Showing posts with label Benchmade. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Benchmade. Show all posts

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Zedd vs Foray


Talk about a mismatch!  The Zedd is made in Russia by Kizlyar Supreme and the Foray is made in the USA by Benchmade.  Did someone let a lightweight in the ring with a heavyweight?

Foray and Zedd D2
Today's match:  Kizyar Zedd D2 VS Benchamde's Foray


Let’s see what happen.  There’s the bell.

Let’s start with the blade.

The Zedd uses D2 steel.  D2 is considered by many to be the best knife blade steel because of edge retention and corrosion resistant properties.  The steel has high carbon 1.3% and less than 13% chromium.  A lot of that chromium is tied up as carbides and not available for corrosion resistance.  These blades are hardened to 58-59 Rc.

Despite its drawbacks, too many people like D2 to simply dismiss it out of hand.  Just wipe it off with oil now and again and it will be fine.
 
Foray uses CPM-20CV steel.  This steel contains 1.9% carbon and 20% chromium.  The recipe is topped off with a jigger of Vanadium (4%) and a dash of Tungsten (1%).  I did notice that there are several different formulas for 20CV stainless on the internet.  Here’s a link to the Crucible information sheet.


20CV is reported to have better wear potential and edge retention.  The nature of powder metals, when handled properly, produces a finer grain with smaller carbides and better properties.  Will 20CV become a world beater?   Well, that’s an answer we’ll have to wait for.

The Benchmade blade is hardened to 59-61 Rc.

Zedd and Foray
Both nice looking knives!


The Zedd utilizes both a flipper and ambidextrous stud.  I like that option.  As their website says, “…let's agree that it is not always a good idea to flip open a knife in public.”  I would go farther and suggest sometime the polite, two-handed opening is the way to go!

The Foray is set up for stud only, but can be open with either hand.  Yes, I know you can pull the axis lock back and flip the blade open.  I also know in every knife class I have taken, everyone who uses that method of opening their knife loses it at least once during the practice drills.  People using studs and flips never drop their knife while opening it.  Something to think about.

There is no question the Benchmade Foray is easier to open and close than the Zedd.

I wish the Zedd were set up for a 4 position clip.  Unfortunately the curved nature of the clip doesn’t allow it to be reversed.  It is set up for tip up carry.  That’s a plus.  Nor is it set as deep pocket carry as the Foray. 

Benchmade vs Kizyar
The Zedd D2 on left has a curved clip as compared to Foray straight clip


Many of us remember knives with molded plastic clips.  They couldn’t be moved and they didn’t allow for deep pocket carry, and we thought they were the cat’s pajamas.  But that was 20 years ago.  Almost all the better knives come with moveable clips.  While deep seated knives are less noticeable, I’ve found them a little more difficult to withdraw from my pocket.

Having ranted about that, I need to point out that the Foray is only left/right tip-up reversible.
The Foray weighs 101 grams as compared to the 141 grams the Zedd weighs.  That difference is less than a double shot of rye whiskey.  That difference is not important to me.

The Zedd uses a liner lock and I like the design, the entire thickness of the liner is behind the blade.  The Foray has Benchmade’s Axis lock.  I can’t go to war over which lock is better, but I will say the axis lock treats lefties better than the right-handed liner lock.

Full thickness of Zedd linerlock
Kizyar's Zedd has the full thickness of the liner lock behind the blade



Here’s the box score!

Zedd
Foray
Blade steel
D2
CPM-20CV
Blade length
3.22 inches
3.22 inches
Blade thickness (max)
0.11 inches
.14 inches
Handle
G10 over metal liners
G10 over stainless liners
Operation
Manual flipper and stud
Manual stud
Clip
Metal
Metal
Clip position
I position, right side tip up
left/right reversible tip up
Lock
liner
axis lock
Handle thickness
0.58
0.56
Over all open length
7.87 inches
7.34 inches
Price
$120
$225

Now, these aren’t my knives and I can’t perform the indicated functions. That is, cut with them, carry them, use them, resharpen them.

What do I think?  Well, nobody pays full retail if they are willing to do a little searching.  Even so, the Zed is quite a knife for the price. 

