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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.
And when it comes to a knife showdown, I can think of no lower hanging fruit to start with than the Benchmade Griptilian and the Spyderco Paramilitary 2. Given that today is Superbowl Sunday, think of this as the “Knife Superbowl”.
These are 2 modern classics. 2 benchmark larger EDC blades with loyal followings from top shelf manufacturers. Both easily made their way to my best EDC knife page, and both are responsible for launching the knife addictions of thousands of people. So which knife wins in a head to head battle? There is only one way to find out.
The specs of the Para 2 and Griptilian are as follows:
|Weight:||3.82 oz||3.75 oz|
|Country of Origin:||USA||USA|
Both are larger EDC knives. I suppose they could both be pressed into that nebulous “tactical” category as well.
In my mind, the biggest difference between the two is the thickness of the handle. The Griptilian’s handle is almost a quarter inch thicker.
Blade Geometry and Cutting Performance
The Para 2 comes with a fully flat ground leaf-shaped blade. No recurve, no serrations, no swedge. Just pure satin finished (or DLC coated) steel. The blade is ground reasonably thin, and offers a good balance of slicing performance and durability.
The Griptilian comes with a high flat ground drop point blade. There is a swedge that creates a fine tip, and the knife comes with or without serrations. Once again the blade is ground reasonably thin, and provides a balance of good slicing performance and durability. Benchmade also offers the Ritter Griptilian, which is a wider blade. It has more of a belly and is ground slightly thinner. I have one and think it’s a little better than the standard Griptilian blade.
Both the Paramilitary 2 and Griptilian have simple functional blades that cut well yet offer the end user decent toughness for harder use applications.
Personally I think it’s a toss up between the two, and it will boil down to your personal preference more than any competitive advantage.
The standard Para 2 comes with a S30V blade. The standard Griptilian comes with a 154CM blade. Both knives are offered in other steels. The Para 2 has been released in a myriad of sprint runs, with every type of exotic steel imaginable. The Griptilian has had some limited releases over the years, but is commonly offered in S30V.
S30V holds an edge slightly better than 154CM, while 154CM is slightly easier to sharpen than S30V. Both 154CM and S30V are fine working steels in my book, so I would not favor either knife simply for the blade steel chosen, although it would be fair to argue S30V is the superior steel.
Winner: Paramilitary 2, although it’s damn close in my book.
The Paramilitary 2 features a G10 handle with nested steel liners. The Griptilian features a FRN (plastic) handle with nested steel liners. In late 2015 Benchmade finally announced that they are issuing the Griptilian in G10. These G10 handled Griptilians are apparently going to retail for a little under $200, which is quite steep. I haven’t acquired a G10 Griptilian yet, so for now I am going to limit my discussion to the FRN version.
If you read or watch nearly any Griptilian review, at some point the reviewer will gripe about the FRN handles. They are lightweight, and “plastic-y” feeling. It has never really bothered me, but I realize that people prefer G10 over standard plastic and it’s considered a more premium material. The Griptilian handles are also somewhat bulky, and it creates for a thicker knife. This feels better in hand, but it takes up more space in the pocket.
Fit and finish of the handles are basically on par. Both knives are made in the USA. I think the finish work is slightly better on the Griptilian, but both are screw together designs with partial stainless steel liners. The Para 2 has an open back / pillar construction design, while the Griptilian has a closed back design. Most people find open back designs to be preferable, as they are easier to clean.
Personally, I prefer a thinner handle, I prefer G10, and I prefer an open back design, so I will give the handle construction to the Paramilitary 2 over the standard FRN Griptilian.
Winner: Para 2.
Both the Griptilian and Paramilitary 2 have reputations for being comfortable working knives. Both feature spacious handles that allow for a full grip for normal people. Both knives feature textured handles with thumb ramps and jimping on the spine, providing plenty of traction to the end user.
