Benchmade Knives is a cutlery company based out of Oregon City, Oregon specializing in high grade production knives. Benchmade is one of the most widely recognized knife manufactures and is known for making high quality knives and tools proudly made in the USA.
Benchmade breaks their knives up into 3 general classes: Gold, Blue, and Black. All 3 of these classes are made in America. For a while Benchmade also offered a “Red Class” of knife that was made overseas however Benchmade discontinued these knives in 2010. The Gold class of course refers to their highest quality knives. These blades use exotic materials and super expensive steels. The Blue Class is their more standard class. This is where you will find their standard high quality knives. The Black Class is reserved for their extreme duty knives designed mainly for law enforcement, military and public safety groups although some models are available to civilians.
I recommend purchasing Benchmade Knives at Amazon and BladeHQ. They both have an excellent selection, very competitive prices, free shipping, and great customer service.
Benchmade Knife Reviews:
What follows are all my reviews of Benchmade knives. This includes reviews ofsome of the best Benchmade knives on the market. Enjoy!
Benchmade Mini Bugout Review
Last Updated: July 17, 2021 If you have handled the original Benchmade Bugout, then it won’t take any explaining to understand why the Mini Bugout is such a big deal. The original Bugout was a home run for Benchmade. Slim, lightweight, capable, and attractive with its classic drop point hunter lines and vibrant blue handle. Buy ...
Benchmade Infidel Review
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 ...
Benchmade Bailout Review
There has been something interesting going on at Benchmade Knife Co. I’ve said it a few times in recent reviews, but it’s worth highlighting here. They used to be the dusty old gun-shop knife brand. That’s not to say the old mini Griptillians were terrible, but just that I don’t think many people would have ...
Benchmade 535 Bugout Review
The Benchmade Bugout is a knife I was interested in reviewing when it first came out. But my original role as the sole author of this website has transitioned to more of a “contributing author and editor” role, and the Bugout was on someone else’s list to review. These days I need to work with ...
Benchmade Anthem 781 Review
Last Updated: July 18, 2019 There was a time when Benchmade was kinda the sleepy “Gunshop Knife Brand.” There would always be a few dusty Griptillians sitting in the case next to the preowned Glocks, and while the Grips might be fantastic value-props, they a bit vanilla-icecream-y if you get my meaning. Buy the Benchmade Anthem ...
Benchmade Proxy Review
Last Updated: September 7, 2019 Warren Osborne is one of the most recognized names in knife making. While he was an extremely talented custom maker, a large part of his renown is due to a series of high profile collaborations with Benchmade. The 940 is one of the most notable collabs, but Warren Osborne is also ...
Benchmade Mini Boost Review
As a rule of thumb, most knife nerds steer clear of blades with assisted openers. They’re regarded as obnoxious, tough to maintain, and not as prestigious as something with a truly dialed in detent. But can you guess which type of folks tend to prefer assisted openers? In my experience, the answer is simple – ...
Benchmade Proper 319 Review
Two or three years ago if you told me that Benchmade was your favorite knife company I’d roll my eyes and mutter something like, “Okay Griptillian dude…” now, that’s no disrespect to the Grip, those are great knives at a great price point, but they’re kinda vanilla for my tastes. That was Benchmade a few ...
Benchmade 560 Freek Review
Last Updated: July 15, 2019 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 ...
Benchmade 530 / 531 Review
Last Updated: July 28, 2019 Shopping on Amazon for knives is a dangerous endeavor. Not only can you find a nearly endless variety of blades, but your account also has a nasty habit of learning your interests. You might not notice it at first. A simple suggestion, “I noticed you like Spyderco. Have you heard of ...
Benchmade 15080-2 Crooked River Review
Last Updated: July 19, 2019 It’s no secret that I think the creative team at Benchmade has been adrift for the past few years. This is perhaps best evidenced by the fact that the company’s most exciting new offerings are actually re-issues of old models: the 940-1 and 551-1. These rockstar designs are interspersed among more ...
Benchmade G10 Griptilian 551-1 Review
I wasn’t one of those guys that had a big issue with the plastic handles on the original Griptilian. I always thought they were light and durable. Maybe not the sexiest choice of materials, but certainly practical. But for many the plastic handles of the Griptilian were a source of contention at best. At worst ...
