The Butterfly Brand’s New Multi Bladed Slip Joint Is Expensive Good Times
Benchmade specifically describes this knife as being “tailored for weekend escapes to nature”. For some reason this triggered the mule in me to snatch up the knife and run into the mountains on a Monday evening shouting “you can’t tell me when to have a good time!”
We did end up having a good time with it, though (on a Monday and later on several subsequent weekends). I hate admitting that, but it turns out when you put a bottle opener and a good whittling blade on the same knife it’s almost as good as scrolling through a thousand movies before rewatching The Office a twentieth time. Because of all that good-time having, it would be really easy to overlook the flaws in a design, but the Weekender doesn’t have many. It’s a tough knife with two great blades, a decent bottle opener, and a comfortable, good looking handle.
|Overall Length:||7.0” / 6.0”|
|Blade Length:||3.0” / 2.0”|
|Hardness:||58 – 60 HRc|
|Open System:||Nail nick|
|Blade Thickness:||0.08” (about 2 mm)|
|Blade Shape:||Clip point / drop point|
|Lock Type:||Slip joint|
|Great blades with toothy grinds|
|Pretty damn rugged for a slip joint|
|Great for whittling|
|Comfortable handle with a secure grip|
|Slip joint spring tension makes it a little difficult to open the blades|
|No convenient carry options|
|Definitely a heavyweight for a folder|
|Who the hell prints a URL on their knives?|
Fit, Finish, and Feel
This is the first Benchmade I’ve handled that felt like an actual tool and not an overpriced toy (yeah, you heard me Bugout fans).
But my God this knife has meat on its bones. It has a good shape for locking your hand into place in most standard grips, and the slip joint spring gives you a good, solid click when you open up a blade. Every part of holding and using the Weekender is streamlined to feel rugged and secure.
The handle has an easy grip that snags on the hand, but doesn’t really have hotspots besides the spine of whichever blade is closed (but that’s pretty normal for a multi-bladed knife, so no real issues there).
The Micarta on this is pretty dry, which I kind of like and don’t like. I love the way it feels, but I threw it in my pocket for a few minutes on a hot day and it got a couple of dark spots, so this thing picks up character quickly.
But since the handle is so thick and grippy I can actually grip the sides of it with my fingers outside the line the blades close in, so I can actually dig the tip into things, which isn’t something I usually try with slip joints for obvious reasons.
I kind of wish the handle was a little longer, even though I like the overall size of the knife. With a blade open, this has a solid three-finger grip, but my pinky gets left out to deal with the hump on either side of the handle. It’s not a hotspot issue, and it doesn’t exactly interfere with my grip. It just feels a little weird for my particular hand size.
Slip Joint Tension
The spring on this feels really strong. Probably too strong, although I do appreciate the way it adds to the rugged nature of the knife.
It’s not quite a nail buster, but it’s close. Close enough that I’m hesitant to call those holes in the blades “nail nicks”, because it propagates the lie that your fingernail is the best way to get the blades out.
Benchmade made a good decision in making those nail nick holes big enough to work the corner of a thumb into, or just provide enough traction that you can open it by pinching the sides of the blade.
It’s a little harder to open the small blade with the big blade closed, because the big blade partially covers the hole on one side. I don’t know how they could have fixed this in the overall design. There are only so many functional ways to situate two blades in this thing, but at least one solution would have been to make the tension spring a little weaker
On the plus side, I’m definitely not worried about either blade opening up in my pocket.
Speaking of the Blades
Both blades have great edges on them, but they’re very toothy. They cut paper super aggressively, but not smoothly. The edge is great for ripping through wood and rope, and they both feel sharp through a lot of rough work. They actually feel a lot smoother cutting through cardboard than paper, especially thinner types of cardboard like what they put six packs of beer in (if I were to pull a random example).
The 3-inch blade felt great for sharpening up hot dog sticks and cutting up cloth and rope. It’s a hefty blade for the size, and it feels like it has a surprising amount of room to cut on. It’s pretty easy to control how much wood your shaving off something, although I was mostly using it for gross carving: just taking off big chunks to make pointy sticks.
The smaller blade has a serious bite. I’m pretty sure that’s the one they meant to be used for wood carving and it definitely feels nice for that. The shape is really good for digging out dips, in part because it has such a pronounced belly and an aggressive grind that it’s easy to push the edge into a piece of wood. I’m not much for carving, so I don’t have a cool spoon to show you, but I had a good time anyway.
On Edge Maintenance
The retention is pretty good, but since the edge is so toothy, you won’t notice much drop in edge performance for a while.
I actually didn’t get the edge too messed up during my testing, but I did notice a few hiccups after a trip up the creek. The edges seem to respond pretty well to honing. I even managed to polish the edge a little on my belt. I wouldn’t recommend that on the regular, but if you’re out “escaping to nature” as Benchmade insists you do with this knife, a leather belt will do okay with the Weekender until you get it onto some nice ceramic honing rods and high grit diamond stones.
I also found that a more conventional strop with green compound can get the job done if you don’t want to get the stones out.
The Long Necks
The only issue I have with the blades on the Weekender is that they leave too much space beneath the cutting edges. The sharpening choils are bigger than they need to be and there’s a bit of ricasso sticking out above the handle when either blade is deployed. Not only does it make the big blade look a little funky, it cuts down on the length of the cutting edge.
