Tucked away in Oregon City — just a short drive away from downtown Portland, Oregon — Benchmade was founded by Les de Asis and his wife Roberta all the way back in 1979. Since that time, they’ve skyrocketed to the top of the knifemaking world — especially in regards to everyday carry-, outdoor-, and tactical-focused cutting tools. Sadly, Les passed away earlier this year — but his legacy as a top-tier knife designer and all-around solid human being lives on through his timeless blade designs and the continuing work of his highly-respected brand.
With a shimmering reputation and a history of outstanding releases, Benchmade is one of the few brands that consistently ranks amongst the best in the knifemaking community and, were you to ask around the everyday carry community, you’d discover that their offerings top quite a few “must-have” wishlists. Of course, their catalog can be a bit daunting to newcomers and veterans alike. As such, we’ve taken the time to highlight five of the brand’s spectacular offerings to help elevate your EDC loadout and make it a bit more upscale, functional, and envy-inspiring.
Benchmade 535GRY-1 Bugout
There is a reason the name “Bugout” is on the tip of every Benchmade fanatic’s tongue: it’s one of the best knives to come out in recent times from any brand, period. From its slender ultralight handle to its versatile drop point blade and signature AXIS lock, this is one of the most well-rounded EDC cutting tools around and is well suited to just about any style preference — aided by the many colorway options and even possible customization. And while we wouldn’t call it “budget-friendly,” we definitely think it is almost priced too low for the value you get out of it.
Blade: CPM-S30V Steel
Blade Length: 3.24″
Type: EDC Folder
Benchmade 602 Oeser Tengu Tool
One of the most compact and best-looking EDC multi-tools we’ve seen come out in the recent past, the Jared Oeser-designed Tengu Tool is a tiny titan in every sense of the term. Not only does it boast a useful, if quite stour tanto blade — crafted from 20CV steel, no less — but it also has an integrated bottle opener and pry bar when in the closed position. Almost universally legal, this micro machine is a tool you’ll value for years and years if you get your hands on one.
Blade: 20CV Steel
Blade Length: 1.14″
Type: EDC Multi-Tool
Benchmade 560BK-1 Freek
Toeing the line between the aggressively tactical and the stylishly sleek, the Benchmade Freek is a special folder that looks good and performs beautifully. It features a sturdy and reliable Cerakote-finished CPM-M4 steel drop point blade, a unique gray-and-black G-10 handle, Benchmade’s legendary AXIS locking mechanism, and striking red liners that help give it a somewhat sinister vibe.
Blade: CPM-M4 Steel
Blade Length: 3.60″
Type: EDC Folder
Benchmade 3300BK-2001 Infidel Dagger OTF Automatic Knife
Due to the legal restrictions of the category, automatic OTF knives aren’t for everyone. But if you live in a place where you can own, carry, and use them, we suggest taking full advantage of Benchmade’s absolutely exceptional Infidel dagger. With its sturdy and lightweight aluminum handle, CPM-S30V steel, and convenient and easy-to-use slider deployment, this is a lightning-quick cutting tool that will change the way you think about your EDC loadout. In fact, you might never carry a non-automatic knife again.
Blade: CPM-S30V Steel
Blade Length: 3.91″
Type: OTF Automatic
Benchmade Gold Class Proper Slipjoint Knife
The Holy Grail of gentleman’s slipjoint knives, the Gold Class Proper took an already magnificent traditionally-styled folding knife and launched it beyond the stratosphere. While the silhouette thankfully remains unchanged, the materials and craftsmanship have been significantly upgraded. That includes things like Damasteel used in the creation of the sheepsfoot blade, a Mokume bolster, and genuine 24k gold hardware. A glance might make you think this is a museum piece — and it’s definitely beautiful enough for that — but this is a knife that’s meant to be used, as well. And that makes it very special.
Blade Length: 2.875″
Type: Gentleman’s Slipjoint