I’m not a steel junkie and I don’t mind sharpening my knives.  The larger, contoured handle of the Zedd fit my hand better in static tests.  I still have enough hand flexibility to work a liner lock with either hand and I liked the flipper/stud option.


For the money, I would go to go with Kizyar Supreme‘s Zedd as a basic everyday carry knife.  

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Benchmade CLA

I just got my hands on Benchmade’s auto knife, the CLA.  I kept thinking the C stood for something military, or governmental-like, central or clandestine.  Instead it stands for the plebeian word, composite.  But don’t be fooled by that.  It may say Composite Lite Auto, but it’s a sweetie by any name.

Benchmade auto knife CLA
The CLA is a relatively new addition to their black class of autos.

The heart of any knife is the steel.  The CLA has a 3.4 inch blade made of 154CM.  That’s Crucible Industries’ martensitic stainless steel.  Martensitic?  So much about steel can be laid at the feet of carbon.  If steel has a low enough level of carbon, the iron is arranged in patterns called ferrite, but it can’t hold very much carbon.  Hot iron can dissolve more carbon than cold, so as the metal cools out of the furnace, a form called austenite develops.  It can hold more carbon than ferrite, especial when hot.  Cool the hot austenite and it has to get rid of the excess carbon like a bad check.  Unfortunately by then everything is frozen solid, so austenite does the only thing possible: it changes shape to martensite.  This change in crystal system is what gives classic samurai swords their curved shapes, but that’s for another time.

The blade is tempered to 58-61 RHC.  Martensite can be made harder, but it also becomes brittle.  Brittle is the arch enemy of any blade.  Being a stainless the blade contains 14% chromium, which forms a transparent oxide film protecting it from all but the harshest conditions.  It’s called stain-less and not stain-proof for that reason.  The main difference between 154CM and 440C is the higher level of molybdenum.  Moly, as she’s known, also forms carbides like chromium.  These carbides help stabilize the crystals in the steel from deforming under pressure, which provides edge retention as well as strength.  The blades come as plain or partially serrated.  I normally prefer the plain edge based on looks, but the partial serration looks damn good too!

Enough about steel.  I never worry if knife companies like Benchmade, SOG or even Case are using the right steel.  They wouldn’t still be in business if they couldn’t get the best possible properties out of the metal.

CLA open on benchmades black class box
Note the safety next to the large button.  The button is off set to add a layer of security.

The CLA’s handle is 4.45 inches long, under a half inch thick and curved to better fit your hand.  The scales are composed of G-10.  This material is a composite of woven glass cloth and epoxy resin cured under pressure.  It is very mechanically stable and resistant to most acids, solvents and bases as well as being an electrical insulator.  It’s entirely possible when cockroaches have replaced humans as the dominant species on earth, G-10 will still be hanging around.

Like all Benchmade autos the spring is stout enough to open the blade with authority.    Even a superficial examination of the knife shows the safety lock next to the release button.  I’ve always liked that.  You can off-safe it with your thumb and then simply roll on to the button to open the knife.  That’s nice!

The open box construction makes it easy to clean and oil.  Note the jimping at the back of the blade.

The pocket clip is left/right reversible and the knife is designed to be carried tip up.  The clip is placed to give you relatively deep pocket carry.  A hole next to the clip provides an attachment point for lanyards and retention devices.  It’s a nice knife and if I carried it over water or deep snow I’d use a retention line too!

The back of the blade has several lines of jimping which are carried onto the knife handle.  Jimping provides an additional friction surface as well as another tactile indicator of knife and blade orientation. 

I wish I could tell you how it cuts, but frankly it’s not necessary.  Benchmade knows how to sharpen an edge and how to correctly temper 145CM steel.  This knife is going to cut.  Besides, is slicing up a strip of cured horse hide really going to tell you how sharp it is?

I like the way the CLA feels in my hand.  I wouldn’t hesitate to carry this knife for everyday chores as well as off the beaten path contingencies.  If trouble comes looking, you might be very happy to have your own CLA!

Monday, November 16, 2015

On Display

Attended the museum show at Medina last weekend.  I thought it was a gun show so I brought my knives and set up.  Boy, was I wrong.

