Benchmade Knife Company
551 SH20 Griptilian
Test Series by Jason Boyle
Initial Report – November 21, 2009
Field Report - February 2, 2010
Long Term Report - April 6, 2010
Name: Jason Boyle
Height: 5' 6"/ 1.68 m
Weight: 175 lb/ 79 kg
Email address: c4jc "at" hotmail "dot" com
City, State, Country: Kodiak, Alaska, U. S.
I have been camping and backpacking for about 20 years. My introduction to the outdoors started with the Boy Scouts of America and has continued as an adult. I have hiked all over the Southeastern, Northeastern, and Northwestern United States. I am generally a lightweight hiker, but will carry extras to keep me comfortable. I currently reside on Kodiak Island in Alaska, home of some of the worst weather and most beautiful scenery around. I look forward to putting gear through the paces here on the Emerald Isle.
Model: 551 SH20 Griptilian
Blade Style: Drop Point
Blade Material: X15 T.N Stainless Steel
Handle/Liner Material: Orange Glass Fill Noryl GTX®; Double 420J Liners
Lock Mechanism: AXIS
Listed weight: 3.82 oz/108 g taken from the website
Measured weight: 3.90 oz/ 111 g
Listed Length Open: 8.07”/20.5 cm
Listed Length Closed: 4.62”/11.7 cm
Measured Length Open/Closed: Manufacturer specs verified
Year of Manufacture: 2009
MSRP: 120 US
Country of Manufacture: Made in the USA
The 551H20 Griptilian is a new model to Benchmade’s Griptilian line up. The bright orange handle features a diamond pattern knurl with an ambidextrous thumb-stud opener. There is a removable stainless steel pocket clip which can be removed or placed on the opposite side by using a small hex key that is not included. There is a small round hole near the base of the handle that can be used to attach a lanyard to the knife. The blade is a modified drop point with serrations on the half of the blade closest to the handle. The blade is made of X15 T.N Stainless Steel that is said to be rust and corrosion resistant in even the harshest environments. The use of this steel in the blade is what sets this knife apart from other knives in the Griptilian line. This knife features Benchmade’s Axis lock mechanism that runs through the handle and facilitates opening and closing the knife. All of the other pieces and parts of the knife appear to be made of stainless steel and according to Benchmade are corrosion resistant.
The knife is fairly nondescript (except for the handle color), but the blade features the Benchmade Butterfly Logo, as well as, a small 551 designating the model number. The opposite side of the blade has the words First Production and the numbers 727/1000.
I like knives, maybe too much. I generally have a knife on my person whether hiking, going to work, or to the store. A knife is a valuable tool that has many purposes. When I received this Benchmade knife I was very impressed with the quality and workmanship of the blade; it is top-notch and sharp! The blade is easy to open with a single hand using the thumb-studs and opens very smoothly. It is also very easy to close using the Axis lock mechanism. I am also impressed with the detail and grip in the handle. The knurled sides, and the formed grips on the bottom of the handle feel very secure in my hand. The blade came from the factory very sharp and for those that are not comfortable sharpening their own knives Benchmade offers what they call a “Life Sharp” service where they will sharpen the knife for the owner at a cost of five dollars to cover the handling and return shipping. The knife does not have a lock to keep the blade closed.
The knife came in a bright blue box, which shows that it is part of Benchmade’s Blue line (description below) surrounded by foam and wrapped in a cloth bag. The box also included a fold out “User Care Manual” that described the classes of Benchmade knives, a section on care and maintenance and a warranty registration card. All the packaging seems a bit much for the knife, especially the cloth bag. I don’t know what I would use the bag for as I normally carry a knife in my pocket or backpack.
As I mentioned above the knife is part of Benchmade’s Blue line which is described on their website as follows: “Our Blue Class represents the heart of everything that is Benchmade. These USA made products are designed and built for the individual who appreciates the difference that a high-quality cutting tool can make.” Benchmade also offers a limited lifetime warranty to the original owner against defects in materials or workmanship.
