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Reviews > Knives > Fixed Blade > Benchmade 15000 Bone Collector > Test Report by Ben Mansfield

Benchmade 15000 Bone Collector
Fixed Caping Knife



Initial Report Field Report Long Term Report
22 April 2011 12 July 2011 12 September 2011


Benchmade 15000 Bone Collector

Benchmade 15000 Bone Collector Knife
(Image Courtesy of the Manufacturer)



Reviewer ProfileBackpacking Background
Name:Ben Mansfield

I have been backpacking for well over 15 years. These days my normal trips are long weekends, though I do occasionally get out for a longer trip. My normal stomping grounds are western Pennsylvania and southern Ohio, and I have backpacked nearly all of the North Country Trail as it runs through Pennsylvania.

I consider myself a mid-weight hiker, but trending with the rest of the community towards a lighter load. My typical base pack weight (no food, no water) is around 20 lbs (9 kg) or less, and doesn't vary much with the seasons.

Age:33
Gender:Male
Height:6' 0" (1.8 m)
Weight:175 lbs (80 kg)
E-mail Address:benmansfield27 AT gmail DOT com
City, State, Country:North Ridgeville, Ohio, USA



Initial Report

22 April 2011

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Product Information

Benchmade 15000 Bone Collector

The Benchmade 15000 Bone Collector Knife

Manufacturer:Benchmade
Model:15000S-2 Bone Collector
Manufacturer URL:www.benchmade.com
Year of Manufacture:2011
MSRP:US $110
Manufacturer's Weight (Knife Only):3.46 oz (98 g)
Measured Weight (Knife Only):3.5 oz (99 g)
Manufacturer's Weight (Sheath Only):2.18 oz (62 g)
Measured Weight (Sheath Only):2 oz (57 g)
Country of Origin:Made in USA
 

Product Description

Benchmade Bone Collector Knife

The Benchmade Bone Collector

The Benchmade 15000S-2 Fixed Caping knife is one of several options in the "Bone Collector" series of fixed-blade knives that Benchmade makes. The entire series uses the 15000 model number and adds a different suffix depending on the options that are included. Benchmade offers options that include choices for the grip - black G10 polymer handle, olive green G10 polymer handle, or walnut handle, as well as choices for the blade - partially serrated or plain edge. The knife I'm testing gets the 15000S-2 designation, as this particular one has a walnut handle and a partially serrated blade.

This is a full-tang, fixed blade knife, with an overall length of 8" (20 cm). Of this total length, the handle is about 4" (10 cm) long, and the useful length of the blade is about 3.5" (9 cm). The blade has a 1" (2.5 cm) serrated section closest to the handle. The walnut grips comprising the handle are fastened to the full-tang blade by a pair of black fasteners that can be seen in the photos. The balance point of the knife close to the center - just behind the first fastener.

Benchmade Bone Collector Knife Blade

Partially Serrated Blade

The blade is D2 high carbon tool steel, which is a very durable and high-quality material well suited to knife blades. The blade is stamped on one side with the manufacturer's name, the steel grade (D2), the model number (15000), and the country of origin (USA). The other side of the blade is stamped with the Bone Collector logo.

Benchmade Bone Collector Knife Handle

Ribbed Walnut Grip

The handle is a really attractive walnut, ribbed for a better grip. The finish is quite nice, and the knife feels very solid in my hand. The end of the handle has the Bone Collector logo burned in. The solid grip of the knife is due to the ribbing on the handle and is further reinforced by some ribbing built into the top and bottom of the tang, which can be seen in the photo at left. There is a slight ergonomic curve to the overall shape of the grip as well as a notch for my first finger.

Benchmade Bone Collector Knife

The Bone Collector with its Sheath

The sheath is a nice thick brown leather, about 9" (23 cm) long. It has an ample belt loop sewn in, and has a small leather tab which snaps closed to secure the knife in place. The stitching machine sewn with a heavy white thread and is well finished, though my sheath does have a few stray threads. The front of the sheath is also stamped with the Bone Collector logo.

