American Outdoor Guide|October 2021
Sean Curtis

There’s really nothing like a quality folding knife, especially one you can deploy quickly. Over the decades, a particular model fitting this motif of folding knife, called the “switchblade,” has developed a colorful history. To some of us, this conjures up images of ducktail hairdos, stiletto knives and sock hops.

In fact, some federal legislation was anchored in 1958 to try and curtail the growing “menace” of the quick-opening pocketknife. More recently, the term, “auto,” has been used to describe a folding knife that can be rapidly opened by some mechanism, such as a push-button.

Perhaps more notably, laws regarding these knives have been relaxing in the last several years. Benchmade, which has crafted quality cutlery options over the last three decades, is leading the way with some outstanding options, such as the Auto Presidio II and the Claymore.

I’ve used Benchmade knives personally and professionally for a number of years. Because of my varied, outdoor-based forms of recreation and a number of tours in law enforcement, wildland fire, EMS, search-and-rescue and emergency management, I’ve found that this brand offers high-quality products that are dependable.

While adding more moving parts or functionality to a simple folding knife presents opportunities for failure, Benchmade hits the mark in a couple of unique platforms that offer absolute performance for the price.

Auto Presidio II

The Auto Presidio II is a beast of a folding knife! Gripping it in the hand, it’s rugged, substantial and feels as if you could use it to pry a turret off a tank. The overall impression is very tactical (it has a muted bronze grip and gray blade coating) and beefy. This isn’t a pocket whittler; it’s an auto knife built for hard use.

The grip is simply marvelous, and many design features combine to provide outstanding traction. First, the overall shape reveals a slight swell toward the rear, filling the palm. Next, near the pivot, the grip curves outward along the spine and underneath, forming a quillion to arrest the hand from slipping forward onto the blade. Jimping on both of these surfaces supports this worthy effort.

Finally, the thickness of the grip, along with ribs machined into the outer surfaces, makes for a knife that won’t easily slip from the user’s hand. While it’s heavier at 6.32 ounces than the Claymore, it isn’t cumbersome in the least, thanks to the aluminum grip.

Another added feature is a lanyard hole through the end of the frame through which the clip is mounted. This extra utility was carefully added so as not to interfere with the knife opening or closing.

Benchmade Auto Presidio II

Specifi cations

• Blade length: 3.72 inches

• Blade thickness: 0.140 inch

• Blade steel: CPM-M4 (62-64 HRC)

• Blade style: Drop point, 50/50 serrated

• Blade finish: Gray-coated

• Length open: 8.72 inches

• Length closed: 5.0 inches

• Handle material: 6061-T6 burnt-bronze aluminum

• Handle thickness: 0.63 inch

• Clip type: Deep carry

• Clip position: Tip-up, reversible

• Weight: 6.32 ounces

MSRP: $300 URL: Benchmade.com

Within that grip lies the method of blade deployment: the much-vaunted Auto AXIS mechanism. I’ve been using AXIS lock knives for a while and have found them to be a marvelous way to open a knife that works well for right-handed and left-handed users. For the uninitiated, simply pinch the frame between the palm and fingers and then use the index finger and thumb to pull back on both studs. This frees the blade to arc outward until it locks into place.

Closing the blade means pulling back on the studs again and then pushing the spine of the blade until it folds back into the grip, locking into place again. The blade can’t return to the closed position until the Auto AXIS is retracted. Benchmade also tests this mechanism for failure, and it is tough, assuring the blade won’t close on your fingers.

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