I think I’ve been getting knife samples from Benchmade  for articles about 23 years now, and I’ve toured their factory several times, though I haven’t been up there for a while. So, I’m over due for a visit to see how much they have expanded since my last visit. Les d’Asis, the owner at Benchmade, always seems to find the time to sit down and visit with me, and it has never, ever been a visit that was cut short. Les is “good people”; with no dress shirt and tie, and I’ve mentioned this before about him, he’s a real down to earth type of guy!
Over the years, I’ve seen quite a few PR and marketing people at Benchmade come and go. Some were real good; others were just so-so. There was even a PR/marketing firm or two that handled writers’ requests for samples. The newest guy at Benchmade is one of the absolute best I’ve dealt with– Derrick Lau. If a product is in-stock that I request, he gets it headed my way in short order. However, he dropped the ball on this request, and said he lost my request on his desk. I can certainly appreciate that; my desk is a mess, all of the time. When I reminded Lau that he still owed me a sample of the “Steep” fixed blade knife, he got right on it, and my sample went out the next day. Yes!
Believe it or not, it’s not easy working with some PR and marketing folks at various knife and firearms companies. Some seem to think that they are doing the writers a favor by sending samples for articles, while many other PR folks know the editorial value of getting samples into our hands for articles. Lau is one of the latter; he gets samples out if he has them, and if they aren’t in-stock, he gets them out as soon as they hit his desk! I hope Benchmade keeps him around a good long time.
I anxiously awaited the Benchmade “Steep” fixed blade hunting knife, and I use the term “hunting knife” loosely. A quick look at the Steep shows it has a 3.5-inch blade made out of CPMS30V, which is one of the best super-stainless steels on the market. It’s tough stuff, and it holds an edge a good long time, too. The blade is Rockwell at 58-60– not too hard and not too soft. The handle is made out of Santoprene, and you can have it in black or orange. My sample came with the black handle. I requested the drop point blade without the gut hook on it. The knife only weighs in at a mere 3.85 oz and comes in a very nicely made Kydex sheath. The knife is actually a bit smaller, overall, than I thought it would be. It is just perfect for everyday carry where legal to carry a fixed blade knife on your belt. It feels like a good ol’ pocket knife in my hand, and as stated, it’s not too big and not too small.
Needless to say, the Steep (named after a mountain range in Oregon) came shaving sharp right out of the box. Had it not been, I would have been disappointed in Benchmade. Then again, they have an outstanding quality control department. Each product is hand-checked before being boxed up and shipped out.
The Steep also has a soft, satin type finish on the blade, too. The top of the handle has some ridges sticking out of the Santoprene handle for a sure hold on the blade under harsh conditions, like rain, snow, or dressing out game you shot. There is also a nice lanyard hold on the butt of the knife for attaching a lanyard. Many people don’t take advantage of this feature on many knifes, but if you ever work over water, a lanyard comes in handy. You don’t want to drop your blade in the water.
I showed the Steep around to the guys (and girls) at the gun shop I haunt, and they all loved the way it felt in the hand. The comment I keep hearing was “it’s not too big, and not too small; it feels nice in my hand.” Some customers also handled the knife and said the same thing.
I put the Steep through my usual testing, which includes cutting poly rope– super tough stuff to cut, hemp rope, slicking newspaper, cutting cardboard boxes, and slicing through blackberry vines. Also, the wife used it around the kitchen and thought for sure this sample was for her. She used it for all manner of kitchen cutting chores. I’ve lost more than one knife (and gun) sample to her over the years. The trick is to steal it back when she isn’t looking.
I carried the Steep on several hikes out in the boonies where I live, and I never even knew I had the knife on my belt, because it’s so lightweight and small-ish! I can easily see this blade being a great knife to carry if you have to bug out or toss it in your Bug Out Bag, or you can easily wear it on your belt. While, it’s not a heavy duty survival knife, it will take care of most of your chores, and keep in mind that no single knife can accomplish all the chores you want it to do. There is always a compromise, no matter what kind of knife you pick.
In the past, I’ve had some folding knives, even locking folding knives, fold on my fingers when the locking mechanism failed on me; that’s not good. I can see the Steep replacing a folding knife. There are no worries about the blade folding on you; it’s a fixed blade knife. Quite honestly, I was very favorably impressed with the Steep for most everyday chores that you might require a knife for, whether a fixed blade or a folder.
Some years ago, I had a number or readers ask me to ask Benchmade if they would come out with a quality fixed blade knife for about a hundred bucks. Well, the full retail on the Steep is $115– just a bit over that hundred dollar mark but well worth the money. And, if you shop around on the ‘net, you’ll find a Steep for a hundred bucks or less. Keep in mind that this knife has a CPM S30V super-stainless steel blade that handle what you call upon it to do. You see, some of the knife (and gun) companies do listen to what the consumers want, and I was surprised that the blade from Benchmade came in at this price point with the quality steel it comes with.
So, if you’re in the market, for a new fixed blade knife from a major player in the cutlery industry and you don’t want one that is too big or too small but one that is just right, check out the Steep online or at your local dealer. It really is a lot of knife for the money!
– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio