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Benchmade Griptilian 551 Review

Benchmade Griptilian 551
Price:   $110 List | $99.99 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Proven and well-respected blade. Smooth, comfortable ergonomics.
Cons:  Large.
Editors' Rating:     
  • 1
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  • 5
Manufacturer:   Benchmade

Our Verdict

Benchmade's Griptilian 551 is a full-size, high quality folding pocket knife. Sporting a blade tied (with two others) for the longest in our test, with a mass smack in the middle, this tool packs a smooth operating punch. Every Benchmade blade is excellent and can be returned throughout the knife's lifespan for very inexpensive factory sharpening. Our testers liked the Griptilian for every task we faced, but the smaller cousin Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585 took the Editors' Choice award for its greater portability and assisted opening design. As compared to the other full-size knives in our test, like the SOG Trident Elite, the Griptilian has a more versatile blade and opens more smoothly.

To compare to other knives that we tested, reference our Best Pocket Knife Review.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Pocket Knives of 2017

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Score Product Price Blade Style Opening Style Lock Mechanism
76
$145
Editors' Choice Award
Drop Point, Straight Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud Proprietary (Axis)
75
$80
Best Buy Award
Drop Point, Straight Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud. And back-of-knife finger tab. Frame lock
74
$110
Drop Point, Straight Ambidextrous thumb Stud Proprietary (Axis)
73
$21
Top Pick Award
Drop point, straight Fingernail None
72
$97
Top Pick Award
Clip point, straight Assisted, thumb stud Piston lock mechanism
70
$36
Drop point, straight Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud. And back-of-knife finger tab. Liner locking mechanism
60
$13
Clip point, straight Fingernail Liner locking mechanism
59
$80
Clip point, straight Fingernail Frame lock
56
$16
Drop point, straight One handed blade cutout Frame lock

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Jediah Porter
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Tuesday
September 20, 2016

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The Benchmade Griptilian stacked up well in our testing. It earned leading scores in virtually every category. However, the larger overall size and lack of tester-preferred assisted opening left the Griptilian yielding award winning status to other knives.

Performance Comparison


Beach grilling with the Griptillian. This tester appreciated the full-size profile of the Griptillian. She's using the Yeti 45L as her table.
Beach grilling with the Griptillian. This tester appreciated the full-size profile of the Griptillian. She's using the Yeti 45L as her table.

Blade and Edge Integrity


Knife legend Mel Pardue leaves his mark on the Griptillian. The personal attention to edge sharpness and wear resistance is clear.
Knife legend Mel Pardue leaves his mark on the Griptillian. The personal attention to edge sharpness and wear resistance is clear.
While every knife in our test has a blade that, with a modicum of maintenance, will serve the everyday user, it is the spendier tools from blade specialists Benchmade and Kershaw that stand out for smooth and effortless cutting. Like our Best Buy pick Kershaw Leek, the Benchmade Griptilian 551 carries the stamp of an individual, well-known blade specialist. Knife legend Mel Pardue stands behind the materials and design of the Griptillian. And this quality shows. Out of the box, and after days of general use, the Griptilian sliced a ripe tomato with the lightest of pressure.

Ergonomics


More food prep with the Griptillian. The large and high quality blade of the Griptillian rivals many fine kitchen tools.
More food prep with the Griptillian. The large and high quality blade of the Griptillian rivals many fine kitchen tools.
The full-size handle of the Griptilian fills a loosely clenched fist and leaves smooth curves to press through even the stoutest cutting tasks. The pocket clip is fitted to the knife in such a way that the user can pull the knife from its clipped location and deploy the blade with a flick of the thumb, all without re-orienting the knife in hand. Further raising the bar, and just like our Editors' Choice pick, the pocket clip can be switched for the above function whether the knife is carried in the left or right pocket. When compared to assisted opening knives, the "standard" Griptilian seems a bit primitive.

Construction Quality


The Griptilian feels light in the hand. While our testing revealed no specific failures in quality or durability, the lightweight feel of this full-size tool works against feelings of confidence. If our experience with other Benchmade equipment means anything, these subjective feelings of low confidence are unfounded.

Portability


While light for its size, the Griptilian does indeed take up considerable real estate in pocket or purse. None of our testers, evaluating for everyday carry, could justify the extra ounces and inches of the Griptilian, especially as compared to all of our svelte award winners. As a backup hunting knife, or to live in a glove box for very occasional use, the Griptilian is a bit expensive.

Other Features


None to report on.

Best Application


Everyday carry for those with pocket space to spare, heavy tasks to tackle and appreciation for craftsman construction and impeccable customer service.

Value


Knives, provided the user can keep track of them, are an excellent example of the value in purchasing for quality. The significant initial investment of any Benchmade knife will be returned time and time again in durability and especially in the lifetime sharpening service available through Benchmade's "LifeSharp" program.

Conclusion


The Griptilian 551 mates a signature blade with proven Benchmade construction. The opening and closing mechanisms are smooth and well thought out. The large form-factor isn't for everyone. In fact, none of our testers thought it worth carrying such a large tool. Something about the dimensions had clearly turned past the tipping point. If you use your knife a lot, or tackle a large number of heavy tasks, the Griptilian could be you.

Other Versions and Accessories


Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585
Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585
  • Cost - $140
  • Small sized pocket knife
  • Assisted opening blade
Jediah Porter

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: September 20, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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