If you’ve been following ToolGuyd’s knife reviews, you might have already seen my review of the Benchmade mini Griptilian knife.
I have reviewed the mini Griptilian before, but this one’s different in very notable ways.
This one, Benchmade 555-1, new for 2016, is made with a far better stainless steel – CPM-20CV vs. 154CM – and is has a more complex handle that’s made from more premium materials (G10).
Features & Specs
|Benchmade Mini Griptilian
59-61 HRC hardness
|Blade Style||Plain edge, hollow ground, modified sheepsfoot|
|Pocket Clip||Deep carry
Left or right
Check Price: via Amazon | via BladeHQ | 555HG older style
What’s New? Blade Steel and Handle Materials
The older Benchmade mini Griptilian design, shown here with a blue handle, features a 154CM stainless steel blade. 154CM is by no means a “bad” steel – it’s actually a quite good material. It’s a step up from the alloys used in a lot off knives and multi-tools.
154CM is one of the most popular knife blade alloys out there. You’ll even find 154CM being used in some of Benchmade’s more premium knives.
The new Benchmade 555-1 mini Griptilian has the same blade shape, but is made from CPM-20CV, a heavy duty stainless tool steel. According to the datasheet (PDF), this steel has very high corrosion and wear resistance.
In other words, once sharp, CPM-20CV should stay sharp for a long time. That probably also means it’s a hassle to sharpen.
This is a knife you might want to hone every now and then, to maintain the edge.
The new handle is made from G10, with anodized aluminum spacers.
It’s a little grippier, but I need more time with the knife to know for sure. This version of the mini Griptilian is also a little heavier, and while the numbers say it’s a very slight difference – ~1/3 of an ounce going by specs – it seems to feel better in-hand, with better balance. Maybe it’s my imagination.
But, undoubtedly, the G10 handles on the Benchmade 555-1 certainly do feel nice in-hand.
The Blade Shape
This version has a thumbhole, for opening the knife, and modified sheepsfoot-style blade shape.
There are a few other blade options right now, including partially serrated, and with a black finish. If thumbholes aren’t your thing, you can opt for the thumbstud version, which features a drop point knife blade.
I prefer the plain edge blade, as plain edges are easier to sharpen and often better suited for general purpose use.
My experiences with my blue-handled mini Griptilian have cemented my opinion that the modified sheepsfoot blade profile makes this knife an excellent slicer and all-around EDC knife. It can be used for limited piercing applications, although it won’t handle such tasks as well as some other knife shapes.
Compared to regular sheepsfoot knofe blade shapes, it’s the slight upwards curve of the point that makes this a modified sheepsfoot blade. The blade is hollow ground, making the cutting edge thin and sharp.
G10 Handle Scales
The handles of these CPM-20CV mini Griptilians are dressed up a little nicer.
While functional, the handles on my other mini Griptilian do look a bit cheap. The G10 grips on this one do feel sufficiently grippy, and – again it might be my imagination – a little weightier for better balance.
Some of Benchmade’s other knives have some great G10 patterns, so maybe we’ll see some better aesthetics in a couple of months or even next year. The grey G10 color is pretty bland looking.
The handles have somewhat of a more solid feeling, if that makes sense.
The Perfect EDC Knife?
One more thing to point out is that the 555-1 mini Griptilian, and presumably the other new mini and full-size Griptilians, have deep carry pocket clips.
Here’s what the non-deep-carry pocket clip looked like:
It seems to carry well. Sometime after I posted my review of the 555GH mini Griptilian, I requested a deep carry clip from Benchmade, and they happily sent it over. I’ve heard that they’ve done the same for others as well.
The knife comes in a little pouch that I’ll repurpose for something else.
This is what I look for in my ideal EDC knife, in no particular order:
- Blade under 3″
- Strong lock
- Easy opening
- Convenient and comfortable carrying options
- Comfortable, secure, and safe grip
- Infrequent maintenance needs
- Good looks
My new mini Griptilian satisfies all of these requirements, but that’s no surprise, as my other one does too.
I don’t think the upgrade is worth it for the blade steel alone, but the different handle – I’m hesitant to say improved, although it is better – contributes to this being a more premium knife worthy of the bump up in price.
