One to Watch: Benchmade G10 Grip and Mini Grip
Tony Sculimbrene 12.28.15
There are few knives in the world that have been has popular over the last fifteen years as the Benchmade Griptillian and Mini Griptillian. These knives have represented a sort of median between uber pricey production stuff and the horde of flea market junk, a rational waystation in the price spectrum between the Smith and Wesson knives of the world and the Chris Reeve Sebenza.
In many ways, these two knives were the heart of Benchmade’s line up, their standard-bearer models (here is a shootout among all of the major brands’ standard bearer blades) that competed directly with Spyderco’s two standard bearers, the Delica and the Endura.
But over the years the dings have started to add up.
The first complaint that people had about these two knives were the handles. Many complained that because they were essentially pressed and textured plastic (with one of the many proprietary names for plastic-type materials) they felt hollow. They were in fact hollow, and despite their low weight, sturdiness, and grippiness, there was an unshakeable feel that they were cheap. I personally really liked the handles and thought they were worth the trade off, but over the years contoured G10 has become much more common in the industry, leaving the Griptillian handles in the dust as a relic of times gone by. Similarly, people complained about the price compared to the steel. I like 154CM, but there’s no denying that it is no longer a premium steel that commands a premium price like the Griptilian still does.
For years there have been aftermarket scales made for the Griptillian blades. I have handled quite a few, even used some on my own Mini Grip (pictured above).
Yet despite all of this, Benchmade kept putting out the same blades with the same steel and the same handles year after year.
Then, in very late 2015, they started sneaking out a few of the new Griptillians with gray G10 handles, blue G10 liners, and 20CV steel.
Image courtesy of Blade HQ
There are a few notable differences aside from the handle and blade steel. First, the 20CV version are significantly more expensive. According to the Benchmade site (which just received a great overhaul), the new models are $40 more than the old models ($115 to $155 for the full sized Grip). Second, there is a marginal weight increase. Comparing the same full-sized models the FRN version weights 3.78 ounces and the G10 version was 4.17 ounces. It’s not as important a change as the price, but the G10 does push the grip past the magic 4.0 ounce mark, and it makes it noticeably heavier (by .35 ounces) than its #1 competitor, the Spyderco Paramilitary 2, which has all of the same materials (G10 and premium steel) and the same blade length.
In the end, there is no question that these knives will be great, nor is there a question as to whether or not they will be good sellers. These were no-brainer upgrades to an already stellar knife. It also bodes well for the rest of the Benchmade 2016 line up, which, for the first time in years, looks genuinely exciting.