippy"...in spite of the lack of checkering. The scales are nicely sculpted and have an extremely well-designed flow to them. The curves of the handle not only contribute the overall elegance of the knife, they provide some of the best ergonomics it has ever been my pleasure to experience.
PRIMARY USE: Both Dejavoo knives are a fascinating blend of "gentlemen's folder" and brawny EDC blade. Aesthetically, they certainly look ready for the opera...but structurally, they have the goods to work hard. The larger 740 model is a big folder and handles larger EDC chores with EASE. The blade shape makes for exceptional cutting power...and the S30V steel really gets the job done. The "smaller" Mini-Dejavoo isn't far behind it's bigger sister. In fact, this is one of those knives where the word "mini" is an absolutely misleading descriptor. Check out the dimensions listed (above), it is not "mini" at all. It just looks "mini" compared to the very large 740.
SECOND KIND OF COOL: Both the Dejavoo and the Mini-Dejavoo absolutely ooze "cool". They are, truly, beautiful knives. Mr. Lum really created a stunning thing of beauty when he came up with the Dejavoo platform. There is a very natural curve to the knives that just flows. Truly "elegant"...and Benchmade's exceptional fit and finish put the best icing on the proverbial cake.
OVERALL TAKE: It is fair to say that when the knife community thinks of Benchmade, the phrase "Axis-lock" immediately comes to mind. The Dejavoo knives feature a locking-liner...and somewhat suffer for it. While Benchmade's take on the liner-lock is fairly well done, it comes up a very distant second to the Axis-lock's nearly bullet-proof history. I found that it is fairly easy to accidentally disengage the liner-lock...and the liner isn't as thick as I happen to think that it should be. To be fair, the lock hasn't failed me...so the possibility exists that I'm concerned over something I needn't be. However, this is a review...and I'm calling the lock issue as I see it. The lack of spine-jimping is another down-side, though not a huge one. These things aside, the Dejavoo and the Mini-Dejavoo are tremendously cool knives. Beautiful, elegant, and very well made, their "coolness" factor is such that they are an asset to any Benchmade fan's collection.
Benchmade's Blue Class knives are certainly known for providing users with great quality, great value and some really good stylistic elements. Also found within the Blue Class product offering are some exceptionally elegant models whose designs echo the aesthetics of custom knives. Benchmade's 690-CF model is one such blade. This unusual knife offers much for the collector who wants something a bit more up-scale. Lets take a good look at this knife.
BLADE: This knife features a razor-sharp clip point style blade. It is finished in a blackish-gray coating (I think that Benchmade calls this a "BP-1" finish) to give it a sophisticated-matte appearance. WARNING: this coating does not respond well to moisture and stains EASILY. Other than that, the blade shape works wonderfully for just about any reasonable EDC task that most people encounter. Candidly, I consider the 690 to be a gentlemen's folder...and would not consider using it for any heavy-duty task. I say this not because the knife couldn't handle the work...but because I would hate to mar up such a striking piece of steel. The blade is deployed manually by use of a matte-finished steel thumbstud. As we've all come to expect from Benchmade knives, this blade deploys easily. However, of all the Benchmade's that I've owned and used, the 690 deploys so smoothly that it is MIND-BLOWING!
HANDLE: The handle material on this knife plays a HUGE role in it's aesthetic appeal. Taking a defining page from the world of "custom", Benchmade utilized multiple materials for the handle; wood, carbon fiber and anodized-blue titanium liners. 2/3 of the handle scale is made up of wood (stabilized Rosewood), while the remaining 1/3 (bolsters) is done in an exquisite carbon fiber. The pattern in the carbon fiber really contrasts well with the Rosewood scales. Underneath the wood and carbon fiber are anodized-blue titanium liners. This particular feature adds a very subtle-yet-striking aesthetic that just gives the knife that extra little push, propelling it higher up the "WOW!" scale. In addition to their visual appeal, the titanium liners serve to add strength while reducing weight. All positives! The locking-liner works smoothly; locking up perfectly and unlocking with just the right amount of effort. Mounted in a tip-down position is the teardrop-shaped pocket clip. While visually enticing, the clip is too short...and tends to make me nervous (of the blade falling free).
