Benchmade 530 Folding Knife Review

Many walkers find a razor blade adequate, but there are plenty of situations where a bit more is needed. This knife, with a blade over three inches long yet weighing only two ounces, may suit many lightweight walkers.

Recommended

Overall Rating: Recommended

The author is not a knife enthusiast, but this knife has served him so well in the field that anything less than 'Recommended' could not be justified - especially with the good blade length and the very light weight. There are few knives around that so well match these two specifications.

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by Roger Caffin |

Field Testing

Benchmade 530 Folding Knife Review - 1
The Benchmade 530 knife.

I have carried this knife around many walking trips in Australia, often replacing my venerable Swiss Army Knife. By and large it has been rather more knife than I needed, but I rarely need a knife in Australia anyhow. When my wife and I went to Switzerland for two months walking over some of the Alpine Pass routes in 2009, I threw this knife into my kit at the last moment.

I was very glad I took it, as it got used nearly every day. No, not for felling trees or killing and skinning huge animals, but for far more practical uses like cutting bread, cheese, and meat for our meals.

Benchmade 530 Folding Knife Review - 2
Breakfast time in the Swiss Alps.

I carry a typical Boy Scout camp cutlery set knife on all our walks. It looks like a butter knife, but from past experience in Europe in 2007, I knew it was just not really up to the task. The blunt point often got in the way, and the edge dulled faster than I would like. This Benchmade 530 excelled in both of those areas: it didn't need sharpening for the whole trip.

During our return through the Australian airport I somehow lost the knife. I think it fell into the remains of the black plastic rubbish bags we had wrapped our packs up in for safety from the baggage handlers. So great was my enthusiasm for the knife that I promptly bought another one from the Benchmade website. Now that is enthusiasm!

Technical Details

The knife comes with a pocket clip held on with three small T6 Torx screws. I removed the clip immediately, as I just didn't want it on the handle. That was no problem.

Benchmade 530 Folding Knife Review - 3
The knife fully disassembled.

After a while I got curious and fully disassembled the knife - to see what the AXIS mechanism looked like and whether I could put it back together again! As I pulled it apart I very carefully laid the bits out as shown here. It was quite easy to reverse all the steps and put it back together - freshly cleaned and oiled.

The one critical adjustment needed during reassembly was the tension on the pivot screw. At first I made this far too tight, so I carefully slackened it off while repeatedly opening and shutting the blade. The adjustment is a little sensitive, but a drop of oil helps. Incidentally, all the screws are T6 Torx.

Benchmade 530 Folding Knife Review - 4
Details of the AXIS mechanism. Note that the photos here are of the
older knife which I lost, which used 440C steel instead of the latest
154CM steel.

Photo A here shows the thumb knob used to open the blade, and photo B shows how it is done with the tip of the thumb. I have to say that while this is not a 'flick knife,' it does open rather swiftly when properly adjusted. If the screw is too tight, my thumb suffers and the blade does not move.

Photo C shows the AXIS lock. The silver knob has to be pulled back for the blade to be folded shut, but this is a very easy process when two hands are used (as they should be). Photo D shows (at the blue arrow), the actual internal lock which secures the blade when open. This seems very secure.

You will notice a slight flare in the handle at the pivot. This works very well to prevent my hand from sliding off the handle and onto the blade. The scales on the handle also work well as a grip, even when wet. There is a similar flare at the rear end of the handle. I have to say that I found the rear flare slightly intrusive, but not so badly that I have wanted to remachine it.

Specifications

Manufacturer Benchmade, USA
Website www.benchmade.com
Model 530 - Pardue
Blade Steel 154CM Stainless Steel
Blade Length & thickness 3.25 x 0.09 inches (82.6 x 2.29 mm)
Blade Hardness 58-60HRC
Blade Lock AXIS, Ambidextrous Thumb-Studs
Blade Style Modified Spear-Point
Handle Material Grivory (plastic, scaled)
Handle Length & Thickness 4.17 x 0.37 inches (105.9 x 9.40 mm)
Weight (quoted) 1.88 oz (53.3 g) (with clip)
Weight (measured) 1.76 oz (50 g) (without clip)
MSRP US$100

What’s Good

  • Good blade length
  • Light weight
  • Hard non-tarnishing steel
  • Secure locking mechanism

What’s Not So Good

  • Bump/flare at rear of handle (minor)

Material Notes:

Grivory: "An amorphous nylon copolymer with exceptional dimensional stability."

