Benchmade’s Griptilian is easily one of the most popular high-end folding knives on the market. Experts and enthusiasts alike favor this knife for its highly functional design and longevity, but does it hold up to more recent innovations in the industry? We will answer that question and many more in our in depth Benchmade Griptilan review!
Griptilian Facts & Specs
The Griptilian is a manual model designed by Mel Pardue for Benchmade Knives and locally manufactured in Oregon City. It features a high-quality S30V steel blade that is 3.45” long and 0.115” thick, which is fairly standard as utility knives go. When not in use, you can fold the whole thing down from 8.07” to 4.62”, making it an easy fit for most pocket sizes.
This model is highly customizable, with a broad range of knife types and handle designs that can perfectly match anyone’s preference.
The Griptilian retails for over $100, which is a fair price for a quality tool from a trusted brand. From the ergonomic design to the smooth blade action, this knife makes for a great introduction to higher-end knives. While there are other cheaper models out there, the Griptilian might be a worthwhile investment as it can last you a lifetime with proper care.
At less than four ounces, the Griptilian’s incredibly lightweight frame is surprising, especially for its price point. While some might be more comfortable with the feel of a dense, hefty knife, the nimble mechanics of a lighter unit can offer superior performance if you take the time to master it.
The Griptilian’s S30V stainless steel blade features a Rockwell hardness of 58 to 60, making it tough enough to hold an edge without becoming brittle. The S30V steel is also a forgiving material for sharpening since it’s harder than cheaper metals and less likely to chip. A few passes on a leather strap and a fine ceramic rod can have this blade feeling brand new in no time.
The reinforced nylon handle is strong, lightweight, heat-resistant, and corrosion-resistant. However, metallic handles made from titanium or stainless steel might be better when it comes to impact resistance.
If your knives see regular, heavy use and you find that you need to replace them faster than you hoped, you can opt for Griptilian’s premium version. This model’s CPM-20CV blade and G-10 handle make it one of the sturdiest knives on the market.
Don’t let its lightweight frame fool you; the Griptilian is tough enough to handle most of the jobs you’ll likely encounter. Whether it’s cutting rope, prying open things, or cleanly slicing through tough material, you will have no trouble with this knife for everyday carry (EDC). This combination of sturdiness and versatility makes the Griptilian a modern classic.
The Griptilian is also perfect for outdoor/tactical activities. The handle’s ergonomic shape and thoughtfully arranged textures make it easy to maintain a strong grip for heavy use.
Other Facts & Specs
The Griptilian comes with a unique “AXIS lock” mechanism consisting of a dual-sided bar that slides parallel to the deployed blade. The blade can swing freely when this bar retracts but keeps it in place when locked.
A small wrist flip deploys the knife easily so you can go from pocket to action in one simple move. However, it might take a bit of practice to properly coordinate the wrist flip and AXIS lock. Some might also prefer a model with an open-assist function.
This knife doesn’t have a glass breaker and isn’t MOLLE compatible, but most regular users won’t have a need for those two features.
Griptilian Blade Review
The Griptilian features three blade options and each has its own specific strengths, so take some time to consider which of them best fits your activities. These S30V steel blades offer more durability and can hold an edge longer than your conventional 154CM steel, though they do require a bit more time to sharpen properly.
The first is a plain drop-point blade with a spine that runs from the handle down the tip in a constant, shallow curve. This design is excellent if you want an all-around knife that can perform most jobs, from everyday use to hunting. While it offers plenty of precision for slicing, its point is not as sharp as other blades, making it less suitable for piercing tasks.
Next, is the Griptilian sheepsfoot blade, which has a straight cutting edge and a curving spine that makes a false point. This design is perfect for slicing and cutting tasks that don’t require a point. It’s very controllable and allows for clean cuts—perfect for carving—but the lack of pointiness lowers its versatility.
Lastly, the serrated drop-point blade sports two edges—one smooth and the other saw-like. This combination design gives you a versatile knife for rigorous cutting and push cuts, making it useful for a wider variety of situations. While it saves you from carrying two knives, you lose length for both edges, which can slightly hamper their effectiveness.
Griptilian Handle Review
The Griptilian’s handle is highly ergonomic, with an easy-grip feel thanks to its signature Griptilian scales. It has a fairly standard size, with a closed length of 4.62” and a thickness of 0.64”.
You have different color options to choose from, like black, gray, sand, and olive drab if you want something more muted, or a fiery orange if you prefer a handle that stands out. These blades also come in satin or coated finishes, but each blade only has one for every color, with no option of changing them.
Stainless steel liners hold the grip together for extra longevity, and it has a back lanyard hole to facilitate anyone who prefers to carry their knife that way. The Griptilian also sports a “tip-up” carry handle with a steel pocket clip, but you can easily reverse it if you prefer to carry your knives tip-down. Sadly, the handle doesn’t come with a sheath, so you will need to get one separately if you don’t like the pocket clip.
