The first time anyone goes to Blade Show they probably notice there is always a drop in the crowd size during certain parts of the day. If you wander out to the parking lot, you find a grand spectacle of finesse, cutting power, and blade precision known as BladeSports. Most of the gentlemen competing are knifemakers who have created their own choppers that they believe will afford the most optimum cutting edge. A new breed of competitor is now out, the non-knifemaker. Benchmade has produced a sport cutter for this group they feel is capable of out-chopping custom-built models in the right hands. This gives the average person a chance to try the sport without having to invest in a custom knife. Making a production competition blade can only be done with the precision that a company such as Benchmade can offer, as strict attention must be maintained in edge geometry, heat treatment, and materials. The chance to play with this type of high-octane blade cannot be passed up. Would the production version give the same type of results as the wood-destroying rope slitters the pros use? I was about to find out.
The bottle test proves to be the most difficult for the author. The tiny bevel on the 171 Chopper makes its way cleanly through this row of bottles after many attempts. The blade still has a factory edge without any touch-up.
The Benchmade Competition knife is designed by Warren Osborne, a name synonymous with high quality folding designs, custom work and production designs from Benchmade. He also competes in BladeSports, and shows that he has the knowhow to produce a competition-quality production knife through Benchmade. The nearly 1/3-inch-thick knife is a sight to behold, made of CPM-M4 using Crucible steel’s top-notch metallurgy process. CPM-M4 is a high-speed tool steel (not a stainless steel) and is used for drills, milling cutters and a myriad of other applications where wear resistance is important. Warren says that some competitors have gone through three contests without touching up or re-sharpening their CPM-M4 edge. With a full flat grind and a tiny secondary bevel, the tough steel is important to make sure that the edge doesn’t chip out during the hard portions of the BladeSports gauntlet.