We’re continuing our trek through the best knives from each brand. This time we take on the formidable butterfly brand.
What’s interesting about Benchmade is that this list is populated by a lot of newer models, which is somewhat surprising from such a storied brand. That’s partly due to the fact that Benchmade has been going on quite a tear recently with some excellent new knives.
As always, these lists are highly subjective, so let us know which models you think are the best in the comments.
We’ll start with a no-brainer: the Griptilian. Despite being around for such a long time, the Grip family remains one of Benchmade’s best offerings — both because it’s an excellent design and because it’s almost become a budget option from the brand.
At this point, the Griptilian has undergone a lot of changes and you can get the knife in different blade steels, blade profiles, handle colors, and handle materials. The standard is now S30V steel and nylon scales.
Because we want to keep this list somewhat clean, we’re including Mini Grips here too. I still carry my Mini Grip frequently.
If I had to pick the best Grip, it would be the 555-1.
The Freek was talked about as a Griptilian killer when it was introduced a few years ago. While the Freek did not kick the Grip to the curb, it did prove itself to be one of Benchmade’s best. In 2019, Benchmade released a premium version of the Freek with M4 steel and G-10 handles.
The blade is reminiscent of the Doug Ritter designs and the knife just feels so refined.
The Bugout is yet another newer model that quickly captured the hearts of knife nuts everywhere. It is a lightweight knife that makes an excellent backpacking knife or everyday carry. It has a 3.24-inch S30V blade, blue grivory handles, and a deep-carry clip. All this comes in at under 2 ounces.
When you combine the look with the design you get a definite winner in the Bugout.
From the lightweight to the heavy duty — next up is the Benchmade Adamas. The 275 Adamas is a workhorse of a folder and often touted as one of the best working knives around. With the 3.82-inch thick D2 blade, G-10 scales, and thick liners, this thing is a tank.
The Adamas has since been made into an automatic version and a fixed blade. Designer Shane Sibert really hit it out of the park with this one. His other Benchmade — the Bushcrafter — also deserves a quick mention.
Benchmade Crooked River
Is the Crooked River family the best looking from Benchmade? I say yes.
This large folding hunting knife has a great 4-inch clip point blade made from S30V complemented by stabilized wood scales and aluminum bolsters. The orange pivot collar is another added touch that transforms a classic design into something more modern.
For many people, the large 4-inch blade was a dealbreaker but the Mini Crooked River somewhat remedied that with a 3.4-inch blade.
It does look a bit crazy for city folk to be carrying around what looks like a large hunting knife, but it’s hard to deny the beauty of this knife.
The Benchmade 940 no longer has the newness factor or charm of many of the knives coming out these days, but the knife remains so darn good. It’s just a lightweight knife that gets the job done without much ado.
The original has green aluminum handles and a great reverse tanto blade profile. I haven’t mentioned the AXIS lock yet, but it’s just a great locking mechanism that’s fun to use and keeps the hand away from the blade. It helps keep knives like the 940 slim and essential.
It’s no wonder this is frequently called one of the best EDC knives ever.
There are also a bunch of variations, including the 940-1 (which I think is the best despite the price).
The Barrage is a family of knives that use the AXIS Assist mechanism to spring the blades to life. At this point, you can get this knife in a ton of variations, but the base is a 3.6-inch 154CM steel blade with black Valox handles.
If you wanted to upgrade to the 586 Mini Barrage, you get M390 steel and G-10/aluminum handles. It’s a sleek and sexy design from Warren Osborne that remains a staple of Benchmade to this day.
Another recent release that found its way onto this list is the Proper. Who would have thought a gentleman’s slipjoint could have become one of Benchmade’s best?
But the Proper fills such an underrated niche — the modern gentleman’s folder. It has a small 2.86-inch blade that opens with a nail nick. The blade itself is a bit different and is almost a Wharncliffe-like design. You can get the handle in Micarta or G-10. (You have to hand it to Benchmade that it frequently goes away from black knives.)
The charm factor on this knife is very high.
I like going from extremes and there is no better contrast from the Proper than the Contego. Designed by the late Warren Osborne, the Contego is all black (if you get the black-coated version) and all aggression.
The nearly 4-inch blade has a reverse tanto profile with some jagged humps on the spine. Combine that with textured G-10 handle and you get something fierce. Still, with the use of the popular M4 steel and the overall tactical design, you get a classic Benchmade knife.
Benchmade North Fork
I had trouble filling this last slot. It was either this, the Infidel, or the 87 Bali-Song. While latter two may be technically better, they are far more expensive and far less practical, especially in places where they’re illegal. That’s why the North Fork gets the nod.
This is an excellent EDC knife with a smaller 2.97-inch S30V blade and either wood handles or G-10 handles. The wood version is almost like the Crooked River except more practical for EDC and can be carried anywhere without turning heads — from the outdoors to the office. The North Fork is part of the Benchmade HUNT line.