But I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know it was a museum show.  Just about all the displayers thought they were going to be vendors.  We were so wrong.  Still i had fun that week-end.

I have several favorite knife companies; Spyderco, Benchmade, Ka-Bar, Boker and Shadow Tech.  Sure there’s a few others, SOG, Buck, TOPS and I like them too, but I have a soft spot for Shadow Tech.

It’s a two man company and Dave still finishes all the blades by hand.  I just bought a fixed blade made from Alabama Damascus' Buckshot Damascus steel.  It’s a US company  and they make their Damascus from 4 layers 5160 steel, 3 layers 203E steel, 3 layers 52100 steel, and 3 layers 15N20 steel folded 5 times.  If you do the math, that gives you  a 416 layer Damascus pattern.


Damascus blade, Shadow Tech Damascus
Shadow Tech


I’m just tickled over it.  It’s a wonderful knife.  Of course, you need to keep it oiled.  Etched steel has a tendency to rust but I can live with that minor inconvenience.

I had a chance to see some early prototypes that John had with him.  Shadow Tech is working on a folder that’s quite interesting, but it is the folding karambit prototype that’s exciting.  It will have a wave opener and ambidextrous studs.  You can catch the wave on pockets and open it or use the studs.  The studs will be positioned so your thumb naturally travels to it and glides the blade open.  A second opening mode is available to anyone who carries on the inside of their waist band.  The stud will catch the seam and open while you draw it.  Will it take some practice?  Sure, but it didn’t look like a skill set too difficult to master. 

Many fixed blades and folders sport a glass breaker or impact point.  It is a nice accessory.  All across America people are discovering a need to suddenly open a car window to rescue a child or pet.  On a 70 degree sunny day, temperatures in a sealed car can reach 120 degrees.  Following an accident, breaking a window may be the only way into or out of a car.  Most knives put the impact point on the back of the knife where your hand wants to sit.  This can limit the amount of force you can apply to an open knife because the point digs into your palm.  The ST karambit will have the impact point situated on blade spine on the front of the knife for easy use with the knife closed. 

There’s still talk about an auto with a hidden split bolster opener.  Made here in Ohio.  How cool would that be?

I’m so excited about seeing these, maybe by the Blade Show?   Who knows.

I’m only kidding about the museum show.  We had a few real customers and a few real weirdo’s.  The one that best comes to mind was a nicely dressed fellow inspecting knives.  He settled in on Benchmade’s Nakamura Axis folder and then zoned out.  It’s a nice knife, worth pondering if you have a few seconds.  The 3–inch blade is made from M390 super steel with a RHC 60-63.   The handle is dressed in black contoured G-10 with steel liners.  Of course it has that great axis lock I’ve come to really appreciate.  It’s a great knife.

He visually inspected it.  Touched every part he could several different times.  He opened the knife half way put it next to his ear and listened to it, did another intense visual inspection and I swear to God, even sniffed it.  I was watching him like a hawk.  If he tasted it, I was calling the cops.  Fortunately it didn’t come to that!

I never saw anyone inspect a knife so closely and then wordlessly, put it down and walk away.


What a show!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

S&W vs Benchmade

Sounds like a mismatch, doesn’t it?  S&W knives are made by Taylor Brands, makers of flashlights, Uncle Henry and other products.  Benchmade makes, well, they make really good knives. 

Let me introduce our two challengers, S&W MP1600 an auto knife and Benchmades AFO II Auto.

Out of the box, each knife looks different, and the differences are more than skin deep.  The S&W has a relatively smooth, graceful black handle with a sliding lock next to the opening button.  The button itself is fully exposed on the handle.  There is no jimping to increase the friction between handle and hand.  The front bolster offers scant protection to prevent your hand from sliding forward onto the blade.   This may not be a big concern to you.   If your perceived use is cutting fir sticks, butchering a rabbit, opening cardboard boxes this handle will have no surprises in store for you.


S&W automatic knife
An S&W automatic knife.  The safety is right next to the opening button.

 But if you envision needing to cut a coconut open, making a violent, full power stab into something with hard spots, as well as open your mail, this knife may bite you back.