154CM: "An American-made premium grade stainless steel originally developed for tough industrial applications. Known for its best all-around qualities, it offers great corrosion resistance with good toughness and edge quality."

Composition: C: 1%, Cr: 14%, Mn: 0.5%, Mo: 4%, rest Fe


Citation

"Benchmade 530 Folding Knife Review," by Roger Caffin. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/benchmade_530_folding_knife_review.html, 2010-06-29 00:00:00-06.

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Benchmade 530 Folding Knife Review
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Benchmade 530 Folding Knife Review on 06/29/2010 13:18:01 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Benchmade 530 Folding Knife Review

Jake Engel
(jakeismoney) - F
440C on 06/29/2010 15:16:15 MDT Print View

Nice review! I'm constantly searching for a nice, lightweight knife which often seems to be a seemingly impossible combination.

The detail shots with the yellow backgrounds show an older 440C steel blade but your specs are for the 154CM. You mention that you replaced your original model. Was this your first one? The differences would be nominal, although the older 440C *may* have better stain resistance paired with ever-so-slightly poorer edge retention.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: 440C on 06/29/2010 15:38:11 MDT Print View

Hi Jake

Give the man a Brownie Point!
Yes indeed, the photos were taken of the first knife I had, and I didn't notice the switch in steel from 440C to 154CM when writing the Review. Thank you for flagging this.

Mind you, both steels have seemed to be pretty good!

Edit: The Caption for the photo in question has been modified to reflect the switch in steels.

Cheers

Edited by rcaffin on 06/30/2010 16:46:29 MDT.

Tom Beno
(KillerB) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
A nice change-of-pace review on 06/29/2010 17:33:21 MDT Print View

Thanks for reviewing something a bit outside the norm. I'm not a big "blade guy" but have never been able to subscribe to the get-by-with-an-Xacto-blade style either. A real knife, either fixed blade or locking folder, has been useful too many times to do without and at two ounces this looks great.

Tohru Ohnuki
(erdferkel) - F

Locale: S. California
Axis locks are good on 06/29/2010 18:48:50 MDT Print View

I'm a big fan of the axis lock, it locks up tight and it's very secure. I have the Benchmade Ritter RSK1 because I think it has an idea blade design, not a fan of pointy false edged knives.

John Whynot
(jdw01776)

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: Axis locks are good on 06/29/2010 18:54:11 MDT Print View

+1 on the Axis lock. I have the Mini-Griptilian, as I like drop-point blade designs...

Andrew Lush
(lushy) - MLife

Locale: Lake Mungo, Mutawintji NPs
Re: Benchmade 530 Folding Knife Review on 06/30/2010 03:06:58 MDT Print View

Nice review Roger. Thanks!

I think I will make a similar investment myself.

And what's on the menu at a Caffin bushwalking breakfast in the Swiss Alps? Bread, plum jam and an unidentified dairy item....?

Shane Shin
(melhousen) - F
re: Ultralight backcountry knife on 06/30/2010 04:48:30 MDT Print View

The Mora Clipper knife is an ultra-light, ultra-sharp, and affordable knife. A fixed blade is typically lighter and stronger than a folder, with less maintenance involved.

Nate Lee
(nathan52) - MLife
Opinel on 06/30/2010 06:29:47 MDT Print View

If you're in the market for a knife, don't forget to consider Opinel knives.

These guys are originally (maybe still are) from France and first purposed for truffle hunting.

The wood handle feels great

The locking mechanism is safe.

They sharpen easily.

They are affordable.