Benchmade 300-1 Axis Flipper Review
Last Updated: August 2, 2019 The Benchmade 300 is a knife that I originally passed on reviewing. This wasn’t an easy decision. As Benchmade’s first flipper, this is an important knife. But initial reports said that the flipping action was weak, and the knife seemed chunky. I was turned off for those reasons. Rather than going ...
Spyderco Paramilitary 2 vs. Benchmade Griptilian – Knife Showdown
2 Blades enter, 1 Blade leaves. That’s the premise behind a series of posts I’ve had sloshing around in my head for years now. A series of “vs” posts where I pit 2 knives against each other to see which blade comes out alive. Buy the Griptilian or Para 2 at Amazon Buy the Griptilian or ...
Benchmade Small Summit Lake Review
Last Updated: August 14, 2019 Benchmade’s Hunt series (or “Munt”, depending on how you interpret their packaging), is a series of outdoor inspired hunter focused knives. I have never been a hunter, so my first impulse was to ignore the Hunt series. But a deeper dive into the line left me curious about a couple of ...
Benchmade 940-1 Review
Last Updated: July 13, 2019 Benchmade is a company that prefers iteration over innovation. Most of the new knives fall comfortably, and somewhat uninspiringly, within the boundaries of its recognizable, slow-to-change design language. Even really good new Benchmade knives, like the Valet, aren’t that differently from the Benchmades of five, even ten years ago. Buy the Benchmade ...
Benchmade 485 Valet Review
Last Updated: February 2, 2019 2013 and 2014 marked pretty quiet years for Benchmade. Not a whole lot of interesting stuff rolled off their shelves. The Volli was my favorite and has proven itself to be an excellent knife. Beyond that there wasn’t a whole lot to report. Buy the Benchmade Valet at BladeHQ Benchmade’s 2015 SHOT Show ...
Benchmade Volli Review
Last Updated: July 27, 2019 I’m not sure how to put this delicately, so I’ll just come out and say it: Benchmade hasn’t done a whole lot of exciting stuff in 2013, and it has resulted in a lack of reviews on new Benchmade knives. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the lack of cool ...
Benchmade 940 Review
Last Updated: September 4, 2019 If you are as obsessed with knives as I am, you may be on the hunt for “the perfect EDC knife.” You know, the one blade that has it all. Naturally, it is the perfect size, features great materials, is beautifully designed, and carries like a dream. But in my mind ...
Benchmade 275 Adamas Review
Last Updated: February 21, 2019 Designed as a tool for law enforcement and military personnel, the 275 Adamas could be the epitome of a hard use folder. The 275 shares the classic lines of many “normal” folding tactical knives, but is massively overbuilt in every direction. Designed by custom maker Shane Sibert, a man who strives ...
Benchmade 581 Barrage Review
Benchmade has always struck me as a company that both innovates and inspires. They can take a functional object, refine it’s performance, and give it a slight twist to elevate a knife something beyond mere G10 and steel. That is a rare accomplishment in the world of production knives, and this handsome 581 Barrage a ...
Benchmade Mini Griptilian 556 Review
Last Updated: November 30, 2019 As much as I enjoy discussing the latest and greatest knives, sometimes we need to stop and appreciate the modern classics. As someone who tries to stay on top of all the new stuff coming out, I can tell you that the knife world moves at a breakneck pace. Companies are ...
Benchmade 890 Torrent Review
Last Updated: August 7, 2019 It has been decided – I am a total sucker for a cool “gentleman’s tactical folder.” I remember first drooling over the 890 Torrent when it came out in 2009. Flash forward a couple years, and today I am the proud owner of my very own Torrent, a sleek Steigerwalt design ...
Benchmade Bone Collector Mini Review
Last Updated: May 22, 2019 I never grew up hunting. It was something my family never got into, and so I was deprived of that early introduction to the classic hunting knives that so many Americans get to enjoy. However, my family was big into fishing, so I’ve got some pretty mean filet knives – small ...
Benchmade Dejavoo 740 Review
Last Updated: August 12, 2019 Today I am taking a look at the ultra classy Benchmade Dejavoo. Designed by the late Bob Lum, known for his simple and elegant designs and the Dejavoo is no exception. Now that he is no longer with us, his custom pieces are becoming incredibly difficult to find so for many ...
