If I remember correctly, adamas means unconquerable or invincible in Greek. When their era of prosperity came, the Romans adopted the word to describe the hardest steel and sturdiest iron. It is from this that the word adamant was derived.
It’s easy to see why Benchmade gave this name to their premier line of “hard use” folders.
Being the skeptic that I am, I approached the Benchmade Adamas 275 with an eyebrow raised and my sleeves rolled up. The folder is a collaboration between Benchmade and custom knife maker Shane Silbert. The same partnership also produced an automatic and fixed-blade version of the Adamas, but it was the 275 that caught my eye. The reason for this is because the knife has reputation among knife reviewers as being unbreakable. Of course, the first thing many people try to do when they get their hands on one is to try and break it. I’m not too ashamed to say I may be one of those.
When Benchmade sent me a copy for review, the reason for the knife’s reputation quickly became apparent: it was heavy enough to use as a doorstop and thicker than most of the books on my desk. At an astounding 7.7 ounces, the Adamas could be a formidable weapon when simply thrown folded at targets.
Sometimes being overbuilt has its disadvantages, and many reviewers criticize the Adamas—albeit apologetically—as being simply too big and heavy for practical use. After carrying the folder for several weeks, I would recommend some sturdy pockets.
Here are its specs:
- Blade length: 3.82″
- Blade thickness: 0.160″
- Handle thickness: 0.730″
- Blade material: D2 Tool Steel
- Blade hardness: 60-62HRC
- Blade style: Drop-Point w/ Ambidextrous Thumb-Studs
- Weight: 7.70oz.
- Pocket clip: Tip-Up, Reversible, Deep-Carry
- Lock mechanism: AXIS
- Overall length: 8.70″
- Closed length: 4.88″
- Sheath material: MOLLE pouch
- Class: Black
- Retail price: $200
The blade itself is almost obnoxiously thick, much like the bodybuilder at your local gym who can’t help but position himself in the most visible part of workout room. I’ll forgive it because the Adamas comes in one of my favorite types of steel: D2.
D2 steel is uncomplicated, strong, and even boasts a bit of stain resistance. The Adamas came out of the box razor-sharp and ready to cut, so I started it out on some cardboard. The results were impressive. The Adamas is a beast of a cutting tool and keeps an edge even after a beating. To date, I have still not sharpened the folder even after torture tests, so that could be a pretty good indicator of how nicely D2 steel keeps a edge. As strange as it sounds, I am proudest of this fact because I used the Adamas to cut through a few credit cards. Wood and bone may wear down a great knife, but in my experience nothing takes away an edge faster than a few Mastercards and a helping of American Express. Polyvinyl chloride acetate is magical knife-killing plastic.
Most cheap stainless steel knives would require a touch-up after only two passes on a credit card. On the third you’ll notice that the knife won’t cut quite as deeply or as neatly. On the fourth pass you have essentially a very dull and very flat hunk of steel.
The Adamas scoffs at credit cards and lesser knives. This is a good thing because D2 can be a difficult steel for some people to sharpen, and easy to mess up as well. In the end, I had to stop myself from buying a tatami omote just to truly put the knife to a test. If I ever do, be assured that I’ll have it on video.
This is a perfect example of what a folding knife’s handle should feel like. The Adamas is comfortable, durable, and adequately grippy without being obtrusive. There are no hooks or crannies for an errant piece of clothing to snag on and it is heavy enough to knock some sense into a piece of glass, although a more obvious glass breaker would’ve been a nice touch. The G10 handles incorporate a small guard and flared pommel to keep the knife secure in hand, and it should fit all but the largest of mitts.
One gripe I do have about the Adamas is the fact that it can only be configured to be carried tip-up. With folder carry, a lot of people will try to sell you different schools of thought on how to best carry a blade. While the debate is not as fierce as say, how one should carry a concealed firearm, how to carry a knife in-pocket does bear some consideration. In the end, it’s all about personal preference. The direction the tip is facing will affect how you draw and operate the knife. Most people carry tip-down because they’re afraid of cutting themselves when they reach into their pockets. Of course, this isn’t an issue with most knives.
I personally prefer tip-down because of how I draw folders. It’s not a big issue. [Grunt].
By this time, Benchmade fans should have already noticed the large AXIS lock on the knife. The feature is popular among Benchmade knives and is one of my personal favorites—sorry LAWKs, nobody knows how to close you. The AXIS locking mechanism is quite simply one of the smoothest folder-locks out there. It works by using a spring-loaded bar that doubles as a release. When the knife is opened, this bar slides into a notch that secures the knife tang against both it and another stop bar. This allows the user to both open and close the folder easily with just one hand. In case my poor description didn’t paint quite a picture in your head, refer to this video:
In addition, AXIS provides a very, very secure lockup:
The Adamas is neither too large or too heavy for everyday carry, but this statement comes with a caveat. The Adamas is neither too large or too heavy if you are wearing the right pants. Slip this folder into the pocket of some sweatpants and you might find yourself with a hefty amount of sag. Jeans and khakis work well, as long as you secure the folder with its pocket clip. The Adamas has the dubious distinction of being the only folder I own that I would really hate to drop on my foot. Weight is the price you’ll have to pay to carry the Adamas, but it’s worth it to have what is essentially a folding fixed blade.
When it’s out of the pocket and in your hand, though, you’ll be glad you have it and not some other flimsy knife. The Adamas is a substantial blade and it works like one. Its comfortable grip also means that you’ll likely whine less about painful palms.
Since the Adamas is billed as a hard use knife, I ran it through the same gamut of tests I subject fixed blades to. At one point, this involved attempting to baton with the Adamas, but the folder was simply too short to be effective. At all other tasks, the Adamas excelled. I’ll have to note that its drop-point tip was especially good at penetration. Overall, a great tool for someone who needs a folding knife that can handle meatier tasks, or for outdoor activities such as camping or survival duty.
The Adamas is not for everyone, but fans of Benchmade knives will not be disappointed. There is some genuinely impressive design here and the result is a knife that makes no compromises. It is heavy, it is large, and it will cook your meals and build your fire.
For a folder, it’s a bit pricey. Not everyone will be ecstatic to shell out 200 bucks—or the street price of $150—for a folder, but what you get is a quality tool that should last longer than most other things you could buy for that amount of money. Like a smartphone on a two-year plan, or guinea pig.
And there’s not a whole lot you can do with a guinea pig.
Images by Daniel Xu