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Reviews > Knives > Folding > Benchmade 530 Knife > Test Report by Ryan Lane Christensen

Benchmade
courtesy of benchmade.com

Benchmade
530 Knife

Test Series by
Ryan Christensen

Last Update - March 5, 2012

530

ACCESS MAIN REPORT SECTIONS VIA THESE LINKS:

INITIAL REPORT
October 29, 2011
FIELD REPORT
January 14, 2012
LONG-TERM REPORT
March 5, 2012

INITIAL REPORT
October 29, 2011

Reviewer Information Backpacking Background
Name:  Ryan L. Christensen
Age:  47
Gender:  Male
Height:  6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:  235 lb (107 kg)
Email:  bigdawgryan(at)yahoo(dot)com
City, State, Country:   Idaho Falls, Idaho, USA

I began backpacking at twelve, continuing until 25. After an extended hiatus, due in part to a bad back, I resumed cycling, hiking, and backpacking several years ago. I also began snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. I share my love for backpacking and these sports with my children. I am a midweight backpacker, but carry a full array of necessary gear.
 

Product Information:

The information below came from Benchmade's website and User Care Manual.

Benchmade 530
Manufacturer: Benchmade Knife Company, Inc.
Manufacturer website: http://www.Benchmade.com
Place of Manufacture: U.S.A.
Year Manufactured: 2011
Materials: Blade: 154CM Stainless Steel
Liners: 420J stainless steel
Handle Scales: Grivory®
Pocket Clip: Steel
Blade Type: modified spear-point
Locking Mechanism: AXIS®
Models Available: Plain Edge/Satin Finish Blade
ComboEdge®/Satin Finish Blade
Plain Edge/BK1® Coated Blade
ComboEdge®/BK1® Coated Blade
Warranty:

Limited Lifetime Warranty

"Benchmade Knife Company, Inc. (“Benchmade”) warrants to the original owner that this knife will be free from defects in materials and workmanship. Benchmade will, without charge, repair or replace, at Benchmade’s option, any knife returned for Warranty work and found to be defective by Benchmade."

MSRP:
Plain Edge/Satin Finish $105 US
ComboEdge®/Satin Finish $105 US
Plain Edge/BK1® Coated $120 US
ComboEdge®/BK1® Coated $120 US

Product Specifications
Manufacturer's Specifications  
Weight: 1.88 oz (53.3 g)
Listed Dimensions
Blade Length
Knife Length (open)
Knife Length (closed)
Handle Thickness
3.25 in (8.3 cm)
7.42 in (18.8 cm)
4.17 in (10.6 cm)
0.37 in (0.94 cm)
Tester's Actual Measurements  
Weight: [with pocket clip on] 1.9 oz (53.9 g)
Listed Dimensions
Blade Length
Knife Length (open)
Knife Length (closed)
Handle Thickness
3.25 in (8.3 cm)
7.42 in (18.8 cm)
4.17 in (10.6 cm)
0.37 in (0.94 cm)

Product Description:

530_left 530_right

The 530 [hereafter referred to as "knife" or "530"] is a lightweight, manual-opening, folding knife with a modified spear-point blade, ambidextrous dual thumb-stud opener, black plastic handles, and a pocket clip. Additionlly, when fully extended, the blade locks. This simple folding knife is a Mel Pardue design. Mr. Pardue is a senior member of Benchmade's design team. According to Benchmade's website, Mel's designs "offer great utility to the everyday knife user while at the same time presenting an upscale distinction." It is a member of Benchmade's Blue Class knives. These knives are made in the U.S.A. and are designed and built for individuals who appreciate high-quality knives.

The listed features of the knife include:

  • sub two ounces
  • 530_blade
  • AXIS® locking mechanism
  • Modified spear-point blade with ambidextrous dual thumb-stud opener
  • 154CM stainless steel blade (58-61HRC)
  • Grivory® handle scales
  • 420J stainless steel liners
  • reversible steel pocket clip

The modified spear-point blade [see photo on right], which is 3.25 in (8.3 cm) in length, is made of 154CM stainless steel. 154CM is the American-made equivalent of ATS-34T, the Japanese premium grade stainless steel owned by Hitachi Steels, which is used by most custom knife makers and upper echelon factory knives. 154CM, the American made premium stainless steel, was originally developed for turbine blades in jet engines. According to northamericanknives.com, it is "a high carbon steel with 1.05% carbon. It also contains about 14% chromium. Many people consider 154CM knife steel to be 'super steel'." 154CM has good corrosion resistance, excellent toughness and edge quality. 154CM is not a standard grade designation, but rather a manufacturer's trade name.

