By: Cade Powell
I grew up in a family where the sharpness of your knife was sort of like a status symbol. My grandpa owned his own restaurant and always cut the beef they served. It may have been a Po-dunk little town in Idaho, but the sign on the restaurant that claimed “World Famous” was definitely no bull. Grandpa was as particular about his cooking as he was the blade on his steel. My dad grew up in the restaurant and still amazes me when we’re de-boning an elk on the mountain. He talks us boys through every cut. Not just where, but why. “Always split them behind the third rib. That’s where the ribs end and the t-bone starts”………. the norm as we were growing up. I really wish I had taken better notes!
I was introduced to the Benchmade Saddle Mountain Skinner earlier this fall. Its beauty, design, and balance were all very appealing to me. The first time I pulled it out of the sheath I had to see what kind of an edge it had. I let my kids look at and admire the knife, and then I proceeded to shave my arm hair in front of them. They thought their old man had lost it. I couldn’t believe how sharp it was and just kept on shaving. They finally ganged up on me and told me how embarrassing I would be in public if I didn’t stop. I just grinned and told them most dads wished their knife was sharp enough that they could be completely hairless on one arm. UNREAL!
My arm hairs aren’t exactly elk hide, so I couldn’t wait to get it in the field and see what it could really do. First trip to the hills I was able to harvest an old, mature velvet mulie from the badlands with archery tackle. My buddy Ben and I quartered and caped that buck for our long trek out of the hills. I was blown away with how it held its edge for the whole deer. Ben tried to steal my knife as he’d never seen one hold its edge like that.
On the ride home as we were discussing the hunt, equipment and such. I decided I was not going to touch up my knife to see how long it could maintain its edge. I also went home and started searching more about the blade. The blade is labeled as “CPM-S30V” and the CPM process is designed to offer the best combination of edge retention, durability, and corrosion resistance. I found that the blade has properties from Carbon, Chromium, Molybdenum, and Vanadium. I was a C student in all 4 Chemistry classes I took in college, so I’m not even going to humor you with what all those elements can do. I do know that this blade should also have a big “K” listed in its properties for Kryptonite! It is that tough!
As hunting season wore on I was able to put the knife to work on my daughter Paige’s first mule deer. We field dressed and caped that buck in the badlands by headlamp. Paige jumped in and gutted over half that buck by herself. By the time our job was finished the knife was still scary sharp.
The next hunt my buddy, Jim, and I killed 2 cow elk down in a hole. We quartered them out to haul up the hill. Jim put his knife back in his pack, about 2 minutes into the quartering job. He is a science teacher and understands what all those elements in my knife’s blade mean. He also knew it was sharper than any knife he’d used. Just for good measure, my daughter’s friend killed a cow the next weekend and it ran down the bottom of the canyon before expiring. We got to quarter that elk up as well. So now I had quartered 1 mulie buck, field dressed another mulie buck, field caped both of those mulies, and quartered 3 cow elk, all without touching up the edge.
The next weekend I helped a friend with his first elk. I glassed up a good 6pt, which he was able to make a great shot on. We had only got partway through field dressing that bull when he broke the 2nd blade off his knife with the replacement razor blades. I had seen enough of his blades snap the second they hit bone and pulled my knife out to finish the job. I didn’t need to touch it up after adding 3/4 a bull elk to the growing list of animals it had processed.
The next weekend over Thanksgiving Paige harvested 2 doe whitetails. I gutted the first one and she gutted the second. She couldn’t quite figure out how to cut around the bumhole, so I had to finish but I was very proud of her. My knife was still scary sharp! I was at a loss. I had never seen a knife that could hold its edge that long.
Even though I was thoroughly impressed with my Saddle Mountain Skinner, I knew I still had to get the stamp of approval from my dad. One weekend when my dad and my mom came to visit, we were sitting in the living room, I thought it would be a perfect time to get my dad’s opinion and left to go retrieve my knife. As I walked back in the room I casually tossed the knife to him and then waited. He unsheathed it and I watched as he felt the balance and looked at the craftsmanship. Finally, he pressed his thumb along the edge of the blade and then looked at me and grinned. “That knife has a great edge, when did you sharpen in?” I grinned and said, “I haven’t”. He shot me a curious look, so I calmly told him I’d received the knife in September and hadn’t needed to sharpen it yet, even after sorting out 8 animals that fall. The look on his face was priceless!
A few more details about this new knife. Benchmade just launched their HUNT line designed specifically for the needs of hunter’s. The Saddle Mountain Skinner has a modified Clip Point Blade with a beautiful Dymondwood handle. Overall length is 8.73 inches with a 4.17 inch blade. MSRP is $155.00. Benchmade knives come with the unbelievable Life-Sharp program: for the life of your knife you can send it back to the factory and they will dissemble, inspect, fix any problems that may arise, sharpen the knife,and mail it back to you. You pay for shipping to the factory and they’ll handle the rest. You’ll have to decide for yourself if your knife will ever need re-sharpened. After 1 fall season, I’m convinced it’s not just a fancy marketing scheme because these knives are proving that re-sharpening may not be necessary.