Benchmade 111H2O Dive Knife

Review By Coy Starnes

The Benchmade 1111H20 folder is made for use in and around water, and yes, even salt water.  To help ward off rust the blade is made of a highly corrosion resistant steel called N680. The website says this about the steel; “An Austrian made stainless steel, which is comparable to 440C in performance and value. Keen edge qualities with great corrosion resistance.” The knife can be had in either a plain blade or the serrated style which Benchmade calls ComboEdge which is partially serrated.  The knife handle is available in Black or Yellow. There is also a fixed blade version of the same knife.

Here are the key features of the 111H20
* AXIS® locking mechanism
* N680 (57-60HRC) highly corrosion resistant blade   steel
* Modified sheepsfoot blade style with ambidextrous   thumb-stud opener and Grivory® handle scales
* Blade Length: 3.45″
* Blade Thickness: 0.114″
* Handle Thickness: 0.522″
* Blade Hardness: 57-60HRC
* Blade Style: Modified Sheepsfoot
* Weight: 4.9 oz
* Weight verified at post office: 4.9 oz

Other Information
The 111H20 is in the Blue Class,  Benchmade says this; “Our Blue Class represents the heart of everything that is Benchmade. These USA made products are designed and built for the individual who appreciates the difference that a high-quality cutting tool can make.” Every Benchmade knife comes with a warranty to the original owner that says the knife will be free from any defects in materials and workmanship.    Of course normal use and any abuse that damages the knife is not covered.

My initial impression of this knife is very positive. Since I own a Griptilian, I am familiar with the Axis Lock and the one on this knife is just as smooth as the one on my Griptilian.  In fact, this knife is sized just about the same as my Griptilian except that the blade is a lot wider, especially out near the tip end.  And by wider I do not mean thicker as they are the same thickness.  Well the website says the Griptilian is 0.115″ while the 111H20 is 0.114 so technically they are not the same. However, this knife weighs almost 2 more ounces and I’m sure most of the extra weight is in the blade. However, in handling the knife it does not feel unbalanced.

One really interesting aspect of this knife is the modified sheepsfoot blade. It is designed to prevent the tip end of the blade from penetrating.  I took the knife and carefully poked the tip at my arm and it did not penetrate. After a few tries I got more aggressive and was letting the tip hit my arm pretty hard and it still did not cut me.  Of course I’m sure I could do some damage if I stabbed at my arm really hard so PLEASE DO NOT JUST GO OUT AND START STABING AT YOUR ARM WITH THIS KNIFE.  And while I’m on the blade, it is very sharp straight out of the box.  Another cool aspect of all Benchmade knives is that for $5 they will sharpen your knife.  The $5 is to cover return shipping so your basically out shipping both ways, but if your not all that confident in your sharpening abilities, it is not a bad deal! Plus, they will tune the knife up and make any repairs needed while they have the knife for free.  And good sharpening equipment is not exactly cheap either.  Anyways, I think it is a pretty good option for them to offer, especially since they are only charging for shipping.  To find out more just visit the Website and look for the LifeSharp information.

The handle of this knife is Yellow, or should I say YELLOW.  It is bright, almost fluorescent looking to me.  And I would not call it yellow as it looks more like a lime green to me.  Florescent lime that is.  There is a scale like pattern on each side of the knife to aid in griping the knife as well as a raised section on the lower part of the handle where my fingers go around the handle. This raised section is positioned to lay between my little finger and the other three but it does not force the fingers apart when gripping the knife.  And for those who don’t trust their grip, there is a hole in the handle for a lanyard.

That’s all for now but I’d like to leave you with a few pics of the knife.  If you want to see them full size just click on each picture. Stay tuned for my next update for a report on how the H20 is performing.

Benchmade 111H2O Dive Knife

Benchmade 111H20

knife open, clip side showing

Update on the Benchmade 1111H20: May 17, 2010

I’m a little tardy updating my use thus far but this is the season when I’m getting my garden started, the yard needs mowing every time I turn around…you get the picture. On the bright side, I have been using the H20 a lot. I’ve carried it on three overnight camping trips and for cutting limbs etc the knife works great.  For example, on one hiking trip I forgot my stakes that are used for the fly on my hammock.  A friend had one spare stake but I needed two so I found a dead but solid limb and made another one.  Below is a photo of the stake.  I should have taken a photo before driving it into the ground but with storms moving in fast I was in a hurry.  

