Pat’s Product Review: Benchmade’s Bedlam Model 860
The Benchmade 860 Bedlam folder could best be described as a “wicked” knife. I like big folders, as most SurvivalBlog readers know. The Bedlam actually looks bigger than it actually is, with its 3.95″ upswept curved blade – it reminds me of the ancient scimitar type blade. Benchmade uses 154CM stainless steel for the blade material, one of my favorites. And, the Axis lock makes for butter-smooth opening and closing, and the blade stays locked solid when opened, too.
Most people, who have watched one too many Hollywood movies, believe that a knife is used to stab in a hand-to-hand combat situation. Well, that’s not really true. Most strikes with a knife are of a slashing type, and the slashes are usually directed towards the hands, arms, neck and upper body – where they will draw a lot of blood. The late Col. Rex Applegate, taught our OSS troops, in WWII, to use the knife for slashing, and when the opening presented itself, to go in for a kill, with a stabbing motion, if at all possible. However, slashes to the arms and hands caused a lot of blood loss, and muscle and tendons would be cut, rendering your opponent harmless in short order.
The Benchmade Bedlam is ideally suited for slashing techniques with its long, upswept blade. And, there is plenty of handle to hold onto as well. I couldn’t tell you how many folding (and fixed blade) knives I’ve tested over the years that didn’t have enough handle material to hold onto, and I don’t have large hands – only medium sized. You’ve got to have enough handle to grasp or you’ll lose your knife in short order when using it for self-defense purposes. The Bedlam has plenty of handle to hold on to, with it’s overall length of 9.71″ and the 3.95″ blade.
Ambi thumb studs are also on the blade for easy opening if you’re a southpaw, and the pocket/clothing clip is reversible for a blade tip-up carry. I’ve yet to determine which method I prefer on a folder when carried in my pocket – blade tip-up or blade tip-down, then both seem to work equally well for me. Rockwell hardness of the blade comes in at 58-60 and that’s about perfect for edge retention as well as ease of re-sharpening in my humble opinion. You can also have your blade partially serrated, plain, black BK1 coated or left in the white with a soft satin finish – the choice is yours. Plus, for those living in “Free” states, the Bedlam can also be had in an automatic version – known as the 8600.
Benchmade says the blade is a “modified” Bowie – well, I guess they can call it that if they want. But as I mentioned, the blade is more of an upswept version, that is more akin to a scimitar from the Middle East, from an era long gone. Handle material is black, G10 laminate, and it’s one of the strongest handle materials I know of for a knife, or grips on a handgun – the stuff is almost bullet-proof. There is a texturing on the G10 slabs, that aids in keeping the Bedlam from moving around or slipping out of your hand under harsh use conditions. The handle is also curved, to match the curve of the blade, plus there are finger grooves for proper finger placement. Oftentimes, grooves on knife handles don’t match where I want to place my fingers, on the Bedlam, they are perfectly situated to do the most good, and allow for a secure grip when holding the knife in the fencing grip.
There is also a lanyard hole in the butt of the Bedlam, and if you work over water, make good use of the lanyard so you won’t lose your knife – it happens, when you least expect it, the knife slips out of your hand and falls into the water – never to be seen again. And, the lanyard hole is big enough for 550 para cord to slip through it, too.
The 3.95″ blade looks longer than it actually is, this is due to the upswept blade. The cutting edge is actually longer on a blade that is curved than one that is straight. A curved blade also allows for deeper slashing cuts, too. There are friction grooves on the top of the blade, towards the rear for a secure thumb placement, and this area is curved upward, too – nice touch!
The Bedlam weighs in at 7.10-oz and that’s almost half a pound in weight, which should tell you that this one one robust folder, with plenty of material in the blade, handle and handle scales – this hummer isn’t gonna let you down, under severe conditions. Make no mistake, the Bedlam wasn’t designed for everyday chores, although it can handle some of them. We have a large folder that was designed for self-defense work, and I have no problem with that.
I did some slashing tests with my Bedlam sample, and it easily cut deeply into a pot roast – very deeply, I might add. I did some stabbing tests, and while the knife did well, it did better in the slashing tests, which is what Col. Applegate would have approved of for combat use. Let’s face facts, you’re not gonna use your mall ninja techniques to creep up on a sentry in the middle of the night and take him out – that works in the movies, but not in real-life, at least not in the sense that you and I would be able to do it. Sure, SpecOps military personnel can pull this off – if they have to – but they would rather take out an enemy sentry with a silenced firearm. I see the Bedlam as an outstanding folder for carrying on the street, as a back-up to your firearm, and it would be used for slashing your opponent’s arms, hands and wrists in a do or die situation.
As with all Benchmade products, the Bedlam came hair-popping sharp out of the box – no surprise there. And, as mentioned, there is an automatic version of the Bedlam if you prefer an auto-opening folder (and you live in a jurisdiction where they are legal). I like both versions, but find I can manually open a folder as fast as I can open an automatic – it takes a moment or two to find the button release on an automatic, and I can usually flick open a manually opening folder faster in most cases. And, if your life depends on a fast draw with a knife, I think you might have brought a knife to a gun fight and you’re probably going to lose the fight.
The Bedlam sample I tested retails for $235, a bit on the steep side. Then again, we are talking Benchmade quality, and you’ll never be let down with a Benchmade product at any price. I understand the Bedlam is a super-hot seller, and are a bit hard to find in-stock at times at Benchmade or your local cutlery shop, and it’s no wonder, you get a lot of knife for the money. Check out a Bedlam and see if you don’t agree, that’s it’s one heck of a slasher, and would be an ideal folder for self-defense work.