The AFO II has a dull black surface that feels gritty.  For me, it’s like running my nail over a chalkboard.  Jimping on top and bottom of the handle tip and tail provide additional friction surfaces.  The lines of the handle aren’t as smooth or flowing and a swelling at the bolster helps keep your hand away from the knife edge.  This knife also sports a metal glass breaker tip.  The lock is on the spine 90 degrees away from the opening button.

AFO II knife
Benchmade's AFO II   Jimping provides extra friction surfaces.  Glass breaker is small and not painful if you accidently palm it.
The AFO II clip is interchangeable to four positions, including the button side.  In the tip down position the knife rides high in your pocket.  Move the clip to my favorite position, tip up, and the knife rides a little lower in the pocket.

The S&W clip can be removed, but it’s drilled and tapped only for right side tip up.  It lets the knife ride low in your pocket, virtually unnoticed to the casual observer.

Lets looks at the numbers!
Feature
S&W 1600
AFO II
Open length
8.2 in
8.5
Blade length
3.7 in
3.6
Blade Steel
S30V
154CM
Blade Thickness
0.134 inch
0.123
hardness
?????
58-61 HRC
Handle
Aluminum
Aluminum
Weight
5.8 ounces
4.8 ounces
Price
$160
$245
Made in
USA
USA

All and all pretty even except for price.  The big surprise was the S30V steel in the S&W.  Almost as big of a surprise was the differences in spring tension.

Any automatic knife that doesn’t have enough spring to push the blade to the locked position is a pretty sad knife.  The auto’s only reason to exist is to propel the blade to the lock position, otherwise you have an ordinary one handed opener.  But what if something momentarily stops or blocks the blade from reaching the full open position?

One of two things can happen depending on the spring.  The spring has enough strength to kick the blade into the lock position or the blade just dangles until you add a flip with your wrist.  I don’t have scale or a testing device that can measure spring strength, but let’s look at it from another way.  How much do I have to cock the blade so if I release it from that position, the blade will return to the locked open position?

For the S&W, about 110 degrees from full open.

For the AFO II I couldn’t find any blade position that did not return the blade to the full open locked position.
In other words, the AFO II will always open, even if the blade meets obstructions as soon as the blade clears the obstruction.

The S&W, not so much.  If the blade is stopped in the first 80 degrees of opening, it should finish opening.  Be prepared to wrist flip it open in another position.

The other big difference is the safety.  The safety on the S&W locks the blade closed.  It can’t be bumped off and the blade can open.  The safety doesn’t do anything in the open position.  The AFO II safety will lock the blade open or closed.  When the safety is on, that blade isn’t moving from its open or closed position.

Both knives are available in tanto and drop point as either serrated or plain edge.  And both have a lanyard hole if you chose to use that.

Since neither knife belongs to me I can’t test the edge.  But I have always found that other Benchmade knives cut better and retain an edge longer than their significantly less expensive S&W brothers.  But with the use of a high end steel, S30V, that might no longer be true.

Who wins?

One important lesson to remember is, function should define form.  In a combat role were self-defense is the card that trumps all others, I would go with the AFO II.  It has a heaver spring that, in my limited tests, always opens.  The lock is smaller and on the spine but I would feel more comfortable carrying the knife in a pocket or tucked in my waistband.  The shape of the handle and it’s surface finish will help you keep your grip.

The large and easy to find safety and the highly exposed button on the S&W would make me uncomfortable throwing myself down behind cover or fighting in small confined area.

However, there is an $80 dollar difference.  If your world consists of relaxed fit pants, gathering at the barbecue to swap lies, and the most stressful situation you think you’ll be in is pulling the guideline of a tent with one hand and cutting the rope with the other, the S&W 1600 could be the right knife.


I very much liked the Benchmade AFO II over the S&W.  But don’t be fooled by this statements.  If you somehow slipped me an S&W 1600 when the fecal material hit the impeller, I would be very grateful!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Benchmade Blues


I really like Benchmade Knives, but as they say “to err is human…”

I think their HK Scorch (catalog 14975) is a super idea.  It’s one of the dual mode knives people are talking about.  I wrote about it here.


The HK Scorch made by Benchmade.  This one is self opening!



I recently got a Scorch that  opens itself.  It’s self-activating.

