As much as I enjoy picking up the latest “gee whiz” must have knife of the moment, I get the most satisfaction in sharing a great knife that may have flown under the radar. This particular knife has flown so far under the radar, I would not have even heard about it if reader Darren hadn’t gone out of his way to send me a couple emails about the knife and how much he enjoyed it. Thank you, Darren.
Enter the Benchmade 560 Freek. Like our friend the Bruised Forehead, the Freek didn’t win the knife name lottery. It also doesn’t benefit from being designed by a high profile knifemaker. And I don’t recall much in the way of fanfare from Benchmade or the knife collector community when the Freek arrived on the scene. It was quietly released. Rather than being a subject of media attention, the Freek has slowly earned a reputation for being a practical tool from those who have given this unassuming knife a chance.
I liken the Freek to the Benchmade Volli, another no-frills knife that didn’t get much attention, but may be be one of the best all-round EDC knives that Benchmade has released in the past 5 years. The Freek is cut from the same cloth. It’s another function over form design that is worth consideration if you are in the marketing for a largish EDC knife.
General Dimensions and Blade Details
The Freek has an overall length of 8.46″, a 3.6″ blade, and it weighs 3.72 ounces. This knife is made in America. As I mentioned earlier, I’d classify the 560 Freek as a large EDC knife. It could possibly be used as a hunting knife, as it has a good belly and shares the blade profile of their Saddle Mountain Skinner. Of course a knife of this size could also be used as a duty knife for a police officer, or perhaps pressed in to other self defense type applications. This is a versatile knife.
The drop point blade is distinguished by a curving thumb ramp and high flat grind. The blade is 2.9mm thick, and gets thin behind the edge thanks in part to that high flat grind. The edge has been neatly applied, and like on pretty much all the Benchmades I’ve owned over the years there, is a sharpening choil allowing you to sharpen the edge all the way down to the heel. The tip is fine, but the the deep belly keeps it out of the way. Again, this lends me to believe this could be a decent hunting knife, although frankly I’ve never been on a hunt in my life.
Benchmade has gone with tried and true S30V steel for the Freek. Although S30V has fallen slightly out of favor thanks to the widespread adoption of it’s more exotic cousin S35VN, I find that Benchmade does a particularly good job with their S30V. Case in point my Volli with its 2.5mm thick blade cuts like almost nothing else I own. That thing is a laser. The Freek is right up there. This knife is a phenomenal slicer, the S30V blade holds an excellent edge, and I found it to be an easy edge to maintain with strops and the ceramic rods from my Spyderco Sharpmaker.
This knife makes quick work of cardboard, laughs in the face of of your lunchtime apple, and will capably assist you with all those odd cutting tasks that crop up in our daily lives. Much like the Volli, the Freek is a knife that I looked forward to busting out when it came time to break down a box or open a package. It’s a performer and the S30V blade steel punches above its weight thanks to the heat treat and grind.
Handle, Ergonomics, and Pocket Clip
The handle is where things get interesting, and also where the knife is bound to alienate a significant section of the audience. Like the Griptilian, this is a plastic handled knife with partial stainless steel liners. Unlike the Griptilian, the Freek has a unique high density rubber (“Versaflex”) overmold that is bonded to the plastic. The end result is a lightweight grippy design that is unlike anything else in my collection.
Some will love the lightweight nature of the design and the non-slip feel to the handle. Others will dismiss it as being cheap and plasticy. If you couldn’t stand the feel of the handles of the original Griptilian, then my guess is you will want to skip the Freek. But if you don’t mind trading G10 for a large ultra light knife, then the Freek could be a winner for you.
The ergonomics of the Freek benefit from a streamlined handle design. There are few curves, and little reliance on jimping except for the thumb ramp. Although the handle is textured, it’s not an abrasive knife in the hand. The end result is a no-frills handle that is comfortable and secure in all kinds of conditions. The Freek easily accommodates my larger hand, and the handle is well suited for extended use and hard tasks.
This knife comes from the factory with Benchmade’s split arrow clip. I’ve long been a fan of this clip, and here it is situated for ambidextrous tip-up only carry. This is a discrete knife that and buries deeply in the pocket. Benchmade left part of the FRN endoskeleton exposed where the pocket clip meets the handle, and that makes for easy insertion and extraction of the knife from your pocket.
At well under 4 ounces I found the Freek to be an easy knife to tote around. It’s about as thick as the Griptilian and carries comparably. On that note, it’s worth stating that the Freek is actually almost half an inch longer than the Griptilian but weighs .16 ounces less.
Deployment and Lockup
There isn’t a whole heck of a lot new here to say in this section. This is a thumb stud axis lock knife. A tried and true design. Here the thumb studs and phosphor bronze washers work just as great as they did on my original Griptilian. While bearings are all the rage, I think something needs to be said for bronze washers. Especially for a thumb stud equipped user knife like the Freek. Bronze washers are still exceptionally smooth and are ideal for working knives like this.
I continue to appreciate the axis lock for it’s simple and intuitive design. Plus I always appreciate that this is a fully ambidextrous knife. Lockup is secure, but as you would expect from a plastic handled partial liner axis lock knife, there is a little side to side blade play. Nothing to get upset about, just a trade off in the design. Personally, I’m happy to exchange a modicum of side to side blade play for all the practicality and utility that this design offers. Your mileage may vary.
Blade centering is pretty good. It slightly favors the pocket clip side of my knife, and is far from rubbing.
Benchmade 560 Freek Review – Final Thoughts
For those wanting a premium lightweight work knife with an over 3.5″ blade, I think the Freek is a no-brainer. Benchmade has been refining this type of knife for years. It’s like a Griptilian but it is leaner and meaner, yet also slightly larger. Perhaps it’s oriented slightly more towards the lightweight camping and hunting ground. Benchmade doesn’t offer much insight in their product descriptions, but for some reason I keep going back to hunting when I consider the Freek.
Those that can’t stand the plastic scales on the original Griptilian would be well served to steer clear of the Freek. Instead check out the Volli or the G-10 Griptilian. Those models will also provide you with great cutting performance and ergonomics, but will also be a little stouter than the Freek.
I am glad Darren called this model to my attention. I hope in writing this review I have turned at least a couple people on to an excellent “sleeper” knife from Benchmade.
I recommend purchasing the Benchmade 560 Freek at Amazon or BladeHQ. Please consider that purchasing anything through any of the links on this website helps support BladeReviews.com, and keeps the site going. As always, any and all support is greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.