Benchmade 915 Triage Review
Last Updated: July 28, 2019 Rescue knives often go unnoticed in the knife community. There are large groups of enthusiasts gathered around tactical, survival, and EDC knives, but I have yet to see the rescue knife develop such a loyal following. One could argue that the average person doesn’t “need” a rescue knife, but do we ...
Benchmade 710 Review
Last Updated: December 29, 2018 I recently reviewed the Benchmade Griptilian, a model I consider to be a classic Benchmade knife. The Benchmade 710 is another one of those classic Benchmade knives. The 710 was designed by knife makers Bill McHenry and Jason Williams. This is a father and stepson team that invented the Axis lock. ...
Benchmade Griptilian 551 Review
Last Updated: November 30, 2019 The Benchmade Griptilian is a household name in the knife world. It is one of Benchmade’s most popular designs and it appears in countless variations. Buy the Benchmade Griptilian at BladeHQ For many, this will be their first “real knife”. A gateway blade into the world of high end pocket knives. ...
Benchmade Nimravus 140BK Review
Last Updated: July 26, 2019 The Benchmade Nimravus is one of Benchmade’s original fixed blade designs. It has stood the test of time and remains popular to this day. A “Nimravus” is an ancient cat with large teeth. I’d say that’s fitting when you consider this blade’s profile. Buy the Benchmade Nimravus at BladeHQ Benchmade has ...
Benchmade 14210 Heckler and Koch Snody Review
Last Updated: November 29, 2019 For those looking for a rock solid edc knife with a sub 3″ blade, the Benchmade 14210 may be just the ticket. This knife is part of Benchmade’s Heckler and Koch (HK) line, which is a partnership between the two companies where the knives are made by Benchmade and branded with ...
Benchmade 860 Bedlam Review
Last Updated: August 3, 2019 The original Benchmade Bedlam 8600 is an automatic knife released in early 2010. The knife received rave reviews across the community and this large, middle eastern inspired knife was quickly deemed to be a new Benchmade classic. However, the knife was only available as an automatic, which is totally sweet, ...
Benchmade 741 Onslaught Review
Last Updated: August 21, 2019 Once in a while you run into a knife that really blows you away. The Benchmade 741 Onslaught is certainly one of those breathtaking knives for me. Designed by the late Bob Lum, the Onslaught is a large and elegant folding tactical knife that speaks to me on a lot ...
Benchmade 950 Rift Review
Last Updated: July 28, 2019 Ah, the Benchmade 950 Rift. What a sweet piece of steel. The Rift originally came out in 2008 as part of Benchmade’s “black class” which are designed to be military and police grade blades built for extreme duty. Designed by famed knifemaker Warren Osborne, the 950 Rift certainly is extreme ...
Have you ever walked into a gun shop and noticed a small metal and glass case of knives somewhere in the corner? If so, you will likely be familiar with the Benchmade Knife Company. They have become a standard fixture in places like sporting good stores, hardware stores, and local gun shops.
The company that became Benchmade was founded in California in the late 70’s by Les De Asis. When founded, the company was called “Balisong.” This was largely due to founder Les’ desire to create higher quality Bali-Song knives that he had owned and used in his youth. His aim was to use modern materials and manufacturing methods to improve upon the historical design.
After it’s inception, Bali-Song was manufacturing handmade knives out of a small shop in California. Les utilized basic techniques and technologies to manufacture custom knives side by side with associate Jody Sampson who ground the blades. It was largely due to the success of these custom knives that led to the creation of the Model 68.
Over the next several years Bali-Song diversified their offerings into other folding knives and fixed blades and ultimately changed their name to Pacific Cutlery Corp. Unfortunately, for Les and his partners they were unable to control quality and ultimately Pacific Cutlery went under. In 1988 the company was reincorporated as Benchmade Knife Company, and Les brought it to market with a new version of the Model 68.
In 1990 Les relocated his newly re-structured company to Clackamas, Oregon. It was here, among many other production knife companies that they were able to take advantage of all that modern technology had to offer. Benchmade was the first production knife company to employ laser cutters. This allowed them to work with harder and more durable steels, something that would be essential to their success.
