One to Watch: Benchmade Proper
Tony Sculimbrene 05.22.17
For some, the idea of a pocket knife is a small, thinly ground slipjoint. Anything else is a weapon. For folks that are newer to the knife world, it wasn’t a knife unless it opened with one hand. When I started writing about gear, it was never the two shall meet. But a few years ago, in the face of a tidal wave of TFFs (titanium framelock flippers), some of the “young whippersnappers” decided that maybe those knives of old, with their warm, comfy handles and thinly ground blades were actually pretty decent in an everyday carry role.
GEC did a lot to fan the flames of the love for traditional knives. Northwoods Knives didn’t help either, adding gorgeous handle scale to fuel to the fire. There were tons of bone and dark wood handle covers and the joys of high carbon steel were introduced to a whole new group of people (including me). It was pretty delightful and eye opening. After a few years of increasingly beefy tactical folders that had decreasing utility, folks had knives that could, well, slice stuff again. Crazy right?
But some of the more modern production companies wanted to put their own twist on these traditional knives. Spyderco, in the face of possible loosening of TSA regulations (which failed, sadly), produced the truly superior Roadie–a slipjoint with lots of great ergonomic Spyderco touches. Their long time rival, Benchmade, had nothing in this space at all. Furthermore, their recent line ups have been pretty boring.
Then, with no fanfare at all, they released two versions of a slipjoint called the Proper. One had red micarta scales and the other brown. This, along with the integral Anthem, was a one-two punch of cool for a brand that needed some cool.
The specs are perfect for EDC–the blade steel is S30V, lightyears more advanced than the traditional knife favorite of 1095. There is, as you can see, a stylish nail nick. And the blade runs a good 2.86 inches. The knife weighs a pocket-pleasing 2.32 ounces. This makes it a bit bigger than the Roadie, more along the lines of the Spyderco Pingo (another great modern slipjoint). In all, this is a great little EDC blade.
Compared to a traditional it seems downright new fangled. Compared to the fidget friendly flippers everywhere, the knife seems like a laid back, get-things-done alternative. If you have wanted a less aggressive knife to carry around, something that won’t send people screaming in the Target parking lot or have you branded an axe murderer at your next kid’s birthday party, the Proper fits the bill.
For me, the Proper just has that warm feel that makes you want to handle a knife. The swedge is great, easing that top edge a bit, key for a knife that you have to reach into your pocket to grab. The handle material is just right, too. Micarta is a splendid material with plenty of traction and a nice look. It’s clean and current without being space-age modern.
If you want to dip your toe in the traditional knife waters and try a thin bladed slipjoint without going all stag handled, the Proper looks like a good place to start. And it has brought more than a dash of excitement to the Benchmade line.