Two of my favorite things begin with the letters B and P. That could very well be beer and peanut butter, but in this case its Benchmade and puukko; two words I never really imagined I’d be saying in the same sentence. I’ve carried a lot of Benchmades over the years, both casually and professionally, and have developed a good relationship with the company over that time period. Probably my favorite knife last year was the Benchmade Bugout, and its still one of the ones most carried in my EDC rotation. When I popped in the Benchmade booth at Blade this year Derrick Lau, my media rep with Benchmade, skipped over the myriad of other new products that they had for 2018 and cut right to what he knew would grab my attention most, the Benchmade 200 Puukko. Wait, what? A puukko form Benchmade? I expect all sorts of EDC and tactical knives from Benchmade but he caught me off guard when he said puukko. I was certainly intrigued and Derrick said he’d get one in the mail to me as soon as they were available. The catch was, I couldn’t talk about it until Benchmade released it at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. Well, this week is the Market and Benchmade made the official release on Monday so we’re free to go in depth on the knife now, so let’s take a look.
I got an e-mail Derrick a few weeks ago that the puukko was shipping, and a couple days after that I got an e-mail notice while I was at work that it had been delivered. When I got home my kids had the box sitting on my desk chair and I couldn’t wait to rip into it. Now, I hadn’t seen any pics of the knife and couldn’t find any information online, so I didn’t know exactly what to expect. My first surprise open opening the blue Benchmade box was that the knife was housed in a nice, black leather, bushcraft style sheath, complete with a removable dangler loop, and a fire steel loop. The handle sticking out was a dark tan/flat dark earth Santoprene, and had a lanyard hole, which showed a full tang beneath the overmolded handle. Drawing the knife from the sheath revealed a comfortable, slightly tacky feeling grip that was both well contoured, and well textured. The blade proved to be a 3 3/4 inch drop point, with a high flat grind and a secondary bevel. Not a true Scandi grind, but it looked practical and quite usable. A lot of folks are not Scandi fans and may welcome this style knife with a more common grind. For the Scandi folks who may be slightly disappointed, keep in mind that many Scandis end up developing a convexed microbevel over time with hand sharpening anyway, so its not entirely without precedent. On one side of the blade is the traditional Benchmade butterfly logo, on the other is a 3V marking revealing the steel choice, and the stamping “R&D Knife #20 June 2018” indicating that this is an early test piece.
While I’ll need time to work with the knife to get a real feel for it, I’ll give you my initial impressions now. First off, I think its an attractive package. It has a nicely made sheath with some of the more desirable bushcraft style features. I happen to like a dangler sheath but Benchmade was smart and still provided a traditional belt loop and made the dangler removable so that folks can carry the puukko how they see fit. The fire steel loop is a nice touch as well. Its common on custom sheaths, but not always something you see with sheaths provided with production blades.
The knife itself has good, clean lines and with the 3 3/4 inch blade, and at around 8 1/4 inches overall length, its right in my preferred size range for a field knife. The 3V blade is a sturdy, but not overly beefy, 1/8 inch think and it carries a fine, centerline point and a shaving sharp edge that I expect with Benchmade knives. Benchmade doesn’t have a weight listed yet but the knife came in at only 4.5 ounces on my postal scale, and 7.1 ounces in the sheath, without a firesteel added.
My initial impression is very positive. Its comfortable in the hand in a variety of grips, and seems fairly nimble, and responsive. It has an excellent edge, and I’m curious how it will perform on wood. I’ll admit, I’m a Scandi guy so, while I appreciate that there are other grinds that do just fine in the woods, I’m going be using this one hard to see how it compares to a traditional puukko.
CPM-3V is an interesting choice for a puukko, but makes a lot of sense for an outdoors blade that is going to see hard work and which may be pushed into a survival situation some day, where you can’t afford to compromise. I’ll confess I’m not a steel snob and will work with pretty much whatever steel is used, and just be aware of the limitations. I haven’t worked with 3V though so I looked it up, and it’s looking like there may not be many, if any, limitations to be aware of! Here’s what Crucible has to say about CPM-3V:
CPM 3V is a high toughness, wear-resistant tool steel made by the Crucible Particle Metallurgy process. It is designed to provide maximum resistance to breakage and chipping in a high wear-resistance steel. It offers impact resistance greater than A2, D2, Cru-Wear, or CPM M4, approaching the levels provided by S7 and other shock resistant grades. CPM 3V is intended to be used at 58/60 HRC in applications where chronic breakage and chipping are encountered in other tool steels, but where the wear properties of a high alloy steel are required.
The wear and toughness properties of CPM 3V make it an excellent alternative to shock-resistant steels such as S7 or A9, where they typically wear out too quickly, but where grades such as A2, CruWear, or CPM M4 tend to fail by breaking or chipping. CPM 3V offers the highest impact toughness of any tool steel with this range of wear resistance.
About the only issue I see is that 3V is not a stainless steel so it will require a bit of maintenance to prevent rust, but no more so than you should really be doing with any of your tools.
Benchmade took the basic size and lines of the puukko, and infused it with modern materials. It has the heart of a Finn, housed in a 21st century exoskeleton. It’s carrying an MSRP of $145 so its very competitive in the bushcraft market, especially when you factor in the materials used. Stay tuned for more on the Benchmade 200 once we have a chance to use it and more and see how it performs.