READ THE DESCRIPTION!
The Benchmade model 42 has not been in production for quite a long time. Yet in many respects, it is still the benchmark of butterfly knife design. Its spring loaded latch, titanium handles, “zen” front pin (opening up more usable blade space and removing uncomfortable cutouts around the front of the handle when open), all make this one of the most desirable butterfly knives ever made. Yet it is not without its shortcomings.
From a design perspective, it is easy to tell that this knife was primarily intended to be a flipper. Its slim handles are, individually, fairly round in profile and textured just enough for indexing and manipulation. The outsides of the slabs are fairly slick, as you would want for flipping as it requires combinations of grip and slip. The titanium handles are lighter, allowing faster manipulation. The spring loaded latch allows the knife to pop open with a squeeze, and keeps the latch out of the way during manipulation. All and all, it really is a beautiful and functional design for a flipper, and I maintain one of the best of the breed.
The flip side of this coin is the knife as a utility tool. From a safety perspective, this knife makes all the jabber about lock strength such a bit comical; butterfly knives are utterly safe when open and when closed. Latched, there is simply no way it will pop open in your pocket, and your blade is securely encompassed in 360 degrees of metal. Open, while undoubtedly not as strong as a fixed blade, I can imagine no more secure folding locking system. It also eats up any slop, resulting in a zero wobble blade. One hand opening and closing are trivial too, thanks in part to the spring loaded latch. Most of these things are inherent to the design of a butterfly knife.
The down sides though are mostly particular to this knife, starting with the fact that, for optimal manipulation, the blade is kept fairly shallow in depth. This geometry issues is further hindered by the fact that this blade specifically has a partial height grind and false edge. This makes its cutting geometry beefier than would be optimal. The knife, sadly, has been used, loved, and sharpened so the original thickness above the apex grind is no longer measurable. The blade was however ground to roughly 20 degrees inclusive, so the number you read reflects that plus some use.
Blade length: 91mm (sharpened length) 108mm (to handles)
Blade thickness: 3.15mm
Thickness above apex: .7mm
For original specs:
All that said about the negatives, this knife has endured years of use. 440c is looked down on by today’s standards, but holds its edge reasonably well and there is not a spot of rust ANYWHERE on this knife. That is more than Spyderco can say for its Para2 lineup at the very least. To put it mildly, I’m very very pleased with the careful quality of how this knife has held up over the years.
So why are butterfly knives not more popular? Perhaps cost? Making a butterfly knife is, in some respects, the same amount of work/precision as making a normal knife with twice as many handles. No surprise, they’re therefore expensive. Maybe it is because they’re restricted in many areas, and not as many people can own/carry one. Maybe it is because they have a perception as being “gangster” knives, because they’re fun to play with. Maybe they are derided because most designs were intended more for flipping than as utility tools? That said, the odd balis which have had more utilitarian designs, such as the Benchmade 53 or Bradley Mayhem, have seen lackluster sales. Yet, somehow, in an industry obsessed with “tactical,” spine whacks, lock strength, ease of deployment, and all that goes with it, the butterfly knife trivially beats modern “hard use” folders by a large margin. Why no more attention? I have no idea. I’d certainly love to see that change though.