But in the $150 to $175 price range, there is so much more is out there. Take the Zero Tolerance 0450 for example. The Spyderco Techno and Spyderco Domino are two other knives we reviewed and can recommend that are within this price range.
In this price range, despite the better CPM-20CV knife blade steel and G10 handle scales, the new Benchmade mini Griptilian seems a little less special, at least compared to the older versions. The older version is one of the best knives you could buy for under $100. This one is among very many great knives, some perhaps better, that you could buy for under $200.
I called the older version a near-perfect EDC folder. This one comes with a deep pocket clip, which was one of only two reasons that kept the previous one from being perfect. The other was price, another factor that keeps this from being the perfect EDC folding knife in my eye.
So I guess that, aside from the price, this should be the perfect EDC knife. But then again, the knife should serve me well for a long time, long after I forget exactly how much I paid for it.
I bought this knife at its full retail price, mainly for review purposes. Do I regret it? No. I think that this is a great EDC (everyday carry) knife that I will enjoy using, and one that I can absolutely recommend.
The mini Griptilian’s blade shape is fantastic, and its handle is great, and the new version is made with more premium materials.
I plan to use this knife a lot more, and will report back as to whether my stance changes. It’ll be some time before I can put that CPM-20CV steel’s wear resistance to the test.
I was curious to see how much the 555-1 mini Griptilian improved upon the similar design of my 555HG mini Griptilian. Would the different materials contribute to a different and potentially better user experience? Yes, they do.
If my review makes this knife sound a little underwhelming it’s probably because I knew exactly what to expect. It’s a great performer without surprises, pleasant or otherwise. Most of my new knives offer new user experiences, but not this one. It was like trading up to a new model year car of the same one I’ve been driving for years.
Still, the handle does feel better, in terms of grip and balance, and on paper the blade steel is certainly better. Whether it proves to be better in real life will take a lot of use, and with this knife being every bit the workhorse as the other version, it will definitely be a regular part of my EDC rotation.
The new Benchmade 555-1 mini Griptilian is also made in the USA.
Should You Buy One?
Well, looking at the big picture, the new Benchmade mini Griptilians are safe bets. They’re tried-and-true designs that are sure to provide you with reliable and consistent performance.
I bought Benchmade’s first flipper knife, and it sucks. Sorry, there’s no nicer way to put it. It has great comfort and ergonomics, and a good blade shape, but it doesn’t open very quickly or securely. The blade kind of just flops out unless you flick your wrist, which you shouldn’t have to do with a good flipper folding knife.
But the mini Grip? It’s a fantastic and bulletproof design.
If you’ve got $150-$200 to spend on an EDC knife, you have lots of great options, and still even more great knives for under $150.
But how do you know what you like? I bought and used a couple of folding knives before I realized what I liked and what I didn’t.
You could lean on online reviews, but I found that just because a particular model is popular with reviewers or on enthusiast forums, that doesn’t mean I will like it.
I would say that this, and the less premium 555HG knives, are about the safest best you could find, if you can budget for them. The blue-handled 555HG shown in this review for comparison purposes is currently priced at $90.
It’s almost guaranteed to serve you very well. It’s a great knife that won’t disappoint.
Which style should you buy? I made a calculated guess that this version would work to my liking, and it worked out. But maybe the thumbstud and drop point version works better for you. If you’re unsure, stick with this style (555). And if you don’t like it, return it or sell it, and try again.
Also See: Benchmade Mini Griptilian Review, & More Knife Reviews
Buy Now(via Amazon)
Buy Now(via BladeHQ)
Buy Now(Other 555-1 Styles via Amazon)
Buy Now(Other 555-1 Styles via BladeHQ)
Buy Now(556-1 Styles via BladeHQ)
It’s a really nice knife, and it is tempting, but I agree that much of the appeal of the Griptillian lineup is their price point, this one misses the mark.
I bought a 555HG-Yellow in 2013 for $85. For whatever reason, it felt funny in my hand so I gave it away to my son-in-law. I carry a pocket knife very infrequently – so its probably just me.
