Benchmade Presidio Auto Axis 5000SBK Folding Knife
By David Tong
Photo by David Tong.
The Benchmade Company is a descendant of the old Bali-Song firm of Southern California, which has become infamous for its production of Philippine-style, hinged-handle, “butterfly” knives. These are often banned from carry, even if unconcealed, by do-good legislators attempting to control human nature by making it impossible to legally purchase a tool. The situation the company faced was stark and in the early 1990s, they moved their manufacturing facility to Oregon City, Oregon and renamed the company.
They offer upscale production knives, mostly of the assisted-opening type, as well as auto opening designs. An auto-opening knife is colloquially known by the uninitiated as a “switchblade,” in that a button is either depressed, or in the case of the subject of this article, slid to allow the blade to swing into an open and locked position.
Today, most U.S. states forbid the carry, if not the possession, of these blades by civilians. It is only the location of the factory here, in my fair state, which permits lawful open carry of an auto opening knife. Even here, one must be careful about the city in which you are walking. Portland, a town infamous for its liberal politics, will often have its police confiscate an auto knife, even if Oregon Revised Statutes has determined it to be legal. One must take due care to wear it clipped to your pocket, or carried outside the belt in the supplied ballistic nylon sheath. Make sure outer garments do not cover the knife. In most other states, they are considered items to be lawfully carried only by law enforcement personnel.
The Presidio is available in a plain drop point, partially serrated blade, as this example. Designer Mel Pardue and the Company have a U.S. patent on the design of the lock mechanism. This mechanism uses a hardened cross-pin bearing against a curved but flat rear of the blade when locked. It is therefore somewhat self-adjusting for wear.
The design is fairly simple to use. The knife is rather large for a folder, but fits in a jeans front pocket, its habitual home. The spring steel pocket clip is reversible for left handed use, but the blade is always carried tip up, as the ambidextrous slide switches are in a natural position for your thumb to activate when the knife is drawn.
The scales are serrated aluminum alloy. These are bi-directional to allow different hand placement and secure grip, depending on the sort of hold one may use.
This knife has a National Stock Number, or NSN, which means it is available in the Federal government purchasing system. It also means it is typically unavailable to mere citizens.
As one can glean from those dimensions, it is about as large and heavy as an everyday carry knife can be and it is probably too large for most folks. When one handles it, you flat know it is one serious piece of kit, well and strongly constructed. It comes shaving sharp from the factory, as do all Benchmade knives. The play of the pivoting blade can be adjusted to suit the user with a small Allen wrench.
I usually ask myself why, in a jurisdiction that allows lawful concealed carry of a handgun, that one cannot carry a knife of this type. While equally deadly in the hands of someone trained, and far quieter, it does mandate eyeball-to-eyeball contact distance to employ and the legal ramifications are the same.
In any event, the company offers very similar assisted opening knives that are possibly just as quick to deploy and avoid the auto opening issue entirely, so perhaps that makes a knife like the 5000SBK is an interesting trinket.
Copyright 2013, 2015 by David Tong and/or chuckhawks.com. All rights reserved.