Benchmade Knives have established themselves as a maker of quality American-made knives for everyday carry (EDC) and survival. This article explores some of their offerings to help you find an exceptional blade as a go-to knife.
Benchmade is well known for the Benchmade Bugout, one of their most popular EDC knives. While the Benchmade Bugout is a great knife and excellent for throwing in a bag, it is a good idea to consider the other EDC options that Benchmade has to offer.
- Blade Steel: CPMS30V (58−60 HRC)
- Blade Length: 3.24″ (8.23 cm)
- Blade Thickness: 0.090″ (2.29 mm)
- Open Length: 7.46″ (18.95 cm)
- Closed Length: 4.22″ (10.72 cm)
- Handle Thickness: 0.42″ (10.54 mm)
- Weight: 1.85 oz. (52.45 g)
The Bugout is a very popular every day carry knife. It is designed to be lightweight and ergonomic, and it has a smooth opening mechanism. At 1.85 ounces, the weight is barely noticeable, but don’t be fooled—this is a strong and reliable knife that you want with you out in the bush.
The drop-point blade comes in two styles, and you can choose the one that best suits your needs at no extra cost. The plain blade is a classic for EDC, and the serrated drop-point style has a half-serrated blade. The Grivory handles provide nonslip grip for safety and stability, or if you want to upgrade your handle, you can choose the black CF-Elite finish for slightly more.
The standard Bugout is bright blue, which helps it stand out, making it hard to lose. The Ranger green Grivory handle finish costs the same as the black CF-Elite. The Ranger has a grey metal blade finish, whereas the black CF-Elite has a black metal finish. If you like colored metal but don’t care for how quickly the finish wears off with some brands, Benchmade’s high-quality metal coated blades could be a nice surprise.
The Bugout features the Benchmade axis lock system. For more info, check out the video below. The axis lock system is available on other Benchmade knives including the Original Griptilian and the Model 940.
- Blade Length: 3.40″ (8.64 cm)
- Blade Thickness: 0.115″ (2.92 mm)
- Open Length: 7.87″ (19.99 cm)
- Closed Length: 4.47″ (11.35 cm)
- Blade Steel: CPM-S30V (58−60 HRC)
- Handle Thickness: 0.41″ (10.41 mm)
- Weight: 2.90 oz. (82.21 g)
Carbon Fiber Handles:
- Blade Steel: CPM S90V (59−61 HRC)
- Handle Thickness: 0.44″ (11.18 mm)
- Weight: 2.44 oz. (69.17 g)
- Blade Steel: CPM S30V (58−60 HRC)
- Handle Thickness: 0.44″ (11.18 mm)
- Weight: 2.65 oz. (75.10 g)
The 940 blade ranks high on the Rockwell hardness test, and it is known to have great corrosion resistance. Although the 940 holds its edge well, it is stainless, so you will need a good diamond-based sharpening stone to maintain its edge. The thumb stud makes it easy to open and close this knife.
I would carry this as my EDC for sure. The size is perfect, and it is surprisingly light. I like a blade over 3 inches, and the 940 comes in at 3.4 while boasting a handle just under 4.5 inches. That combination makes a well-balanced knife with plenty of space for a good grip.
The aluminum handles are tempting because of their strength. However, they add almost another half ounce compared with the carbon handle version. The tanto point blade rounds out this knife.
- Action: Manual opening
- Blade Steel: S30V (58−60 HRC)
- Blade Length: 3.45″ (8.76 cm)
- Blade Thickness: 0.115″ (2.921 mm)
- Open Length: 8.07″ (20.50 cm)
- Closed Length: 4.62″ (11.73 cm)
- Handle Thickness: 0.64″ (16.256 mm)
- Drop-point Blade Style Weight: 3.88 oz. (110.00 g)
- Sheepsfoot Blade Style Weight: 3.79 oz. (107.44 g)
- Tanto Blade Style Weight: 3.89 oz. (110.28 g)
The Griptilian base is versatile, and you can choose from the following blade styles:
- Drop-point plain or serrated
- Tanto plain or serrated
- Sheepsfoot plain or serrated
You can choose from a wide range of handle colors too. Currently, prices start at $130 for a regular Griptilian and go up based on the features you choose. This is an excellent choice for an EDC. The nonslip handle is great in wet conditions. The Griptilian reminds me of Spyder Co knives I have carried in the past, but it is clearly made with better materials.
If I were buying the Griptilian, I would get the full size with a drop point or tanto blade. I like the amount of force the tanto point allows you to use when cutting. The drop point is better for those who just want a classic pocketknife.
The Griptilian comes with a pocket clip that ensures your knife is always secure and ready when you are.
Benchmade 85 Billet Ti Balisong
- Blade Length 4.40” (11.18 cm)
- Blade Thickness 0.124” (3.15 mm)
- Open Length 10.00” (25.40 cm)
- Closed Length 5.5” (13.97 cm)
- Weight 5.29 oz. (149.97 g)
- Handle Thickness 0.46” (11.68 mm)
The Balisong series is for those who want a premium butterfly style knife. This price range gets you premium materials and options that are not typically available in an EDC knife. The handle is pure titanium, which offers outstanding strength while minimizing weight. This is a big butterfly knife at 10 inches when open. The 4.4 inch blade length is impressive too. Stainless steel bearings allow the Balisong to open quickly and smoothly, with little effort.
