Benchmade Griptilian & Rift
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- Last updated: 13/12/2016
Benchmade are a US knife maker who do not seem to have as much presence in the UK when compared to names like Buck, Spyderco and Cold Steel. This is regrettable as build quality and innovation of this brand was, as I discovered, very good and certainly up to the others. So I was pleased when I got an e-mail from Alicia Hunt (PR Coordinator) asking if I would like to test some knives. Checking out the website showed a load of good stuff so here are the first two from the wish list I sent – the Griptilian Tanto and 950 RIFT folders.
Both models use the same axis lock mechanisms. This uses a sprung, cross bolt positioned behind the hinge. The rear of the blade is L-shaped, which when open allows the bolt to slide forward and secure it. With a short throw of just 0.350” this is a simple and practical system.
Apart from that the two could not be more different! The Griptilian offers a range of folders in various sizes and blade styles, but here the ethos is of workmanlike simplicity. My example was a tanto with its distinctive, angular blade.
Flat ground the blade is 3.4” long and made of 154CM stainless (58-61HRC). The top drops down to a false edge at the front and at the rear are ambidextrous opening lugs. On top is a short, gimped section for added thumb support. As with all Benchmade knives their distinctive and unusual Butterfly logo is etched on.
The handle is a moulded, black synthetic with aggressive gripping sections on the sides that doubtless give the knife its name. Inside is a minimal stainless skeleton that supports the lock and hinge plates. Grip is further enhanced by gimped sections on top and below the guard.
The handle shape goes for a lower half guard with a wasp-waisted layout that fills the hand nicely. At the rear is a lanyard hole and reversible clothing clip that gives a tip-up carry. The name says it all; as the Griptilian is one secure knife to hold and use and I found it pleasingly practical.
Where the Griptilian is all utility, the 950 RIFT though equally practical is far more cosmetically appealing. Blade steel is the same, as are the ambi opening lugs, but the style is described as a reverse tanto. At 3.67” it shows a curved tip and a hollow grind with a larger/curved false edge and no gimping. Underneath is what could be called a short choil, which is too small to get your finger in, so more of a relief cut.
The frame is blacked, 420J steel with G10 scales screwed on. This example is layered black and grey and gives a pleasing look. The shape shows a half guard up front with a rear choil and a concave middle, this locks into the hand nicely, Grip is enhanced by textured cuts that puts me in mind of a fish or leaf fossil. Again we see a lanyard hole and reversible, point-up clothing clip. In use I did find the handle a bit hard in the hand.
At 8.27” (open) and 4.8oz the RIFT is larger and heavier than the Griptilian at 8.07” and 3.8oz and prettier too. However, after a deal of testing both knives cut and held their edges well enough and despite the far more attractive build of the RIFT I found myself preferring the Griptilian for its more practical handle design. OK the tanto style is not ideal for general use and here I would choose the drop point 551S option instead! A look at the catalogue shows that you can get both plain and combined edge (plain/scalloped) blades in stainless or blacked finish.
That aside I was generally impressed with this, my first look at Benchmade folders and am looking forward to testing more products as they also do some effective looking fixed blade designs too.
practical locking system
well worth a look
Griptilian Tanto 553S - £95.99
950 RIFT - £189.99
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