Benchmade 530 Pardue
lb (89.40 kg)
in 1995 when I moved to Washington State. Since then, I have
backpacked in all seasons and conditions. I prefer trips on
rugged trails with plenty of elevation gain. While I continuously
strive to lighten my load, comfort and safety are most important to me.
I have finally managed to get my basic cold weather pack weight, not
including consumables, to under 30 lbs (14 kg).
|Blade Length: 3.25 in (8.26 cm)|
Blade Thickness: 0.09 in (0.23 cm)
Handle Thickness; 0.307 in (0.78 cm)
Overall Lenght 7.42 in (18.85 cm)
Closed Lenght 4.17 in (10.59 cm)
Weight: 1.88 oz (53 g)
|1.95 oz (55 g)|
courtesy of Benchmade
Benchmade 530 Pardue is described by the manufacturer as a “sub two
ounce folder”. It is a lightweight folding knife with a modified
spear-point blade, and uses a patented AXIS locking mechanism. It has a
textured plastic handle over a steel frame. On one side of the blade is
the Benchmade logo and on the other is the Mel Pardue Design logo along
with the US patent number, and “154CM” (the type of steel the blade is
Nov 1 2012
full disclosure, in addition to the 530 Pardue that I am reviewing
here, I own one other Benchmade knife, a fixed blade 147BK Nim Cub II
that I have had for about 2 years, use often, and really like.
uses a few categories for their products. This knife comes from their
“Blue Class” line which is kind of their core line of knives. Vs. their
premium “Gold Class”, extreme “Black Class”, or specialty lines of
knives (see the Product Class page of their web site).
version I received has a plain edge and satin finish. This knife is
also offered with a partially serrated edge and/or with a black finish.
It arrived in a blue box containing the knife in a small cloth bag and
an instruction booklet.
of the things that intrigued me about this knife aside for its weight
is the shape of the blade. Normally for my backcountry and utility
knives I prefer a shape that is both versatile and strong, allowing for
the varied tasks that I could possibly want the knife to perform. The
drop point shape being the most common. The spear-point shape that this
knife uses is not among the stronger shapes available for blades but it
does have an advantage in that it can be easy to control. Add that to
the long thin tip and this can make a blade that is good for finer,
detail work. In thinking about what I actually end up using my knives
for the most on the trail, aside for practicing survival skills where I
may need to collect and split wood for a fire, it is the smaller and
more detailed tasks that come to mind. Simple tasks such as cutting
cord, rope, and tape, whittling wood for tinder, preparing food, etc.
are what I end up doing most often so I will be very interested to see
how effective this knife is for my normal usage.
On the back of
the blade are two rather small thumb studs (one on either side) to
allow for one handed opening. In my initial attempts to open the knife
one handed I found the studs to be a bit small, but I had no trouble
getting the knife open with either hand (I am right handed).
handle of this knife is a textured plastic (over a steel skeleton) with
a flat finish and held together with small (torx head) screws. These
screws allow for some adjustment of the knife (should the hinge be too
stiff or loose) as well as removing and/or moving the pocket clip to
the other side, but I would mention that the warranty information does
state that dissemble by anyone except for the manufacturer will void
The knife comes with an attached pocket clip
installed for right side use. This clip can be removed and/or moved to
the other (Benchmade logo) side by way of 3 very small screws. The clip
is attached so the knife hangs point down.
handle flairs out front and back on both ends. On the back, just
behind this rise a short section of the internal steel frame is
exposed, with groves for grip (AKA jimping - notches that are designed
into the back lower part of the blade for better thumb control.).
This knife uses a
patented “AXIS” mechanism to lock the blade in place. This design uses
a hardened steel bar that is pushed forward by two U shaped (“omega
style”) springs to lock the blade in place when opened. To close the
knife the locking bar is pulled back in its groves allowing the blade
to be folded close. The lock bar is almost flush with the case. I found
pulling it back using my thumb and forefinger works well, but I found
it rather difficult to do using just my thumb. Something I noticed
about the lock design is that when the knife is fully closed the lock
mechanism slides fully forward removing the tension from the spring and
possibly extending its life. Having had knives close while in use, once
resulting in a very deep and rather nasty cut, an effective and strong
lock is important to me. Having examined this knife, I am comfortable
that the lock in easy to operate, engages securely, appears to be quite
strong, and l looks unlikely to fail or accidently release. The spring
is firm but not difficult to operate, and I found it just as easy to
operate with either hand. One advantage I see of this design over the
standard lock back design is that when operating the lock using my
thumb and forefinger, my fingers automatically move to the sides of the
handle, out of the way of the closing blade. This is not true for other
locking folders I have used.