PRIMARY USE: As indicated above, I consider this knife to be a "gentlemen's folder". Certainly, the build-quality and materials would easily support much heavier use, but only someone without another option would knowingly sacrifice such a fantastically appealing knife. Yes, the blade...especially in 154cm...will stand up to some hard use, though as I cautioned above, it stains easily. As a carry knife, this blade's very modest 3oz. weight makes it an exceptionally comfortable traveling companion. Of course, the lack of weight, combined with a "too short" pocket clip, increase the chances of this little friend becoming lost without the owner's knowledge. Given that it would be fair to describe the 690 as being "the most collectible" of Benchmade's Blue Class knives, I'm going to get a sheath for mine. NO MORE pocket carry for my 690, no sirree!
SECOND KIND OF COOL: In simple terms, the 690-CF is "off-the-charts" when it comes to "second kind of cool". It is a beautiful knife whose tactile elements make you want to fondle it for hours upon hours. Yes...it is that ridiculously cool...if you are a "steel addict"! Without a doubt, Benchmade makes some fantastic knives, but I've yet to encounter one whose sum-of-parts is so totally engaging. Or, another way to put it would be to say that if you are a Benchmade collector, the 690-CF is an absolute MUST-HAVE.
OVERALL TAKE: The 690-CF is far-and-away a collector's knife. If you are looking for something as a daily user, get a Griptillian or one of the myriad of other Benchmades. If you are looking for an unusual piece to add to your collection...one whose sheer "coolness" is maddeningly addictive, the 690-CF has the goods. No, it is not a flawless knife. The finish on the blade is nowhere near as durable as it should be for this kind of product. The pocket clip looks cool...but really isn't "right" (the knife would probably be better off without it). Frankly, those are the only "hits" that I have on this otherwise insanely cool knife. Now...how about the price? Well, a quick tour of the Benchmade web site pegged the 690-CF (with BP-1 blade finish) at $210 US. I paid less than 2/3 that amount. While it may be that I got an unusually good deal, I find it amazing that the 690 goes for less money than the Skirmish. Go figure!
BLADE: Both knives feature S30V steel shaped into drop point patterns. The blades sport a flawless bead-blast finish that feels perfect to the touch. The 610 features a 2/3 grind from the spine down, while the 615 features a full-grind. The thickness of the blade steel on the larger 610 model is quite impressive; to be sure, this is a BIG blade. It dwarfs the smaller 615 model...but to put it into perspective, the 615 would qualify as a full-size in just about anybody's product offering. Both the 610 and the 615 have superbly done jimping on the spine of the blade.
HANDLE: The handle material on both knives is a combination of smooth G10 at the bolsters with nicely worked Linen Micarta the rest of the way. This combination provides good "gription" and is aesthetically pleasing as well. The handles have full steel liners, giving the knives good torsional strength. The pocket clips on both knives are attached as high up the handle's posterior as possible and are very "low riding". Their black color hides nicely with most pant colors. Unfortunately, the pocket clip seems to be made a bit weaker than we've come to expect from Benchmade. There is a plus to this; the knives are super easy to clip to the user's pocket. The obvious downside is that it would be "easy" for the knife and it's owner to become unduly separated.
PRIMARY USE: To understand the appropriate applications for both knives, it is important to correctly define their respective size. The "Mini" is the least "mini" of any so-labeled knife that I've ever owned. So, I'll call it what it really is; full-size. Perhaps the phrase "ideally-sized" is a more apt description, because this is one of those good designs that works just fine as an EDC or defensive knife. How about it's big brother, the 610? Well...just like the "Mini" really isn't mini at all, the BIG isn't just BIG; it's freaking HUGE!!! It is the biggest folding knife that I own...and while there are some designs out there that are a little bigger, the 610 is large enough to make you wonder, "Why?" That established, the full-sized Rukus works well as an outdoorsman's folding knife...or as an LBE blade for LE or military applications. The deployment on both blades is everything that Benchmade's Axis-lock system is known for...HOWEVER; on my 610 (which is the Blackwood variation), it deploys SUPER SMOOTH. The blade shape, size, and design of both the 610 and the 615 lend themselves well to just about any task that you could reasonably ask of a folding knife.