530_clipThe blade has a hardness rating of 58-61HRC. HRC stands for the Rockwell Hardness Scale, which was invented by Hugh and Stanley Rockwell. HRC is a non-destructive method of measuring steel indentation hardness by depressing a diamond crystal into the steel. Very hard steel (e.g. a higher quality knife blade) has a HRC rating of 55-66; this blade falls well within the range for very hard steel. This very hard steel blade has a satin finish, which has a low-luster sheen.

The blade liners are made of 420J stainless steel. 420J is very stain resistant and tough, but is quite soft. It is only used for blades in less-expensive knives due to its ease of machining.

The scales, or grips on the handle, are molded out of Grivory®, a fiberglass reinforced plastic that is UV and heat stabilized. Benchmade calls the pocket clip [see photo on right] on the 530 a "Reversible, Tip-Up clip." Although it came attached on the right side of the knife, it can be relocated to the left side if one prefers.

530_AxisThe knife has the AXIS® locking mechanism [see photo on right]. According to Benchmade, AXIS is a "patented Benchmade exclusive, AXIS® has been turning heads and winning fans ever since its introduction. A 100-percent ambidextrous design, AXIS® gets its function from a small, hardened steel bar which rides forward and back in a slot machined into both steel liners. The bar extends to both sides of the knife, spans the liners, and is positioned over the rear of the blade. It engages a ramped, tang portion of the knife blade when it is opened. Two omega style springs, one on each liner, give the locking bar its inertia to engage the knife tang. As a result, the tang is wedged solidly between a sizable stop pin and the AXIS® bar itself. Available in manual, assist or automatic configurations."

On top of the handle, right above the Axis locking mechanism, there is 1 in (2.54 cm) ribbed metal thumb grip on each side of the blade. A nice feature that shows Benchmade's attention to detail. The handle itself is contoured from front to back, measuring approximately 1 in (2.55 cm) from top to bottom at the thickest point. The butt of the handle flares out in a fish-tail like fashion. There is a lanyard hole in the top of flare.

The knife came with a User Care Manual. This manual briefly describes each of Benchmade's four classes of knives (although Benchmade had discontinued its Red Class. The manual also outlines proper knife care and maintenance which includes occasionally applying a good metal sealer as needed. Benchmade says the best way to re-sharpen a knife is to never let it become dull to begin with; touch up the edge as needed and maintain the bevel for maximum sharpness. The manual also includes a Warranty Registration Card, information about Benchmade's LifeSharp program as well as warranty information.

Benchmade also provided a cloth storage bag with a drawcord and cordlock.

Initial Impression:

Pulling the knife out of its cloth storage bag, I was immediately impressed with the light weight of this 7+ in (18+ cm) knife. I also liked its slimness. Albeit simple in design, the handle, with its ribs on each side, seemed to provide good grip. Testing with cold, wet hands and/or gloved hands will prove whether the scales provide sufficient grip to keep the knife in hand.

Initial Testing:

My initial testing consisted of a thorough examination of the knife. There were no noticeable flaws. I then proceeded to open the knife using the black ambidextrous dual thumb-stud opener. It opened easily and smoothly. Next, I grabbed hold of the blade and wiggled and pushed down on it to test the integrity of the locking mechanism--it held fast. To release the Axis locking mechanism, with my right hand, I simply pinched the ends of its steel bar between my thumb and index finger and pulled it in toward my hand. Using my left hand, I closed the blade: very simple and intuitive.

I am anxious to put this knife to the test to see how well it maintains its edge, resists rusting, and performs overall.

Initial Pros:

Initial Cons:

  • lightweight
  • slim design
  • lockable blade
  • none

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FIELD REPORT
January 14, 2012

Summary:

Although only half way through the test series, I have to say I love this knife, it has quickly become my favorite. I have used it numerous times to cut a variety of things, and it has performed flawlessly.

Likes Thus Far Dislikes Thus Far
  • lightweight
  • slim design
  • lockable blade
  • quality workmanship
  • none

Field Locations and Test Conditions:

I carried the knife with me nearly every day since receiving it.

