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#171625 - 04/19/09 08:15 AM Benchmade Mini-Grip Failure
BrianB Offline
Member

Registered: 07/16/08
Posts: 99
Well, as much as I'd like to relate a gripping tale of adventure regarding the failure of my little Benchmade, this is going to be more of a cautionary tale preached to the choir.

To make a short story long:

I bought a regular (non-Ritter) Mini-Grip about ten months ago, give or take. It's been used mostly for small day to day cutting chores. It hasn't done anything that would stress even a cheap paring knife.

The day before yesterday, I was sitting at my desk, and tried to close the knife after using it to cut a loose thread on my shirt. When I pulled back on the release lever, I heard my spring go "sproing!" and watched the blade kind of flop down in defeat. Closer examination revealed . . . nothing. As far as I can see, the spring is enclosed between the handle scale and the liner on one side. (I could be wrong, but that's the best I could estimate based on diagrams online and eyeballing my knife.)So, I don't know whether the spring broke or (more likely) just jumped off of where it was supposed to be set in on the side away from the lever. (It's still contacting the lever.)

Anyway, Benchmade said send it on in for a new spring, no problemo. They answered the phone quickly and were very nice. I'm dropping it off in the mail Monday and expect the whole transaction to go smoothly with the repair.

Now, the reason I bring this up isn't an indictment of the knife. I LOVE this knife. I like the Axis lock system. However, after less than a year of very light use, the one weakness of the system that I'd been a little worried about when buying it cropped up: Namely, the spring. The fact is, the more parts something has, the more possible points of failure it has. In this case, it was the spring.

Of course, we all know a fixed blade is best for field use for this very reason. However, we don't all always carry a fixed blade with us. For example, a short day hike in an area where knife laws or social constraints (i.e., not freaking out non-knife aware people) indicate a more discrete option.

My take away from this:

1. Even high quality folding knives can fail for no apparent reason. (And having had some higher end folders worth more than four times the mini-grip's going price, I'm calling the mini-grip high quality.)

2. If you're going to stick with folders, carry two. Or more.

As I said, this is all preaching to the choir, but...I'd have NEVER thought that little Benchmade would fail like that. Sure, I carry several folders (SAK, multitool, the one locking blade) anyway, but that was a pretty good wake up call that feces does, indeed, occur.

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#171626 - 04/19/09 10:55 AM Re: Benchmade Mini-Grip Failure [Re: BrianB]
scafool Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 12/18/08
Posts: 1534
Loc: Muskoka
There seems to be a rule in tool engineering that the probability of failure increases as the square of the number of moving parts a tool has.
(and that is just how it is.)
__________
I have had some gear fail but to carry a spare of everything that might possibly fail would be too much.
The result is that I carry spares of what is likely to fail and that varies depending on how critical having the item is, and how easy replacements are to get.
If I am heading into the bush for a month I will likely have at least two belt knives with me plus a folder.(Plus saw and axe)

If I am going for a walk downtown one small pocket knife like the Swiss Army soldier is enough knife for me to carry.

_________________________
May set off to explore without any sense of direction or how to return.

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#171628 - 04/19/09 12:24 PM Re: Benchmade Mini-Grip Failure [Re: scafool]
KenK Offline
"Be Prepared"
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 1970
Loc: NE Illinois
The good news is that if the spring breaks and you REALLY need to use the knife, I think you could cut down a small spike of wood (with the floppy blade) just large enough to jam into the lock release hole. Jaming it behind the knob should hold the lock fairly well. Getting the spike back out could be a different story.

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#171629 - 04/19/09 12:31 PM Re: Benchmade Mini-Grip Failure [Re: scafool]
Tom_L Offline
Addict

Registered: 03/19/07
Posts: 690
Hm, that is pretty unfortunate. Defects do happen now and then but a quality folder should not fail just like that, not once having been put to any heavy-duty task. Mechanically, the Axis lock (and many other more "high-tech" locks) is fairly complex and thus prone to failure. It might be a one-in-a-million chance but the bottom line is, had it happened out in the bush you might be in serious trouble unless you carried a backup.

This just confirms my own experience - do not rely on anything mechanically too complicated. As far as folders go, I prefer lockbacks for that very reason. I've had a liner lock fail before and I don't trust any of the fancier locks either. The simpler, the better.

BTW, I virtually never hike anywhere without a fixed blade. If a belt knife is not socially acceptable I carry it in my backpack and use my folder for daily tasks. But I know I'll always have at least a Mora in my pack. Not only is it compact, light and ergonomically far better than any folding knife, I know it will reliably handle any task I can possibly imagine in the woods if I ever find myself in an emergency.

