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To be completely honest, my first association with the Infidel is nutnfancy. I recall his video review from years back. He may have replaced it with this one. The Infidel struck me as a cool knife, but a total novelty piece. At the time I watched his videos, buying a $400 automatic out the front pocket knife was exceedingly low on my list of priorities.
But I’ve slowly gotten more into automatic knives. They are a sub-niche of the already niche hobby of knife collecting, but it’s a sub niche I’ve enjoyed exploring. For a layperson like myself, I see them more as a novelty than a daily carry tool, but the novelty has yet to wear thin. After checking out a few Microtech OTFs I’ve decided to venture into the realm of the Infidel, Benchmade’s flagship automatic.
General Dimensions and Blade Details
The Infidel has an overall length of 8.95″, a 3.95″ blade, weighs 5.00 ounces and is made in the USA. This is a big knife. Compared to the Halo VI it isn’t, but compared to everything else in my collection this this an objectively large knife. Benchmade offers a mini version, which may be better for daily carry, if you can carry it. This full size Infidel has a certain heft in the hand, and it stretches out in an instant. Definitely a piece for the professionals or the collectors.
Benchmade does make a Mini Infidel with a blade a little over 3″. I haven’t handled one, but it looks a little more pocketable.
The blade is a spearpoint affair, double edged and hallmarked by a long fuller that descends down the blade, terminating in a shape that resembles either a heart of set of dog testicles. The edge is applied to only the button side of the blade, a chisel edge not unlike an Emerson. Speaking of edges, the have been almost perfectly applied. This was either done by a robot, or some had an exceptionally steady hand at the grinding wheel. The 4 flat grinds are also all beautiful. Totally even and symmetrical. The blade has been well done.
You have a choice or an uncoated blade, or coated in Benchmade’s black BK1 coating as shown here. All things equal I would have preferred an uncoated blade, but I won’t complain about this coated option. It subdues the knife a bit and suggests that the Indifdel is strictly for business. Of course in my case “business” entails opening an especially stubborn bag of Cheetos, rather than assisting an outspoken insurgent shuffle his mortal coil, but as Nutn’ would say “your mileage may vary.” Indeed, Dude. Indeed.
Benchmade offers the Infidel in D2 steel. Back in the day when this knife first came out, D2 would have been a fine choice, but today it’s considered more of a budget steel, and we are even seeing it appear on bargain knives like the Rat 1. Benchmade needs to revisit this and update the blade steel.
My reasoning for this is that D2 has a reputation for being stubborn to sharpen. I believe that reputation is deserved with Benchmade’s heat treat. My 710 is a workhorse, but it’s a bitch to sharpen that recurved D2 blade. On the flip side, D2 has good edge retention and excellent toughness. It can be a real workhorse steel if you know how to keep it sharp, and the story goes that heat treat wizards like Bob Dozier have been able to heat treat D2 in a near mythical fashion that transcends what you get with a Benchmade.
But I’m writing this review at the end of 2019. In a few weeks it will be 2020. The D2 that was a good choice back in the early 2000s when this knife was originally produced, is not such a great choice today. Personally, I’d love to see M390 or an equivalent on this $500 piece. I think the price tag commands that. But even a decent stainless like 154CM or S35VN would be preferred here, although at the price point the consumer likely deserves M390 or CPM-20CV. D2 has the added wrinkle of D2 being “semi-stainles” and prone to patina. That’s another reason why springing for the coated version isn’t a terrible idea.
While the D2 blade can assuredly get the job done, I’m not a big fan of D2 on this uber expensive knife. And we live in a day in age where we don’t need such a compromise steel on a knife like this. Benchmade should at least give us another option.
Handle, Ergonomics, and Pocket Clip
The handle is made mostly of black anodized aluminum. There are a couple visible liners that appear to be stainless steel or titanium. Everything is held together with torx bolts. Handle construction is solid. There are no unintentionally sharp edges, and the parts line up perfectly. The handle has a pleasant heft to it, and the entire package reminds me of a meticulously built tiny hard-anodized aluminum coffin. What’s not to like?
The Infidel feels great in hand. I like how the weight meaningfully shifts as you deploy the blade. The open knife is blade heavy, with the balance point back behind the thumb slide. That may have some significance if you are using the knife in more of a martial arts capacity, as if you hold the knife with your thumb behind the button it gives you a neutral feeling in hand. My plebian tasks for the Infidel don’t really take advantage of that balance. I find myself more forward on the handle, bearing down on a block of cheese, angling under the fold of an envelope, or slicing the top off a plastic bag.