While this is a great thing with people, it’s a terrible thing with guns and knives.  I kept noticing the Scorch always seem partially opened when I had it on display.  I thought someone had examined it and left it in that condition.  What a surprise it was when I closed it and watched it pop open.  It’s going back.

I contacted Benchmade and they claim there is no general recall on the Scorch.  It was forcefully pointed out to me by the young lady I was talking to, that since it’s made in American, it can be repared in the great state of Oregon.  

I suggest you deal with an “authorized Benchmade dealer”. Just fill out the paperwork on the Benchmade website and get it done.

Nobody wants a self-activating knife in their pocket!

On the upside, one of my friends did some internet work and put together a chart to help date Benchmade knives as of Dec 2014.  It all focuses on the Benchmade butterfly.

 To 1999         Bali-song Butterfly with antenna
1999 to 2002 Benchmade Butterfly with antenna
2002 to 2004 Benchmade Butterfly with antenna and model number under butterfly
2004 to present   Benchmade Butterfly without antenna and model number under butterfly

Friday, June 13, 2014

Switchblades

Switchblades. Auto knives. Push button knives.  Flick knives.  No matter what you call them, fully automatic knives have an undeniable appeal.

They aren’t new.  The first ones were made in the mid 1700s.  Following the U.S. Civil War, knives became factory products made in quantity. 

Knife sales increased thanks to the internet of its time, the catalog and advertisement.   In 1892 George Schrade invented the first really practical auto knife.  We’re still re-inventing the auto knife.  The Blade Show featured the so-called dual mode and hidden auto which could be opened manually or automatically with a hidden release.

HK duel mode knife
HK's dual mode Scorch.  Open like a manual knife or use the hidden release.  And it's made in the USA!
So far so good!

In search of more readership, Women’s Home Companion published an article in 1950 about switchblades called “The Toy That Kills.”  Did you hear that sound?  No, it wasn’t the click of a knife opening.  That was the opening shot of the war on knives.

The image of a hoodlum standing in the mouth of an alley smoking a cigarette, wearing a black leather jacket, and shockingly tight pants with an Italian switchblade in his back pocket and dating your daughter was too much for our legislators.  Especially when their wives began to think these Hollywood romantic bad boys were cute!

In 1958, The Switchblade Knife Act was passed making the sale of auto knives, but not possession, illegal.  Many states also passed laws banning autos, dirks, Bowie knives, short swords and butterfly knives.  The U.S. is not the only nation in the world that feels their citizens can’t be trusted with a knife much less one that opens by pushing a button. 

Traveling overseas with almost any of our ubiquitous knives could land you in jail.

Let’s zip forward to today.

Since then some states have passed knife rights laws to allow their citizens to buy, sell and own autos.  We have groups like Knife Rights and AKTI to thank for that.

Two of my favorite knife manufacturers package their autos with dire warnings about the proper documentation needed if you return your auto for service or warranty work.  With many states making it legal to own autos, I wanted to know how these companies would treat legal autos in need of service.

Spyderco requires a letter (on letterhead!) stating you are authorized to possess one of their autos and a restricted item return form.  They will not return your knife to you without all the paperwork.  They really don’t like autos and currently only carry one at the request of the U.S.Coast Guard rescue swimmers called the Autonomy.

This policy will remain in effect regardless of state laws, so if you own a Spyderco auto, unless you’ve got current paper, don’t bother sending it back.

Not that I blame them.  Several years ago when imported butterfly knives were banned, Spyderco was making them here in the U.S.  One part, that little latch on the bottom of the handle, was imported from overseas.  They had paperwork from Customs saying it was okay and legal.  All the lawyers on both sides were in agreement.  It was all good.  Then ICE decided the little latch was contraband, seized the shipment and all the other knives associated with the shipment.  People almost went to jail and fines were levied.  It wasn’t very nice.

I’m actually surprised they even make an auto given the complexity of the legal system.  We tend to think of the Federal government as a great monolithic organization.  It often acts as individual organization and has little if any interest in cooperating with other departments.

My next stop was Benchmade.  They make a fine line of autos 

Benchmade Auto AFO II, a great automatic knife.
Benchmade's AFO II.  They upgraded this knife two years ago and it really performs!

and this year have introduced more covert autos in which the blade can be opened like a manual knife, or pressing a hidden button springs the blade open.  Look at the gold class 7505 Sibert or the black class 5400 Serum if you’re interested.

