Preparedness Gear Review : Benchmade Nimravus Tanto Knife

Gear Review: Benchmade Nimravus

by MSOnline Editor-at-Large Jesse James

 

Growing up, knives were a part of life. I was given a little red Swiss Army one for Christmas when I was six or seven. Since then I have carried a knife on me everywhere it is legal to do so. A knife is perhaps the most primitive tool invented by man, and has an untold number of uses. It is essential that you have at least one good utility knife in your BOB and several of various sizes at your disposal.

Why bother with a fixed blade?

Folders are great, but in my experience the optimum length is between 2 ½” to 3 ½” of blade, with a total length being somewhere around 6 ½ ”-7 ½ ” unfolded. This length seems to fit my hands well, and not be overly large. These are simply my preferences, and your mileage may vary. Occasionally, the need arises for a larger blade. Most often when I’m camping and hunting I prefer to have a folder for fine work and something a little larger for general purpose cutting. A fixed-blade knife is ideal for longer blades because the design eliminates the hinge that necessarily must exist on a folder. The longer a blade is, the more potential leverage exist, which increases the total amount of stress that can be placed on the knife. For this reason I am not a fan of excessively large folders, and quality folders of this size are few and far between. Keep it simple stupid.

Why not just get a cheap knife? Cutting is cutting, right?

A knife is a tool. I disagree vehemently with the idea of buying “disposable” products and discarding them after they are used and abused (except printers). A quality tool will perform its function longer and under much greater stress than something made with low cost as the chief objective. A cheap knife will dull sooner and fail quicker, and as many of us can attest to Murphy’s law will ensure that it does so when a replacement is not available and you really needed it to work. The biggest price difference in mass produced knives is a result of the differences in 1) steel and handle materials, and 2) coatings/finishes and 3) level of QC. For reference, D2 tool steel is about $2700-$3400/ton and carbon steel is about $700-$1000/ton. Quite a difference in sheer materials, because all steel is not created equal. For those unaware, D2 is a tool steel with a much higher corrosion and stain resistance than traditional carbon steel, as well as being superior in its edge-retention. It is widely-used in the knife industry because its desirable properties.

Why Benchmade?

“It’s not just a knife. It’s a Benchmade.” I’ve been a huge Benchmade fan since I bought my first one when I was in my teens. I still have the first one I bought. They offer a lifetime warranty, and will sharpen, clean, inspect and lube your knife for you if you ship it to them. Every one I’ve ever owned has come out of the box sharp enough to shave with. The fit and finish of the knife is on par with many custom knifemakers. As a mass-produced knives, the customer enjoys the cost-savings over a custom knifemaker, but does not have to sacrifice the performance aspect of it. Benchmade briefly had a budget line produced in China, referred to by many as the “red box” line (since the knives came in a different color box than the traditional Benchmade blue). Benchmade quickly abandoned the idea, I’m guessing because of the damage it was doing to their brand and lack of sales. All Benchmade knives, to my knowledge, are now made exclusively in the USA. Are they cheap…no. Are they worth the price…absolutely.

Nimravus Review:

            The Nimravus is Benchmade’s no-frills general purpose/combat knife. The namesake of the knife is a now-extinct sabre-toothed cat that once existed in the Pacific Northeast, the location of the Benchmade headquarters and factory. The blade is 4 ½”, with the overall knife 9.45” in length. The blade material is 154CM, which is considered a stainless steel. I prefer 154CM to D2 simply because 154 is truly a stainless steel, while D2 “almost” stainless. D2 will hold an edge longer, but 154CM is capable of being sharpened to a finer edge. Both steels are excellent, however, and the choice boils down to preference. The Nimravus is available in tanto or drop point blades, both having a full tang. The blade can either come in a ComboEdge , with about an 1 ½” of serration or a plain edge. All of the blades are coated in Benchmades BK1 coating, which gives the blade increased salt-water and corrosion resistance. It also makes it black, which increases the all-important cool factor. I mean c’mon, who doesn’t want to look awesome when they star in the 21st century real-life version of Mad Max? The handle material is T-6 aluminum and is secured by two of Benchmades six-lobed screws (similar to “Torx” screws). The handles are available in green, black and coyote brown.