There are some differences between the two knives in hand. The Griptilian features a fat handle and is supremely comfortable. The Para 2’s handle is thinner and boxier. It’s still comfortable but I think it is less comfortable than the Griptilian.
However, the Paramilitary 2 features a forward finger choil (or “50/50” choil). I really like forward finger choils as it gives the end user more options in using the knife. You can choke up for detail oriented tasks, and choke back for cuts that need more leverage. The Griptilian does not have a 50/50 choil and can basically only be used one way.
For extended cutting tasks I would pick the Griptilian, however, the Paramilitary 2 is more versatile. That said, I have carried and used both knives for years and think this is largely a toss up that will come down to personal preference. Both are capable of getting work done.
Winner: Para 2, but again, damn close.
Pocket Clips and Carry
Both the Paramilitary 2 and Griptilian feature large “spoon style” pocket clips. Neither have ultra deep carry clips. Both clips are stainless steel. The standard Para 2 comes with a satin finished clip and the standard Griptilian comes with a black coated clip. Both clips are strong. Both knives bury decently low in the pocket. The Para 2’s handle is drilled and tapped for 4 way ambidextrous carry. The Griptilian’s handle is designed for ambidextrous tip up carry (2 way carry).
Both knives are lightweight for their size and are easy to EDC for their size. There are certainly smaller more EDC friendly options out there, but if you are looking for a knife with a ~3.5″ blade, there are few options I can think of that carry better than a Para 2 or Griptilian.
However, I think the Para 2 carries slightly better thanks to its flatter handle. The Griptilian is a lightweight knife, but it’s thick and you will notice it more in the pocket. Because the Para 2 is materially thicker and offers 4 way carry, I am giving this round to the Para 2.
Winner: Para 2.
Both knives are manual action (non spring assisted) folders. The Griptilian comes with thumb studs (shown) or a thumb hole. The Para 2 of course comes with a thumb hole. Both knives are easy to open and are equipped with phosphor bronze washers. Both knives can also be opened with gravity by manipulating their locks.
You can argue that a thumb hole is superior to thumb studs (and from a purely practical point of view, I would agree with that), but since Benchmade offers the Griptilian in both configurations I don’t see either knife being a clear winner.
The Paramilitary 2 features a compression lock, and the Griptilian features the axis lock. Both locks are similar in that they are located near the back of the handle, can be manipulated with one hand, and it’s possible to close the blade without getting your fingers in the way.
I think both locks are equally strong, although my guess is based upon their respective builds the Para 2 is a little stronger with its near full stainless steel liners and G10 handle scales. Personally, I prefer the axis lock as I think it is slightly less fiddly to use than the compression lock (especially as a lefty), but that is my personal bias creeping in. For all intents and purposes I’d say this category is basically a draw.
Winner: Draw – although I prefer the axis lock personally.
Money is the great equalizer – or so they say. I know that Tony has equalized for price on his knife shootouts, and I think it’s important to do.
The Para 2 is considerably more expensive than the Griptilian. At the time of writing this article the Griptilian retails for around $90, while the Para 2 comes in around $125. So the Para 2 is about 35% more expensive than the Griptilian. Is the Para 2 35% better than the Griptilian? That’s a tough question to answer and I’ll try to consider it in my final thoughts.
Paramilitary 2 vs. Benchmade Griptilian – Final Thoughts
I would say that the race between the Griptilian and Paramilitary 2 is a close one. Where the Para 2 distances itself from the Griptilian is in the handle. It’s thinner, and is made of G10 vs. plastic. This results in a knife that is easier to carry, and is generally considered to be of higher quality. Other factors in favor of the Para 2’s is the use of S30V steel (widely regarded as superior to 154CM, although practically speaking I don’t think you will notice a huge difference) and the fact that the clip is a “4 corners” clip (vs. Benchmade’s clip only having 2 positions).
So I think you can objectively argue that the Paramilitary 2 is the better knife here. That said, the Para 2 is also 35% more expensive, so you have to determine whether the thinner handle, better materials, and 4 way clip are worth the price premium for you.
