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Hands-on Gear Review
Benchmade Griptilian 551 Review
Cons: Large, no assisted opening
Bottom line: Full-size, basic folding pocket knife with immaculate construction.
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 Assisted Opening and Spyderco Tenacious, the Griptilian has a more versatile blade and opens more smoothly.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
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.
The overall, weighted score of the Griptillian is tied or beaten by only other Benchmade knives. The quality is just that much ahead of the rest.
Blade and Edge Integrity
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.
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 you carry the knife in the left or right pocket. When compared to assisted opening knives, the "standard" Griptilian seems a bit primitive.
The deployment of the Griptillian is similar to that of the Spyderco Tenacious while the assisted opening blades of the Mini Barrage and SOG Assisted Opening offer genuine advantages when it comes to ergonomics.
The Griptilian feels light in 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.
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. The Best Buy CRKT Squid is considerably smaller and the Top Pick Victorinox Classic is basically in a different class. The Classic has many many more features while being a tiny fraction of the size of the Griptillian. The Griptillian is similar in portability to the Spyderco Tenacious and the SOG Trident Elite
None to report.
This model is optimized for everyday carry for those with pocket space to spare, heavy tasks to tackle and appreciation for craftsman construction and impeccable customer service.
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.
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 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.
— Jediah Porter
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