I made one overnight trip to the Kelly Canyon Nordic Area during this phase of the test. The Nordic area is located 26 miles (42 km) northeast of Idaho Falls, in the Targhee National Forest. The Nordic Area starts at an elevation of approximately 5,900 ft (1,798 m) and reaches elevations of 6,700 ft (2,042 m). We began skiing in to the warming hut about 8:30 p.m. MST. The temperature at the time we began skiing was 18 F (-8 C) and there was a slight breeze. My guess is that overnight temperatures were near 0 F (-18 C).

Observations:

I always carry my knife in my right front pants pocket. I used the pocket clip to secure the 530 to my pocket as close to the side seam as possible when carrying it to work and kicking around. I was impressed with how unobtrusive it was; I quickly forgot it was there. In my daily chores, I used the knife to cut boxes, blister packs, plastic zip ties and parachute cord. With the 530, I was able to do so almost effortlessly.

On my overnight outing backcountry ski outing I carried the knife in my right front pants pocket. However, I did not use the pocket clip; the knife was secured by the zippered pocket on my softshell ski pants. Again I was impressed with how unobtrusive it was. It did not hinder my skiing or other movements in any way. I used the knife to cut my broccoli prior to cooking and to cut my steak for dinner. I also used it to prepare my breakfast: splitting English muffins and spreading butter on them in order to toast them prior to heating pre-cooked bacon and cheese on the muffin. As one might guess, the knife was overkill for these tasks, but it worked very nicely.

With minimal effort, the 530 continues to open and close (right and left handed) as easily as the day it arrived. The AXIS® locking mechanism is easy to work and holds the blade firmly in the locked position. The locking mechanism is easily released when ready to stow the blade. Thus far, the scales (or grips) have provided excellent grip. The blade arrived sharp, and remains sharp. Therefore, I have not had to sharpen it whatsoever. If needed, I will sharpen it during the Long-Term phase to see how easy it is to do.

Known as a top-shelf knife company, Benchmade has delivered a quality, lightweight product in the 530. I am very impressed thus far and it has quickly become my first choice when I have need of a knife. Further testing will determine whether anything changes its status.

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LONG TERM REPORT
March 5, 2012

Summary:

During this phase of the test series, I used the knife on four additional overnight cross-country ski outings. I also used the knife numerous other times for various chores. I love this knife, it is slim, lightweight, and the blade size has been adequate for everything I have needed during the test series. The blade holds an edge very well.

Likes Dislikes
  • lightweight
  • slim design
  • lockable blade
  • holds edge well
  • quality workmanship
  • none

Field Locations and Test Conditions:

530_DinnerDuring the final phase of this test series, I made four more overnight ski trips into the Warming Hut in the Kelly Canyon Nordic Area. The Nordic area is located 26 miles (42 km) northeast of Idaho Falls, in the Targhee National Forest. The Nordic Area starts at an elevation of approximately 5,900 ft (1,798 m) and reaches elevations of 6,700 ft (2,042 m). On each trip, we skied in after work, starting between 7:30 pm and 8:30 p.m. MST. We generally started skiing back out between 8:30 - 9:00 a.m. MST. The temperature ranged from the low teens (-10 C) to the upper 20s (-2 C) on these outings. On all four ski trips, I carried the knife in my zippered right front pants pocket. On these outings, I used the knife primarily to cut my steak and butter my baked potato for dinner, and butter my English muffins for breakfast. However, I also used it to cut fine kindling to start fires.

Observations:

The knife is nearly as sharp as the day it arrived. Whether cutting paracord, blister packs, steak, or even fine kindling for a fire, the 530 has performed nicely throughout the test series. The blade size has been ideal; not too large or too small for the jobs for which I needed it. The slim design and its light weight make it a great knife for backpacking, hiking, and backcountry skiing. The Axis locking mechanism has held fast; especially comforting when splitting fine kindling. The Benchmade 530 has become the knife I prefer to carry in my pocket when I just need a sharp blade; whether it is around town or on my excursions into the backcountry.

This concludes my Benchmade 530 Test Series. Thanks to Benchmade and BackpackGearTest for allowing me to test this lightweight knife.

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Reviews > Knives > Folding > Benchmade 530 Knife > Test Report by Ryan Lane Christensen



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