Personally, I think the Para 2 is worth the extra money, but when you factor in the added price the fight between the Para 2 and Griptilian gets very close. When you consider the premium in price, the real winner here isn’t so clear.
But no one came here to see a draw, so I’ll declare the Para 2 the champion. I think that the upgrades are worth the increase in price, and ultimately that leaves you with a better knife.
Still, the Griptilian is no slouch and remains one of my favorite EDCs of all time. I have carried and used both of these knives for years, and neither will be leaving my collection.
The G-10 Griptilian
I am guessing that a number of people reading this article will say “What about the new G-10 551 Griptilian?” That is a valid question. The G-10 Griptilian addresses many of the quibbles that I have pointed out about the original Griptilian (the plastic handles, closed back design, lack of a deep carry pocket clip, etc).
At the time of originally publishing this article, the G-10 Griptilian just hit the market. I picked one up and wrote a review on it in May of 2016. It is an awesome knife, and Benchmade did a great job with it. All things equal, I like it more than the Para 2. However, at close to $200 the G10 Grip is almost $100 more than the Para 2. At that great of a price delta I would hope that it beats out the Para 2, and it meets those expectations.
I think a more interesting comparison is the G-10 Grip vs. a Sprint Run Paramilitary 2. If you compare the G-10 Griptilian over a Sprint Run Para 2 with super steel, I’d go with the G-10 Griptilian. The machined handles of the G-10 Griptilian are amazing, and all of the other subtle refinements with the new Griptilian make it a much nicer knife than the Para 2 – even a Para 2 with upgraded blade steel.
I’d rather have a blinged out G-10 Griptilian than a Para 2 with super steel and no other upgrades.
My Final, Final Thoughts
So there you have it, the Paramilitary 2 vs. the Griptilian. This was actually pretty tough. The Para 2 wins here, but when you adjust for price it could slide either way.
Let me know what you thought of this “vs.” article and whether you want to see more of this. If so, what knives should I pit against each other next?
- HIGH-QUALITY: The 154CM stainless steel blade is tough, rust-resistant, and holds an edge well. The glass-filled nylon handle is tough yet attractive, making it ideal for hard jobs and everyday carry.
- WELL-DESIGNED: Benchmade's AXIS lock is exceptionally strong and fully ambidextrous. The Griptilian 551 is a manual knife that can be opened and closed single-handedly.
- COMFORTABLE: The 551's lightweight design and handle grips make it comfortable to hold and use. The reversible pocket clip offers ultimate accessibility.
- VERSATILE: The Griptilian 551's drop-point utility blade style and all-around functionality make it ideal for everyday use, outdoor activities, and even tactical applications.
- AN IMPROVED CLASSIC - Undeniably one of Spyderco's most popular and in-demand designs, the Para Military 2 distills the world-class performance of our legendary Military Model into a more compact, pocket-friendly package.
- SUPERIOR QUALITY - We kept the same high-performance full flat-ground blade but we've also lengthened the blade's tip and added additional surface jimping to both the spine and finger coil.
- A SECURE GRIP - The G-10 handle is narrowed at the end improving the ergonomics. The handle and blade have been profile thinner; removing uncomfortable angles when in the closed position.
- EASY-TO-USE - The Para Military 2 features extreme strength, reliability, and ease of use of our patented Compression Lock mechanism and versatility of a 4-position pocket clip.
- DEPENDABLE - Refinements to overall construction may not be drastic but from the G-10 textured handle to the steel full flat blade, everything is sharper, smoother and guaranteed to provide performance and user comfort.
And as always, if you are considering buying a Paramilitary 2 or a Benchmade Griptilian, I recommend purchasing them at Amazon or BladeHQ. By purchasing things through any of the links on this website you support BladeReviews.com, keep the website free of annoying banner ads, and help produce future reviews. Thank you very much.