Benchmade included a user manual with the knife which describes the limited lifetime warranty as well as use and care instructions. The manual recommends regular proactive sharpening of the knife, and offers some details of Benchmade's "LifeSharp" program. Under this plan, Benchmade will sharpen the knife back to a factory edge for US $5. This service does not include the serrated portion of the blade. The limited lifetime warranty covers the normal things like manufacturing defects and has typical exclusions such as normal wear and tear and user misuse or abuse.

 


Initial Impressions

This knife appears to be a really fine tool. The quality of the blade, overall construction, and feel and balance in my hand are really impressive. The knife is large enough to be used for more "rough" tasks, but the caping blade is also fine enough that I could imagine using it for more delicate tasks such as treating a blister or removing a splinter.

My initial impression of the sheath was that it might be a bit overkill for backpacking purposes. I'm not too much of a weight-weenie, however, so for me it's probably acceptable.

My backpacking habits have evolved over the years. Specifically regarding knives, I've gone from a heavy and dull pocket knife complete with lots of extra blades, a toothpick, and tweezers that I used through my Boy Scout years, to a tiny minimalist knife that didn't really serve any function, and back to a heavy (but sharp this time) multi-tool, with a few permutations in between. I have yet to find the perfect balance between weight and usefulness. I have a pretty strong "Be Prepared" mentality, and I consider a knife to be an absolute requirement for any wilderness outing.

This Benchmade knife might just fit into the sweet-spot that I've been seeking. Although it doesn't have pliers, a can opener, or a chainsaw blade, it does appear to be a very solid knife that could be used reliably in lots of applications (including the common ones for me like cutting open the bag of dinner or slicing up some summer sausage to share). I'm looking forward to getting it out into the field.

 




Field Report

12 July 2011

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Field Conditions

I've been able to put the Benchmade Bone Collector Knife to good use so far this summer, with a pair of weekend-long backpacking trips and an additional car-camping trip for a total of 7 days of use. The late spring and early summer was very wet in my part of the world - I had rain most of April and May and it's been hot and humid since. My two backpacking trips were each in different parts of the nearby Allegheny National Forest (ANF) in Pennsylvania, whereas my car camping trip was taken to the New River Gorge area of West Virginia. The two ANF backpacking trips were pretty wet ones, and my trip to West Virginia brought rain some really heavy rains the first night but beautiful sunny days for the remainder of the long weekend.

 

Field Observations

Bone Collector in the field

The Benchmade Bone Collector Knife

I've used the Bone Collector Knife often for cutting open the vacuum-sealed bags in which I package some of my meals while backpacking. Typically, I repackage meal items like oatmeal and freezer-bag meals into resealable plastic bags. However, I'm also a jerky connoisseur and make my own jerky at home, which I package into small single-servings with the help of a vacuum sealer. I also vacuum seal other ingredients that benefit from a lack of air circulation including potentially perishable food that I've dehydrated myself. The Bone Collector has made quick work of the simple task of slicing open these bags.

Another use for which I've employed the Bone Collector is cutting cord. I'm normally a believer in the philosophy that cord should never be cut unless absolutely required - it's much easier to shorten a piece of rope with a knot than it is to lengthen it once it's been cut. However, during the second backpacking trip I found myself with a failing boot lace and used the Benchmade knife to quickly trim off an appropriate replacement length of accessory cord. The knife made a clean cut with minimal fraying, though I still burned the cut ends to prevent fraying down the road.

Probably the most useful task that I've put the knife to in the field is in preparing firewood. With the wet weather early on, finding dry firewood was a serious challenge. Normally I can find dry kindling by searching up under the dense canopy of evergreen trees to pick the dry, dead wood that hasn't fallen to the ground yet. However I repeatedly found myself in situations where such a scenario was impossible and so was forced to resort to "making" dry wood by shaving the wet outer bark from sticks and twigs that I found laying around. This is a task where the Benchmade Bone Collector really hits its stride. The knife is secure and safe in my hand, and cuts through wood eagerly, without requiring excessive force that can lead to slippage or accidents.

