The Benchmade adventure began when Les de Asis wanted a knife that reflected the latest in materials and manufacturing technology to replace the cheap butterfly knives, known as Bali-Songs, he played with as a kid. Using his high-school shop skills, he blueprinted his dream knife before eventually meeting Victor Anselmo, who helped to grind the first ever pre-Benchmade Bali-Song® prototype. Paired with handles that Les sourced from a small machine shop in California, he assembled and finished his first Bali-Song® in his own garage. Proud of his creation, he took this first Bali-Song® into a local gun store and the owner asked, “Could you build 100 more?”
Les incorporated as Bali-Song®, Inc. and rented a small shop in a second story mezzanine in California. The original equipment was purchased from the owner of a manufacturing operation who was looking to retire. Utilizing the rudimentary technology available to him at the time, Les began building handmade custom Bali-Songs, along with Jody Sampson, who ground all the blades. The success of these custom Balis spurred the creation of the first production Bali-Song®: The model 68.
Over the next seven years, the company expanded its product offerings into fixed blades and conventional folding knives, and evolving its name from Bali-song®, Inc. to Pacific Cutlery Corp.
Due to its inability to control quality, price and delivery, Pacific Cutlery Corp. filed for bankruptcy and was dissolved. In 1988, Les reintroduced a new company and new version of the Model 68; This time with a drive to produce product in the US and an even stronger commitment to product availability, quality and customer relationships. The company now needed a new name.
While there was “handmade” and “factory-made,” it was “Benchmade” that described the quality of Les’ product. He was building an operation that made precision parts, but with hand assembly on the finished products. This was a “bench” operation and Les wanted the name to reflect the marriage of manufactured and custom. In short, it describes Benchmade’s position in the market- even to this day.
To this day Benchmade continues to focus on innovation, customer needs, responsible business ethics and operations to bring the highest quality products to the world’s elite.
Today we will be discussing the Benchmade Precinct.
Butch Ball developed a passion for knives at a very early age. After building a few fixed blades in the early ’90s he decided in 2000 to begin a true custom shop. Butch starts each knife as a prototype, which he then tests, recreates and tests again. At each stage in this development process, he is thinking of ways to improve the design, whether mechanical or ergonomic. The results of this process are designs that are as robust as they are innovative.
The blade on this knife is made out of 154CM steel. This is a high end knife steel that is relatively hard. This steel is usually considered an upgraded version of 440C because of the added molybdenum. The molybdenum helps the steel to have superior edge holding, especially when compared to 440C while also retaining similar excellent levels of corrosion resistance. This steel has a good toughness that will get you by when it comes to most uses. The steel is also capable of holding an edge well. Speaking of edges, with the right equipment, this steel shouldn’t be too tricky to sharpen.
The blade has been finished with a satin coating. The satin coating is the most popular blade finish that you are going to find on the market to date. The finish is classic, giving any knife a very traditional look. The finish is created by repeatedly sanding the blade in one direction with an increasing level of a fine abrasive, which is normally a sandpaper. For reference, the finer the sandpaper and the more even the lines, the cleaner the finish is going to look. Because this is a Benchmade knife, you can expect your satin finish to look extremely clean. The satin finish is used to cut down on glares and reflections slightly, while also increasing the corrosion resistance levels of the blade.
The blade on the Precinct has been carved into a drop point blade shape. This is the most popular blade shape that is used in the cutlery industry today because of its high durability as well as the wide variety of tasks that it is capable of taking on. The shape of the drop point blade is formed by having the spine of the knife run straight from the handle to the tip of the knife in a slow, curving manner, which creates a lowered point. It is this lowered point that provides more control and even helps to add strength the to the tip. What adds the most strength to this knife is how broad the tip is. It is because of the tip strength and the ability to hold up to the heavier tasks that makes a drop point blade a great option for tactical or even survival knives. The lowered tip is also more easily controlled, which means that you are going to be able to perform fine detail work when using this knife. One of the biggest advantages to this knife style is how big the belly is. The large belly is also what makes this knife super versatile, because the larger the belly, the more capable the knife is going to be at slicing. The drop point blade does have one major disadvantage, which is the broad tip. This is because it makes it less capable of piercing than the clip pint is. You do need to keep in mind that it is this broad tip that gives you the strength that so many people look for in their blades. By having a drop point blade, you are going to be equipped for almost anything that comes flying your direction.
