A 550 Benchmade Series with any Color, Steel, or Blade You Want
The Benchmade 550 series is still probably one of Benchmade’s best designs aside from maybe the 940 series. It’s certainly one of their most popular designs, so it’s an added stroke of brilliance that Benchmade gives us the option to personalize a Griptilian, so you can have a custom knife. Their site has a pretty good system for putting together a Griptilian, a Barrage, and the mini versions of both to get the look we want. So for the Benchmade fan looking for gift ideas or just wanting to get a new knife with a fresh look, here’s all the customizable options on the Griptilian.
The Blade Steel
Knife steels come in all shapes and sizes, but you can find the Griptilian in 6 different steels. While many people, especially S30V fanboys, would argue that one of these steels is the “best” choice, in many cases it’s a matter of personal need and preference. Here’s the rundown on the different options. Feel free to skip ahead to the part about personalizing the blade if you already know all this.
This is bottom tier steel, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact it’s what Griptillians are normally made out of. 154CM steel offers a decent compromise between durability and corrosion resistance. It holds an okay edge and doesn’t rust very easily. So long as you sharpen it every now and then and wipe off the blade after using it, the steel will stay pretty nice for a long time. The real appeal of having 154CM, aside from being the least expensive, is that Benchmade can turn it a lot of different colors, letting you customize a Griptilian to have a blue, orange, red, or green blade.
This is full on tool steel, so it’s very hard. It’s sometimes compared with S30V as a cheaper alternative because it offers a similar durability and edge retention. One reason it’s cheaper is because it’s only partially stainless. There is a minimal amount of chromium in its composition, so it’s not the best at fighting the elements, but if you’re careful about rust and dirt, you’ll have a blade that holds its own just fine beside fancier metals.
This a blend with a bit of nitrogen added so it’s incredibly resistant to corrosion, but it’s also very soft. It won’t stay sharp very long under regular use, but it’s also a lot easier to sharpen and isn’t as likely to chip under tough use. This would be a great steel for taking out into the elements, especially if you spend a lot of time near the ocean. Salt water weather isn’t good for any kind of metal, but this gives your Griptilian the best chance for survival out there.
S30V has quickly become the favorite for a lot of independant knife designers and anyone who wants a true premium quality knife. It offers the best of all worlds: It’s super strong stainless steel with incredible edge retention and corrosion resistance. The kicker is that it tends to pad the bill on a knife by at least $20-30, but you definitely get what you pay for.
This is straight carbon steel, not stainless, so you have to watch it for rust and wear. Always wipe it off after use and oil it regularly. But it’s high carbon steel, which means it’s tough as hell. You could run this stuff through any job and it’ll hold. It has fantastic edge retention and it would probably put a dent in a hammer. Just give it a little consistent love and care and it’ll be with you for years.
This is high priced steel and it probably tops the list on hardness. It makes for great cutting material thanks to a super hard composition, and that also lends to good corrosion resistance. The biggest problem with this kind of steel is actually that it’s too hard. It will chip a lot easier than most other steels, so it’s not as versatile as something like M4 or 420HC. You use this steel for cutting and slicing, and you would be well advised to keep your uses within that range.
Benchmade lets you do all kinds of things to the blade. They probably have hundreds of stock designs they’ll put on for you like the American flag, deer antlers, a jumping fish, etc. You can even upload your own design to the site, although we haven’t tested that particular feature. We don’t know how such a thing might actually come out. But they have a huge list of images you can get from military to religious symbols, and even a picture of Santa. For some reason. Probably the most common personalization, though, is engraving a name on the blade.
Scales with Options
We talked a little before about how the 154CM Steel gives you more options in blade color, but you can get colored scales too, so long as you aren’t married to G10 handles.
A lot of knives are made with this resin-soaked fiberglass material. It’s tough and fairly cost effective compared to an all metal or wood handle. It doesn’t provide a lot of options in color, though, if that’s what you’re after. In this case it can be made in black, tan, or green.
Glass-Filled Nylon Handle
Glass nylon is the least expensive option, and a lot of people claim this kind of handle feels cheap too. That’s really a matter of personal preference, though. Even if it feels odd at first, it’s hardy stuff and it’s usually textured to improve grip. It’s really a matter of what you like. The added benefit with a custom Griptilian, though, is that a nylon handle can be made in blue, orange, pink, purple, green, grey, white, or yellow.
What Would You Pay for a Custom Griptilian?
It’s easy to spend hours playing around with the custom Benchmade page, but it’s also easy to rack up the price tag. If you personalize the blade you can get the the cost as high as $260. If you really want your own name on the knife, maybe that’s worth it. But if you just want a Griptilian in a different color or blade style, you can usually find different variations for around $100. There are a heck of a lot more colorful Mini-Griptilians if you don’t mind going a little smaller. It’s all about what you prefer. Or maybe you just want to play around with Benchmade’s customizing page. That’s what we did.