When it comes to the Benchmade 300 Axis Flipper (also known as the 300SN) controversy, I am squarely in the camp that it is an awesome knife; in fact, I might say one of Benchmade’s best ever. For the longest time, Benchmade knives just didn’t really appeal to me, at least not enough to own one. I recognize that Benchmade has always produced top notch knives, so that was never my quip with them. It was always something far less tangible, perhaps even just the aesthetics.
But whatever power or force was drawing me away from Benchmade left in the blink of an eye the second I laid eyes on the 300. The machined G10, the blade shape, the flipper, the raw ruggedness of the thing… it spoke to me like no Benchmade had ever done before. To add to the mystique, I ordered it while I was living abroad in hopes that I could pick it up while making a quick return trip to the USA to visit family. I missed it by two days, so I had to wait an additional two months knowing it was sitting on my desk in the USA before I actually was able to put my hands on it.
They say first impressions are everything, and this knife won me over with ease. The knife has a nice heft to it, which makes it feel robust and strong. To give you an idea of just how hefty, it tips the scales at 4.85 ounces. But while a weight weenie would view this as a bad thing, I actually feel it is a positive with this knife. No cheap feeling Zytel scales and no thin blades like some of the other more popular knives from Benchmade. The 300 has full steel liners, G10 that is 3/16″ thick, and an 1/8″ thick blade. When you pick this knife up, the weight conjures images of a nice fountain pen or a nice watch. Everyone knows that you want to resist gravity a little when picking up a quality timepiece or pen, and that is the same sensation that this knife gave me. In addition, it’s not like you don’t get anything for the extra ounces. The knife is built to be abused and will withstand anything you throw at it.
So let’s cover the specs real quick before we get any deeper. As is standard on most Benchmade knives, the 300SN comes with an axis lock. The axis lock is well known for being extremely strong. As an added bonus for lefties, the axis lock is ambidextrous and the pocket clip is reversible, although you are limited to tip up carry only. The drop point blade is 3.18″ long, which in my opinion is just about perfect for an EDC. Much larger and you make people uneasy, and much smaller and you start lacking sufficient cutting edge for some tasks. The blade is .13″ thick as mentioned, and is made with 154CM steel. I like 154CM in that it takes a nice edge and is easy to sharpen. I compare it to S30V in terms of these qualities. The blade also comes equipped with dual thumb studs, which are actually usable although 100% negated because the flipper is the coup de grace for the thumb studs. You can get the knife in plain edge or partially serrated and either come with a nice light stonewash. I recommend plain edge as usual unless you intend to cut lots and lots of rope or other fibrous material. Moving on to the handle, we find full length steel liners and machined G10 scales. The machined scales really set it off, as they provide tons of grip and really add to the aesthetics of the knife. The machined features make it look extremely tough and the G10 is layered in such a way that you get a two tone striping effect. The handle is 4.5″ which is perfect for my hands. When holding the knife, the bottom of the handle sits about a half inch proud of my palm, which would make it easy to use the knife for blunt force tasks such as glass breaking (or skull breaking if that’s your thing). The handle is almost 5/8″ thick, so you know without a doubt when the knife is sitting in your pocket. It doesn’t blend like some of the smaller knives. Finally, it should be mentioned that the 300 is part of Benchmade’s blue class.
A few other notes are that the 300 can be had in other colors. If you buy a 300-1, you get blue and black layered G10 with 154CM steel. If you buy a 300-1301 which is limited to 350 pieces, you get D2 tool steel with green and black layered G10. The normal 300 comes in coyote brown with 154CM stainless.
All in all, I think the really great thing about the 300 is that Benchmade finally put all the pieces together. They make an absolutely killer lock system, but often pair it with cheap materials and thin knives, or with knives that have taken the robust thing too far. They finally seemed to have hit the middle ground with high quality materials with all the right features in a right sized knife that rides low in the pocket. In addition, they have added a unique twist on this one with the flipper and machined G10. While some purists might shy away from the knife for this reason, I think it’s a huge plus and a reason to gravitate towards it. I like to see knife manufacturers push the envelope a little bit and try new things that they haven’t done in the past. Benchmade has been pretty conservative from this perspective lately versus some of the other big boys like Spyderco and Kershaw, so it’s nice to see them take a stab at it (see what I did there?). The 300 is also reasonably priced as well. This puts it in the same range as the Spyderco Paramilitary 2 for reference.
Overall, I highly recommend you check one of these knives out, whether you are a Benchmade fan or not. I think it will treat you well if you want a heavy duty knife or a stout every day carry knife.