As Benchmade grew, they were able to begin producing knives to fulfill government contracts. They moved their facility to Oregon City to accommodate their growing production needs. Benchmade is, to this day, one of the most recognizable companies whose name is synonymous with American-Made quality.
Best Benchmade Knives and Popular Models:
Griptillian – The Griptillian is many people’s first introduction to a higher end knife. Comes in two sizes the Mini Griptilian at 2.91 blade, and the large at 3.45”. They come in variety of steels, most notably 154CM and S30V with some special editions having M4, M390, and a variety of other steels.
Barrage – The Barrage is one of Benchmade’s AXIS Assist knives. While not technically an automatic these are assisted opening knives. These also come in full size with a 3.6” blade, and a mini that rings in at the same size as a mini Griptillian (2.91”). These are also offered in an array of steels, the base models are S30V.
Pardue 530/531 – Mel Pardue designed a lot of notable knives from Benchmade, but one bears some special consideration. The 530/531 is a slim profiled folding knife with either FRN or G10 handles and nested partial liners.
Monolock – In my opinion, the Monolock is Benchmade’s answer to the Sebenza. Although some may say they modernized the design. The monolock incorporates bearing pivots and milled Ti pocket clips as the most noticeable improvements.They come in two sizes, which seems to be a trend with Benchmade, large with a 3.73” M390 blade, and small clocks in at 3.24”
Valet – The Valet is one of the author’s personal favorites in the Benchmade lineup. Small, thin, with a deep carry clip, and beautiful grey G10 handles. The Valet is a classy folding knife suitable for an office environment or a dress occasional without sacrificing capability or strength. The blade measure in at 2.96” of M390 steel.
Osbourne 940/941 – The Osbourne 940 is likely one of the best received knives that Benchmade has ever put out. Then they REALLY knocked out out of the part when they released the 941 with linerless carbon fiber handles and an S90V blade. The 940/1 has a 3.4” blade, and are available with anodized aluminum handles, or as I mentioned before, linerless carbon fiber.
Model 62/63/67 – The Modern Benchmade Balisong, and the grandchildren to the historical model 68. It comes with a 4.25” blade and stainless steel handles. Typically featuring D2 tool steel for the blade, and is available in three different blade styles. The WeeHawk, Bowie, or Tanto.
Axis Lock – Bill McHenry and Jason Williams are the responsible parties for bringing the Axis lock technology to Benchmade Knives. They are also the designers behind the Infidel OTF family, and the 710 Series. Doug Ritter explains the axis lock’s function like this, “Boiled down to its basics, the lock is comprised of a spring-loaded bar which rides in a fore and aft slot cut out of both liners/side plates, traversing completely across the slot the blade folds in to and out of. It engages a ramped notch cut into the tang portion of the knife blade when it is opened. The knife tang is thus wedged solidly between a stop bar and this AXIS Lock bar.” It is ambidextrous, strong, and simple to operate. It is also a locking mechanism that is exclusive to Benchmade.
Collaborations – Benchmade has worked with many notable knife designers to create models in their lineup. Some of my favorites are the Shane Sibert designed 755 Mini Pocket Rocket, and Adamas, or the Butch Ball flipper. These partnerships have done a lot for Benchmade in terms of diversifying their offerings and also helped the knife makers by popularizing their names.
Steel Use – Another important thing that Benchmade has done since it’s inception was use a diverse array of steels in their work. During a season when other companies were using Chinese steels in their knives, or when every high end knife only had S30V in it Benchmade was pumping out knives with CPM154, S30V, M390, and many other steels. To this day their flagship knife model the Griptillian is offered in several standard super steels.
Benchmade Knives – Final Thoughts
Sometimes thought of as “the gunshop brand,” Benchmade Knives has made a name for themselves through military contracts and a consistent drive to make better knives out of better materials. They are often someone’s first “nice knife,” and really, there couldn’t be a better company to fill that need.
Rick Roth says
Is it true that Benchmade uses different types of steel in the same knives,depending on who you buy it from? Meaning better quality or lesser quality,i see different steel quality names but don’t know if companies use different names for the same steel.
