“The culture I stand for is sometimes lost into today’s society, when in fact society was built on the culture of THE HUNTER. A hunter is more than a predator, a hunter is a provider…a caretaker…a leader. I will never make excuses for who I am… It’s the way I was born… I’m a hunter… A BONE COLLECTOR!!!”- Michael Waddell
New to Benchmade this year is a series of knives designed in collaboration with Michael Waddell. For those of you not familiar with Waddell, he’s a professional hunter and he has a series of hunting shows on the Outdoor Channel. Benchmade’s new Bone Collector series takes it name from Waddell’s show of the same name. For Waddell, hunting is more than just a past time, it’s a lifestyle, and he brings that sort of mentality to the collaboration he’s done with Benchmade. The Bone Collector series consists of two fixed blade knives ( a drop point hunter with a gut hook, and a caping blade) two sizes of Axis lock folders, and a separate gut hook tool. Woods Monkey was fortunate enough to get to check out the large Axis lock Bone Collector for a little bit of field T&E.
Our Bone Collector Axis lock was the bigger model, which features a 3.36 inch long blade. The blade of this knife is much of what sets it apart from other Axis lock folders that Benchmade has done before. This one features a drop point blade of D2 tool steel treated to a 60-62 HRC. That makes for a blade with some excellent edge holding capabilities. I’ve used a good bit of D2 blades over the years and I continue to be pleased with their performance. It takes a superb edge and holds on to it for a long time. It’s just right for a blade that’s going to see a lot of work in the woods on game or around camp. The blade is fitted with a round thumbhole that makes it easy to open with either hand. The 0.125 inch thick D2 blade is mated to a handle 4.84 inches in length. Fitted with steel liners and contoured G-10 scales the Bone Collector is a sturdy folder. The handle features a series of “rib cage” ridges on either side to improve grip under adverse conditions.
A black steel pocket clip is fitted for tip up carry and is reversible for left or right hand use. A lanyard hole is positioned on the butt of the knife, near where the clip mounts. It’s a feature I greatly appreciate on a knife that’s going to be used outdoors. It gives you the option on simply attaching a short lanyard to help tug the knife out of your pocket, or a longer one to keep you from losing the blade while rafting, climbing or during other vigorous activity. Weight of the large Bone Collector folder is 5.59 ounces. I suspect most readers are familiar with Benchmades wildly popular Axis lock, but if not here’s a short recap of the mechanism from Benchmade’s website ” A 100-percent ambidextrous design, AXIS gets its function from a small, hardened steel bar which rides forward and back in a slot machined into both steel liners. The bar extends to both sides of the knife, spanning the liners and positioned over the rear of the blade. It engages a ramped, tang portion of the knife blade when it is opened. Two omega style springs, one on each liner, give the locking bar its inertia to engage the knife tang, and as a result the tang is wedged solidly between a sizable stop pin and the AXIS bar itself.” In plain English, that translates to a tough, but easy to use mechanism. I find the Axis lock to be one of the more convenient locking mechanism I’ve used on a folding knife. It’s easy to use one handed, totally ambidextrous, and provides a very solid lock up. The more I work with them, the more I tend to like them.
I spent about a month with the Bone Collector and had a chance to run it through its paces as both an EDC blade and on some common campsite tasks. I didn’t get to use it on any game, but I did use it a bit in the kitchen to get a feel for its use on meat. First off, I have to say that I’m impressed with the contoured and ridged G-10 grip. Benchmade offers it in both black and a layered green/black option. Ours was a basic black and it had a businesslike, but attractive finish. More importantly, it was devoid of sharp edges to irritate the hands during use or tear up your pockets when you’re carrying it. I like the feel of G-10 in general and am always pleased to see it on a new knife’s specs, especially a folding knife. It covers up the cold steel of the liners and features a texture and warmth that I’ve come to prefer when I have the chance to use it. It’s almost like a decent wood handle, but with a lot more durability to it. It should also be pretty much impervious to any sort of blood, goo or gore that you get on it when processing fish or game, or working in the camp kitchen. At almost 5 inches long, I had plenty of room on the handle, and found it worked good in a variety of grips. The Bone Collector is a comfortable knife to use, and seems to offer a solid grip even when wet or slimy with gunk. The handle shape includes a bit of a guard as well to keep your hand off of the blade in the event that you hand did slip a bit. Overall, its a very well thought out and executed handle.
The heart of any knife is the blade and the Bone Collector’s is no exception. I’ve already touted the D2 blade and I have to say that in use it didn’t let me down. The knife came shaving sharp from the factory and nothing I did in the month I used it really knocked that level of sharpness down. I’m sure I could find things that would dull it quicker, but in normal use edge retention looks to be quite good. The drop point configuration of the blade is a great all around pattern. It makes for a strong tip that works as well for processing deer as does for drilling a fireboard for some bushcraft projects.
Lockup is extremely positive, as I’ve come to expect with Axis locks, and the lock stays out of your way when you’re working with the knife. I can’t see disengaging this lock accidentally like can sometimes happen with traditional lockbacks or liner locks. Through the course of the month, I used the knife opening up boxes, cutting cord, making tent stakes, dicing up veggies, and cutting up chicken and beef. Add in the daily routine stuff like cutting packages open, doing some impromptu hoagie cutting and hacking off slabs of pepperoni and I pretty much used the Bone Collector for everything that I normally would ask of an EDC or field knife, short of actual game preparation. I can say that never once during the time I used the Bone Collector did I find myself wishing I had a different blade for the task. It isn’t a chopper by any stretch, but it should handle just about anything else you’d ask of a mid sized knife. Pair it up with a folding saw and/or a short machete or hand axe and there isn’t much you couldn’t do that needs doing around camp.
If you’re going to carry a folder in the woods, the Bone Collector offers an appealing choice. Its tough, sized large enough to do solid work, but compact enough to carry comfortably, and offers a blade capable of offering superb edge retention in the field. Add in the overall ergonomics and strength with it’s ease of use and you’ve got a winner on your hands. With a MSRP of $145, the Bone Collector isn’t cheap, but it offers top notch materials and a well thought out design for that price. A little bit of shopping around online and you can even manage to knock about $20 off of that MSRP.