I understand there’s only so much material they could cut out of this area before interfering with the pivot, but I also can’t help thinking that both blades would be easier to pull out if Benchmade had shortened the sharpening choil by a few millimeters, and shortened the overall blade stock so there wasn’t so much ricasso sticking out. Then the blades wouldn’t overlap in the handle so much, and we would end up with the same amount of cutting edge.
But it’s a small enough issue that I’m willing to assume there’s a good reason for leaving in all that space that either a designer or industrial engineer could scoff in my direction.
The Bottle Opener
To get to the real heart of the matter, we got this knife specifically to test for our “Knives for Opening Beers” article.
I was skeptical of the cap popper at first because it doesn’t really lock so much as sit on a little detent ball, and it sits at an odd angle when it’s fully out, but somehow it works really well anyway.
That angle turned out to be great for getting easy leverage on a bottle cap, and the tool is shaped so that the motion of taking a cap off holds the tool in place, so the fact that it’s only on a small detent never becomes an issue.
I also discovered I can get the tool open one handed. I have to dig my finger nail in there, but I can flick it out with my thumb pretty consistently now, and that’s pretty darn handy for the way we tend to drink, because if we’re not taking pictures and holding up lights while we drink, we’re cooking around a fire and poking at a frying pan. Fewer hands needed is always better.
The only difficult thing with the bottle opener is that it’s really thin. It makes it a little difficult to latch onto some caps. Something that can become increasingly difficult the more beers I open throughout the night. But I got the hang of it eventually, and I have to admit that for being a little tool tucked discreetly into the back of a multi-bladed knife, this is a pretty good bottle opener.
Limited Carry Options
On the one hand I appreciate the simplicity of this knife. No pocket clip, no lanyard hole, it’s just a big, pure nugget of knife. On the other hand, it feels big in the pocket. I can still fit it in my left pocket alongside my wallet, but it feels like walking around with a roll of quarters.
Also, in the context of taking this on a weekend camping trip, I can’t help thinking how much I’d like to hang this thing around a camp site for common use while I carry my usual EDC around with me. But Benchmade doesn’t send the Weekender with anything to help carry or house it. I would have at least liked to see it come with a little leather sleeve like Buck does with their more high priced knives. Something I can punch a hole into or at least store the knife in so the Micarta doesn’t get unduly stained.
But that kind of thing is easy enough to make myself, I guess, so maybe I’m just being a cranky old man.
The Patent Page
This is a little bit of a rant about that tiny webpage address printed on the otherwise sparsely decorated blades, so feel free to skip past this section…
But who the hell thought it was a good idea to print a URL on a blade? Aren’t we all familiar enough with the ephemeral, ever-changing nature of the internet to know that putting a web address on something as long-lasting as a steel blade (especially these steel blades) is one of the dumbest forms of modern hubris?
If you haven’t already checked it out yourself, the URL goes to a page on Benchmade’s site that has a long list of their patented models. I don’t know if this is for collectors, or if they think the Butterfly logo isn’t enough to deter people from trying to copy their designs (assuming a person who would do that could even be deterred anyway).
The font is so small it should be easy to ignore, but ever since I noticed it, I can’t get the thing off my mind. It just has the feeling of an executive decision. Like someone on a board somewhere insisted this was necessary because of something his attorney friend once said on the golf course, and he just wouldn’t shut the hell up about it until finally the engraver gave in, walked into the shop and set the laser engraver to the tiniest possible font it could manage to print this stupid URL onto a perfectly good blade.
I don’t know why you wouldn’t print the model or patent number on the blade. I would complain about that too, but at least those numbers don’t run the risk of changing any time soon. A web page could be anything a year from now.
Comparison and Alternatives
Anyone who knows anything about Benchmade probably won’t flinch at the price tag on this knife, but it’s not a small number in the greater context of multi-bladed knives. Granted this is a multi-bladed knife with S30V steel and all around stellar fit and finish, but it still butts up against the problem of being an expensive knife made for potentially dirty situations.
So first off it seems fair to ask the obvious question: why not just get a Victorinox? You might also ask why not get a Case Stockman or Trapper (neither of which have bottle openers). The obvious answer is to just get both. You can pick up a Swiss Army Knife with a bottle opener for the price of a large coffee these days. I don’t know how anyone doesn’t already have five shaking around their glove box like an EDC maraca.
The other more analytical answer is that no Swiss Army Knife has a handle that feels this good, with steel this nice, and an edge this sharp and wear resistant. A SAK might have more tools, but the Weekender hits quality over quantity out of the park.
The Civivi Crit, on the other hand, is a really good alternative that’s about half the price of the Weekender. It also has the advantage of liner locks and a pocket clip. To this day it’s the easiest multi-tool for me to carry around most of the time. The main issue is that all the pieces are very thin and lightweight, and things have a tendency to loosen up over time. It’s also no where near as pleasant for carving up sticks.
This is a great knife that is everything it was designed to be. It has two blades with hard, toothy edges that are great for whittling, a strong slip joint lock up, and a comfortable handle. I think the main things holding it back are the slight difficulty in getting the blades out, the lack of a sheath or clip, and the price.
Physically speaking the Weekender is up to most tasks, but why risk losing or damaging something this expensive when you have cheaper options? The only answer I have to that, outside saying that there really is good quality behind that price, is that you just need to like this knife enough that the risk is worth it.
I think that’s the kind of feeling that’s at the heart of knife collecting. For what it’s worth, Benchmade has done something with the Weekender that actually makes it feel cool to collect.