In terms of material, you can choose between the basic nylon copolymer, which is tough and offers excellent dimensional stability, or the premium G-10, which is more durable overall. If you plan on bringing your knife to extreme environments and situations, getting the premium option might be the better choice in the long run.
How Does the Benchmade Griptilian Stack Up?
You might think that a knife made in 2001 might already be obsolete, but you’re wrong. Since that time, the Griptilian has undergone regular updates to its blade, handle, and coating materials to take full advantage of the latest technologies. The fact that this knife remains popular despite its age is also a testament to its quality.
Sadly, this knife is not without issues. Some of its users note that the nylon handles feel cheap, especially for a blade of this caliber. With that said, the composite material keeps the whole unit incredibly lightweight, so it’s all a matter of preference.
Compared to most utility knives, this model’s price is definitely up there, but you’re essentially paying for a long-lasting, locally made product. Here’s how the Griptilian fares against other popular knives:
Benchmade Griptilian VS Kershaw Blur
With the Griptilian, you get a manual knife with an AXIS lock mechanism that many prefer for swiftness and efficiency. Despite its larger frame, which makes it easier to grip for people with bigger hands, this model is exceptionally lightweight. It also features more blade and handle options, making it a bit more versatile than the competition.
The Kershaw Blur uses a reliable SpeedSafe opening mechanism that might be easier for beginners, but it’s a bit slower than a manual knife. The knife features a 14C28N steel blade that’s slightly easier to sharpen than the Griptilian, but it takes a hit when it comes to durability and longevity. A secure liner lock secures the blade, giving it a slimmer and sleeker build.
Overall, the Kershaw Blur is the cost-effective option, being of decently high quality at a more affordable price. However, if you don’t mind spending a bit more for a better knife, consider getting the Benchmade Griptilian. It offers superior strength, durability, edge retention, and versatility.
Griptilian VS Griptilian Mini
The Benchmade Mini Griptilian, as the name suggests, is the original Griptilian’s smaller cousin, featuring a blade size and thickness of 2.91” and 0.10”, respectively, and a total size of 6.78”. While the Griptilian is fairly compact for most standards, the Mini’s smaller and lighter frame gives it the upper hand in terms of portability. It also comes with an assisted AXIS opening function that feels much faster and more intuitive.
Apart from the size difference, both models sport the same ergonomic design, so you can choose the one that fits your hand. They also offer the same blade and handle materials, with a slight difference in color options. The Mini’s handle has unique shades of blue and pink, while the original can come in bright orange.
You might also consider the blade’s use. If you want something easy to carry for general daily use, the Mini might serve you better, but for heavier tasks, the full-sized Griptilian is the way to go.
Griptilian VS Bugout
The Bugout knife is by no means perfect, but it has many charming features. It comes with a small clip that’s very discrete yet effective, along with a lightweight, portable frame that trumps even the Mini’s. While the slimmer build makes it less sturdy, it’s more than capable of performing any everyday task you throw at it. The pivot/lock design and blade shape also give it excellent handling—maybe even better than the Griptilian’s.
If you don’t find the Griptilian’s bulkier frame to your taste, the Bugout makes for an excellent choice. Both models have a fairly similar price point, so it all boils down to preference. However, the Bugout is less customizable, with only three colors and two blade shapes.
Benchmade Griptilian Pros & Cons
The Benchmade Griptilian comes with an excellent ergonomic build that is appreciably comfortable and smooth. With its textured handle, you have a better grip than other models that sport a smooth, metal finish. You also have the option of customizing your knife as you see fit, from the color scheme to blade type.
Some might prefer an assisted opening action, but this knife’s manual design is speedy and intuitive. The lockup mechanism is also incredibly reliable, so you don’t have to worry about dangerous mishaps.
Compared to similarly performing knives on the market, the Griptilian might be more on the larger side. While light for its size, this knife can take up a lot of space in a smaller purse or pocket. Aside from portability, some might also prefer the feel of a slimmer blade.
Customers have noted that the handle has a “plasticky” feel to it. However, the knife more than makes up for it in overall lightness and sturdiness. One other nitpicky critique is that the locking mechanism has a somewhat loud click.
As a glovebox emergency knife or a backup that sees occasional use, the Griptilian might be too pricey. However, regular knife users will appreciate this model’s high quality and reliability.
The Final Verdict on the Benchmade Griptilian
To answer the first question we posed, the Benchmade Reptilian definitely holds up well even by today’s standards. This pocketknife features a timeless and functional design that beginners and aficionados alike will appreciate.
We recommend carefully choosing your blade type as it significantly affects the knife’s performance. With all the options available, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a combination that fits you perfectly. You can also have your blade professionally laser-marked to give it an even more personalized touch.
If you prefer value portability above all else, the Bugout or Mini might be better options. Regardless of what knife model you choose, all Benchmade offerings have a lifetime service warranty, so you don’t have to worry about abusing it too much. If the company determines that your knife is defective, they will repair or replace it at no charge.
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