Benchmade’s history dates back over 30 years. It has gotten to the point it has because of all the dedicated employees, a never-quit demand for excellence and the de Asis family’s vison and total commitment to culture, service, and innovation.
The Benchmade adventure really began when Les de Asis wanted a knife that reflected the latest in materials and manufacturing technology to replace the cheap butterfly knives that he had used when he was a kid. He had taken a high school shop class, so he utilized those skills and blueprinted his dream knife. Eventually, he met Victor Anselmo who helped him grind the first ever pre-Benchmade Bali-Song prototype. He paired the prototype with handles that he had sourced from a small machine shop in California. Then he assembled and finished his first Bali-Song in his own garage.
In 1980, Les incorporated as Bali-Song, Inc. and rented a small shop in California. The original equipment was purchased from the owner of a manufacturing operation who was looking to retire. Les utilized the rudimentary technology that he could get at the time and began to build handmade custom Bali-Songs, along with Jody Sampson, who ground each of 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.
In 1987, 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 Steep Country fixed blade.
This knife belongs to the Benchmade HUNT series. Benchmade describes this series by saying, “Research projects, R&D lab tests and many miles of field research provided the foundation for the design and development of Benchmade HUNT. Built from advanced materials usually reserved for spaceships and surgical equipment, these technologically advanced hunting knives provide refined performance and rugged durability.”
One of the things that sets the HUNT series apart is that they exclusively use CPM S30V steel. This is for a few reasons. The first is the edge retention. Edge retention is one of the most important features while field dressing an animal, and CPM S30V blade is going to deliver that. The second reason is because of the durability. CPM S30v is a powdered metal steel, and the durability of it outperforms other blade steels because of its uniform grain structure. The last reason is the corrosion resistance. This steel is a TRUE stainless steel, which means that it requires little maintenance and out performs others steels such as D2 by 619%, according to Benchmade.
The blade on this knife was made out of CPM S30V steel, like all the Benchmade HUNT series knives are. This steel has been hardened to a 58-60 HRC. This is known as a high end steel that has one of the best balances between edge retention, hardness, and toughness. This is a complicated balance to achieve, because the harder the steel, the less tough it is going to be. Crucible has accomplished this by adding vanadium carbides to the steel. Crucible designed this steel specifically with high end pocket knives and kitchen knives in mind, which means that they designed it to have the best knife qualities that you can get. This steel is extremely rust and corrosion resistant, which is ideal for a hunting knife, because it is going to get pretty messy and come in contact with a lot of fluids. This steel has a high wear resistance as well, which helps to keep its edge sharp for such long periods of time. One of the only drawbacks to this steel is that because it is so hard, it does prove to be tricky to sharpen. This shouldn’t be a huge drawback, but if you are a beginner knife sharpener, you might want to steer clear.
The blade has been finished with a satin finish, which is one of the most popular blade finishes that is in use today. This finish gives you a more traditional look, which is common to find on a hunting knife. The finish is created by repeatedly sanding the blade in one direction with an increasing level of a fine abrasive, usually a sandpaper. The finer the sandpaper and the more even the lines, the cleaner that the overall finish is going to look. The finish is used to show off the fine lines of the steel while also showcasing the bevels of the blade. The finish also works to cut down on glares, reflections, and corrosion slightly.
The blade has been carved into a drop point blade shape. This is a fantastic option if you are looking for an all-purpose knife that is extremely tough. This blade shape is extremely popular and one of the most common places that you are going to find it is on the hunting knife. The shape is formed by having the spine of the knife run straight form the handle to the tip of the knife in a slow curve, which creates a lowered point. The lowered point proves the control that you are going to get from this blade shape. Because the tip is lowered and controllable, the user can easily avoid accidentally nicking internal organs and ruining the meat when they are dressing their game. Drop points also have a very broad tip, which is where the strength comes from on this knife. Lastly, the drop point has a very large belly that is perfect for slicing or skinning. The drop point blade does have one disadvantage—because it has such a broad tip, you do lose out on piercing and stabbing capabilities.