As I would expect, the hinge was
a bit stiff at first but loosened up slightly after some repeated
opening/closing. After working the hinge a bit, I found I could quickly
open the blade by holding the handle with my finger tips clear of the
blade and rapidly moving my hand forward then flicking my wrist back.
To quickly close the blade, I pull down the lock using my thumb and
forefinger, and then flick my wrist (the reverse direction of opening
I once had a pocket knife partially open in my pocket
resulting in a deep cut when I reached my hand into my pocket. This
knife opens smoothly with just enough resistance that I do not worry
about it opening accidentally. In this aspect the small thumb studs
could be an advantage as they might be less likely to be snagged,
pulling the blade out, while in my pocket. The hinge seems very well
made with absolutely no play or wiggle.
- Easy to open/close one handed
- Secure lock
|Jan 10 2012
- Daily use at home and work
- Two family day hikes – Snow Mt Ranch (Central Washington)
- One weekend family camp in the Central Cascades
- One day urban hike – first 12 miles of the proposed William O Douglas Trail
- 2 night trip – Umptanum creek (Central Washington)
- 3 day trip – Umptanum Creek (Central Washington)
receiving the knife I have carried it in my pocket on a daily basis and
used it for various tasks such as opening/breaking down boxes, cutting
cord and rope, opening packages (e.g. those kids Christmas toys whose
packaging seem to defy Euclidean geometry), and to cut food (steak,
fruit, etc). The weather was rather cold on my backpacking trips with
daytime temperatures just below freezing and around 15 F (-9 C) at
night with a thin layer of snow and frost. While I normally don’t make
camp fires I could not resist the challenge of making a fire (using
only found materials and my flint/steel) in these conditions (I ended
up needing to use my lighter). I used the knife to collect and prepare
tinder and kindling including whittling shavings from a branch and
harvesting dry grass. I also used the knife to split some branches that
were about twice as thick as my thumb by placing the knife at one end
and using another branch as a baton on the end of the blade. I don’t
recommend using the knife in this manner, and I am sure neither does
from the typical top of the line quality I expect from a Benchmade
product, my favorite feature of this knife is still its weight. Every
time I pick it up I am impressed with how little it weighs and I
sometimes even forget I have it in my pocket. In addition, everyone I
have let use it has remarked on how light it is.
There are a few
things about the blade shape that I don’t care for. The modified spear
point looks rather formidable. This may or may not be intended, but I
find I don’t like to pull out a knife that looks more like a weapon
than a tool. Of course this is highly subjective and a matter of
personal taste. I have also found the semi-symmetrical blade shape can
make it difficult to tell at a glance which is the sharp side, so I
worry that one of these times in my haste I will pick the knife up and
cut myself when attempting to use the wrong side or close it. A few
times now I have set the knife down while using it, then upon picking
it up look twice to be sure I am holding it the right way. The same
goes for wiping off the blade after using it.
On the positive
side, as expected I have found the blade very easy to control. I have
used the blade to shave tinder off of pieces of wood and it has
performed well. Basic tasks like cutting cord, paper, etc it handles
with ease. And the quick open/close action is very handy. I can pull it
out, open it, use it, and put it away in a flash. One particular
business trip I ended up using it to cut a particularly tough steak
that I was unable to cut with the knife they provided, and it went
through the meat like the preverbal hot knife through butter. During my
most recent backpacking trip I was wearing a hat that had two annoying
tags sewn to it. In my tent by the light of my headlamp I was able to
use the tip of the knife to snag and sever each stitch, allowing me to
remove tags without damaging the hat (it is my daughter’s hat and she
would have killed me if I ruined it).
