For over ten years, my EDC knife was a Benchmade Mel Pardue folder with a black tanto-style blade and an Axis lock. While it was never the fastest-opening knife and did not have any of the cool “tactical” features of some of the other folding knives I’ve reviewed, my Pardue folder was a tough knife that I wasn’t afraid to use.
Lately, however, I’ve begun to realize the everyday usefulness of the seat-belt cutter. A dedicated belt cutter can be great for making controlled cuts, particularly through the tough material in confined spaces. Most belt cutters are great for cutting zip ties and cord and can do so with much less effort than a conventional blade. With this in mind, I decided that my next EDC utility knife should have a dedicated belt cutter.
There are some “rescue” style folders on the market that incorporate belt cutters and glass breakers. I looked at a few, but the Benchmade Triage ended up as my top choice. Here are a few reasons why:
The Triage belt-cutter folds away. Some other rescue folders have belt-cutters built right into the handle. While this makes them more accessible, I don’t like that they could potentially snag on (and cut through) clothing or anything else you may not want to cut. A foldaway belt-cutter avoids this problem but remains easy enough to access. While it does not lock when deployed, there is a very positive detent that lets you know the belt-cutter is fully deployed. It is also designed with a textured cutout for your finger, which keeps the cutter from closing when in use.
The sheepsfoot-style main blade is made of N680 steel. A nitrogenized steel with properties similar to Spyderco’s H1, N680 is supposed to be highly corrosion resistant, particularly in salt water environments.
The Axis lock. Since buying my Pardue folder over ten years ago, I’ve been a big fan of the Benchmade Axis lock. I prefer it over most liner locks and the traditional spine-mounted lockback system. I’ve found that the Axis lock allows the blade to deploy smoothly and lets me close the knife without my fingers crossing the blade’s path. The fact that the Triage uses the Axis lock system was, therefore, a big bonus in my book.
Of course, no knife is perfect. Since getting the Triage, I’ve noticed a few minor things that could be better.
The texturing on the G10 handles is aggressive. This is probably a good thing if you find yourself handling the knife with wet hands, but for everyday carry the rough texture of the G10 can do a number of pants pockets. I may try taking some very fine grit sandpaper to the section of the handle that comes right under the pocket clip.
As good as the belt-cutter is, I get the feeling it will be tough to sharpen. A lot of other belt-cutters have replaceable blades to avoid this issue. Overall, this is not a big deal, but I’m not looking forward to having to sharpen that cutter.
The belt-cutter is mounted for right-handed deployment. Unlike the main blade with its ambidextrous thumb studs, the belt cutter is designed to be opened with the right hand. In a pinch, one could probably figure out how to open the belt-cutter with the left hand, but it’s not very instinctive.
The Triage is a big knife. Again, this is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a little big for EDC purposes. At 3.50″, the Triage may exceed the legal carry length in some jurisdictions.
The Triage is quickly becoming a favorite for me. Hopefully, it holds up as well as my Pardue, but only time will tell.