The Balisong comes in two versions. The 87 Balisong features a Wharncliffe blade for those who want something besides the classic drop point design. The weight and length are very similar.
The Balisong comes with a heavy-duty tactical nylon belt holster for EDC.
- Blade Length 3.38” (8.59 cm)
- Blade Thickness 0.09” (2.29 mm)
- Open Length 8.07” (20.5 cm)
- Closed Length 4.71” (11.96 cm)
- Weight 2.7 oz. (76.54 g)
- Handle Thickness 0.41” (10.41 mm)
The Bailout series are lightweight and easy to carry knives. It is hard to describe all of the options available. The compact 537 offers supreme lightweight handling and capability for out in the bush. The 537 would be a good choice for those with smaller hands or who want a knife that is easy to stash in practically any bag. When carried in the heavy-duty clip, the blade tip is at the top. You can choose from a plain or serrated tanto blade.
If you prefer an aluminum handle rather than the standard Grivory, it’s available, but it adds about 25% to the cost. I must admit that the anodized aluminum green handles are pretty nice looking, but according to the Benchmade specs, they don’t reduce the weight enough for me to consider that an important factor in a purchasing decision.
Even though this is listed as a mini deep-carry knife, the handle is long enough to keep a good grip on it, and the blade comes in at nearly 3.4 inches.
- Blade Length 3.72” (9.45 cm)
- Blade Thickness 0.124” (3.15mm)
- Open Length 8.72” (22.15 cm)
- Closed Length 5.0” (12.70 cm)
- Weight 4.97 oz. (140.90 g)
- Handle Thickness 0.63” (16.00 mm)
This knife’s style reminds me of my favorites from years ago. It is a robust folder with a handle to match. When I look for a folder, I always pay attention to the handle size if I plan to carry it for everyday tasks because I have larger hands.
I like that there is a good blade guard. It bothers me when a knife seems to be perfect in many ways, but the blade guard is either nonexistent or not substantial enough to prevent accidents.
The Presidio II is a good choice for someone who wants a basic high-quality EDC knife that can stand up to heavy use.
The blade is a bit longer than many EDC knives, which is nice. The blade is fairly wide too, which is a nice change from some budget-priced EDC knives. A wider blade is stronger and can take on more tasks.
- Blade Steel: CPM-S30V (58−60 HRC)
- Blade Length: 3.60″ (9.14 cm)
- Blade Thickness: 0.114″ (2.896 mm)
- Open Length: 8.46″ (21.49 cm)
- Closed Length: 4.86″ (12.34 cm)
- Handle Thickness: 0.65″ (16.51 mm)
- Weight: 3.72 oz. (105.46 g)
The Freek reminds me of the Columbia River Knife and Tool M-16, but it is clearly made with better materials, hence the higher cost. The Freek is a full-size EDC knife.
The Freek 560-1 Family stands out because it combines G10 and CPM-M4 steel for an amazingly durable handle with a fantastic grip. The steel is slightly harder than the original Freek. The Freek 560-1 Family is Rockwell tested at 62−64 versus the 58−60 of the regular Freek.
The Freek mini is substantially more expensive, but for the money, you get a knife that has been trimmed down to a mere 2.74 ounces from the 4.7 ounces of the regular Freek knives. The Freek mini has a 3 inches rather than the 3.6 inches blade of the full size. That is quite a bit of weight to save and still have a 3-inch blade and a 4-inch handle to balance it out. The question becomes whether all of that is worth it to you. The Freek 560 comes in at about half the cost.
General Knife Buying Tips
Simpler is often better
I like that Benchmade Knives have fairly simple designs. An EDC knife should be functional and well made.
Benchmade has a large range of knife sizes. I like how many of their most popular designs come in two sizes. Not only does this accommodate those who live in areas with restrictive knife laws, it also suits different hand sizes. The Griptilian and Bugout both come in mini versions.
Higher cost doesn’t mean better
Sometimes you just need something to take care of business. Handmade knives and quality materials cost more than those churned out in a factory. The more special features and fancy materials, the higher the cost. I am not saying it is not worth it, just that when you are buying moderately high to high-priced knives, you should consider your needs. Benchmade has some beautiful and highly functional blades that cost $500 or more, but I would be worried about carrying and losing an EDC that expensive, so for me, the Bugout or Griptilian makes a lot more sense for an EDC.
Avoiding counterfeit Benchmade knives
My father has been a knife collector and enthusiast for a long time. He is housebound and watches many knife videos and reviews on YouTube. When I visited him recently, he was watching a video on how to tell a genuine Benchmade knife from a fake. There are many fakes being sold in Europe. So, if you buy on eBay or other such sites, be careful. These are not inexpensive knives. When in doubt, buy direct from a trusted online retailer. Also, be careful about too good to be true prices.
Which Benchmade is best for EDC?
Benchmade makes a lot of knives. Those featured in this article are in the low- to mid-price range. Personally, I would pick the Presidio II or Bailout for EDC. I also really like the size and features of the 940 series.
The bottom line is that you can get a premium EDC from Benchmade. The Bugout gets a lot of press and has many fans, but it pays to do some research and take a closer look at various knife styles from a manufacturer before buying.
Different knives suit different tasks. Although an EDC can cover a lot of the basics, remember to round out your blade collection with a good Bowie-style survival knife. A Bowie knife makes butchering easier and provides more substantial defense if necessary.