The sheath that comes with the Nimravus is a Molle-compatible and made from ballistic nylon. The interior is hard plastic and accepts the blade with relative ease. The sheaths are available is coyote brown, black and digital ACU camo.

My Nimravus is a tanto ComboEdge with green handles and the digital camo sheath. It’s current spot is on my plate carrier, but I take it with me on all hunting and camping trips. I’ve used it for countless tasks whether skinning game, cutting rope and fabric, or

Scratches in BK1 coating

sharpening sticks for s’mores, er, spears at the campsite and even a makeshift can opener when I was an idiot and forgot one (no stores on the AT). It balances well in the hand and only weights 6 ½ oz., which makes it a relatively quick blade to swing. The finger groove is aggressive, as are the handle grooves, which enable you to control the knife whether your hands have gloves, sweat, or the blood of your enemies on them. The blade is thick enough to be hammered on in a pinch, if you absolutely need to split a small piece of wood. The BK1 coating has shown some wear, and can be scratched off with abuse. I have several scratches on it from it being scratched by rocks and metal. I’ve had to do a light sharpening on the blade after about a 8 months of use, but nothing more than a 10 minute job.

In closing, the Nimravus is NOT designed or marketed as a “survival knife”. It is designed to be sharp, and pointy. The blade is not thick enough to be used as a pry tool, nor does the handle have a neat little compartment for cheap fishhooks, a compass that doesn’t work and 47 other useless things. Where it excels is being a medium-sized, general purpose knife. It is light and streamlined enough that I would feel confident in using it as a backup weapon. Indeed, it serves as my weapon of last resort on my plate carrier. At $180-$195 retail, the Nimravus is not cheap. However, it is unlikely that I will ever buy another fixed blade this size during my lifetime. Used ones can be found for somewhat less, and keep your eyes out for sales. I picked mine up when an online retailer was having a 20% off sale on all Benchmade products. Few, if any non-custom knives can rival the Nimravus that are not significantly more. Those who think Benchmade represents the stratosphere when it comes to knife prices should look at companies such as Esee and Spartan Blades among others. For a truly great knife and a relative bargain (considering both the quality and materials), I highly recommend the Nimravus.

 

Pros:

  • Good steel
  • Excellent fit, tight tolerances
  • Good length
  • Well made sheath

Cons:

  • Cost (2 ½ tanks of gas)
  • Plastic insert in sheath
  • BK1 coating scratches and comes of with enough abuse


 

-“Jesse” James

 


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5 Comments

  1. I have a lot of knives, but I prefer Benchmade, Ka-Bar, and Mercworx.

    The plastic insert in the Nimravus sheath is to prevent the blade from cutting through the ballistic nylon. Without it your knife will soon work its way out of the sheath and into your body.

  2. I get that the insert is to prevent the knife from cutting the sheath. However, I wish it were another material. I know most plastic gets brittle as it dries out, and would prefer it if the sheath were made of a high density carbon fiber material (similar to the stuff used in Blackhawk holsters). In 10-15 years I could see the holster plastic cracking and it requiring me to buy a new sheath.

  3. Benchmade uses Kydex instead of Zytel or some of the other cheap plastics, so you probably shouldn’t see any significant degradation due to wear or weathering. Most of the good knife makers use Kydex or leather as their sheath material – Ka-Bar (especially the Becker series), Mercworx, SOG, Spyderco, ZT, Emerson, TOPS, ESEE, etc. You need something for the sharp edge to slide against which won’t be easily cut.

    What I did was find a knife store in Houston who had the ability to custom make kydex sheaths. I had them use the thickest Kydex they had (more weight and money, but also a lot more durable). That way I got a tough sheath in exactly the carry format I wanted and got rid of “loose sheath syndrom”. Basically, I had them copy the sheath that Benchmade supplies with the mini-nim for the full size version. I’ve had sheaths made with MOLLE attachements, to carry horizontally (small of back under a coat), and with various belt or boot clips. I had them made for my SOG multi-tools and even a Victorinox SwissChamp.

    Looking at my Nimravus (drop point, combo edge), I think with a little effort and some nylon thread you could remove the Kydex and replace it with a thick leather. Not certain if that would be much of an improvement since the leather would rot out in any kind of wet environment. Also, the leather would hold moisture against the steel (154CM is stainless, but it will pit if left wet for an extended period of time).

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