When the term "automatic knife" is tossed about, people think of the Italian-style stiletto or the switchblade of "West Side Story" American street gangs; they don't think about a true heavy-use duty knife. But the Benchmade AXIS 5000 is, to paraphrase that old Oldsmobile commercial, "not your father's switchblade."
With its high-tech aluminum handles, its patented AXIS lock, its locking bar that prevents accidental closing and opening, and its fully ambidextrous controls, the AXIS 5000 is a work of art as well as a hell of a tool. The 154CM steel takes and holds an edge that can meet the rigors of the hardest day on the job and still open your mail.
If you are considering an automatic knife for duty, the question that you have to ask is, what if the spring fails? This is not a problem with the AXIS 5000. The knife's AXIS lock allows you to open or close it even if the spring fails.
Another thing to consider about an automatic knife is that the blade opens with some force and the user must have a good gripping surface. Benchmade addressed this with the dual-direction scales that are machined into the aluminum handles. The scales provide a positive gripping surface for the knife whether the handle is wet or dry, with or without gloved hands.
Even though the AXIS 5000 is a large knife, it carries well in your duty pants or your Royal Robbins 5.11 Tactical Pants. The AXIS 5000 carries so well because of the size of the clip and its location at the end of the handle, which puts the mass of the knife below your pocket. Because of the low carry of the AXIS 5000, there is little of the knife exposed to catch on anything and possibly flip the knife out of your pocket. For added security, there is a lanyard loop for securing the knife during the roughest action.
Durability of a daily/duty knife is always a concern, especially when you are paying more than $200 for it. Benchmade is well aware of this issue and has coated the blade with Black-T. Well known throughout the firearms industry as the finish of choice for handguns used in harsh environments, Black-T is a Teflon-based finish that is corrosion resistant and self-lubricating.
Does the AXIS 5000 hold up? You bet. For this evaluation, I put it through its paces, making it do things for which it wasn't designed. For example, I used the flat of the blade as a makeshift screw driver to loosen the stud of a Harris Bi-pod on my SiG SSG3000. Also, the blade served as a good small prying device to remove the clips of said bi-pod from the sling stud, and the tip did not break.
But the AXIS 5000 is really designed for cutting, and it does it well. GI rappelling rope was not a challenge, nor seatbelts in vehicles. The blade holds a sharp enough edge that it even worked to dice vegetables for a stir fry for dinner one night.
When considering a Benchmade AXIS 5000 as your duty knife, remember this is an automatic knife. Because of this classification, it is legally a military- or law enforcement-only item, and it can only be found at a law enforcement supplier. Check your agency's rules and regulations before adopting this knife as your carry blade. Automatics are forbidden by some agencies. If your department does approve of the carry of an automatic knife, the Benchmade AXIS 5000 is a great choice.
Benchmade AXIS 5000
Blade length: 3.42 inches
Overall Length: 8.25 inches
Blade Material: 154CM hardened to 58-60HRC
Handle Material: 6061T6 Aluminum
Price: $220 to $230(non-serrated blade)
Scott Smith is a former military policeman and U.S. Army Ranger.