Benchmade is considered as one of the best knife makers in the market. Simply put, nobody questions their quality. In this article, we have two folding knives from Benchmade that are very popular for everyday carry: Benchmade Griptilian 551 vs 556. Both are impressive. Benchmade Griptilian 551 is the full-size model, whereas Benchmade Mini Griptilian 556 is the compact model.
Continue reading below to learn more about:
– The dimensions of each knife
– The lock and deployment of each knife
– Which knife that is generally easier to handle and use
– The blade quality of Benchmade Griptilian 551 vs 556
– The warranty of both Benchmade knives
– Which knife that is generally more recommended
Size and Weight
The most defining thing that sets Benchmade 551 and Benchmade 556 apart is the dimensions. If you are living in a place that has a certain restriction on the knife size that you may carry legally, this is an important thing to consider. Also, different people may have different preferences. Some people prefer large knives that can tackle heavy-duty tasks, whereas some others prefer small knives that are easy to carry around. See also: Benchmade vs Kershaw.
Benchmade Griptilian 551 is a full-size knife which has a total length of 8 inches. It has a blade length of 3.45 inches and a total weight of about 3.25 ounces. Although this is not exactly a small knife, it can’t classify as a large knife. The lightweight nature is also a major positive perk. It can be a great choice for people who prefer a fairly beefy knife that is still portable and easy to carry.
Benchmade Mini Griptilian 556, on the other hand, is a compact folding knife which many people find to be an ideal EDC knife. It has a total length of 6.78 inches with a blade length of 2.91 inches. The weight is about 2.5 ounces. This knife is very comfortable to carry. Another advantage is that it is small enough to be used in public without intimidating other people. Despite the small size, it can still get many tasks done.
Both Benchmade Griptilian 551 vs 556 come with a standard Benchmade pocket clip, which has a very efficient design. It is drilled onto the handle, and is ambidextrous. You can clip the knife on your left or right pocket to suit your preference. The clip buries deep with great retention, so the knife won’t fall out accidentally. Note that whenever you send your knife to Benchmade for sharpening, you will get a new clip, which is really nice.
Both Benchmade 551 and Benchmade 556 are available with thumb studs or a thumb hole. You may choose whichever version that you are comfortable with, as both the versions are very quick to deploy. Some people prefer the practicality of thumb studs, while some others are used to the efficiency of a thumb hole.
The deployment can be so fast and smooth because Benchmade is using large phosphor bronze washers in these knives. They are of very high quality. The blade centering is also flawless and perfect.
Both knives use the company’s legendary Axis lock. Many people love this lock because it is so easy to operate while being incredibly strong and very good-looking. The weight of the blade helps in flipping the knife open quickly and ensuring a solid lockup. The locking system is durable and versatile. You can easily open and close it with a single hand.
There is just one issue with the Axis lock. You must send the knife to the company for a repair if you somehow manage to break the lock’s spring. If you are living in the United States or Canada, this is not a problem.
However, if you are in another country, this is a problem, as sending the knife to the company will probably be rather expensive. It would be awesome if Benchmade can just ship a new spring to the user. Fortunately, not many users have faced this problem.
The next difference between Benchmade Griptilian 551 vs 556 is the handling. They definitely feel different. This is not only because of the different dimensions. They also use different handle materials.
At first, Benchmade Griptilian 551 was only available with the Valox handle. This is a plastic material made from an injection-molded high-density resin. The Valox handle is actually pretty good. It is lightweight and tough – two essential properties for a good knife handle. However, understandably, some people are turned off by the plastic feel. Fortunately, the company has released another version of Benchmade Griptilian 551 with a G10 handle which looks and feels great.
You may have noticed that the handle of Benchmade 551 is somewhat thick and has a lot of texturing. There is some jimping on the spine and around the handle. As a result, the handling is really solid. You can hold it with great confidence, as the knife is very unlikely to slip from your grip.
On the other hand, Benchmade Mini Griptilian 556 comes with a solid handle made from fiberglass-reinforced nylon (FRN) with stainless steel liners. This plastic material is commonly used for knife handles. It is also lightweight and strong, and the stainless steel liners ensure that the handle won’t lose its shape. But if you still prefer a G10 handle, Benchmade Griptilian 556 is also available in that version.
For a small EDC knife, Benchmade 556 has decent ergonomics. The handle is rather short, but there should be enough space for you to get a four-finger grip even if you have large hands. Just like its bigger sibling, the handle has a lot of jimping and texturing. There is also a thumb ramp with a nice choil to enhance the handling. The knife will never slip off.
Both Benchmade Griptilian 551 vs 556 have a closed-back design. This means that they are relatively more difficult to clean than knives with a pillar construction. However, since everything on the handle is simply bolted down, taking it apart to clean the inside shouldn’t be much of a problem.
The pocket clip is certainly tough and durable, but the black finish will eventually wear off. There is nothing that you can do to prevent this from happening. The worn finish will be nothing more than an eyesore; it won’t affect the functionality. So, you can just live with it. But, if you want your knife to look brand new, you can send the knife to Benchmade for sharpening and they will replace the pocket clip with a new one.
Benchmade Griptilian 551 and Benchmade Mini Griptilian 556 are fitted with 154CM blades. There are fancier knife steels out there, but the 154CM stainless steel remains as one of the best. It is easy to sharpen and very easy to maintain. It can make a very good cutting edge, and it keeps its sharpness well.
Both knives have a drop-point design with a flat grind. The beefy spine ensures excellent strength and sturdiness. This blade design is very versatile. It is ideal for slicing, but it can also be used for chopping and piercing when needed. Both knives are available in plain edge and partially serrated edge.
Benchmade 551 has a longer and thicker blade. So, naturally, it can tackle heavier tasks. The blade is tough and durable enough to withstand typical EDC tasks. It can also be used for self defense when needed.
Benchmade 556 has a shorter and slightly thinner blade. It is still a reliable EDC knife, and it can handle a variety of tasks properly. It doesn’t look too imposing, so it can be a great choice if you prefer a knife that can be used comfortably in public. But it won’t be as versatile as Benchmade 551, and it is not much for self defense.
Both Benchmade Griptilian 551 and Benchmade Mini Griptilian 556 are backed by the company’s limited lifetime warranty. What you need to know is that you are eligible for the warranty only if you purchase the knife from an authorized dealer.
The warranty covers defects in materials and workmanship. It won’t cover normal wear and tear as well as any damage caused by misuse, abuse, or neglect.
The warranty becomes void if the knife is disassembled or modified by any person other than the company’s warranty department. It is also clearly stated that you should not sharpen your knife with a power grinding wheel – doing so will also void the warranty.
The lifetime warranty will give you some peace of mind. Benchmade is known for their excellent customer support. If you need to make a warranty claim, you can send the knife to Benchmade in a secure packaging along with the required service forms. It usually only takes 8 – 10 business days.
Benchmade Griptilian 551 vs 556
Out of the two great knives, Benchmade Griptilian 551 is generally more recommended, simply because the larger size makes it a bit more comfortable to handle and more versatile. It is an excellent EDC knife.