To answer your question – no, not really. It’s true that in some case Benchmade does make some of their knives in different steels (some are special editions, some are special ordered off the Benchmade website) but they clearly label what the steel is. They aren’t passing off some inferior steel onto one retailer and saving the “good stuff” for another, or anything like that. If you have any questions about a particular steel I suggest checking out my page on knife steel (and feel free to follow up with a comment or email if you have any other questions).
And as far as high end steel goes, something like S30V will always be S30V, because it’s made by a single company (Crucible). When it comes to Benchmade knives, If it’s labeled as a certain kind of steel, you can be sure it’s that steel. Thanks for the question Rick, I hope this helps.
Ah, but there’s “S30V” and there’s “CPM S30V”. Both are made by Crucible and both contain the same elements in the same ratios but only one is a powder steel. It’s something you might want to be more specific about as it relates to both cost and carbide size.
Great point Lew! I am totally familiar with the powdered and non-powdered versions. So to clarify, regardless of whether you are talking about S30V, or it’s powdered version, CPM S30V, both are made by Crucibile. So CPM S30V will always be CPM S30V, and S30V will always be S30V – regardless of who makes the knife the steel is proprietary to Crucible. Hope that makes sense!
I will say that the heat treat does make a big difference that would result in differences between one manufacturer and another (assuming they are both using S30V). In my experience, Benchmade has always done a great job so there is nothing to worry about in that department.
Andrew R says
False. S30V and CPM-S30V are both made using Crucible Particle Metallurgy. They are the same thing.
After near 5 years of running this site I still regularly learn new things. I didn’t realize S30V and CPM-S30V were the same thing (I always thought it was like CPM-154 and 154CM). Mind=blown.
After reading (and watching) a number of the reviews here, which I think are great, I find myself wishing you had a review on the Benchmade 3150 Impel. I am a huge fan of Benchmade and very happy to see such good (in every way) reviews about the company and the knives that they produce. It would be great to see the Impel added to your line-up of Benchmade reviews as the first Auto, first “Gentleman’s knife” and first sub 2 inch bladed Benchmade on the site.
Aaron, Thanks so much for the feedback! I’d be more than happy to review the 3150 Impel, that is an excellent little knife that is certainly on my radar. It might take me some time to get to the review (I have a huge backlog of knives to review), but I’ll add the 3150 to the queue and see if I can acquire one. Thanks for the great suggestion and kind words. I really do appreciate it.
Love your unbiased reviews!, I wonder if you’ve thought about Benchmades HK 14715, I bought two and have mixed results in terms of blade sharpness and deployment.
Thank you, Darren. I have not had a chance to handle the HK 14715, but it looks like a solid little folder, and it appears to be made in the USA which is nice (I know some of their HK line is made overseas).
I didn’t see a review on the BM 530 or 531. I’ve handled the 530 several times and was not impressed. Cheap feeling BM plastic handle and impractical dagger shaped blade. The 531 fixes that. G10 handle and a better utilitarian blade. It also has larger axis lock tabs making it easier to use. Both knives use 154 CM steel. I liked the 531 but not enough to spend $130ish. Too many other options. However, REI has an exclusive 531. It has a forest green G10 handle and upgraded S30V steel. I believe it only weighs 2.1 ounces. It was $20 to $25 ($155) more then regular 531 and well worth it IMO. I bought one and love it. Great light to medium duty EDC. So far, I like it better then my Spyderco Manix 2 LWs..
I actually had a guest author submit a review of the 530. I haven’t had a chance to edit it yet. I agree that the 531 is much more appealing to me personally for many of the reasons you describe. I’d like to get my hands on one at some point.
David Muck says
I bought a Benchmade 940 Osborne about one month ago. It has the green anodized aluminum handle. Carrying in my pocket for about one month the color has flaked off and scratched. I called customer service with no reply. I went to the factory store and was told sorry that is the way it is. I paid close to 200.00 for the knife and would think it should be better then that. Like the knife but the handle sucks. Very poor customer service. Looking for a replacement knife.
Just received my Infidel mini from a distributor Blade HQ. When I took it out of the package I noticed it was scuffed up and the logo on the belt clip was slightly worn. I talked to someone at Blade HQ and they told me that’s the way they come new. Seems when you pay that much for a knife it wouldn’t look worn brand new.
I think Benchmade has sold out. A lot of little signs highlighting the degradation of the brand. Gonna look for someone else to get my folders from.