While by no means a new knife on the market, the Benchmade Griptilian is truly an American classic! It’s such a popular knife that it has been a mainstay of Benchmade for years, and they have lots of versions. Not only that, but there’s a completely separate family of knives at Benchmade called “Mini Griptilian” so they REALLY like that Griptilian name and quality. If that wasn’t enough, Benchmade has made it easy to customize your whole knife on their website, but you’ll pay a premium vs. buying it at Amazon or BladeHQ.
Bit O History
This solid company dates back to 1980 when it started making balisongs under the incorporated name of BALI-SONG. The company was successful early on and of course, that encouragement spurred them on to greater works!
The company continued to grow for the next seven years by expanding its product line to fix and conventional folding blades, and along the way, the name changed to Pacific Cutlery Corporation. However, it ran into logistical problems pertaining to quality control (which was tied to price) and even issues of delivery to customers and retailers.
So, it had to file for bankruptcy. However, a big lesson was learned, and shortly after, the company was reborn and re-tooled with a new vision. Among other things, an emphasis on American manufacturing was key.
That would take care of inventory, quality and customer relations issues, and again, along the way, a new name was developed. BENCHMADE was a name that resonated with management. While machines made parts, they were hand-assembled on a bench with skilled craftsmen. This was the idea the company wanted to portray, and here we are!
Based in Oregon City, Oregon, Benchmade is on par with the world’s best knife-makers, and the good news for you is that Benchmade MUST continue to bring its “A-game” or risk being swamped by the tough competition in the market today. You and I are the recipients of that quality and innovation.
- Weight: 3.8 oz
- Overall Length: 8.07 inches
- Blade Length: 3.45 inches
- Closed Length: 4-3/4 inches
- Blade Material: 154CM
- Handle Material: Noryl GTX
- Hardness: 58-60 HRC
- Opening: Thumb Hole (non-assisted)
- Lock: Axis
- Blade Style: Sheepsfoot
- Blade Grind: Hollow Grind
- Clip: Right/Left carry with tip-up option only
- Best Use: EDC / Outdoor
Steel Hardness Chart
The steel itself (154CM) is more than adequate to handle any situation that anyone would find themselves in just about anywhere in the world! It’s not D2 steel, but that only means you’ll have a blade that won’t rust as quickly. Arguments??
For whatever unknown reason, the click this blade makes when opening, is a unique click that just sounds “cool” and oozing with high-end quality. It’s not a cheap “click”. It’s hard to explain, but I know you’ll agree if you ever get the chance to handle one. Thanks to the Axis lock for the click!
We really appreciate the ability to play with this knife in that I can flick it open not only with one hand, but with NO thumb! Well, technically, I use my thumb and index finger to pull down on the axis lock mechanism located on either side of the handle scales. Once I do that, I can freely flick my wrist to open it and reverse that to close the blade. It’s not a crucial feature, but it’s FUN!
The blade also features gimping along the top just under the thumb (as expected).
Grip and Handle
The handle material is really a version of reinforced nylon called Noryl GTX and it’s very inflexible. While there is a bit of metal lining inside the handle (which adds to both weight and rigidity), the back of the handle has no opening along most of the length. Because the two handle sides connect with each other, there is no flexing or “give” in the handle which we appreciate. The raised texture on the handle is welcome when you need a sure grip. Technically, if you count all the separate locations of gimping and how they are made, you could count SIX different gimping locations on the handle.
There metal gimping for your thumb and index finger, while just behind the thumb and the index finger, the gimping continues onto the handle in a less aggressive form. Then on the top of the butt (rear) of the handle, there is gimping and again on the bottom of the handle!
Benchmade uses an Axis lock on the Griptilian which is just a solid, short bar or pin that rests on top of a flat section of the blade in the handle. the blade cannot be folded within disengaging the axis lock. One of the reasons we like it is that anyone (with about 5 min or less of practice), can flick the blade open and shut (as mentioned earlier) as long as the lock is disengaged. It’s the lock that determines the sound of the click which we also really like in this particular model.
I purchased the all-black version of the Griptilian 550 HG and I’m not sorry! The black coating is holding up well (though I haven’t done any batoning or anything super-stressing). The look is aggressive and intimidating if you like that kind of thing and the black makes it as “camouflaged” as possible by not allowing reflections. The handle is a bit thicker than it needs to be, but that only adds to the positive feel and comfort level in your hand. It’s exceptionally light for a knife with a steel liner in the handle, so we give it points for that accomplishment.
The packaging is VERY nice with decorative foam and a box that someone actually put some thought into for looks and visual appeal.
The top 3 things to love:
- Opening sound (Axis lock)
- Opening (and closing) Style (one hand and no thumbs)
- Color (all-black) and packaging (great aesthetics)
The top 1 thing to NOT love about the Griptilian:
- The (barely) sub-$200 price point is quite high