They are light.

http://www.amazon.com/Opinel-Pearwood-Handle-3-25-Blade/dp/B001A4UH12

Fred eric
(Fre49) - MLife

Locale: France, vallée de la Loire
+1 on opinel on 06/30/2010 06:36:08 MDT Print View

I had for a few years a benchmade 910 axis lock, thats a great mechanism but when i want something really strong i prefer a small fixed blade like my Wm1.
Otherwise a cheap opinel n°6 fits the bill for less than an ounce ( lower weight one doesnt have the locking mechanism ) and fills the hand much moe than my ladybug.
a big opinel ( at least for BPL ) like the n°8 is less than 2 oz thats the one on my photo, i used it a lot before i tried to lower my weight.

Juston Taul
(Junction)

Locale: Atlanta, GA
Benchmade on 06/30/2010 07:51:48 MDT Print View

I currently carry the Benchmade 530 while backpacking. It's the best knife i've found to date for the weight. Easily replaced for the price too. I picked up two at REI with an extra 20% coupon I had.

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
Did robbing liquor stores get too dangerous? on 06/30/2010 08:24:43 MDT Print View

Selling a knife for $100 makes mugging people look like honest work.

Juston Taul
(Junction)

Locale: Atlanta, GA
Quality on 06/30/2010 08:49:43 MDT Print View

The average price is $85 and they sell them on eBay for $70.

FWIW, $70 is nothing for a good quality knife. They get a whole lot more expensive. That's why they make different models and brands of knives. So everyone can find something that works for them. Don't put down a good knife because it's too expensive in your opinion. Price/worth is a subjective topic. To each his own, but let's keep on track and stick with quality and it's correlation with UL backpacking.

Lewis Price
(solocanoe) - F
Benchmade 530 alternatives on 06/30/2010 09:37:50 MDT Print View

It is hard to argue wiht the quality of Benchmade knives, but there is a trio of great knives made by AG Russell. Often overlooked because they are not very “sexy”, they are the Deer Hunter, Trout and Bird Knife, and Hunter’s Scalpel. Fixed blade knives with thin, drop point blades, they have black fiberglass reinforced nylon handles and sheaths.

Hunter’s Scalpel: for the knife only 0.5 oz. for a 2.5” blade and overall length of 4.75”. It is probably about an ounce with a sheath. $19.95 Blade is AUS-10
http://www.agrussell.com/ag-russell-hunter-scalpel/p/RUhhhT914hhh10A/

Trout and Bird Knife: 1.9 oz. for a 3” blade and 6.75” total length. $29.95 in AUS-8 also available in VG-10, ATS-34, & D2 for $44.95
http://www.agrussell.com/ag-russell-bird-and-trout/p/AGBThhh8A/

Deer Hunter: 3.4 oz. for a 4” bland and 8.25” total length. $39.95 in AUS-8 also available in VG-10 and D2
http://www.agrussell.com/ag-russell-deer-hunter/p/AGDHhhhD2/

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Knife edged thoughts on 06/30/2010 09:42:36 MDT Print View

Thanks for the review! I'm happy to see a step beyond a razor blade for wilderness equipment.

Benchmade makes several knives that are excellent of excellent quality at a fair price. I like the Axis lock very much. You can flick open most Axis lock knives by just pulling back on the lock-- the thumb stud isn't needed. Be careful reversing that process to close the knife one-handed-- you can remove your fingertips if they are hanging over the edge of the handle.

I carry a Benchmade Griptilian 551-ORG with a 3.5" 154CM blade and a bright orange handle every day. It is heavier than the 530 at 3.5oz, but I like the handle much better. The thinner blade of the 530 is probably better suited for food prep than the Griptilian.

Benchmade 551-ORG knife

And $70 for a life-time quality cutting tool is nothing. A Chris Reeves Serbenza folder goes for $330-$385 and there are endless examples for more expensive knives. Like any tool, you can see and feel the difference in quality and performance.

