The Benchmade Knife Company is a knife manufacturer run by Roberta and Les de Asis in Oregon City, Oregon, United States. Its products are geared toward a large number of niche markets, such as outdoor sporting cutlery, rescue, law-enforcement, martial-arts, and military. The company has collaborated with a number of custom knife makers after its inception.
Benchmade started in California in 1979 as Bali-Song, changing its name in 1988 to the Pacific Cutlery Corporation. In 1990 the company moved to Clackamas, Oregon. Benchmade became known primarily as a manufacturer of butterfly, or balisong-style knives, which it continues to manufacture. These knives have been so identified with the company that Benchmade has registered "Bali-Song" as a trademark and logo. Benchmade's original Bali-Song design by Jody Samson was awarded Blade Magazine's Knife of the Year Award in 1979.
As of February 2009, the company was employing approximately 150 people. Benchmade has had several years of growth and has expanded both the variety of knives it produces and the facility itself.
In 1996, Benchmade moved to Oregon City. Apart from a few Red Class products, which were produced in their "off shore facilities", Benchmade has produced more than ninety percent of its knives in Oregon City, and has succeeded in bringing others back to home production. Since 2010, all Red Class production knives have been discontinued, and as such, every Benchmade labelled knife is made in the United States.
One of the reasons Benchmade is located in Oregon, as are a large number of additional knife makers, is because Oregon has quite relaxed laws toward knives in general and switchblades or butterfly knives in particular. There are no restrictions against selling a switchblade-style knife to an Oregon resident.
Blade steels such as 154CM, D2, CPM S30V steel, CPMS90V, CPM20CV, N680 and M390 are used on a large number of models. Benchmade is one of the few manufacturers to have offered high speed M2 and CPM M4 tool steels in a production knife.
Benchmade receives a significant amount of revenue from selling restricted-sales knives to the military and law enforcement. Benchmade produces a diverse selection of "auto", or switchblade knives, along with a range of hunting, fishing, utility and miscellaneous knives, however balisongs remain a core product.
Benchmade has three different classes when it comes to their knives. The first class is the Blue Class, additionally known as the Recreation class. This type of Benchmade knife is made for typical use by the everyday person. The next class is the Black Class, additionally known as the Professional class. This type of Benchmade knife is made for military, law enforcement, and public safety workers. They are knives made for more challenging work. The last class is the Gold class, additionally known as the Collector class. This class of Benchmade knife is made for collectors and are limited edition.
Benchmade has a patent on the locking mechanism used in most of the switchblades they produce. Benchmade additionally holds an exclusive licence on use of the McHenry / Williams "AXIS Lock", a strong, spring operated locking mechanism used in both automatic and manual action models.
Benchmade has a long tradition of incorporating knife design from noted custom cutlery makers into their production models. These include Jody Samson, Ernest Emerson, Allen Elishewitz, Mel Pardue, Bill McHenry, Mike Snody, Jason Williams, Warren Osborne, and Bob Lum. Several production Benchmade models based on the work of these designers have become influential within the industry.
Some of the Benchmade knife models includes
- Benchmade Griptilian
- Benchmade HK
- Benchmade 556 Mini Griptilian
- Benchmade Contego - Features a reverse Tanto blade and ambidextrous thumb stud opener ensures. Weighing 5.9 ounces the knife comes with a carbide glass breaker.
- Benchmade 940 Osborne
- Benchmade BKC Bedlam Axis
- Benchmade Serum
- Benchmade Mini Barrage