I’ve also used it on several kayak fishing trips. I found that while the blade material is great for this kind of wet environment, the blade design was not really ideal.  In other words, the blunt end that makes the knife safe for cutting ropes etc from a person without endangering the person makes it hard to cut knots out of my fishing line.  I alos noticed a similar problem when I bought a pair of blue jean shorts. The tag which was attached to the rear pocket had very small and very tight threads.  The tip of the blade just did not want to slide inside the little loops.

An unexpected use was in the kitchen.  I was getting ready to cook some bacon in my New Wave cooker only to discover that it (the bacon not the New Wave) was in the freezer.  I decided to cook it anyways so I grabbed a serrated knife and commenced to cut the bacon in half.  Well this did not go very well. The bacon was frozen so hard that the knife just did not want to cut it.  I thought, wonder how the H20 would do?, so I grabbed it from the top of the fridge.  I wont say it cut through it like hot butter but it definitely did it a lot better then the kitchen knife did. I think in part because it is very sharp but also because the blade is so stiff and the handle is plenty big and easy to grip.

H20 on my pack

One aspect of the H20 that I have noticed is that for EDC the knife is a little heavy.  On the other hand, I have found the knife is just about the most sturdy folding knife I have ever used.  Fortunately, when I was kayaking the knife stayed in the pocket of my life jacket most of the time.  When hiking it stayed in a pocket on the shoulder strap of my pack or in my sling (my day-hiking bag) so it was no bother to carry.  But when I carried it around at home and work I found it a little big and bulky.

Summary so far
The Benchmade 1111H20 is really a dive knife but it serves well for general use. While it is a little big for toting in my pocket the knife is rugged and up to just about anything I could ask of a folder.  In fact, the knife is on par with most sheath knives as far as I’m concerned only in a more convenient folding version.  The knife shows absolutely no hint of rusting which is always good.  The blade seems to hold an edge very well and except for the blunt end not being good for delicate work it will cut just about anything I need to cut.

Stay tuned for the final update to see how the H20 is till performing.  It should appear here in about a month from now.

Axis lock and thumbstud

Axis lock and thumbstud

belt or pocket clip

Axis Lock and thumbstud view from top

A Final Look at the Benchmade 111H2o

September 9, 2010

First of all, I want to comment on the sharpness of the knife and how it held up after several months of use.  When I first got the 111H2o it would shave very easily.  Just recently I tried to shave with it and it took quite a bit of pressure and was pulling my hair but I could still get it to shave.   However, it really did need sharpening.  I used my DMT red sharpener which is a diamond coated sharpening stone.  The red indicates that it is a fine which is really more suited for touch-up jobs but I managed to get it back too hair splitting sharpness in just a few minutes.

cutting the limb

cutting the limb

I am also continually impressed with the toughness of this knife.   In fact, I’d say it is on par with some of my fixed blades.  For example, I went camping recently and decided that even thought I didn’t forget my hammock stakes, it would be fun to make one like I did the last time, only with no storm approaching (like last time), I’d have time to do a better job.  I found a maple limb about the right size and whittled it off the tree.  Once I had the limb in hand I was able to put it across a log and use a baton (a dry limb) I found close by to drive (by whacking the back side of the blade) the knife blade through the

sharpened point

sharpened point

limb.  This gave me a flat edge that was much easier to drive into the ground.   I whittled the other end into a sharp point and my stake was ready for use.  The last three  photos show my handy-work.

Summary

This knife has been interesting to test.  While I have not used it as a dive knife it has

the finished product

the finished product

accompanied me on several kayaking trips.  I keep it in the pocket on my life jacket and it has been wet many times, especially when a guy showed up with a surf ski and I had to try it out.  After the third time I finally managed to paddle it a few strokes before dumping again but the Benchmade 111H20 seems no worse for wear.   And while I may choose a lighter knife for backpacking, I plan to keep it handy for all my paddles since it seems so corrosion resistant.

About the Author

I am from northeast Alabama where I spend a lot of my time divided among several hobbies that include  backpacking and day-hiking, canoeing and kayaking, and just getting out enjoying nature.