Imagine walking in the woods and discovering a knife on the forest floor. It’s a well-worn folder stamped with the Benchmade butterfly logo. Someone owned this knife for years, but they must have dropped it. You post a note at the trailhead advertising the missing knife next to your contact information.
But no one ever responds to claim it. It’s now yours. You own a US-manufactured Benchmade knife, and the best part is that you can pack it up, ship it to their headquarters in Oregon, where master craftsmen will tune it, clean it, sharpen it to a razor-fin edge, and ship back to you. For free.
This is the level of commitment that Benchmade offers their customers. They make world-class knives for every kind of person, from curious initiates to hardcore collectors. Working with notable designers like Shane Sibert, McHenry & Williams, and Mel Pardue, in addition to their own skilled thinkers, their products are as varied as they are numerous, and each one is proudly designed and manufactured right here in the USA—in the liberty-loving state of Oregon, where knife restrictions are basically nonexistent.
They’ve been in the business since 1988, establishing three main classes in their lineup that attracts a wide range of customers:
- Blue: Bread-and-butter type knives like folders and hunting knives, including the bestselling Griptilian that lives up to its name with a textured handle and ambidextrous thumb-stud opener.
- Black: The tactical line, including the ferocious Infidel, a demon with out-the-front opening action that unleashes a double-edged spearpoint blade. The Black class also includes fixed blades and sheathed knives for use in military and law enforcement applications.
- Gold: These masterclass knives are only available on Benchmade’s website, and it’s not uncommon for these gems to take months to arrive if you muster up the coin to purchase them. Using gorgeous Damascus steel—with patterns of banding and mottling looking like the surface of a river—no two knives in the Gold class are alike. Do yourself a favor and sign up to be notified when the Axis Stryker II comes back in stock.
“Our materials are sourced for performance. Not manufacturability.” Says Kathy Delaplain, who was nice enough to demo some products for GovX employees at our office. As the sounds of axis locks snapping as we played around with flashy automatics and gleaming prototypes, she explained these knives aren’t meant to be produced on massive scales. “We’re not going for cheaper steel or weaker materials, because that’s not the kind of product we want to make. Every knife is made to order and hand-assembled by up to 40 people. An order comes in, and that’s when we go to work.”
They begin with a sheet of steel, and then a computer-programmed laser arcs through the metal, launching incandescent sparks and cutting the basic profile of the blade. The blanks are then hammered out by hand and scrutinized. If it’s not an impeccable cut, it doesn’t become a knife. If it passes inspection, a technician grinds it to a precise width, with a tolerance of only 1:1000th of an inch allowed. At this point any additional holes or grooves the design demands are included, and then it’s time for some edgework. A beveling tech works one side at a time, making sure each side matches perfectly.
From there, the blade moves to the assembly line, where it’s carefully pieced together before the most important part: Sharpening. Every single Benchmade sold is hand-sharpened by one of only four employees, who train for years to become masters. Each blade is sharpened to a targeted 30-degree inclusive angle, 15 degrees on each side, and is sharp enough only when it can cut through ultra-thin phonebook paper effortlessly without tearing. A Benchmade knife is born.
“I love that we’re a company that manufactures,” writes Derrick Lau. “Seeing the folks who take so much pride in their craftsmanship gives me a good feeling, especially since we’re creating tools that serve folks in their lives and their work. We feel connected to each and every one of our customers.”
Though a Benchmade’s life begins the moment it leaves the sharpener’s table, you can confidently claim that the knife’s legacy lasts forever. Any knife purchased through an authorized source (including GovX, obviously) includes the company’s famed warranty. Whether it got passed down to you as an heirloom or came about it in finders-keepers fashion, it’s got the LifeSharp service, which sends back a perfectly sharpened blade free of charge whenever you want. However, knowing that no knife is truly indestructible; on the off chance the blade is broken to the point where it can’t be reshaped, Benchmade will replace the blade for only $40. Plus, if something does break, the opportunity to examine it when the customer returns it gives Benchmade the chance to improve on preexisting designs in order to make newer, better knives. The cycle of excellence continues.
This level of support has paid off during their nearly 30-year history. The company reports that their own customers tip them off to illegitimate sales on shady websites and unauthorized sellers. They don’t even sell to Amazon. Any Benchmade knife you find on Amazon is a sale that the company itself did not authorize, and they have a special department dedicated to snatching up this merchandise and preventing these kinds of sales.
Now you know why we’re so honored to have these guys on our team.
Since bringing Benchmade on board GovX over three years ago, our members have been placing orders every day. Shipping takes a little bit longer than most item on the site, since they’re so carefully manufactured and made to order. But as the reviews and feedback tell us, they’re well worth the wait.
If you have one of these knives, please know that both Benchmade and GovX thank you for your purchase. You own a knife with a true legacy of craftsmanship and quality, and we hope have the chance to give it to a loved one on the day when you no longer need it.
Just don’t lose it in the woods.