I picked up the Benchmade Volli folder as a new EDC folder to replace the SOG Mini Trident I permanently “misplaced”. I had been going back and forth on replacing a $50 knife with a $120 knife, but thought I’d spoil myself and upgrade. This is my first Benchmade knife, as I’ve carried both SOG’s and Kershaw’s in the past. Benchmade, along with Spyderco, are what I would consider in the upper end of the affordable EDC spectrum. Straight out of the box, I was immediately impressed by the quality of this blade. It came packaged in a small box and it’s own polyester drawstring bag. This is a knife touch by Benchmade, because, while I don’t care for fancy boxes, I do think a nice storage bag for a blade is practical, especially for collectors.
Materials and Build Quality
Like I said, this is a Benchmade, so quality is top notch. What struck me the most was how damn sharp the factory edge was on this thing. I mean, there’s sharp and then there’s scary sharp. The traditional “hair-shave” test yielded razor burn. This thing was so sharp, I used it to shave down the CrossFit callouses on my palms. I appreciate this since the S30V steel used in the blade takes a bit longer to put a razor sharp edge on, but will retain an edge longer than AUS-8, in my experience. The Kershaw Blur I carried was also S30V, but was nowhere near this sharp from the manufacturer.
I had been trying to decide between the Volli and the Mini-Barrage for a week or two. They both have a similar drop point blade profile that I find appealing, but the main differences were the G10 handle scales and the AXIS lock, which the Mini Barrage lacks. Both of these features are new to me, so I wanted to see what the hype was about. I’ve got knives with Zytel, polymer, wooden, and canvas micarta handles, but needed to also get a G10.
While I’m not a huge fan of the handle milling, I do think the look is very unique. More importantly, it doesn’t negatively effect the grip or feel in hand. Then again, I’m not sure if it necessarily positively effects the grip or feel, but that’s okay.
From what I’ve read, the Benchmade Volli has a slimmer handle (and blade) profile than the Benchmade Mini-Barrage, which features a stainless steel handle liner, adding to its thickness. Self-admittedly, I don’t have large hands so I keep these sorts of things in mind.
I’ve also read good things about the AXIS lock and the methodology behind it. The product designer in me appreciates the attention to function put in here. The AXIS lock mechanism uses springs to engage a solid stop pin with the blade tang. The pin drops in place into a cutout in the base of the blade, so the knife is not going anywhere. This is how you lock a knife. It reminds me of the hammer lock mechanism in a 1911 handgun. Safe enough to carry “cocked and locked”, I have no doubts of this knife inadvertently closing due to directional forces on the blade.
Along with inadvertent closings, I’m also always worried about inadvertent openings. While some consumers complain about safeties, I think they are a good thing. An effective method for safe handling as well as preserving that shiny blade in case you accidentally drop the knife and it’s impact causes the AO to go. Yes, it happens. All the time. The safety is located on the back of the handle, which is a smarter location than SOG’s side location. Why? Because your index fingers naturally wrap around the blade if you use your thumb to engage and disengage the safety. That means you then purposely readjust your grip to open. That’s smart design.
In the Field
The S30V blade is very thin at 0.100″, so this knife makes a great slicer and dicer. In more literal terms, the Volli makes quick work of opening a new Amazon package, cutting through thermoformed clamshell packaging, and breaking down opened boxes. It’s also handy for food prep, like cutting up an avocado at lunch or slicing up a summer sausage for a trail snack. While it’s sometimes contrasted against it’s beefy cousin, the Barrage, I do not think this blade is wimpy by any means. It’s solid, has an aggressive profile, and is very utilitarian.. it’s just not a pry bar, so don’t go trying to make it one!
The assist mechanism flies open with a solid whack, which doesn’t feel overwhelming in the hand. I think this is due to the superb balance characteristics of the knife. Opened, the knife balances right on the index finger in a standard grip. This lends confidence and greater tip control when working the knife.
I really dig the Benchmade Volli and have very few complaints about it. If anything, I think the handle design could have been slightly improved by creating a more repeatable pattern in the dimpling, or no pattern at all. You can see in the above picture, it has a texture similar to orange peel. But in all honesty, I can hardly feel this texture and it adds no improvement on handling for me. Maybe it’s not even intended but an artifact of machining. Either way, I think it takes away from the Volli’s overall stream-lined profile. I’m debating an attempt at smoothing this out with a dremel or some steel wool once I research the hardness properties of G10 versus some Dremel bit materials.
All in all, the Benchmade Volli was an excellent purchase and one that I would recommend for someone who wants a sleek yet robust knife. A lot of knives on the market are going thicker, harder, stronger. Thinner isn’t necessarily weaker, especially when made in a premium knife steel. I hope I don’t lose this sucker, since it’s my first and only Benchmade, but I would be tempted to replace it immediately if I should!