Benchmade is one of the better-known knife makers. They pair up with several well-known master knife designers. Their knife product line is quite extensive, and is divided into four lines :
– GOLD CLASS : for collectors. High end, semi-custom knives
– BLUE CLASS : regular high quality production knives
– BLACK CLASS : for professional, law enforcement & military use
– RED CLASS : for the value-conscious buyer. Designed in the US and mostly made in Taiwan.
Mini Griptilian comes in a Blue Box and a nylon pouch
The 556 Mini Griptilian model is already a few years old. As the name implies, it’s a smaller version of the now-classic Benchmade Griptilian. The 556 was designed by renowned knifemaker Mel Pardue. There are other variants of the Mini Griptilian, including the 555 (with sheepsfoot blade style and thumbholes instead of thumbstuds), the 557 (tanto blade style) and the 558 (Ritter Survival Knife, designed by Doug Ritter).
The Mini Griptilian 556 itself comes in several flavours, with options for choice of blade and colour of the handles. The available handle colours are :
If you look around, you might be able to find discontinued versions with green, grey or purple handles.
I originally ordered the yellow handle version, but it was unavailable so I got a black one instead. In hindsight it was a good choice, since the yellow handle version has a black clip. The pocket clip is removable (you can shift it to the other side if you are left-handed). With the clip on, the knife is not as comfortable to hold.
The blade material is 154CM, an upgrade from previous versions which had 440C. There are two styles of blades available for the 556 :
– plain (modified drop-point)
– combo edge (plain plus a section with serrations)
There’s also a version with “tactical” black blade (BK1) coating.
Tactical Mini Griptilian with Black Coated Blade
The Mini Griptilian 556 is smaller than I thought it would be. However, that means it’s easy to slip in your pocket. With a blade length of less than 3 inches, it the Mini Griptilian is legal carry in a lot of places.
The thumbstuds enable easy one-handed opening of the knife. I can do it without much trouble using both right and left hands (I’m right handed). Once open, the patented Axis lock snaps into place. This is a very solid lock, and arguably one of the best locking mechanisms around. It has been claimed that the lock can handle batoning, but I did not try it myself.
In terms of cutting power, the Mini Griptilian 556 delivers. I have used it to cut plastic (plastic bottles, zip ties, toy packaging), paper, cardboard, and wood. In all cases, the knife performed without fail. The blade has retained its edge and sharpness despite regular use over the past three weeks.
The 154CM blade is supposed to be quite easy to sharpen, but I have not tried it. Benchmade offers a sharpening service called Lifesharp. If you’re not confident of your ability to sharpen the Griptilian yourself, or if you prefer a factory edge, you can take advantage of this service. Just send your knife back to Benchmade with US$5. Turnaround time can vary, but expect a few weeks before you get your knife back in your hands.
The Benchmade Mini Griptilian 556 is a good, solid choice for EDC (every day carry). It’s small (fits in your pocket), sharp & easy to sharpen, and it’s also reasonably priced for the quality that you get. You should be able to find it online for around US$60.
Benchmade Mini Griptilian 556 Specifications :
* Blade Length: 2.91″
* Blade Thickness: 0.100″
* Blade Material: 154CM
* Blade Hardness: 58-60HRC
* Blade Style: Modified Drop-Point; Ambidextrous Thumb-Studs
* Weight: 2.56oz.
* Clip: Black, Reversible, Tip-Up
* Lock Mechanism: AXIS
* Overall Length: 6.78″
* Closed Length: 3.87″