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Survival knives

Knife review: The Benchmade Griptilian is Benchmade’s rock star

Knife review: The Benchmade Griptilian is Benchmade’s rock star


What’s a reliable, high quality lockblade folder? Check out the Benchmade™ 551 Griptilian™.

by Leon Pantenburg

Knivesshipfree is a Survivalcommonsense.com sponsor. The company did not supply a free knife for this review, and I was not paid to write this review.

I prefer to carry a rigid blade knife whenever practical, but there are times when a folder is the best choice. I don’t leave the house without a pocket knife, and which one depends on what I’m doing.

The Benchmade Griptillian is a sound choice for an all-around folding knife.

The Benchmade Griptilian is a sound choice for an all-around folding knife.

The urban pocket knife may be called upon to slice a bagel, spread peanut butter, open mail etc. In my case, I’d add  cutting the plastic bands that hold bundles of newspaper together. But my pocket knife must also work well outdoors in a wilderness setting.

My son Dan, a former Boy Scout, carries a knife every day also, but his knife needs are different. He lives in the Portland, Oregon area and plays in a band that tours regularly.

Dan uses a folder when setting up and tearing down the stage setups. One-handed opening is a plus, he says, when carrying gear and needing to cut something. His knife opens boxes, cuts duct and gaffer tape and does everything a utility needs to do.

We’re not the only ones who like this knife. The Griptilian is the recommended folder for several Search and Rescue teams, and these folks don’t mess around with gear that might not work in a pinch.

I also have criteria for picking a folder, based on years of use, experience and prejudice. If you’re interested in what I judge a folder on, click on pocket knives.

Here’s what I found out about the Griptilian:


Overall Length: 8.07″
Closed Length: 4.62″
Blade Length: 3.45″
Blade Thickness: 0.115″
Handle Thickness: 0.640″
Weight: 4.62oz.
Pocket Clip: Tip Up, Reversible
Lock Mechanism: AXIS® locking mechanism
Blade Material: 154CM Stainless Steel
Blade Hardness: 58-61HRC
Blade Style: Satin Finish, Modified Drop Point

Here’s the good things:

Handle: The 551 has a grip texture molded handle. The material doesn’t appear to transmit heat or cold. It also is comfortable in my hand, so extended whittling sessions are not a problem. The clip fits nicely in the hollow of  my hand, and so far, it hasn’t caused hot spots and subsequent blisters.

It comes in a variety of colors, which is important for camouflage. My daughter’s Griptilian has a pink handle. It looks cute, and generally doesn’t concern casual viewers. Dan specifically wanted a high visibility orange handle, so the knife could be easily spotted if it was left somewhere. Besides, what gang banger wants to steal a knife that can be seen?

Blade design: The point is a modified drop point, and that is a good choice for a knife that will be expected to do everything. At 3.45 inches, the length is handy for small tasks, but still able to do hard work. It would work quite well as a small game and deer hunting knife.

The AXIS is one of the best blade locks on the market.

The AXIS is one of the best blade locks on the market.

Blade lock: I don’t trust the safety on any firearm, or the lock on any folder. But the AXIS is one of the best blade locks on the market, IMO. It is smooth, locks up like a safe, and is easy to engage and disengage. With a little practice, the Griptilian can be opened and closed one-handed. With a little more practice, the knife can be opened as fast, or faster, than a flipper or assisted opening knife.

Dan’s Griptilian has had hard, extended use, and the lock is still tight, with no sign of wobble.

Steel: A pretty knife with crappy steel is a waste of money. The Benchmade Griptilian is made of 154CM and it’s excellent for this blade.

When Dan brought his Griptilian home after two months of hard use on the road, the blade was not particularly sharp. But all it took was a quick stropping to bring it back to hair-popping sharp.

Made in the USA: Benchmade knives are made in Oregon City, Oregon. This means the business and employees are state and federal taxpayers who contribute to their community. Support American small business!

The Griptilian retails for about $100. This is a fair price for a quality piece of cutlery that will last a long time.

Derrick Bohn, owner of Knivesshipfree, sells a lot of knives. He says the Griptilan gives the “best bang for your buck.”

“I suppose the best recommendation of these knives would be that when people come into our store and ask me to suggest a modern folder, I point to Benchmade — always,” Bohn said.

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Leon Pantenburg is a wilderness enthusiast, and doesn't claim to be a survival expert or expertise as a survivalist. As a newspaperman and journalist for three decades, covering search and rescue, sheriff's departments, floods, forest fires and other natural disasters and outdoor emergencies, Leon learned many people died unnecessarily or escaped miraculously from outdoor emergency situations when simple, common sense might have changed the outcome. Leon now teaches common sense techniques to the average person in order to avert potential disasters. His emphasis is on tried and tested, simple techniques of wilderness survival. Every technique, piece of equipment or skill recommended on this website has been thoroughly tested and researched. After graduating from Iowa State University, Leon completed a six-month, 2,552-mile solo Mississippi River canoe trip from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minn., to the Gulf of Mexico. His wilderness backpacking experience includes extended solos through Yellowstone’s backcountry; hiking the John Muir Trail in California, and numerous shorter trips along the Pacific Crest Trail. Other mountain backpacking trips include hikes through the Uintas in Utah; the Beartooths in Montana; the Sawtooths in Idaho; the Pryors, the Wind River Range, Tetons and Bighorns in Wyoming; Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the Catskills in New York and Death Valley National Monument in southern California. Some of Leon's canoe trips include sojourns through the Okefenokee Swamp and National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, the Big Black River swamp in Mississippi and the Boundary Waters canoe area in northern Minnesota and numerous small river trips in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Leon is also an avid fisherman and an elk, deer, upland game and waterfowl hunter. Since 1991, Leon has been an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, and is a scoutmaster wilderness skills trainer for the Boy Scouts’ Fremont District. Leon earned a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, and competed in his last tournament (sparring and form) at age 49. He is an enthusiastic Bluegrass mandolin picker and fiddler and two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships.

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