Still, the knife feels good in the hand. There are 2 dramatic finger choils that make natural resting spots for your thumb, or they can be grasped securely in a fist. The anodized aluminum has that light texture that reminds me of a chalkboard. The handle itself is generous and is bound to work well for most people. I give the ergonomics high marks.
You know you have acquired a serious piece of hardware when your folding knife comes with it’s own MOLLE equipped pouch. I enjoyed that with the old Benchmade Adamas and I am enjoying it here with the Infidel. There is something satisfying in a “who let the dogs out?” kind of way when you pop open the pouch with your thumb and pluck out the Infidel. Of course a pouch like this could be practical for law enforcement, military, or some other use case where it’s appropriate to wear MOLLE gear. Sadly, I find those occasions are few and far between for me.
Thankfully, Benchmade also equipped the Infidel with a deep carry pocket clip. This is much more practical for a civilian like me. The pocket clip is large, black chrome, and has “THE INFIDEL” emblazoned on it in distressed lettering. Oy vey. It looks cool in the way a Ford Raptor looks cool, gauche and unnecessary. Again, not appropriate for every occasion, but when you can pull off a piece like this it fits the bill.
And the pocket clip itself works great. It’s large, offers excellent spring retention, and buries your pocket knife deeply and securely in the pocket. And I want a secure clip for my $500 pocket knife. The last thing I’d want to do is lose it, or have it clatter out onto the floor when I sit down.
Here is your overexposed pocket clip shot:
That shiny clip is tough to photograph.
Deployment and Lockup
The Infidel is a dual action out the front automatic, meaning you can both open and close the blade with the pull of a button. The button on this knife is a large stepped block of raw aluminum. It stands out from the handle, a stark point of contrast on my otherwise black knife. That’s fine as it is a very functional button. You press forward on it with your thumb to get the knife open. A good amount of travel and force is required, but when you push back hard enough the blade springs forth with a substantial clack.
I think the amount of force and travel required is just right. You don’t want this knife accidentally opening, and the long throw switch makes this a purposeful knife to use. But isn’t so bad that it tears up the pad of your thumb. I can absentmindedly flick this blade open and closed all day, much to the chagrin of my girlfriend or anyone else within earshot.
Lockup is pretty darn tight. There is a little wiggle in each direction, but not much. There will almost always be that compromise in an out the front auto, unless you are willing to spring for something like the Deadlock. But those start at $1,000, assuming you can get your hands on one. I’ll review one eventually. But this is about the Infidel, and I’d say the lockup on the Infidel is pretty good for what it is.
Benchmade Infidel Review – Final Thoughts
The Infidel is beautifully made and over the top. While there are practical uses for a knife like this, “normal” knife users like me will mostly enjoy the Infidel for its novelty. I’ve enjoyed putting this knife through its paces around the house, but that’s about all I can do with it. That says more about me than the Infidel, but suspect that my use case represents a lot of the people that buy this knife. And that’s totally OK. I think the Infidel is a satisfying collectible, and it’s resting comfortably next to my Combat Troodon and Halo VI.
If I were to update the piece I’d select some different blade steel. D2 has almost always been considered a compromise steel. That’s inappropriate on a knife that has such an uncompromising price point.
I think there are some compelling use cases for a dual action out the front auto. It’s hard to beat the convenience of a knife like this. It’s true one hand use, and 4″ of blade appears at the touch of a button. It’s practical in that regard. And for some professionals, this is a legitimate tool. It’s not a toy and it’s not a novelty. I’ve enjoyed the Infidel and respect it for what it is.
Again, I’d draw an analogy between the Benchmade Infidel and Ford Raptor. There is a serious “want vs. need” conflict within this knife. Few people that buy the Ford Raptor actually will bomb it down the sand dunes of Baja California. Most will drive it to work, and maybe tow a boat or trailer with it on the weekends. Who knows, they may even play in the mud with it on occasion.
The Infidel offers a similar proposition. Totally cool, capably built, and entirely impractical for most people most of the time. But that’s OK. If you have the means and the interest, the Infidel is well done and worth checking out. And if you are looking to scratch this kind of itch, it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than a Raptor.
Benchmade Infidel – From $437.00
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