Friday, November 22, 2013

Product Review: Benchmade Griptilian 551

Today I will be reviewing the Benchmade 551 Griptilian. As you can see the knife has seen a decent amount of carry as well as use. I carried it for awhile until I stumbled into the Benchmade 5000 Presidio Auto in a deal. No issues with the Griptilian, I just ended up with a cooler knife so it got bumped out of circulation.

Well I moved to Louisiana which turns out to fear well dressed gangs getting into rumbles AKA my frickin knife. So the Benchmade Auto knife had to be repatriated to a place where it can be free. That brought folder #2 back up from the Bush leagues to EDC status.

One of my failures as a low rent journalist is that I am quick to do an IPR (in progress review) but not great at getting actual full reviews done. Largely this is because I really like to get a sense of a piece of gear before doing them, also I'm forgetful and lazy. Well I've been carrying it again for awhile now so it seems like a good time for a full review.

The Good: Rugged, durable, ergonomic, excellent fit and finish, easy to deploy as well as close, pretty much everything. Especially enjoy the blade design which is a great combination between the centered (along the axis of the handle/ whole knife) point needed for optimal stabbing and the gently swooping clip point which is useful for an all around utility type knife. I LOVE the axis lock system. It is so smooth and simple to use without a pesky liner lock or the weird Spyderco releases in back lock. The grip is thoughtfully textured and rigged in all the right areas. Most excellent all around.

Prices vary but expect to pay somewhere between $70 and $110 for the Griptilian line depending on the exact model. Think I paid around $100 for this one. In this regards they are a good option between the Spyderco/ CRKT/ Cold Steel knives and the considerably more expensive rest of the Benchmade line, Emerson and other premium brands. For a couple twenties over the Spyderco/ CRKT/ Cold Steel you can get a Griptilian which I think is considerably more knife.

The Bad: The grip is really fat which is a bit annoying in the pocket. I didn't bother to measure it but did compare it to other knives on inventory. For perspective it's handle is wider than all of my folding knives, including the Buck 110.

The Ugly: It got me into liking Benchmade knives. Over time a lot more money than is reasonable will probably go down that rabbit hole.

Discussion: When you buy a Benchmade or any other somewhat more expensive upper shelf type item you are paying for something. In some cases it is aesthetics or the newest coolest whatever. In this case I would submit you are paying partially for the name but also for superior fit and finish, quality materials and a warranty that is second to none. Aside from testing and evaluation or times I specifically want a semi disposable knife (flying, murdering hookers, etc all) I have a hard time seeing myself carrying a folding knife that is not a Benchmade. Well unless I get all hood rich then throw down the cash for an Emerson.

If you are looking for a knife that is better than the (totally servicable) generic decent folder but do not want/ have funds for a $200+ knife I would look hard at the Benchmade Griptilian series in whatever blade style suits your fancy. I like the Mel Pardue 551 myself.

Do you own a Benchmade Knife? What about a Griptilian? If so what do you think of them?


Harry Flashman said...

Nice looking knife but awfully expensive. Do you carry the knife for self defense or just because you might need a knife? I carry a folder but have little desire to get close enough to a Goblin to stick him or slash him. That's why I carry a gun.

Theother Ryan said...

Harry, The primary use is for normal everyday tasks with the potential for emergency use in self defense or some sort of survival situation. I like having a quality tool with me just in case. While it opens envelopes and cuts chicken more than it does cool survival stuff or stabs people it has those capabilities should I need them.

As to cost. These knives are not cheap but let's put it into perspective. Yeah this knife costs $100 or so but it gets used a lot. I carry a knife unless I'm sleeping, have just woke up and still in sleeping clothes, am in the water or doing PT. This knife gets a whole lot more use than many expensive 2k plus safe queen firearms that are sitting around gathering dust.

TEOTWAWKI Blog / Alexander Wolf said...

Harry -

The Griptillian is an "entry-level" brand name knife. Good folders from companies like Benchmade, Spyderco, Emerson and others routinely run well over $150. If you've used cheap $15 knives your whole life, you don't know what you're missing 'till you've tried.

And, last time I checked, you can't always dictate engagement distance. Goblins can get up close, whether you like it or not, and in such situations, you can't always access your gun. A knife can be helpful for slashing your way out of such situations and retaining your handgun.

Ryan -

You can get into Emersons for just a bit over $100 if you shop around. They are pretty nice...too nice to use sometimes.

Anonymous said...

I currently own three Benchmade knives.
One is a 710 (~4" blade axis lock folder.) I have had it for at least 10 years, and it is still one of the smoothest knives I have handled. This knife typically lives in my GHB.

My EDC is the the Gravitator, (~3.5" blade ti liner lock folder). The good: holds an awesome edge, rides deep in my pocket, and very ergonomic. The bad: it is very "mean" looking and can tear up pockets due to jimping on the thumb ramp. Also pricey for an edc.

The third is a Nimravus fixed blade, that I got for a whopping $20 on craigslist. There are some scratches on the blade, but that was it. It is thin, light and very utilitarian. It has become my go-to fixed blade.

All that said, there are several other benchmades I would be happy to own. I'm also considering a Spyderco Manix. The lock is almost the same as the AXIS and it looks more friendly than my Benchmades.

My .02


Anonymous said...

I lucked into a Benchmade Talon II at a pawn shop. It has been carried extensively, and the handles are scratched, as is the blade, but otherwise, it is intact = a user you don't mind hurting in other words. Its a mid 1990s knife. The pocket clip was missing, but contacting Benchmade, they honored the warranty and sent one to me for free ! Way cool Benchmade!

I'm not at expert, but I'm pretty impressed with it quality. I can see where a 'knifeaholic' can get caught up.

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