Automatic opening knives are controversial tools in the public safety community. Some say the auto-opening mechanism isn t sturdy enough for police service, while others say hitting the small button to release the knife blade is just too difficult if fine motor skills are all but gone.
At the same time, I ve spoken with a number of police officers, firefighters and military personnel who swear by them. In a few cases, I ve had a number of these professionals tell me if they had to do anything other than push a button to release the blade, they could have been seriously injured or even killed.
Thus, the automatic opening knife remains a favorite for those who go in harm s way. It s just a matter of finding a durable auto-opening knife and not a spring-loaded piece of junk.
While attending the 2007 SHOT Show in Orlando, Fla., I found myself in the Benchmade Knife booth looking at their wide selection of folding knives. While many police officers have transitioned to using small, fixed-blade knives for daily carry, I ve found these to be a bit awkward to use. I ve even worn a folding knife clipped to my pocket while visiting my son s school (a knife free zone I didn t even think about it!) and didn t get a sideways glance from school officials. That wouldn t have been the case if I had been wearing a fixed blade tucked into my waistband.
In addition, I like the idea of carrying the same tool for consistency. Not doing so can lead to lag time, which can be life threatening in a crisis. At any rate, I like knives with about a 3'' blade with an overall length around 7'' 7.5''. This size knife is small enough to carry even in a dress suit, but big enough to take care of even the most serious cutting chores. It s what I call a small knife with a big-knife feel.
I saw Benchmade had an auto-opening knife on display that fit my personal needs right to the letter. I ordered the model 9530 Mini-Auto Stryker on the spot, and once it arrived, I began carrying it on a daily basis. The 9530 has a 2.9'' spear-point blade with a black, rust-resistant coating. It s what Benchmade calls a combo blade because it has a series of deep cutting serrations at the rear of the blade. These serrations are intended to handle situations that call for a saw-like cutting action instead of slicing. The blade is made from 154CM stainless steel, and the grips are aluminum. A series of deep serrations have been cut into the side of the handle to add to the gripping surface. With a 4.2'' closed length and at 2.9 oz., the 9530 is very easy to clip to the pocket and forget about until needed.
My main concern with carrying an auto-opening knife was that the blade would inadvertently open in my pocket, creating a hazard. After several months of daily carry, I found this was an unwarranted concern because the button is indented enough and requires a deep and solid push to release the blade. This just isn t going to happen with routine carry in the pocket, even with normal sitting or bending over.
The stainless-steel pocket clip is also coated with a black finish and carries the knife in a tip up position, which I prefer and is more natural. To draw the knife from my pocket, all I need to do is get my thumb behind the knife and wrap my finger around the clip and pull upward. The knife comes out in a proper grip, and all I need to do is use my thumb to push the opening button.
If you re looking for a daily carry, auto-opening folder, give this one a look.
Benchmade Mini-Auto Stryker
300 Beavercreek Rd.
Oregon City, OR 97045