Benchmade is known for knives, and their Griptilian line remains a popular option for recreational users. The 551 Griptilian is the smallest of the full-sized line, and designed as a versatile, everyday knife. We took the time to test it out, and here’s what we discovered.
About Benchmade Knife Company
Since the late 1970s, the Benchmade Knife Company has been a staple in the industry. Though Benchmade started in California, they’ve called Oregon home since the mid-1980s. In 1996, Benchmade opened its current facility in Oregon City.
Benchmade manufactures a selection of knives, pens, and other rescue tools, but their bread and butter is the butterfly, or balisong-style knife collection. The original design, by Jody Samson, won Knife of the Year in 1979, and the “Bali-Song” is a trademark and logo.
With a history of selling to the military and law enforcement, it’s no surprise that Benchmade creates quality products with top-notch designs and materials. They manufacture several models across three different classes of knives.
One of the best features of Benchmade knives is their patented locking system known as the Axis Lock. Most of their switchblade models use the Axis Lock for improved handling, strength, and safety.
Benchmade relies on its talented team of designers to produce custom products that influence and inspire industry trends. Their award-winning collections continue to lead the way at every level by appealing to recreational users, professionals, and collectors alike.
What We Like Best
Made in the USA, the Griptilian 551 is a sturdy blade in a lightweight, low-profile package. It easily fits into a purse or pocket, making it an excellent option for everyday use. They even include a reversible pocket clip to appease righties, lefties, and ambidextrous folks.
It’s clear that a lot of thought went into the ergonomic design because this knife fits comfortably in your hand. The Griptilian 551 has an ambidextrous design, so it feels good in either hand without losing functionality.
At less than four ounces, we were surprised by how lightweight it is. However, there’s no need to worry about sturdiness, because this is one solid knife that can handle a lot of use. Like other Benchmade products, the Griptilian 551 can take a beating and still keep slicing. We did notice that some of the features, namely the pocket clip, can be easily nicked.
Fitted with Benchmade’s patented Axis Lock, the Griptilian 551 has a quick, smooth, single-handed disengagement of the blade. The plain drop-point blade is insanely sharp, and retains the edge integrity for some time, even with regular use.
Benchmade’s Griptilian 551 is a versatile knife that handles everyday situations, like stubborn tape on packages, but also tackles heavy-duty use for campers and hunters. Though we didn’t try it, some reviewers praised the efficiency of the Griptilian 551 in field dressing deer and carving wood.
What We Don't Like
There’s not a lot to complain about on this knife, but we didn’t love the feel of the handle. While the design and fit are comfortable, the material is subpar, especially given the price point.
We did some research on the issue and found that several reviewers felt the same as we did about the feel of the Griptilian 551’s handle. The nylon material feels cheap for a blade of this caliber. While it certainly helps keep the knife light, it doesn’t feel like a high-end handle.
Unless you’re planning to make good use of this knife or expect to have it for several years, you may find the price too steep. Sure, you’re paying for the Benchmade name, good steel, and an American-made knife, but it’s on the higher end of the spectrum compared to other knives in the class.
Final Thoughts on Benchmade’s Griptilian 551
If you’re looking for an American-made, smooth, versatile, single-handed knife, you could do much worse than Benchmade’s Griptlian 551. Factor in the durability of the blade’s edge, and it’s easy to understand why this model remains a popular choice for everyday use.