I've stored the knife in its sheath in the top hood pocket of my backpack for easy access, and its size makes it easy to find among the other items that I keep up there. The sheath has held the knife securely, and I always make a point to ensure that the keeper tab is secured with the snap so that the knife doesn't inadvertently come out while I'm hiking. I have not tried to wear the Bone Collector on my belt since this would interfere with my backpack's hip belt and potentially cause me some discomfort.

I have not yet sharpened the Benchmade Bone Collector knife as it's still holding onto its factory edge quite well. I do have a decent set of whetstones and prior to my next trip I'll probably take a few passes just to ensure that it stays nice and sharp. The blade itself is also not showing much wear, though the finish has started to dull a bit with use. The handle is showing no wear whatsoever and still provides a firm grip, even when used in the rain as was the case on several occasions in the ANF.

 



Long Term Report

12 September 2011

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Long Term Observations

Bone Collector getting a sharpening

Sharpening The Benchmade Bone Collector Knife

The Benchmade Bone Collector knife has continued to impress. I took it on another couple of trips for another 6 days of use in the backcountry, which brings my total for usage to about 13 days in the field, and countless additional uses around the house. The blade itself has lost a little of its factory shine, but it's certainly no worse for the wear. Aside from some marring on the blade itself, the knife appears practically new.

I did opt to touch up the edge a bit with a set of sharpening stones that I own. After countless cutting of wood, cord, and packaging it probably didn't need to be honed, but with a tool this well crafted I find that it's better to keep the edge sharp with frequent minor touch-ups rather than major resharpening once it starts to dull. To sharpen it I used the finest stone that I own on the non-serrated part of the blade. Benchmade claims, and conventional wisdom states that it's nearly impossible to sharpen a serrated edge, though I also have a triangular spaped stone that I used to at least take down some of the burrs and add a little shine to the serrations. My kit offers guides for 20 degree and 25 degree edge angles. I couldn't find any information from the manufacturer on the factory edge angle, but my "eyeball meter" said that the 20 degree angle was the best approximation to the factory edge, so that's what I used (to great results).

This knife has sliced through everything I've asked it to with grace and confidence. I haven't experienced any slipping or the need to apply what I would consider excessive force. It can cut deep and quickly or work with ample precision for a blade of its size. I even tried to whittle with it a little bit... a skill that I admittedly haven't mastered, but it certainly demonstrated the blade's ability to perform fine cutting tasks as well as tougher tasks that I've asked it to do. I'm just really impressed with this tool.

Summary

The Benchmade Bone Collector knife is an outstanding tool. It has served me well during the trips that I've taken, as well as some tasks around the house. I really like the fixed-blade aspect of this knife - the Bone Collector is not my first fixed-blade knife, but it is the first fixed blade knife that I've taken backpacking with any regularity. It feels much more secure in my hand than the typical folding pocket knives that I've traditionally carried. I don't mind the weight of it at all, even though I'm becoming more and more sensitive to excess weight. I do think the sheath is maybe a little more than is required, but I'm also happy with how well it protects the very sharp blade. I haven't found anything yet that will slow down this knife - it has flown through pretty much everything I've tried to cut without much hesitation. While I haven't actually collected any bones with this knife (I'm not a hunter), it has served me well as a backpacking tool and I'm looking forward to continuing to use it as such.

Key Features
Areas for Improvement
  • Really, really sharp
  • Feels secure in my hand
  • Not much weight penalty over a traditional folding pocket knife
  • Sheath is potentially a little more than required

  • I would like to thank Benchmade and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the Bone Collector Knife.



    Read more reviews of Benchmade gear
    Read more gear reviews by Ben Mansfield

    Reviews > Knives > Fixed Blade > Benchmade 15000 Bone Collector > Test Report by Ben Mansfield



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