One to Watch: Benchmade Saibu 486
Tony Sculimbrene 07.10.18
In the cutlery world there are few important cities–Soligen, Germany, Magiano, Italy, Sheffield England, and Seki City Japan. In and around the city are a number of different knife companies produced their own knives and knives for household brand names like Spyderco. Scores of people work in these factories making some of the finest knives in the world. One man who is very familiar with the production knife business is Seiichi Nakamura (Nakamura estimates that he has personally assembled over a million knives in his life time).
In recent years Nakamura’s work has come to American shores via a collaboration with Benchmade. The Megumi, a very small gentleman’s folder, was his first knife for Benchmade and sported a lock of his own design called the Nak-Lock. He later produced the eponymous Nakamura (the 484). There was a standard and high end release that sported carbon fiber handle scales and an S90V blade. The knife was a much more Benchmade-y blade than the Megumi, incorporating both an Axis lock and a larger blade.
Recently Benchmade announced the release of the Saibu, 486. The name is a perfect fit for the blade–Saibu translates to “details” in English and this is a knife that revels in details. The blade runs just under 3 inches and is made of the excellent 20CV steel. The knife locks with an Axis lock, but after that, things get a bit wild. The handles are contoured for a better feel in the hand, but there are windows in the handle that reveal the blade channel (and when the knife is closed, the blade itself). Around the windows are “frames” of cocobolo. There is a second row of unadorned windows under the two primary viewports and the backspacer sports a number of grooves in it. Finally, the thumbstud has an inlay of cocobolo, setting the entire knife off in a beautiful combination of black G10, tan cocobolo, and a bright satin blade.
Like with the Megumi (translation: “blessing”), the Saibu coordinates a level of refined detail with functional components. The blade shape on the Saibu is a wonderful drop point, the pocket clip is a shortened version of the standard over the top pocket clip from Benchmade, this time in a bright finish.
Thanks to a recent acknowledgement of the burgeoning EDC market Benchmade now has a number of knives with blades under 3″. Of those knives the Saibu stands out as one of the more complex designs. That said, its production line brothers–the Mini Grip and the Valet–are both very good knives. Furthermore, Benchmade has recently announced an upscale (though not Gold Class) version of the Valet. The Saibu’s selling point compared to these other knives is its unusual design and its not-quite extravagant price of around $220. It is also a bit bigger than the Megumi, meaning that it can probably tackle some real work opening boxes and slicing apples.
What: Benchmade Saibu 486
When: Out Now
Where: Knife Retailers everywhere
Highlights: Fine details on handle, collaboration with Seiichi Nakamura, 20CV blade