The SEAL trident is earned by few, but seems to be worn or carried by many. It has found its way onto a lot of consumer merchandise, from posters to hats to shirts. And, perhaps inevitably, to knives. Special-edition SEAL blades like this Benchmade Griptilian can be purchased by anybody with a credit card, but who should really be carrying them?
SEALs have always been highly respected in the military world, but their elite fraternity has been accorded a semi-mythical status in the popular culture also in the last few decades. Their extraordinary exploits and general bad-assedness certainly have much to do with this fame. But we can probably also thank (or blame) the hundreds of hours of uninformative Military Channel programming and the glut of mostly-terrible movies that depict their training and operations with varying fragments of realism.
Don’t get me wrong: I’ll watch just about ANY movie with Michael Biehn or Bill Paxton in it, but the inclusion of ‘tiger DNA’ Charlie Sheen made ‘Navy SEALs pretty dreadful. In my humble opinion.
But back to knives, shall we?
So whence all the SEAL branded cutlery? Many manufacturers claim to make ‘The Ultimate Knife,’ so it’s perhaps natural to dedicate a few of them to the undisputed ultimate special warfare operators. There are also a staggering number of faux SEALs out there, as any actual teams guy will attest, and it’s these shitbirds that tend to festoon themselves with the most garish SEAL paraphernalia. In keeping with the teams’ ethos, the real guys tend to keep quiet.
But either way, there’s clearly a market for SEAL stuff that goes way beyond the actual buying power (or interest) of actual SEALs.
SIG/Sauer made this very limited-edition P226 MK25 a few years ago to commemorate the SEAL teams’ 50th anniversary. It’s a beautiful gun with a glossy black DLC finish and tasteful engraving, and it was only sold to fully-vetted members of the Naval Special Warfare community. Or their next of kin, as the case may be. It also shipped with a Boker commemorative knife (not an actual Solingen Boker) that was honestly a little bit of a letdown.
There are a lot of other SEAL-branded blades out there, although this SOG Seal Pup isn’t one of them. It does have ‘Seal’ in its name, but it lacks the trident or “S.E.A.L.” emblazonry that turns a knife into paraphernalia.
And so back the question: assuming that you’re not a SEAL or an immediate family member of one, would you carry a SEAL-branded knife?
And if not, what would think of someone who did?
In case you’re asking, the SEAL Griptilian in these photos is a souvenir of our Benchmade factory tour a few days ago, and it will soon belong to the bona-fide teams guy who owns that limited-edition P226 MK25.