An uncle of ours, a tough-as-nails railroad man for the Union Pacific who retired just this year, has something that he asks us, quite literally, every single time that we see each other: "You carry a knife?" He's raised that question ever since we can remember.
It's an inquiry that bears heavy implications for measuring a man. That's because a good pocket knife is the quintessential tool and trademark of a person who's familiar with working with his hands, and who can get-shit-done in a precise, proficient manner. But when it comes to pocketknives, a single blade reigns supreme: the Benchmade Mini-Griptilian.
Benchmade crafts world-renowned, American-made knives out of its headquarters in Oregon City, Oregon, and the Mini-Griptilian can be thought of as the company's knife of the people – it's the perfect everyday carry. It's such a comfortable hold that you'll swear the knife was designed for your hand, and your hand alone. Size-wise, it's not so big as to be bulky and create a bulge in your pocket (you might forget it's there), yet not so small as to be unable to handle pretty much any job you throw at it. Indeed, we've used it for everything from stripping cable wire so we could watch the NCAA tournament on the back porch, to cutting open brown trout on the river, to hacking dead branches for firewood. We thank its 3-inch, American-made, industrial-grade stainless steel blade for the hard work. And no matter what we've put this knife up against, key features like its action have stayed smooth and true. It's a testament to American workmanship.
What's more, over at Benchmade's website, you can customize everything about your Mini-Griptilian – up from the color of the handle and blade, down to the shape and composition of the blade – to make it 100% your own.
So now, after formative years spent revealing lame excuses or half-assed blades when our rough-and-tumble uncle inevitably popped his knife question, we're happy to say that we can flash our Mini-Grip – a knife that's as tough a sonofabitch as he is. [$125; benchmade.com]