Seems we have very similar tastes in pocket knives. I just purchased one based on the looks and steel. I also felt that if I was only going to have one Griptillian, it should be the apex model.
And yes, I don’t need this steel, I just wanted it.
I have owned, and still own several benchmade folding knives. While I like the brand, I do not feel the overall production quality and design warrant the price point they command. The first benchmade I purchased was an automatic and one of the most expensive blades I ever bought, and at the time I felt the quality was top notch. Since moving on and buying other brands and comparing them to that first benchmade, I would now class the unit as medium, just short of top grade. At the $165 level, I would much rather invest in one of zero tolerance’s offerings. I recently picked up a ZT 0350bw and feel that it is a definite level above the benchmade units already in my collection, which leaves me passing on this griptilian as well.
Having carried both hollow-ground and flat-ground blades. I far prefer the flat ground. They don’t wedge in a cut when you are, for instance, slicing up cardboard.
Kinda old school when it comes to blade steel. My mini grip for example is made from 440C. Love that steel. It’s easy to sharpen, takes a good edge and has good corrosion resistance. For EDC a 2.9 oz knife is a little heavy give all the other gear in pocket. Prefer something under 1.5 oz..
Stuart, Can you publish article on how to keep knives like this sharp? Thank you! Jay
I’ll keep it in mind.
There are 3 ways.
1. Never use your knife.
2. Use, and strop or hone with compound every now and then to keep the edge maintained.
3. Use, use, use, then sharpen when a little dull, chipped, or in need of refreshing.
#1 is a joke, #2 is an ideal condition, #3 is what happens with most of my knives.
There are lots of products on the market.
I bought a Spyderco Tri-Angle Sharpmaker ($54 via Amazon), but don’t recall ever using it. I usually use wet stones and MDF or leather with compound for honing if/when I hone. In other words, I just use my woodworking sharpening stuff.
There are also powered sharpening equipment.
Aside from the Smiths Tri-Hone that you had a post about some time back (https://toolguyd.com/smith-tri-hone-sharpening-system-great-for-beginners/) do you have any suggestions regarding whetstone selection?
I’m hesitant to advise about which whetstones to consider. There are double sided combination grit stones out there, and single grit stones. I have a set of single grit stones that I bought for maintaining my woodworking tools, but they work well on knives, although I don’t sharpen knives too often on them.
There is plenty advice on knife forums and the such, with a lot of people recommending wet/dry sandpaper and plate glass due to the cost benefit. I think that 1000 grit is a good way to start.
I bought all my water stones from Lee Valley, except for 2 Norton stones I bought to try from elsewhere, and they’ve been pretty good. The pricier Japanese stones are quicker to use, and require less prep.
Diamond grit stones are another option, but I prefer water stones much of the time.
I have the blue Mini-Grip pictured, very happy with it. IF I were looking for my first Mini-Grip, I’d seriously consider this new model, but it doesn’t sound like it gives enough additional value over my existing knives to consider adding it to my limited stable of EDC knives.
Very informative review and comparison of the old and new. I am having a difficult time trying to choose between the sheepsfoot models. I will only need one knife. I have the money for either one. Very few bad reviews of any mini grip. Loads of great reviews for the old model over years and years. Lots of rave reviews of this new one. This is a really tough decision. Both feel great in hand and that modified sheepsfoot looks like a great utility blade. What are your thoughts ? Now that you have had some time with the new steel and other “upgrades”. Are you more likely to carry the old or the new?
If you’re on the fence, let it come down to price. Do you want to spend more, or less? Do you mind a little extra weight?
I temporarily misplaced my first/older mini Grip, but the G10 one is still in active EDC rotation. But even if both were readily accessible, I think I’d be more inclined to carry the G10 version. Thoughts about blade material aside, the G10 version has a more solid feel to it.
I’m on my third one, due to my habit of losing things. This knife is the perfect size for me and I happily reach for it, whether opening big packages, or letters, and many fine cutting tasks as well.
When I had my first one, I quickly figured out that pressing the lock while performing a quick wrist-flick snapped it open like a spring-loaded knife. Closing it that way is a little bit more awkward, but doable, but not really necessary. It has a really nice feel when opening this way.