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Benchmade Knife Reviews: Mediator & Bailout

We're well past cutting 550 cord. Benchmade has long been a favorite among tactical aficionados even before Ice Cube used it in a rap lyric. Benchmade's latest blades, to include the Bailout and the Mediator, are a testament to their place among top knife manufacturers, and the legacy left by late founder Les De Asis.

The Benchmade Bailout 537GY-1

The first reaction with the Bailout is its minimal weight. Weighing only 2.05 ounces (58.4 grams), the Bailout is incredibly light. In comparison, an egg weighs about 2 ounces. A golf ball weighs 1.6 ounces. A C-size battery weighs 2.3 ounces. To put simply, as an EDC blade or even used in a tactical scenario this knife is for you.

The Benchmade Bailout 537GY-1 is 8.07 inches open.

As a former end user, weight is always something to be concerned about. The adage “ounces equal pounds, and pounds equal pain,” is forever embedded into my mind. One of the first Benchmade knives I received in the 75th Ranger Regiment was the AFO-II. The AFO-II was a rugged monster of a knife, and the first automatic platform Benchmade ever released. However, it weighs about 5.8 ounces… that's almost three times the Bailout. Most products these days are very specialized, but if the primary function of the knife is to cut something, lighter is better. In a tactical environment we always had other tools at our disposal if we needed to smash a window or pry open a door.

The Benchmade Bailout is a tanto shaped blade made out of CPM-M4 (62-64HRC). If you're a casual blade owner, you ask, “what the hell is CPM-M4 (62-64HRC) steel?” There's a wide variety of steels used in blades, and you can read about them all on Knife Informer. CPM-M4 is “a high performance tool steel which excels at toughness and arguably holds an edge better than any other carbon steel.”

The steel is made by the Crucible Particle Metallurgy (CPM) process. CPM is an American based company that manufactures a variety of metals for commercial use. The CPM-M4 holds an edge remarkable well and is highly regarded for corrosion resistance. The blade is covered in a light gray Cerakote for added durability and looks.

The Bailout’s handle is made of textured Woodland Green anodized 6061-T6 aluminum. Generally, aluminum is a lightweight and softer metal, but not when anodized. Anodizing helps harden the metal, and if you scratch the handle, what' you see is actually a deposit of material from whatever you hit. For example, if I bang my handle on wood and a mark is left, I'm looking at a bit of wood that's transferred to the knife's handle. The handle thickness is 0.41 inches thick with machined facets for a sturdy grip.

Under 1 5/8 inches long, the Bailout pocket clip is slightly shorter than the 2-inch clips found on most full-size pocket folders. The Bailout ships with the pocket clip installed to carry the knife in the right pocket for right-handed draw, but can be reversed with a T7 bit and mounted to the opposite side. Benchmade's proprietary Axis locking mechanism is truly ambidextrous and can be operated safely with the left or right hand for one-handed opening and closing. Lastly, the Bailout has a pointed carbide glass breaker on the pommel end.

The Bailout (right) has a pointed carbide glass breaker on the pommel end. Both knives are lanyard capable.

  • COST $250
  • BLADE LENGTH 3.38 inches
  • BLADE THICKNESS 0.090 inches
  • OPEN 8.07 inches
  • CLOSED 4.71 inches
  • WEIGHT 2.05 ounces
  • HANDLE THICKNESS 0.41 inches

 

 

 

 

The Benchmade Mediator 8551BK

I love folding knives, but an auto really gets my heart pumping. The Benchmade Mediator from the fabled Black Class is no exception. New for 2020, the Mediator is not overbuilt, and carries the best features from some legacy designs.

The Benchmade Mediator 8551BK, 7.75 inches when open.

Available in serrated or plain edge, the Mediator blade is composed of CPM-S90V. CPM-S90V is the very pinnacle of wear resistance and edge retention. Nothing holds an edge or withstands abrasion quite like CPM-S90V, a reason it's one of the more expensive blade options available. Similar to the CPM-M4 in the Bailout, CPM-S90V has an excellent corrosion rating. With an added coating of Cerakote, the Mediator blade is well beyond standard for corrosion resistance.

The Mediator comes with milled chevron-pattern G10 handle. One of many Benchmade handle materials, G10 is an extremely durable makeup of layers of fiberglass soaked in resin, then highly compressed and baked. The material is virtually impervious to moisture or liquid and physically stable whether hot or cold.

A simple push-button automatic, this switchblade is easy to use and to employ the safety lock preventing any unintentional blade collapse and deployment. The piece is finished with a reversible tip-up, deep carry pocket clip and a lanyard hole. It's streamlined design, light weight, and ease of use make this a new every day carry favorite.

  • COST $295
  • BLADE LENGTH 3.30 inches
  • BLADE THICKNESS 0.115 inches
  • OPEN 7.75 inches
  • CLOSED 4.45 inches
  • WEIGHT 2.89 ounces
  • HANDLE THICKNESS 0.52 inches

Benchmade stands behind its product with an generous warranty and a lifetime of no-questions-asked, free sharpening program it calls Lifesharp. If you manage to dull or mess up your Benchmade, just send it back and they'll make it right.

 


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