The bright orange handle is made out of Santoprene. Benchmade describes this material by saying, “A thermoplastic elastomer that is molded to specification. It offers excellent flexibility with high tear strength and fatigue resistance. Resistance to many harsh chemicals. These features contribute to improved performance in a range of tough jobs.”
The bright orange color is the perfect option for your hunting knife. The handle is simple, but effective. The spine of the handle is pretty straight, and does have very thick and spaced jimping going across the length of the spine. This is going to give you a solid grip when things get messy—one of the most important features of a good hunting knife. The belly of the knife is also simple. There is a very thick finger guard, which is meant to protect your fingers throughout the whole process. There is a slight bulge in the middle of the belly of the handle, which will help the knife fit inside your palm a little easier. The belly has also been ridged across the entire length, which will give you a great grip. The face of the handle has been textured in a pebble shape, which will guarantee you grip throughout the whole process.
The butt of the handle does have a lanyard, which is important for your hunting knife. I think the best way you can use the lanyard is to wrap it around the handle when you know that things are going to get messy and slippery. This adds extreme texture and grip to the handle so that you won’t slip. And, you won’t use your knife when your hands are deep in the belly of your beast.
This is a fixed blade, which means that there isn’t a mechanism in the knife. This is also a full-tang knife, which means that the steel from the blade extends through the handle of the knife. Full tang knives are much stronger, because there is no spot where the handle and the blade have been welded together. Also, if the handle scales happen to fall off or break, you are still left with an entire knife shape that is perfectly functional.
Fixed blades have plenty of advantages, some of which benefit hunting knives especially. For starters, fixed blades are reliable because they aren’t going to break. This is because the blade can be thicker and longer because it doesn’t have to fit inside the handle, and there are no moving parts that could break. The blade is also going to be longer, because it does not have to fit inside the handle. This is beneficial to a hunting knife because you have more length to work with, while it is still easily controlled. Lastly, fixed blades are extremely easy to care for. All you really have to do is wipe down the blade and the handle, then oil the blade occasionally. This is ideal for those long hunting trips.
The sheath that this knife comes with is made out of Kydex. Kydex is a thermoplastic material that is often used for making holsters and knife sheaths. This material has a few major advantages. For starters, it is waterproof and scratch resistant. This material will not stretch over time, which means that it will always fit your knife very well. However, it will also not create a custom fit, like leather will. This material is also pretty resistant to most chemicals, which means that it is going to hold up well over time. Kydex is very durable and can be exposed to a variety of different extreme environments. Lastly, because this is such a durable, long lasting material, the maintenance is not going to require much time.
Of course, Kydex is also going to have its disadvantages. For starters, this sheath material is not a quiet material. Since this is a hunting knife, you should be aware that you are not going to be super stealthy with it. Some people do like the “snap” that you get when you put your knife away, but for the most part, it is more of a disadvantage than an advantage. Plus, because it is going to be stretch proof, a Kydex sheath can sometimes be too loose or too tight for your hunting knife. You don’t want it to be rattling when you are trying to be stealthy in the woods on a hunting trip. The last, and probably biggest, disadvantage is that a Kydex sheath will probably dull your blade’s edge as you continually and repeatedly withdraw and replace your knife into the sheath.
The Kydex sheath that does come with this knife is black and pretty simple. The top of the sheath does have a lanyard hole on it.
The blade on this knife measures in at 3.5 inches long with a blade thickness of 0.140 inches. The handle on this knife has a thickness of 0.62 inches. The overall length of this fixed blade measures in at 7.65 inches long. This knife weighs in at 3.71 ounces. The Steep Country knife was made in the United States of America, so you can feel proud to own, carry, and use this hunting knife.
When Benchmade is discussing this knife, they say, “This knife was designed to hit the dead-middle of hunter preferences for shape and feel of hunting knives and the materials used exceed the performance expectations.” You can pick up this knife today at BladeOps.