I think the real criteria for choosing a knife are quality of manufacture, blade steel, handle shape, and lock construction. There are many, many good quality knives out there and most of the differences come down to personal preference. Quality wise, a knife is no different than any other gear we buy-- cheap doesn't last and fails when needed the most, whether it is leaking rain gear or a stove that won't light, or knife that goes dull, won't open, rusts, etc, etc.

I think it is important to remove yourself from the emotional aspect of knives when choosing one. Most folk have far more dangerous knives in the kitchen drawer than you will ever see on the trail! Many paring knives are the same length as a common 3.5" folder.

Do check your local laws when choosing a pocket knife. For example, in Seattle there is a 3.5" limit on folding knives and fixed blades are illegal in any length. This is for normal carry-- there are exceptions if you have hunting or fishing gear and the license to go with, or tradesmen with fixed knives in a tool box. Locking blades aren't allowed in the UK, so keep local laws in mind when traveling.

Hoot Filsinger
(filsinger) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Opinel on 06/30/2010 10:07:01 MDT Print View

I give a second for Opinel knives. The simplicity of these knives says BPL all the way. I like the fact I can drill holes and shave down the handle to conform to my hand and save weight. The soft steel is easy to sharpen to a razor edge and if you leave one on a log you are only out a few bucks.

Bill

robert brown
(MaN227) - F
buck on 06/30/2010 10:25:15 MDT Print View

I hope some will find this useful. this knife is my choice. lighter than this, strong, cheaper and very handy.
on sale fro 25$ here
http://www.knifecenter.com/kc_new/store_detail.html?s=BU860BK

here is the buck product page
http://www.buckknives.com/index.cfm?event=product.detail&ProductID=3563

I am most happy with this knife, again hope this helps some.
Peace

oh I should add a few more things. If you can find the older style sheath, get it instead of the newer version pictured in photos. the older one has a round bump on the sheath that fits into the round hole in handle. its a more positive hold on the blade I feel. best 1/2 oz i've added to my gear list.

this knife is very handy as you wear it around your neck. no fumbling in a pack pocket when a blade is needed.

pick one up, I feel you'll be most pleased. oh and they have a FOREVER warranty. welcome. Peace.

Edited by MaN227 on 06/30/2010 10:32:33 MDT.

Frank Steele
(knarfster) - F

Locale: Arizona
+1 on the fixed blade on 06/30/2010 11:18:13 MDT Print View

I like neck knives, some people don't. But when I carry a folder I carry a Spyderco. Light, more efficient blade design, better steel, and less expensive. My Spyderco Dragon fly has replaced my SOG Twitch II as my EDC blade. I still love the Twitch II, but the spyderco is sharper and remains sharper longer thanks to the VG-10 steel (Twitch II is AUS 6) every Spyderco I have bought comes out of the box hair popin sharp.

Mitchell Keil
(mitchellkeil) - F

Locale: Deep in the OC
Guys and Knives! on 06/30/2010 11:27:30 MDT Print View

Wht is it with us guys and our obsession with knives?

So, I'll add my two cents to the conversation. I also love the feel and look of my Opinel knife. Soft carbon steel really takes an edge, easily gets stained (or rusted if you are not careful) and is also easily resharpened on a smooth rock. A nice way to spend a little free time in camp.

I also like the trout and Bird Knife which is all steel with a ring opening at the back to slip your pinky finger into to get a really unslipable grip on the knife.

And finally, the Swedes do know how to make inexpensive but quality non folding knives. Mora is manufacturer worth looking at even if only to admire the inexpensive craftmanship: http://www.ragweedforge.com/SwedishKnifeCatalog.html

I have at least 5 knives I alternate between on my hikes and each gives me great pleasure in using and carrying.

Mark Roberts
(redwedge) - MLife

Locale: Lapland
Re: Guys and Knives! on 06/30/2010 12:24:46 MDT Print View

A Finnish Puukko, from the arctic circle in Finnish Laapland. That's mine.

http://www.marttiini.fi/in_english.iw3