They too have restrictions on sending autos back.  You cannot send it back via the post office and you must have or sign their Auto Opening Knife Acknowledge form available on their website.  Benchmade recommends you take your auto back to a registered Benchmade dealer and arrange to have them ship it back for sharpening and tune up. 

Just in passing they suggest you send any of your Benchmade knives in every two years for resharpening and overhaul.  You paid for the service when you bought the knife, you should take advantage of it.

It doesn’t matter if you have a CCW, or if your state allows autos or if your old unit/department passed them out like sticks of gum.  Each vendor has different rules that they think will keep them out of legal trouble.

Is right?  Frankly what do I know about the law?  I don’t even write radio dialogue for lawyer commercials.  Find out what they want and work with them.

Still want an auto?  I don’t blame you.  I like them too.  If you carry one, just keep your wits about you.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mini-Onslaught

I got my first Bob Lum knife by accident.  I saw Spyderco’s Chinese Folder and fell for the leaf-shaped blade and green handle and bought it.

I’m not a big collector of Lums.  I like the functionality and graceful lines but it’s difficult to justify custom knife prices, so I settle for selling the factory versions of them.  You might uncharitably call me a knife pimp -  I make a little money from the transaction, but I thoroughly enjoy getting quality knives into appreciative hands.

I’m quite excited about Benchmade’s Mini-Onslaught that just arrived today.  It’s a Bob Lum design and it’s quite a little charmer.  One side of the blade has the Benchmade butterfly logo and the other side has Bob’s chop.

The 3.45-inch blade is sharpened from 154CM steel with a Rockwell C hardness of 58-61.  The curved grip is black G-10 which is reinforced by stainless steel liners.  I looked at the handle and I would swear it’s micarta.  Of course, G10 has changed over the years from short chopped fibers in resin into glass fabric.

I really like the Axis lock Benchmade uses.  The modified clip point blade simply glides open and the thumb hole (licensed from Spyderco, I understand) is 0.43 inches in diameter.  That’s large enough to easily capture your thumb for opening.  Benchmade says the Mini-Onslaught weighs in at 3.9 ounces.
Benchmade's Mini-Onslaught by bob Lum
The left side showing the famous Benchmade butterfly.

Bob Lum's Mini-Onslaught by Benchmade
This is the right side of the knife with Bob's chop.  I always thought it would be cool to have a family/personal stamp.


The knife is set up for tip-up carry, my preferred method.

The Mini-Onslaught’s curved handle helps anchor the knife in your hand during a slash and presses the handle into your palm during a stab, but doesn’t allow for a reversible clip.  That's the one drawback.  

I saw a Cold Steel knife with a similar problem, but Cold Steel solved that by drilling and tapping both sides and included a second clip.

Benchmade retails the knife for $170 on their website.  I suspect I’ll be able to do better.

Sadly, Bob Lum passed away Dec 2007.  In his thirty years of knife making, some of his designs were never released to the commercial market.  It’s kind of  nice knowing that even after he’s gone, we’ll still see a few new Lums in the future.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Benchmade VS Benchmade



Benchmade Throw-Down


Most of us will agree that today’s factory folding knives are some of the best ever made.  You can spend more, but for the money Benchmade gives you one hell heck of a knife.


Let’s compare two of the newest.  To my knowledge, nobody  has published an article in the national mags about them. 
 

Honesty compels me to tell you I own one and the other is for sale so I can’t cut sheetrock or gut watermelons or do any real physical testing.  But then, how many of us buy a knife based on the amount of hemp rope it can dice.  If you need chopped hemp, buy a hammer mill and not a knife.


Here’s the main event.


Ladies and gents, in this corner we have Benchmade’s Ball Axis Flipper.  In the other corner we have Benchmade’s Volli.  Okay you two, I want a clean fight, no punching below the axis lock and break clean when I call it.


Benchmade  Ball and Volli
"...wearing the black grips is the Volli and in brown we have the Flipper."