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#171630 - 04/19/09 01:05 PM Re: Benchmade Mini-Grip Failure [Re: BrianB]
Doug_Ritter Offline

Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/28/01
Posts: 1944
Originally Posted By: BrianB
The day before yesterday, I was sitting at my desk, and tried to close the knife after using it to cut a loose thread on my shirt. When I pulled back on the release lever, I heard my spring go "sproing!" and watched the blade kind of flop down in defeat. Closer examination revealed . . . nothing. As far as I can see, the spring is enclosed between the handle scale and the liner on one side. (I could be wrong, but that's the best I could estimate based on diagrams online and eyeballing my knife.)So, I don't know whether the spring broke or (more likely) just jumped off of where it was supposed to be set in on the side away from the lever. (It's still contacting the lever.)


Curious. One of the reasons that the Griptilian (and RSK Mk1) have TWO springs is so that if one fails, there is a back-up. With only one spring, the lock will still function. Your description suggests a prior failure of the other spring.

FWIW, the failure rate of the Axis lock spring is incredibly low, based on Benchmade warranty returns, but not zero. I have not personally witnessed a failure, nor have any of my close associates and we have certainly abused the knives. <g> To test out the redundancy, I had to remove the spring(s).

BTW, in an emergency, the lock will still function even without the spring by jambing the Axis locking bar forward in the slot with the blade open and either holding it there or sticking something in the slot to prevent it from unlocking. A small twig or piece of wood will suffice. This contrasts with many common folder locking mechanisms which cannot be jury-rigged to lock if they fail.

Any mechanical system with moving parts will fail. How it fails and what you can do about it is one of the issues one has to consider.

Having a second knife is always a good idea, even if it's a fixed blade. Any knife can be broken. BTDT!
_________________________
Doug Ritter
Editor
Equipped To SurviveŽ
Chairman & Executive Director
Equipped To Survive Foundation
www.KnifeRights.org
www.DougRitter.com

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#171632 - 04/19/09 03:40 PM Re: Benchmade Mini-Grip Failure [Re: ]
JIM Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 1029
Loc: The Netherlands
I'm planning to get me a mini-griptillian this week for EDC. I've had the full-sized one in my hiking-bag and used it for years without any problems.
_________________________
''It's time for Plan B...'' ''We have a Plan B?'' ''No, but it's time for one.'' -Stargate SG-1

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#171636 - 04/19/09 05:23 PM Re: Benchmade Mini-Grip Failure [Re: JIM]
Bear_Claw_Chris_Lapp Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 08/23/07
Posts: 227
Loc: Sector 16
Sorry to hear your troubles, Benchmade will fix it right up, they have great customer service!

_________________________
In omnia paratus

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#171637 - 04/19/09 06:05 PM Re: Benchmade Mini-Grip Failure [Re: Bear_Claw_Chris_Lapp]
BrianB Offline
Member

Registered: 07/16/08
Posts: 99
@Doug: I didn't know it had two springs. I can only see one on a side. You and Ken both make a good point about being able to jam something behind the bar to keep the lock engaged!

@Izzy: I open it with the thumb stud. Haven't been much on stressing knives with flicking them open since I was a kid.

@Tom_L: Good point about packing the fixed. I don't usually take a pack on dayhikes, though. So, when walking in the state park near my home, I wouldn't be carrying a fixed blade, for example. (Carrying a fixed blade in a pack is generally OK. Carrying a fixed blade concealed on your person can be a no-no, depending on local laws.)

Anyway, I'm sure this was just an aberration, and I know Benchmade will fix it up. I just thought it'd be a good reminder that a little redundancy is helpful. =)

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#171639 - 04/19/09 06:39 PM Re: Benchmade Mini-Grip Failure [Re: BrianB]
MDinana Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/08/07
Posts: 2184
Loc: Deep south... Carolina
Izzy, if you're not using it, I'll take it smile

Brian, I've never seen it fail either. I've had mine since '03, and it's been back to BM at least twice to be tuned-up ($5 and a note is all it takes, see their website). Maybe that's why mine hasn't failed? Anyway, even if it isn't, that IS pretty weird that yours did, being so young. I didn't see you mention it, but did the knife still "work?" Could it still open/close, being off-center?


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#171654 - 04/19/09 09:20 PM Re: Benchmade Mini-Grip Failure [Re: MDinana]
cousinit Offline
Stranger

Registered: 04/08/09
Posts: 4
Loc: ill.
i bought mine Mini-Grip 6 months ago and thing happened.
just sent it back 2 days ago still unsure of cost i will be to repair.

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