Wednesday, October 17, 2007
BENCHMADE GRIPTILLIAN - RECOMMENDED
Benchmade Model 556 Mini-Griptillian
The Benchmade Model 556 Mini-Griptillian is a Pardue design. It has a 2.91 inch
plain edge, satin finish drop point blade of 440C stainless steel, hardened to
58-60 HRC.. It's overall length is 6.78 inches, and closed it measures 3.87
inches. It weighs 2.56 oz. The locking mechanism is the patented AXIS lock that
is exclusive to Benchmade. The knife can be opened and closed by one hand, and
either hand can be used. Closing the knife does not require putting flesh in the
way of the closing blade, as a liner lock does. A thumb stud attached to the
blade gives a place for the thumb to push on to open the knife. A reversible
steel carry clip can secure the knife in a pocket or waistband.
Initially, I had a negative bias toward the Model 556 Mini-Griptillian because
the blade steel is 440C. The bias may have its genesis in seeing steels like ATS
34 and 154 CM in higher quality knives and in more knives, and thinking that
440C was relegated to less expensive knives. My bias had no merit. The Model 556
Mini-Griptillian was the sharpest knife I've ever opened. Sharpness is difficult
to quantify, but let me say this. The blade was sharp enough to catch on the
hair of my head.
I test a knife for sharpness first by seeing if the edge will dig in to my
thumbnail. I lay the edge gently on the thumbnail with the blade ninety degrees
to the surface and attempt to move the blade in a direction perpendicular to the
axis of the knife. If the blade catches the nail, and gives some resistance to
movement, the blade is pretty sharp. I then test the edge on my hair.
If it will grab hair on my head when I gently tap the hair with the knife edge
at about a ninety (90) degree angle to the surface of the head, going with the
grain of the hair, the knife is sharp enough to shave hair. Many knives can do
this, but the Model 556 Mini-Griptillian was did it with the least force of any
knife I've tried this with. The knife cut through corrugated cardboard like a
utility knive blade. The blade sharpened easily with several strokes of my
preferred sharpener, the Spyderco Tri-Angle Sharpmaker. The satin finish is
nice. Not too reflective, not too dull.
The scales on the knife are of a hard plastic. I have no further information on
its composition. The scales have a molded, non-slip raised diamond pattern. The
spine of the scales have shallow cuts as does the back of the blade in the area
where the thumb would be placed to add downward cutting force. These shallow
cuts make it less likely for the thumb to slip when working with a wet
conditions. The scales are attached to the stainless body by small TORX screws.
The shape of the knife fills my medium sized hands comfortably.
The Mini-Griptillian series knife is available in blue, green, purple, yellow
and black scales. The bright colors make finding the knife a bit easier. The
blade is available in a modified sheepsfoot blade and an oval thumb hole for
opening, or the drop point with a thumb stud opener. Either choice of blade is
available with a plain edge or combo-edge which is the blade about one-third
serrated near the pivot point. Some Mini-Griptillians are available with a BT2
proprietary black Telfon® coating for additional corrosion protection and
The Mini-Griptillian is not a light-weight knife at 2.56 oz or as it feels in
the hand. It's not a knife that I personally would choose to carry all day,
every day. I tried carrying all day using the carry clip in my back pocket, and
though I had no problems with it making me uncomfortable, there were times it
felt bulky. But there are advantages to the larger size.
The Griptillian is a good size and shape for extended work. It large enough to
grip and hold easily. The blade is thick and deep enough to take more abuse than
a folder should bear. What is interesting, the blade is heavy enough so that the
blade can be opened with a flick of the wrist. This takes a bit of practice. One
has to hold the AXIS lock back, flick the wrist and let the AXIS lock go in just
the right sequence. It's and impressive move, and you couldn't do it with a
light blade with less mass. The friction at the blade pivot can be adjusted with
a TORX screwdriver, so if one doesn't like this feature a bit more tension will
make it hard to open the knife and with less tension, the blade will flash out
like a snake strike.
The carry clip is proportioned to the knife and is easily clipped to the pants
pocket or back pocket. Because the carry clip presses against the raised diamond
pattern of the scales, the knive is very secure when the clip is used. There
was no discernable lateral movement between the blade and the handle in either
the open or closed positions.
I think because of its size and heft the Mini-Griptillian is a fine work knife.
A knife used often and hard through the day, a knife is used more often than it
is carried in the pocket. If I needed a knife carry more than work, I'd opt for
a smaller knife. There is a parallel in the shotgun world. A target shotgun is
generally heavier and longer than a field or hunting gun. A field gun is
generally lighter and shorter. The target gun is shot more than it is carried
and the field gun is carried more than it is shot. Each gun has the
characteristics that suit its function.
When I handle most Benchmade knives, I'm always impressed by the way they feel
when opening or closing them. What comes to mind is that handling a Benchmade
gives the same impression as handling a good break open shotgun or a fine
camera. Benchmade knives operate with a smoothness and precision that I find
only in the better pocket knives. That is the best reason for why I like
The Benchmade Model 556 Mini-Griptillian rates five (5) checks.
At a list price of $85, the Benchmade Model 556 Mini-Griptillian is a high value
item so we add the Shotgun Report Best Buy rating.
More information can be found at: www.benchmade.com