I have not been kind to Benchmade in the two months I have been writing this blog. I have really been disappointed by all of the Benchmade knives I have owned and many of their designs are dumb for one reason or another. I also do not like their business practices (forced uniform pricing, unauthorized use of the thumb hole opener, and hiding "offshore" knives in their alternative brand lines while claiming all products are made in the USA). That said there are, of course, some really great knives in their line up. Lots and lots of folks love the Benchmade Griptillan and the Mini Grip, and the higher end Ritter Mini Grip. I really liked the Benchmade Benchmite, the Aphid, and the Monochrome as well. All look like good tools from a company that sometimes goes a little too Rambo for my tastes. After all, I am a tool guy first.
But even the tool guy in me can appreciate the beauty of a good purely offensive design like the Benchmade Infidel.
Auto knives have their own vocabulary and the Infidel is a great lesson in what to look for in these kinds of knives. First, it is an OTF (out the front) knife, which means that the knife shoots straight out of the handle. In addition to allowing for a better grip, OTF knives are awfully menacing even when you do something as innocuous as opening it up. The quick appearance of the blade coupled with the stiff pop of the spring gives an opponent enough information to know that maybe this isn't the person to screw around with. Second, the blade is a double action, which means that the activator button both deploys and retracts the knife. This bit of engineering is actually quite handy as you don't have to find some way to put the blade back in the handle, which, given the dagger style, double edged blade, isn't as easy as it sounds. Some single action autos have a tab you pull back (see upper right picture on linked page), like the Microtech Halo 5, and others just require a quick stab, usually to the heel of your shoe, to put the blade in the handle.
For a double action, out the front with good materials and tight tolerances, the Infidel is really quite a steal, even at the $330-$350 street price. The complexity of making a well-designed, well-built OTF auto means that all of them are about that price. Microtech, which makes perhaps the finest autos anywhere, makes very few, if any OTFs that are cheaper than the Infidel.
A friend of mine has an Infidel and there is really nothing like it, especially when its curvy frame is sitting in your hand. The actuator is perfect--not too easy, not too hard. The blade comes out with frightening authority, and once out, it stays in place, displaying very, very little blade play at all (which is inherent in the OTF design, you can't get rid of all of it, otherwise the blade wouldn't be able to move in and out of the handle). The aluminum handle is really quite grippy, probably the perfect level of matte finish. Grippy but not powdery. The grind on his copy is immaculate--symmetrical and clean. Even the clip is nice.
I don't have a lot of use for an auto, especially a dagger shaped blade (though the Infidel does come in a single edge design and a smaller version), but the Infidel is really a smoking good blade for a decent price, something out of the norm from most Benchmade offerings. I wish I knew more about its use as a weapon, because that is all it is. I can't recommend it because I don't know about how it performs in its intended role, but I can say it is a well-made knife. If you do have experience with it as a weapon, chime in in the comments.