- Buyer's Guide
Benchmade and Jared Oeser Set the Gold Standard With Their New Tengu Flipper
The Benchmade Tengu flipper is a cut above the rest with its exceptional aesthetics and versatile everyday practicality…
Benchmade are a well-known entity within the knife world, and with good reason! Their catalog of knives covers every situation possible including survival, rescue, hunting, tactical, outdoor, everyday, and even humble cutlery! Since their inception in 1980 (originally Bali-Song®) in California, they have continued to draw a loyal following for their well-engineered, reliable, handmade knives. In 1987, a name change to Benchmade and a wider catalog including fixed blades and folding knives followed, while the custom design and attention to detail stayed the same. Over the next 30 years, Benchmade has gone from strength to strength, moving their facilities to Oregon and continuing to innovate both in-house and in collaboration with other designers.
Their Gold Class collection is the pinnacle of these principles – high-quality, innovative, unique collaborations that provide some stunning tools. Their latest release, in partnership with Utah-based custom knifemaker Jared Oeser, is a masterclass in knife making. Oeser’s knives themselves often have a year-long wait list and a price range going into four figures. Their newest inductee, the Benchmade Tengu flipper, is a special piece that we were excited to get our hands on.
I used to be a believer of the “a knife is a knife” philosophy. It’s a tool first, and if it looks nice, that’s a bonus. Then I handled the Benchmade Tengu flipper. I don’t mean to sound bombastic, but it was a moving experience holding the Tengu flipper for the first time. Perhaps it’s because the design reminds me of my days working in the movie industry, or maybe it’s just because I am a self-confessed romantic, particularly when it comes to the outdoors and all that it can do for us. This knife’s design, inspired by the Scandinavian winter, is stunning. Sure, one could argue it’s a little ostentatious for an EDC, but don’t we all need a bit of class in our life from time to time?!
With features including the immaculate BiFrost patterned Damasteel (58-60HRC) 2.77″ Tanto blade, the sapphire coated spacers and screws, the ‘Blue Uranium’ Raffir spine (that magically shifts color/appearance depending on the light source – it’s UV reactant!), and the marbled black/white carbon fiber handle, every part of this knife is designed to transport you to the Scandinavian mountains in the depths of winter. When I first took this out of the box I spent a good thirty minutes just tumbling it over and over in my hands. It is exquisite to look at, and you feel rather special when holding it. Who knows, maybe some Norse mythology at work here? Could this be the new Mjölnir?
Not only is the knife mesmeric, the packaging and the sheath also stand out in their own right. The marbled shark skin leather sheath with its contrast blue stitching has already started to patina tastefully in the three weeks I’ve been using this knife. There is also a microfibre sheath/bag if that is more your style. Housed in the gold presentation box that includes a certificate of authenticity, Benchmade makes sure that you are aware of the special purchase you have made.
Now that I’ve got my gushing out of the way (😍), does the rubber meet the road when it comes to handling? The simple answer is yes. It is as delightful to handle as it is to look at. Weighing only 75g, this is nimble and easy to use for your daily needs. The flipper nub gives you a good point to balance with and reminds you when you’re getting too close to the pointy end while in use.
It is well balanced with a 6.61″ overall length, with just under half of that being the blade. I find a 60/40 split the best ratio for balance in an EDC knife. I don’t need a chunky handle that will give me extra ballast when whittling or cutting through branches in the backcountry. Rather, I need it to be quick to deploy, and easy to use. The liner lock makes the Tengu as easy to close as the flipper makes it easy to open. When closed, the Tengu is 3.85″ (just a hair over 4″ if you are using the sheath). This knife slips into a pocket or a bag with ease.
In the wild
This knife is a luxury item. There are no two ways about it. Perhaps the collectors will keep it boxed and immaculate, and I wouldn’t blame them. I wouldn’t want to damage this in any way. Yet, in the same breath, I want this knife in my hands as often as possible. Firstly, it’s a practice in mindfulness every time I use it. I spend at least a good 2–3 minutes just admiring the beauty and craftsmanship!
Secondly, it’s fun to use. I’ve found it adept at all the daily tasks you would find yourself needing a knife for. And I would argue, in true Benchmade style, it feels robust enough to take on more heavy-duty tasks in a pinch. It’s a knife that I want to grab on my way out of the door, and one that I want to share with colleagues and friends when I do have it on me. It would also make the perfect gift for a milestone moment, such as a graduation or retirement. It might sound silly, but yearning to use the item you own isn’t always a given in a world of exclusives and limited editions.
With Benchmade’s Gold Class, you are getting the best of their experience, innovation, and quality in a unique package. Through their collaboration with Jared Oeser, the Benchmade Tengu flipper exemplifies this tenet in an expertly executed fashion. The design is truly mesmeric, all the way from color choices to the unique materials used. The Blue Uranium is magical, and it is fabled that in the right lighting, an ode to the Northern Lights can be seen! This is the most charming knife I have had the pleasure of using, and one that I will continue to reach for, time and time again.