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Benchmade Griptilian 551 Review

Full-size, basic folding pocket knife with immaculate construction.
Benchmade Griptilian 551
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Price:  $110 List | $102.00 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Proven and well-respected blade, smooth, comfortable ergonomics
Cons:  Large, no assisted opening
Manufacturer:   Benchmade
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 12, 2019
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77
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 19
  • Blade and Edge Integrity - 30% 9
  • Ergonomics - 20% 10
  • Portability - 20% 6
  • Construction Quality - 20% 9
  • Other Features - 10% 0

Our Verdict

Benchmade's Griptilian 551 is a full-size, high-quality folding pocket knife. Sporting a long blade with a mass smack in the middle of the selection, 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. The Benchmade Barrage is similar in size to the Griptillian but adds assisted opening function.


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Awards  Editors' Choice Award    
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Proven and well-respected blade, smooth, comfortable ergonomicsIncredible blade quality, assisted open, perfect combination of compactness/functionalityGreat blade, classy wooden handleImmaculate materials, assisted opening, fully symmetrical performanceSmall, excellent materials and construction
Cons Large, no assisted openingPricey, blade lock mechanism not intuitiveExpensive, no assisted opening functionLarge in your pocket, expensiveShort blade, issues with opening the blade, expensive
Bottom Line Full-size, basic folding pocket knife with immaculate construction.Immaculately constructed knife in a form-factor that is easy to carry and large enough for virtually every task.A solid little knife for all-around “every day carry”. With assisted opening, this model would be similar enough to our Editors' Choice to really complicate our assessment.The full size version of our Editors' Choice is less portable with minimal but real gains in usability. If you know you need a full size pocket knife, the Barrage 580 is a great choice.Compact, carefully designed knife for the discerning user that seeks uniqueness and can forgive some usability issues.
Rating Categories Benchmade Griptilian 551 Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585 Benchmade 15031-2 North Fork Benchmade Barrage 580 The James Brand the Chapter
Blade And Edge Integrity (30%)
10
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9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
Ergonomics (20%)
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
6
Portability (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
9
Construction Quality (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
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9
Other Features (10%)
10
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10
0
0
10
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10
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10
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0
Specs Benchmade... Benchmade... Benchmade 15031-2... Benchmade Barrage... The James Brand...
Weight (ounces) 3.9 3.4 3.2 4.2 2.8
Blade Style Drop point, straight Drop point, straight Drop point, straight Drop point, straight Drop point, straight
Blade locks closed? No Yes Yes Yes No
Opening Style Ambidextrous thumb stud Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud Ambidextrous thumb-stud Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud Thumb stud
Lock Mechanism Proprietary (Axis) Proprietary (Axis) Proprietary (Axis) Proprietary (Axis) Frame lock
Carry Style, in addition to loose in pocket Pocket Clip Pocket Clip and lanyard hole Pocket Clip Pocket Clip, lanyard hole Pocket Clip
Blade Material 154CM steel 154CM Steel CPM-S30V stainless steel 154 CM stainless steel Crucible S35vn stainless steel
Handle Material Plastic Plastic Stabilized wood Valox 6al4v titanium
Blade Length (inches) 3.5 2.9 2.9 3.8 2.7
Closed Length (inches) 4.6 4 3.9 4.8 3.8
Overall Length 8 6.9 6.9 8.5 6.5
Thickness (w/o pocket clip) (inches) 0.6 0.57 0.53 0.7 0.3
Other Features or Functions None None None None None

Our Analysis and 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.

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


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.

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.

Ergonomics


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.

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 deployment of the Griptillian is similar to that of the Spyderco Tenacious while the assisted opening blades of the Mini Barrage, Kershaw Blur, and SOG Assisted Opening offer genuine advantages when it comes to ergonomics.

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. The Best Buy Kershaw Chill 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

Construction Quality


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.

Other Features


None to report. If you seek more tools in your pocket knife, check out the newly reviewed Victorinox Climber.

Best Applications


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.

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 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