Sunday, March 17, 2013

Benchmade Mini Griptilian Review

556 Mini Griptilian
  I'm a huge fan of  Benchmade's  Mini Griptilian lineup. That will quickly become evident as you get through this review.
  The OD green version above was purchased about two years ago, and two pink versions for my wife and daughter quickly followed (look up the sex offender data base for your neighborhood and this will answer why). After buying three of these knives, it's safe to assume that I both like this this line, and blow a lot of money on toys.

Blade Length:         2.91" (2 7/8")
Blade Thickness:    0.100"
Overall Length:       6.78"
Weight:                   2.56 oz.
Blade Material:       154CM Stainless Steel
Blade Type:             Modified Drop Point
Carry Method:         Pocket Clip, Tip Up, Right or Left Handed
Locking Method:     Axis Lock
Opening Method:    Thumb Stud
Handle Thickness:   .510"
Handle Material:      Valox With Stainless Steel Liners

  The Benchmade Mini Griptilian was my first EDC knife that cost more than $30. I always considered a pocket knife to be somewhat of a disposable item that was meant to be thumped on, abused, and replaced when it was lost and/or destroyed. More expensive knives were never considered until I ran across the Mini Griptilian. I bought one, and then ended up ordering two more for the family. A friend was even convinced to buy one after handling mine. I've never met anyone that didn't like these Benchmades. It is easy to see why.

  It's a well thought out design. Most will approve of it, and very few owners will have any real complaints.
  It's ambidextrous with dual thumb-studs and a version with a thumb-hole is available. There is a reversible pocket clip for left or right handed carry. It's only tip up carry which shouldn't be a big deal for the majority of knife owners.

   The OD green version to the right has D2 steel while the pink model came with 154CM Stainless Steel. I can't find any Mini Griptilians currently using D2, and it appears that all of them are now produced with 154CM instead.
  I haven't had to sharpen my OD green model yet.

 A coworker recently abused his same OD model 556. The Mini Griptilian was basically used as a Stanley knife to cut through some material that was laying on top of a steel table. Needless to say the blade was screwed up, but the edge came back after about 15 minutes on an Edge Pro Apex.
  Shortly after giving my daughter her serrated pink version (not shown), she cut through every piece of cardboard that she could find at work. The factory edge lasted a decent while, but she persevered and eventually dulled the hell out of it as only a kid can. I brought the sharpness back after A LOT of work with a couple of Arkansas stones that I've had for years.
  Oddly enough she didn't do much to the serrations. They held up pretty good. Only the edge was dulled.
  The edges hold up well, but expect to eventually put a lot of work into sharpening the blade unless you have a really good system.

  The Mini Griptilians come very sharp from the factory. I'd compare them to the same level of sharpness that my Kershaws, CRKTs, and Spydercos have. It's not in the same class as my Cold Steel knives (which are scary sharp and are evidently cursed to cut the owners).

  I like the modified drop point blade. It does everything that I need of it. Benchmade has several other versions of the Mini Griptilian. A sheepsfoot or tanto version is available. As I stated above, you also have the option of an thumb-hole instead of the dual thumb-studs. All are hollow ground.

  I have yet to see any rust on the pink Mini Griptilians. The Daywalker and I had to have a talk last year about taking $85 knives swimming.
 The coating on the OD version has held up pretty good so far.

  BTW, when I write that the 556 Benchmade is $85, I should say that it WAS $85. It now seems to run from $85 to $105 depending on the model. I'd suggest checking out Nutnfancy's YouTube channel for discount codes if you're purchasing online.

  The handle has a very good shape, and fits my hand well for such a small knife. The blade has a little jimping, and there's also jimping on the the stainless steel liners for about an inch along the back of the handle. Benchmade even added an inch (or so) of jimping where your index finger rests.
Lots Of Jimping On The Model 556
  The plastic scales have a few grooves molded into both sides of the handle at the pocket clip end. It's appreciated when you're using a reverse grip.
  This really helps to lock the 556 into your hand. There's a little checkering molded into the Valox handle scales as well. Someone put a lot of thought into this design.
  I have no complaints about the traction. None, nada, zip, zero.

  The blade centers perfectly, and there's no movement either side to side or front to back when it's deployed.
  The Axis lock can be pulled down, and the blade will quickly open with a flick of the wrist. You can also use the thumbstuds to slowly open the blade, or speed it up with a wrist flick. Deployment is easy, and as fast as you want it to be.