Field Report – February 2, 2010
Overall, I am pleased with the performance of the knife. I have used it while hiking and during my day-to-day activities and it remains sharp and continues to operate smoothly! It has even resisted corrosion from the harsh maritime environment in Kodiak.
I have used the knife on four day hikes over the past couple months. The first was a loop hike to Termination Point, two hikes were at Ft. Abercrombie, and the last was a day hike on the northern end of Near Island. Elevation change has been minimal with no more than 500 feet (152 m) or so over the course of the hikes. Temperatures have ranged from 40 F to 20 F (4 C to -7 C) and my hikes have consisted of schlepping through a driving rain with little to no snow. In addition to my outdoor adventures, I have carried the knife daily with me to work and around town.
The knife has performed well in all situations thus far. The edge has remained super sharp and has sliced through cheese and meats with ease. I have also used it to open boxes, cut straps and rope and nothing has provided any resistance to the knife. The knife continues to open and close very smoothly using the thumb stud and there has not been any slip or play in the locking mechanism. The knurled body on the knife has provided good grip even in the wet, foggy, rainy winter we have had in Kodiak.
The pocket clip works well and allows me to carry the knife easily. For everyday use I carry the knife in my back pocket with the clip over the edge of the pocket. While hiking I keep the knife in my front pants pocket or in a hip belt pocket for easy access.
One of the things I was most interested in with this knife was how it would hold up to the extreme maritime environment here in Kodiak. Our winter has been rough – almost no snow and storm after storm rolling through the Gulf of Alaska causing blowing rain and winds in excess of 40 mph (64 km/h). I am happy to report that there is no rust or corrosion on the knife whatsoever. I haven’t dunked it in the ocean or left it outside for days to corrode but it has gotten soaked with no problems. The corrosion-resistant steel seems to be working.
Long Term Report – April 6, 2010
The knife has continued to perform well and operate smoothly over the last two months. Again I am impressed with the corrosion resistant properties of the knife and how well the knife has held an edge.
I have used the knife on five additional day hikes and an epic snowshoe trip. The day hikes took place at Ft. Abercrombie, Old Women Mountain, and Near Island. The snowshoe trip was an 8-hour circumnavigation of Monashka Mountain with waist deep snow and alder bashing. Elevation ranged from sea level to 2500 feet (760 m) on the top of Old Women. Temperatures were mostly in the upper 30’s F (2 C) but on the Monashka trip dived down well below freezing. Winds were ferocious for most of the winter exceeding 30 mph (48 km/hr) most of the time. Precipitation during most of my hikes consisted mostly of rain but was fortunate enough to experience driving snow during my snowshoe trip.
Overall, I am very pleased with this knife. One new thing I learned since my field report is that I am able to open and close the blade while wearing a pair of lightweight liner gloves. This is a great feature especially with temperatures dropping below freezing and a stiff breeze making it even colder! I am also pleased to report that cold temperatures don’t affect the operation of the knife – just the person using the knife.
The one thing that has impressed me the most with the knife is the corrosion resistant components. Our weather here is rough on anything metal; rust is a way of life. However, the knife shows no signs of rust or corrosion on any component.
The knurled pattern on the grip shows no signs of wear and I felt comfortable using the knife with lightweight liner gloves on. The clip remains tight and I could easily slide the knife in my back pocket where I carried it day to day. When hiking I carried the knife in a hipbelt pocket. In neither case did I have any problems with the knife opening on its own.
The one thing I would like to use the knife for that I didn’t have the chance to is to clean fish. This to me is a true test of the sharpness and corrosion qualities of any blade. Unfortunately our salmon run doesn’t start until June. I will continue to use the knife even though the test period is over and hope to report back on its use once the salmon start hitting the rivers.
This concludes my Long Term Report. Thank you to Benchmade and Backpackgeartest.org for allowing me to participate in this test.
Read more reviews of Benchmade gear
Read more gear reviews by Jason Boyle