SECOND KIND OF COOL: Both the 610 and the 615 say, "Coolness" in that classic "strong, silent type" kind of way. The nice use of multiple materials for the handle adds an interesting dimension to the Rukus platform; they are elegant in a very subdued fashion. For the 615, it's "cool" is the sum of it's parts. For the larger 610, there are a couple of "extra" factors thrown in for good measure; A) it's freakish size and B) the thickness and length of the blade make it's deployment function even smoother than that of all it's siblings. In many regards, the things that make the Rukus platform "cool" are kind of contradictory...which is to say that the knives are quite a bit different from the rest of the Blue Class's offering, but somehow they keep almost all the positive traits that make Benchmade a top-tier producer. With the right pocket clip, the Rukus would be "super cool".
OVERALL TAKE: The Rukus picked up the American Made Knife Award in 2006. It's an award-winner for good reason. If you are a Benchmade collector, the Rukus platform is a "must-have". Yep, it's that "cool". As great as the Rukus blades are, they come with a couple of significant negatives:
1) The knives are obnoxiously overpriced...and I'm going to go ahead and say it; "Benchmade! What were you thinking when you priced these?" Yes, they are great blades...but $200+? I can't see the justification...though I did go ahead and pay too much to own them.
2) The pocket clip is terrible...on both models. Again, "Benchmade! What were you thinking?" Both knives really must be sheathed and that is exactly how this user will carry them (sans pocket clip).
If you aren't into freakishly large folding knives, go for the 615 and you'll be happy as the proverbial clam. If you think that "bigger is better", you won't go wrong with the 610. If you ignore the price and the lame pocket clip, the Rukus knives are really quite impressive! Oh...one more thing; I think that Benchmade may have mis-classified these knives. After owning them for a while, it seems to me that they belong in the Black class more than the Blue...but that is just one man's opinion...
Benchmade has long provided both customers and associated companies with knife series that are well-made and compelling. Today, we'll be taking a look at one such example; the 13200 Harley Davidson Back Road edition:
BLADE: The 154cm blade features a modified drop point design. There is a mild recurve from the tip to the tang that actually provides added cutting utility. Nicely polished, the steel is stamped with the Harley Davidson shield on the leftt-hand side. The blade is a little on the thin side...so while undeniably beautiful, it isn't really intended for hard use. The knife has customized ambidextrous thumb studs that facilitate quick and easy blade deployment.
HANDLE: The handle material on this highly-stylized knife is a combination of materials; smoothly textured G10 bolsters, Winewood handle scales and a titanium frame. The black G10 contrasts very nicely with the Winewood handle scales. The Harley Davidson logo is carved into the wood, providing a very cool aesthetic. The liners are blackened and feature jimping at near the spine of the blade. The jimping is somewhat recessed and doesn't offer much traction. Not a huge hit...since this knife is more attuned to basic EDC, rather than hard use. The general shape of the handle provides good ergonomics and balance with the blade. Osborne really knows how to design a knife! Also...it gets high marks for the pocket clip. Tip-up designed (thank you Warren!) and finished in a very subtle satin, it works perfectly and doesn't draw a lot of attention. The Backroad features the Axis-lock system...which, as any Benchmade fan knows, works PERFECTLY.
PRIMARY USE: This blade focuses more on cool aesthetics than being tough. Don't misunderstand; the knife is very well made...and really reinforces Benchmade's well-deserved reputation for quality. It works GREAT...for basic EDC tasks...and might even be up to some light-duty tactical...but it is too small and comfortable for much outside of that realm. The knife is very light and makes for a very affable daily companion. Packaging, mail, rope, fabric...all easy work with the Backroad. Heavy duty cutting, chopping, stabbing...forget it. Besides, why ruin something so cool!
SECOND KIND OF COOL: Now we're getting to what the Backroad is really about. In terms of coolness, this knife ROCKS! The Fonz has got nothing on Benchmade's Backroad (if you have to ask, "Who is the Fonz?", you are too young to own a knife this cool). It looks great, feels great, functions perfectly and gets extremely high marks on the collectible scale. From the package that it comes in to it's design, the Backroad is very, very cool.
OVERALL TAKE: The Backroad is one of the more collectible Benchmade models. Warren Osborne's design works perfectly for EDC...and even better as something to enjoy...savor...and put away for a rainy day.