The Ball Axis Flipper is new to Benchmade.  Flipper knives are very popular now.  Most open so smooth and cleanly you might think you have an auto opener.  With no spring to worry about or concerns that a police officer might believe it’s an auto, you’re ready for action.


I’m on board with that idea.  But really, couldn’t we get a better name other than Ball Axis Flipper?  I’m going to call it the Flipper.  To my knowledge the Ball 300 or Ball Axis is the first Benchmade flipper knife in production.  Please correct me if I'm wrong.


The Flipper’s blade is 3 inches of 154CM steel hardened to RC 58-61.  The blade can be described as a drop point with a shallow swedge and flat saber grind.  A series of narrow scallops softens the handle’s contours and provides friction ridges.  The alternating layers of brown and tan G-10 make a bit of color in what might be a considered a drab handle.

Butch Balls Axis flipper
Butch Ball's design for Benchmade, the 300 Axis Flipper


Steel liners under Tan G10
The Ball 300 has sturdy steel liners, a feature I like.

Does the blade open smooth?  Yes.  Can I flip it open with one finger only?  I needed the tiniest amount of wrist action to pop it open.  You could argue the one finger opening is a side effect of the blade design.  The real purpose of the flipper is to act as a guard making the knife safer to use.  That’s something to think about if you find yourself having to explain why you’re carrying this sweetheart.  And frankly, what's not to like about Benchmade's axis lock?

Clips side of both benchmade knives
Volli and Ball 300, clip side.  Benchmades are typically set up for  tip up carry.


The knife weighs 4.8 ounces and the weight balances right behind the Axis lock.  For me this makes the knife a little blade heavy.  I like a little more weight in my hand.  I think it makes the blade more responsive.


The Volli, with its catalog number 1000001, is an almost a digital knife.  Okay, it’s a lame joke but there is nothing lame about the Volli.

The Volli has a large thumb groove carved into the G10.
.
It’s an assisted opening.  The 3.25 inch blade is made from S30V steel and is a high grind drop point.  S30V is one of the new wonder steels and is hardened to Rockwell C of 58-60.  Both sides of the handle have a groove carved in the black G10 that funnels your thumb to the opening stud.  It’s a great feature.  Even blindfolded or in the dark the groove locates the blade side and facilitates finding the stud.  It reminds me of Benchmade’s Emissary or CRKT’s Crawford Kasper folder.  

Another look at the thumb groove on the Volli.


The handle has a slight palm swell that is scalloped with a series of flat surfaces across the entire surface.  It looks interesting.  It feels better.  The spine has small knobby rectangles of G-10 protruding upward.  They remind me of vertebrae. 

The Ball has an open spine, better for cleaning, but I like the knobby 'vertebrae' on the Volli and the handle's slight palm swell.
At the end of the vertebrae sits a lock which can be used to prevent the knife from opening.  


Balance?  The weight seems to be concentrated in the handle.  For me, the balance point seemed to be at the Axis lock and not behind it like the Flipper.  The slight difference in balance point between these two makes a significant difference to me.


I never have been concerned about knives opening in my pocket.  I typically wear them with the blade pressed into the seam side of the pocket where there is no room to open.  But if you’re active enough, or wear your Volli differently your might find that lock useful.



So here’s the throw down: 

Knife
Blade Steel
Blade Length
Handle
Clip
Opening Action
Lock
Weight
Volli
S30V
3.25
G-10
Tip up right or left
Assisted w/ Stud
Axis
4.3oz
Ball Flipper
154cm
3.2
G-10
Tip up right or left
Flipper w/ Stud
Axis
4.8

I didn’t mention price.  They are very similar.  MSRP for the Volli is $160 while the Ball 300 is $175.  Both are great knives with good value for the price.



My preference? I’m not afraid to catalog my knives by use.  Sort of a dress vs. tennis shoe approach to which knife I carry for any function.


I’d carry either for a casual day in the woods.  I’d carry either in and about town to work or shopping.  The Volli is almost nice enough for formal wear, you know, weddings and funerals.  But if I knew I was going stand in a dark alley with my pulse pounding in my ears, or was heading out to hike the Buckeye Trail I’d want the Ball Axis Flipper.  I think it’s a slightly better knife.

But check them out.  Your opinion may be different.