The Benchmade Griptilian has been a standard in the knife community ever since it was introduced. With a variety of steels, grinds and handle colors available, it quickly became a popular knife, especially if you consider the price range of these knives. The basic model can be found for as low as $90. It has a basic Noryl GTX handle and 154CM as blade steel. Nothing fancy, but as far as bang for the buck goes, this is pretty much up there with the best of them. The Spyderco PM2 comes to mind.
When I got this knife, it wasn’t your average Mini Griptilian though. Most of you will recognize the different blade shape so characteristic of the Doug Ritter version. With it comes a different blade steel, CPM M390.
Benchmade has made plenty of variations of the original Griptilian and aside from different grinds, offered a variety of different blade steels throughout history. That said, these runs always sold out fast, and were even hard to get on the second hand market, at ridiculous prices.The M390 is a standard model now and pretty much always available, but still comes with standard cheap handle scales.
As far as the steel goes, I didn’t notice any difference in sharpening it when compared to Spyderco’s M390 blades. As soon as the bevel is set, the next steps are a bit more time consuming than S35VN for instance, but polishes nicely and takes a very nice edge. People who like their edges a little more toothy (i.e. 2000JIS) will be pleased as well since I had no problems with chipping like I had with the S110V Manix. In all, it’s always a pleasure dealing with M390… With 1 distinct difference. Benchmade grinds their blades better in the U.S. I’m sorry Spyderco, but all of the Colorado made blades I’ve ever seen have had uneven grind lines. So much so that some required over an hour of sharpening to even them up. Not cool guys, not cool at all. Their Taiwan made knives remain impeccable though.
Knives Ship Free Scales
While I was at Bark River Knives in Escanaba, I swung by Knives Ship Free. For those who didn’t know yet, they moved from Oregon to Michigan and set up shop while I was there.
I was pleased to see they had custom Griptilian scales in stock and promptly picked up a pair of green linen micarta ones (G10 and different micartas were also available).
The fit and finish on these was perfect with no burrs of loose frayed material to be found. It’s not a polished GLM, but left matte and I personally like it that way for this knife. It has a more sculpted feel that’s missing in the original scales and offers a better grip. It comes with a separate set of screws since those supplied with your knife will not fit anymore. In the end, you’re left with a knife that feels way better than what you paid for it. Sure, these scales aren’t spectacularly cheap, but remember they fit on all you Griptilians… And at that point it just becomes adult LEGO!