BENCHMADE MINI GRIPTILIAN 556 KNIFE
BY SAM STAMEY
July 01, 2008
samstamey at yahoo dot com
Santa Rosa, CA
6' 0" (1.83 m)
170 lb (77.00 kg)
Backpacking background: I started backpacking two years ago with my wife and two children (ages 8 and 10 at the time). We have been car camping for 20+ years.
Most of our backpacking has been three season camping in the Sierras, 6000 -12,000 ft (1800 m - 3658 m) and on the Northern California Coast.
We mostly do a combination of car camping and backpacking.
Our family recently switched from one 4 person tent to using two 2 person tents. I usually carry most of the weight and my internal frame pack weighs between 40-50 lb (18-22 kg).
Manufacturer: Benchmade Knife Company, Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.benchmade.com
MSRP: US$ 90.00
Listed Weight: 2.56 oz (73 g)
Measured Weight: 2.6 oz (74 g)
Listed Blade Length: 2.91" (74 mm)
Measured blade length: 2.83" (72 mm)
Listed Blade Thickness: 0.100" (2.54 mm)
Measured Blade Thickness: 0.120" (3 mm)
Blade Material: 154CM Stainless Steel
Blade Hardness: 58-60HRC
Blade Style: Modified Drop-Point
Lock Mechanism: AXIS
Listed Overall Length: 6.78" (172 mm)
Measured Overall Length: 6.81" (174 mm)
Listed Closed Length: 3.87" (98 mm)
Measured Length: 3.87" (98 mm)
The Benchmade Mini-Griptilian 556 knife is a knife designed for general use and comes in many different colors and two blade configurations: plain edge and partially serrated edge. The model I own is the Mini-Griptilian 556-YEL. It is a plain edge knife with a bright yellow handle and a modified drop point blade.
The blade is made out of 154CM stainless steel with a hardness of 58-60HRC. The type of blade is a modified drop point, a blade with convex curve in the tip of the knife, which adds strength to the tip while still providing enough belly for slicing and spreading mustard, jelly, etc. The blade came from the factory extremely sharp and because it is a plain edged knife there is no need for a special sharpening system.
The handle is made from aluminum and has a textured grip on about 3/4 of each side which, along with the flat color, aids in the grip of the knife even when wet.
Opening the blade is very easy using ambidextrous thumb-stud openers located on both sides of the blade. These are small metal "buttons", attached to the blade where my thumb naturally rest, which creates a perfect pushing location for my thumb without being big enough to get int the way. I can easily open the knife with one hand using a thumb to flick open the blade into a solid , audible "snap" of the lock.
The locking system is Benchmade's patented exclusive AXIS mechanism which locks the blade in place solidly and can be unlocked with one hand. Unlocking the knife is almost as easy as locking the knife. A sliding mechanism is located on either side of the handle near where my thumb and forefinger naturally lay on the handle. I close the blade by using either my thumb, my forefinger, or both to slide the mechanism back while folding the blade back into the handle.
Along with the lanyard hole in the end of the handle is a clip that can be used on a belt, web strapping or a pocket. The clip is made out of metal and is very strong. It can be switched to either side of the handle to carry either left or right handed.
I was very impressed by the knife from the first time that I opened the box. Benchmade has made it clear with their packaging and presentation that this is a quality product from a quality company.
The box itself is well made and has the Benchmade logo clearly printed on it. Inside the sturdy box I found the knife in a plastic bag inside a foam cushion formed around the knife. Along with the knife came instructions and nice silk type carrying bag with the Benchmade emblem on it. I am not sure if I will ever use the bag itself but it is a nice touch.
The yellow color is fantastic. It is a flat yellow but also shows depth. The first time that I picked it up I was impressed by the feel of quality and how well it fit my hand.
Day to day and field use
I have carried this knife daily for about the last six months and roughly 14 nights of backpacking.
As a daily carry knife it is almost perfect for me. It fits well in my pocket and is not too heavy (2.6 oz (74 g)). The knife is nicely balanced and does not weigh my pocket down as some of my other knives do. There is also a clip on the knife that can be switched to either side depending on what hand is used to open the knife.
I seldom use the clip but I have tested it on various pants pockets, belts, and backpack straps. The clip is very tight and takes a good strong pull to release it from what it is clipped on. I have never dropped the knife while it was clipped to my belt or pocket. The only concern that I see is that the clip is so tight that it actually has worn my pockets thin where it clips.
I have had this knife for over 6 months and I try to use it for everything that I can think a knife would be used for. I open packages, cut threads from clothes, open envelopes, slice tomatoes, meat, and sandwiches and pull splinters out of my hands. The blade is long enough for slicing food and the tip is sharp enough for doing detailed work such as splinter removal. I carry this knife and I don't know how I lived without it before I bought it.
For hiking and backpacking it is indispensable. I use it for food preparation, cutting ropes for tents and tarps, cleaning fish, preparing tinder for the fire and a number of other things that I find around a campsite. The bright yellow handle has saved my knife more than once. I have dropped it in a stream and was able to see it in the water and recover it. Sometimes I will set it down in camp while I am doing something else and then I panic when I find it is not in my pocket. A quick look around camp will usually produce a bright yellow flash of the knife and save me time looking for it.
The blade came from the factory with a very sharp edge and holds it edge for a long time. I have touched up the edge a few strokes on a ceramic rod and I have not experienced any chips or nicks in the blade. The entire quality of the knife is outstanding in my opinion. The blade is made of quality steel, the handles are attached firmly with Torx head screws, the clip is solidly attached to the knife and the AXIS lock shows no sign of wear after many months of everyday use.
The factory satin finish on the blade is very shiny and smooth. The finish does not show any signs of wear or breakdown. For some reason it seems that almost everything that I cut sticks to the blade finish. Whether it is fish, paper, cotton or food, it all seems to stick more so than on other knives that I own. Wiping the blade clean takes more effort and as a result I spend more time on the blade before I can close the knife.
Things I like
Quality of the knife
Small size and weight make it ideal for an everyday carry
Easy one handed opening
Solid locking mechanism
Things I don't like
The only thing that I found that I do not like about the knife is the satin finish on the blade. Most things that I cut with the knife seem to stick to the blade. A quick wipe with a towel is often not enough to clean the blade and the need to use soap and water on some things that would normally wipe clean on other knives.
This is a great knife for everyday carry as well as backpacking and hiking. The knife is light enough to carry anywhere but is strong enough and has a big enough blade to be useful in a variety of applications such as food preparation, cleaning fish, cutting cord and slicing.
I have lost other knives in while out backpacking. With the strong clip and the bright yellow handle I feel that I will have less of a chance of losing this knife. The blade keeps its edge well and resharpens quickly.
The AXIS lock is strong and I have not felt any indications of it working loose.
Other than the sticky blade I have no complaints about this knife. I own several folding knives and this is the one that I choose to carry everyday.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
samstamey at yahoo dot com
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