Sunday, August 26

Gear Review: Benchmade Mini-Griptilian

Benchmade Mini-Griptilian

 If you want a solid folder, with excellent edge retention, a vault like lockup, and great handling characteristics, the Benchmade Mini-Griptilian is hard to beat.

 A good folding knife is the gift that keeps on giving.  When you need it, it is there.  I have collected knives since my first Barlow. It was a workhouse and I learned to appreciate it as a tool and not an object to show pals in the confines of the house.  It lived in my jeans for years. Always on the lookout for a quality knife that will hold up as an everyday carry tool, my “go-to” for a decade was a left handed Spyderco Pilot with a serrated blade.

 The Benchmade Mini-Griptilian came up on my radar in early 2002 and I bought one the same year.  I knew of Benchmade’s quality and early reviews were positive.

 After ten years of service, this knife has held up exceptionally well, and well worth the ~$75USD.   The design by Mel Pardue, features a 3” modified sheepsfoot blade with 1/3 serrations and 440C blade steel (now in 154CM; see Benchmade specs at the end of this review)

 It is a great utility shape with thumbholes allowing for a solid one finger opening, and jimping at the base of the blade lets you “choke’ up for detail work. The pocket clip on the scales can be reversed and the handle is well-dimpled for a very solid grip. 

 The lock on any folder is the weak link, and this knife has a very solid lockup. With its AXIS locking mechanism, the blade locks into place with twin springs and a hardened bar that runs the width of the liner. While I have not stressed it to test the lock, I have worked it hard enough and never felt uncomfortable that it would have a lock failure.

AXIS Lock - Ambidextrous Use
The blade has held an edge well, and just needs a little work to get it back to shaving sharpness.  In addition, the serrations provide a quick cutting capability on tougher materials, with one deep serration, followed by two lesser serrations.  I have found in my experience that serrated knives are worthwhile, as if the material slips on one serration, it is “caught” on the peak of the next serration, and the overall serrated edge gets uniform attention, with not part dulling quicker.

 Made from Noryl, the handle is not unlike Zytel in stiffness, and strength to weight ratio.  It is heavily dimpled, for a firm grip even when wet. The clip allows for a deep pocket carry and is well attached with three Torx screws. A sizeable lanyard hole will accept a paracord loop.

 Overall, I believe that this knife deserves all the accolades that it has received (see Outdoor Life write-up:  and is my primary carry knife.

 Although, it is tough getting used to a lighter knife, and the dimples are pretty aggressive on your hands until worn down, I find little fault in this knife: the blade quality and design is excellent; edge retention is admirable; the price and Made in USA are selling points.

 The only option I wish I had when purchased is the custom Mini-Griptilian that you can build at the Benchmade website. Not unlike the way Buck allows you to not only build a knife, but a knife personalized for your blade options, color combos, etc. If you want a larger blade, go with the Griptilian. Either way, in my opinion, you cannot go wrong.

Specs (from Benchmade):
Model 555HG
Blade Length: 2.91"
Blade Thickness: 0.100"
Handle Thickness: 0.510"
Blade Material: 154CM Stainless Steel
Blade Hardness: 58-61HRC
Blade Style: Hollowground Modified Sheepsfoot; Ambidextrous Thumb-Holes
Weight: 2.56oz.
Pocket Clip: Tip Up, Reversible, Black
Lock Mechanism: AXIS
Overall Length: 6.78"
Closed Length: 3.87"