  The 556 is very well made, and has a solid feel despite the light weight. There's nothing "Cheap" feeling about this knife. That's a good thing as it's relatively expensive for most people.

  Several popular 3" EDC knives are shown to the right, and this should give you an idea of the 556's size. All are great choices, but I'd pick the Mini Griptilian over the rest of them for most uses. Of course it is the most expensive knife on the table.

  Here's a quick summary of the pros.

  It comes sharp from the factory (I've seen some manufacturer's knives that don't) and holds an edge very well.

  The handle is excellent for such a small knife, and gives outstanding traction.

  There is a good blade to handle ratio. I absolutely hate it when there's a huge handle and a tiny little blade. That's just a waste IMO. It's not an issue with the model 556. There's no leftover room in the handle. There is as much blade length as there can possibly be for the handle size.

  The 556 is a very strong design, has stainless steel liners, and still only weighs 2.6 oz. You won't leave it behind due to the weight.

  The Axis lock is one of my favorite lock designs. I don't have an issue with liner locks on a quality knife, but I prefer Benchmade's Axis Lock or Spyderco's Ball Lock

  The 2.78" blade should be legal in most of the nanny states, but it's up to you to check your local and state laws.

  You can find this model at almost any sporting goods or gun store.

  Choices abound. Colors, sizes, and blade shapes exist for every potential buyer.

  There's a lanyard hole that most of us will never need. If I was using this knife in any kind of environment that might lead to it's loss, I'd definitely use it. Boats come to mind.

  There 154CM Stainless Steel offers good corrosion resistance.

   The knife is ambidextrous, and shows that Benchmade luvs the wrong handed members of our society.

  One handed operation is easy for deployment and closing the blade.

  So what's not to like? I only have one real complaint. I'm not a fan of the pocket clip. It works OK and has perfect tension, but doesn't allow for deep enough carry IMO. I prefer something more like that on the SOG Mini Aegis shown to the right.

  As you can see, The knife clearly shows when using the manufacturer's pocket clip. If that's not a big deal to you then I'd give this knife a perfect rating (even though I always prefer 3.5" blades). BTW, if you wear tight pants, the knife may print a bit. My daughter wears skinny jeans, and the outline of the 556 usually shows. It's not much of a problem with my baggier pants.

  I recently decided to make a couple of almost perfect Mini Griptilians into what I think a perfect 556 should be. The pocket clips were removed and replaced with this.
  I'm a lot happier with the modification and would highly recommend it.

  There's at least three different versions of the aftermarket pocket clips, and they all allow for much deeper carry than the factory version. For some it really doesn't matter. Others might find themselves working in an office environment that doesn't allow knives. You may not want to call attention to the fact that you have an EDC blade, and there's always some idiot around with an irrational fear of pocket knives. It's often better to ask forgiveness instead of asking permission to carry a knife at work. As these aftermarket clips look more pen like than the originals, it's easier to get by without anyone wondering what that is hanging out of your pocket.

  I highly recommend the Benchmade Mini Griptilian. If I could turn back time, I'd probably get the 3.5" version though. Other than my usual complaints about the clip, I cannot find anything bad to say about the 556. Even though I prefer a larger blade (at this time anyway), this knife will do everything that I need a knife for.

  The cost will be prohibitive for many, and let's be honest. You can get 3-4 Kershaws (OSO Sweet, Volt II, Clash, etc) for the same price. If you can deal with the cost of the Mini Griptilian then I think that this would be a good knife for just about anyone that appreciates quality and a fine blade.

Now for some more pics (just because that's the kind of mood that I'm in).

Aftermarket Clips On Mini Griptilians

Another Aftermarket Pocket Clip

Perfect Blade Centering And Jimping Is Shown


Other Gun And Knife Reviews On This Blog


  1. Great review. I actually have the mini grip with the sheepsfoot blade. It reminded me of all the spydercos I own. Plus the tip is a lil stronger than the drop point. Hopefully I wont get addicted to benchmades too.

    1. Thanks, I only have one Spyderco right now, but am thinking about picking up another Mannix 2 or a Tenacious. It's a lot of great stuff out there. It can be hard to pick who's getting the disposable income this month.

  2. Nice, this brings out the full size grip into more carry time, thanks for the link!