One final non-hiking
relate use of the knife that I want to mention was at a family “camp”
(if sleeping in a cabin can be called camping), where we participated
in a gingerbread house building competition. Modifying the gingerbread
parts provided always proves to be a problem. However I found the
Benchmade’s thin blade easily cut through the material, and its sharp
edge made trimming edges and doing some detail work quite easy (By the
way, we won!).
About the only sign of use I have seen so far is that
the pocket clip is slightly looser then it was when I first received
it. Where it is right now makes it easier to clip to my pocket and/or
pack strap so this can be good, but if it gets much looser it could
become a problem and I might have to remove it and try to bend it back.
So this is something I will be keeping a close eye on.
yet to have to sharpen the knife so can’t comment on that, other than
that I am impressed it is still so sharp after all this use.
I mentioned above, based upon the design I was not sure about the
suitability of this knife for backpacking use. However after using it
for a while I can say I have been pleasantly surprised.
|Mar 6 2011
• Snow shoe day trip (groomed trails)
• Cross country Ski day trips X 3 Central Cascades
• 2 night solo snowshoe trip Central Cascades
receiving this knife I have continued to carry it almost every day. It
has become a basic item I put in my pockets along with my wallet and
keys. I carried it clipped to my pack strap for our annual White Pass
Ski/Snowshoe jamboree, where we (The Cascadians) offer free ski and
snowshoe instructions to beginners. I also wore it clipped to my pocket
for 3 days of training with the White Pass Nordic Ski Patrol. And
finally for a 3 day snow camping trip I attached the knife to the
lanyard of my flint/steel fire starter.
The easy one handed
open/close of this knife makes it very handy for everyday cutting tasks
at home, work, and on the trail. Its small size and light weight allow
me to carry it all the time without thought. When assembling my gear
for my snow camping trip I realized the size and weight of the knife
lends itself quite nicely to being attached to my fire starter
flint/steel. I simply threaded the lanyard through the hole in the
knives handle, and carried the assembly in my ski pants cargo pocket.
It worked nicely. For future trips I am considering using longer
lanyard so I can carry it around my neck.
I previously mentioned
that the pocket clip had become a bit looser than when it arrived.
After continued use and constant clipping/unclipping from my pocket and
pack it does not seem to have gotten any looser. However a bit of the
paint has rubbed off. In fact aside for the paint rubbed off of the
edges of the belt clip, the knife is showing almost no signs of wear.
The blade and handle look good as new. The action of the blade has
remained consistent, just slightly looser than when I received it
making it easy to open/close with a flick of my wrist, but not so loose
as to be a problem or indicate any signs of wear. And when open the
blade has no play or wiggle at all despite countless opening and
closing over the past few months.
Even though I have used this
knife a lot on various materials, I have not found it necessary to
sharpen the blade. However, being that it had lost some of its edge and
to round out the test, I decided to see how well it takes an edge.
Using my diamond sharpening system, I spent a few minutes working with
the coarse and then fine stones. I had a little difficulty getting the
blade securely in the clamp. The tapered back and very smooth finish
resulted in the blade slipping out of the clamp the first time I tried.
I needed to position the clamp such that the notch in the clamp was
positioned over the spine of the blade, the widest part, so that it was
contacting both sides of the spine and therefore could not slip out.
Getting an edge on the blade was more of a chore then I had
anticipated, but I expect this is more due to my being out of practice
than anything. After just a bit of work I again had a fine sharp edge.
mentioned previously I continue to find the symmetrical shape of the
blade to be a small problem [yes I am nitpicking, but I can find
nothing else about this knife to complain about]. Recently while
attempting to cut away the plastic from a temporary greenhouse I built,
I found myself attempting to cut the material with the back of the
blade, and it was only by sheer luck that I had not attempted to push
on the ‘back’ of the blade with my thumb. I am actually surprised I
have not cut myself yet as this has happened a few times. That said,
the knife is still very easy to maneuver and control and I continue to
be amazed that the blade is much stronger than its delicate appearance
In conclusion, as much as I would like to say
that such a wimpy looking blade is not up to the task of trail use, I
simply cannot. Despite already having high expectations of Benchmade
products, this knife still far exceeded my expectations and has quickly
become my favorite cutting tool at home, at work, and on the trail. I
fully expect to continue to carry it daily and on most of my off road
I would like to thank the folks at Benchmade
for the opportunity to test this knife.