Benchmade 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.
Best Benchmade Knives
Here is a list of what I think are the best Benchmade knives available. You can see that this list is heavily weighted towards the Griptilian series and the 940 Osbornes. That’s because I think they are the best all round EDC knives that Benchmade offers, and they offer these designs in various sizes and finishes, so there is something for everyone. That said, there are a ton of great Benchmade designs out there, and I have reviewed many of them below.
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 560 Freek Review
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 ... continue reading
- Benchmade 530 Review
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 ... continue reading
- Benchmade 15080-2 Crooked River Review
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 ol ... continue reading
- 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. Bu ... continue reading
- Benchmade 300-1 Axis Flipper Review
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, a ... continue reading
- 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 ou ... continue reading
- Benchmade Small Summit Lake Review
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 ... continue reading
- Benchmade 940-1 Review
Last Updated: September 21, 2017 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-t ... continue reading
- Benchmade 485 Valet Review
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 ... continue reading
- Benchmade Volli Review
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 nece ... continue reading
- Benchmade 940 Review
Last Updated: November 20, 2016 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 gre ... continue reading
- Benchmade 275 Adamas Review
Last Updated: February 21, 2017 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 tacti ... continue reading
- 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 ste ... continue reading
- Benchmade Mini Griptilian 556 Review
Last Updated: September 21, 2017 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 co ... continue reading
- Benchmade 890 Torrent Review
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 ... continue reading
- Benchmade Bone Collector Mini Review
I must confess 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. (My family was big ... continue reading
- Benchmade Dejavoo 740 Review
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 piec ... continue reading
- Benchmade 915 Triage Review
UPDATED: 07/01/2016 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 su ... continue reading
- Benchmade 710 Review
Last Updated: December 29, 2016 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 wa ... continue reading
- Benchmade Griptilian 551 Review
Last Updated: 09/24/2016 The Benchmade Griptilian is practically a household name in the knife world. It is one of Benchmade's most popular designs and it appears in countless variations. And for each of these varia ... continue reading
- Benchmade Nimravus 140BK Review
Updated: 11/28/2015 The Benchmade Nimravus is one of Benchmade's original knives that has stood the test of time and remains quite popular today. The knife has come in a variety of steels over the years including ... continue reading
- Benchmade 14210 Heckler and Koch Snody Review
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 compan ... continue reading
- Benchmade 860 Bedlam Review
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 Bench ... continue reading
- Benchmade 741 Onslaught Review
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 fo ... continue reading
- Benchmade 950 Rift Review
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. Des ... continue reading
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.
Griptillian – The Griptillian is many people’s first introduction to a higher end knife. Comes in two sizes the mini griptillian 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 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.