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Overview: I have the Benchmade Griptilian model 551SBK....
Overview: I have the Benchmade Griptilian model 551SBK. The 551 series are the Griptilans with the thumbstud. Mine is partially serrated, and has a black coating on the blade, along with a black handle. My review should apply to all of the full sized griptilans, however the ones without the black coating on the blade will not resist rust as well.
First Impression: Got the package in the mail today. Gotta say that Benchmade’s packaging wasn’t what I expected, which gave me a slightly lower impression than at first, but on second thought, it is much nicer than many other knife packages I have seen, and plus, it included a nice little nylon pouch to store your knife in. I also noticed that the knife wasn’t packaged with silica gel, which I would have expected, but at that point I am splitting hairs. Now to the knife: As I opened the knife up for the first time, I noticed a little grease that was on the blade near the handle. Probably to keep water off of the moving parts. Doesn’t look as good when you open it, but I’m glad they did it, and I can always wipe it off. The knife itself feels really solid, however some people may associate the overall light weight to a lesser quality knife. Not true. Its also important to note that, with the right size torx wrench, you can put the pocketclip on the other side of the knife. This makes the knife suitable for lefties, like my brother. Everything else on the knife is symmetrical, making this knife completely ambidextrous.
Fit/Finish: Overall looks really great. Nice coating on the blade, Handle looks good. I suppose that I could split hairs and point out that some of the screws on the knife are slightly worn on the black finish, but nothing that you would notice if you weren’t really looking for it. There are two little dots on the end of the handle which serve no purpose, I assume that they are marks from the molding process. Not a problem though.
Action: This knife opens really smoothly. I suppose the big thing on this knife is the axis lock. I like it, I have heard that it is really reliable, strong, etc. Basically what happens is there is a pin that, when the knife opens, slides forward, stopping the blade from closing. To close the knife, you just pull that back and fold the blade closed. This knife is easy to flip open using the thumb studs, but it seems that most people opt to flick the knife open using the axis lock. If you pull back on the pin/button that I mentioned earlier, the blade pretty much swings freely, with the only thing slowing the blade being the slight friction of the knife rotating on its axis. You can then flick it open, and also closed doing the same thing.
Blade: Mine is made of 154CM steel, and has a black coating on it. There are some variations of the Griptilian that have better steel, but 154CM is still a pretty good choice. Doug Ritter has the RSK griptilan that has S30V steel, with a different blade profile. This is better, of course, but a fair amount more expensive. If you have the money, and want to spend it, by all means get the Ritter Grip. But if that is looking a little pricey for you, go with this and you wont be disappointed. Now back to my knife, the blade came very sharp. Substantially sharper than any other knife I have gotten, but I don’t have an extensive experience with other knives, so I am sure that other knives in this price range are going to come with a nice edge on them. If you regularly hone the blade of this knife after use, then that razor edge should last a long time. As far as the black coating goes, I haven’t had the knife long enough to see how long the coating will last, but I talked to someone at REI who said that he used this knife for 3 years while he was deployed in Iraq, and said the only wear on the coating was a slight bit on the thumbstud from him using his knife all the time, and from the oils that everyone has on their hands.
Handle: At first many people have concerns with the handle. They say it feels like plastic. Well quite frankly, it is. But it is some pretty tough plastic. It grips well, especially with the little pyramid shaped bumps on both sides of the handle, hence the name “Griptilian.” I heard somewhere that it didn’t have metal liners, but it does, so I don’t know what that was about. They go to about a half inch from the bottom of the knife. The clip is a strong good clip, but some people have problems with it. The clip gets a strong hold of whatever you clip it on. When you take this knife out of you pocket, the clip will press your pants against the rough part of the handle, and some people have said that their pants are worn out on the pocket because of this. You can however, put a folded up piece of cardstock or something, like the inserts in a magazine, in the clip and leave it overnight to loosen the clip slightly. You also can take the clip off and lightly sand where the clip touches the knife to round off the grip a little. Make sure you use a high-grit sandpaper, or you will tear up your knife more than you want to.
Size: This knife is a fairly large knife, with a 3.4 or so inch blade, and about 8 inches open and about 4 ¾ inches closed. Not unreasonable though. I tend to find that with smaller knives, I don’t get a very full grip on the handle, so I am afraid to use it for tough tasks. Not a problem with this knife. Some people might consider it large for pocket carry, but that is purely opinion. They do have a smaller model, with a blade that is about 3 inches, so if this is too big you might want to go with that. It should be pretty much identical otherwise. See what you like.
Likes: Overall feel of the knife, good grip, wont slip when wet. Just an overall good construction.
Dislikes: Possible clip damage on pants
Overall: I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t look at other knives, but in the price range, this is what appealed to me. Spyderco makes some pretty good knives, so look at the Delica and the Endura to compare to this. Find a knife shop and handle a bunch of different knives to see what you like in a knife. Then find it online and get it for cheaper. I strongly recommend this knife as a hard-use folder, or just for EDC. I sure like it. Check out the mini-griptilian also.
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