The handle on this knife is made out of black textured G-10. G-10 is a grade of Garolite that is a laminate composite made out of fiberglass. This material is similar to carbon fiber, in design and in properties, but it is slightly inferior. Because it is slightly inferior, it can be made for an almost a fraction of the cost. To make this material, the manufacturer takes layers of fiberglass cloth and soaks them in resin. The next step is to compress them and bake them under pressure. The material that you end up with is tough, hard, lightweight, and strong. Out of all the fiberglass resin laminates, G-10 is considered to be the toughest of all and even stronger than Micarta.
Tactical folders really benefit from this material because it is durable and lightweight, while also being non-porous which means that it won’t wear down easily. It also means that it won’t soak up any liquids that you happen to be working with. The overall pros to a G-10 handle is that it is going to be tough, light, and durable. The overall cons are that it will be brittle and it might lack elegance.
The handle tapers towards the butt. The handle is mostly straight, but does curve towards the butt slightly. The belly of the knife has two large finger grooves with the second one being more elongated. The knife does feature a lanyard hole.
The Pocket Clip:
The pocket clip on this knife is positioned for only tip up carry. However, it is reversible for either left or right handed carry, which helps to make this a more versatile knife. Not only is it reversible, but it is also a deep carry clip, which means it is going to stay more snugly in your pocket. If you are suing this as an everyday carry knife, which is one of its designs, you won’t have to worry about going about your daily tasks and having this knife fall out of your pocket. On the flip side, if you are using this knife as a tactical knife, which is its other design, you can count on the deep carry pocket clip to better conceal your knife deep inside of your pocket.
The pocket clip is black, which matches the handle well. It is mostly rectangular and is kept in place by two black screws that match the rest of the hardware. Near the top of the pocket clip there is Benchmade’s Butterfly stamped into the metal.
This is a manual opening knife, which means that it is going to be legal in more places than an automatic knife would be. That being said, you should always know your local knife laws to see if this is a knife that you can have on you at all times. BladeOps is not responsible for any consequences that come from the law.
The Precinct does use a flipper mechanism to assist the user in opening their knife. The flipper is a piece of the blade metal that extends out of the spine of the handle when the knife is closed. The user can pull back on this extension, which will help flip the knife out of the handle and lock into place. The flipper on this knife is skinnier than your average flipper as well as being larger. Once the knife is opened, the flipper is set into place to work as a finger guard. Many people are fans of the flipper because it does not get in the way once the knife is opened, because it does protrude out of the blade, like a thumb stud does. People also love the flipper because it is an ambidextrous opening mechanism. The flipper paired with the reversible pocket clip helps to make this a fully ambidextrous knife. The last reason that people love the flipper mechanism is for safety reasons. Unlike a thumb stud, the flipper keeps your fingers out of the path of the blade when you are opening and closing this knife. This means that you won’t have to worry about slicing your fingers when you are opening your knife. However, the flipper does take a few practices to get used to using this mechanism.
The knife is also equipped with a liner lock. The liner locks are one of the more common mechanism seen on folding knives. The mechanism’s key component is a side spring bar that is located on the same side as the sharp edge of the blade, which lines the inside of the handle. When the knife is closed, the spring bar is held under tension. When the knife is fully opened, the same tension slips the bar inward to make contact with the butt of the blade, keeping it firmly in place and preventing it from closing. Liner locks are a great option because they allow a knife to have two true handle sides. This means that you can close the knife with one hand without switching your grip, making it an ideal knife for when you are using both of your hands for the job. That being said, liner locks are not as strong as other locking systems. The liner lock should be able to stand up to your basic tasks, but be careful when performing some of the heavier duty tasks that might come your way.
The blade on this knife measures in at 3.30 inches long, with a blade thickness that measures in at 0.124 inches. The handle on this knife measures in at 4.48 inches long with a handle thickness of 0.48 inches. The overall length of the opening Precinct measures in at 7.78 inches long. This is a pretty average weighted knife, weighing in at 3.42 ounces. This knife was made in the United States of America, so you can feel proud to own, carry, and use this knife.
When Benchmade is discussing this knife, they say, “A compact flipper that marks the second designer collaboration with Butch Ball. The Precinct features thrust bearing washers and textured G10 combined with the finger relief handle design Butch incorporates to provide exceptional grip.” You can pick up this great every-day-carry knife at BladeOps today.