When you talk about American knife manufacturers and who is paramount among them the only way you won’t have a difference of opinion is if you’re talking to yourself. But everyone can certainly agree Benchmade is amongst the elite of this category. We’ve received another offering from their already established Rant line of knives. This family of knives has been expanded to include four different blade profiles with basically all the same grips.
The Rant line, produced in collaboration with Mel Pardue, includes the 510 Bowie, 512 Clip-point, 515 Drop-point, and the 517 Tanto. The model we are reviewing is model 515 in the Drop-point style.
Unboxing the Rant, the knife was in its sheath. My first impression of the sheath was a little bit ho-hum I admit, thinking it was just a nylon sheath. Once I looked it over I got over my reservations all too quickly. The sheath is actually very well thought out and, though it is a no frills knife holder, it is by no means a low end nylon knife cover. The sheath system for the Rant is a Kydex sleeve encased in nylon. It has a belt loop, a set of eyelets at the point end, and on the back we find two strips of MOLLE webbing. Also included in the box is a Malice clip to use with your MOLLE webbing to attach to whatever platform you may have. Retention is provided via a snap centered on the handle. This in unison with the non-formed Kydex sleeve allows for an ambidextrous carry; be it by belt, strapped to a pack cling, or attached to a MOLLE platform.
Moving on to the handle we find a fairly normal looking handle. The handle material is a polymer called Santoprene that has a fairly stiff makeup but does give under pressure. Crosschecking on the faces, and a sort of jimping on the spine and underside of the handle, give it that much better purchase in the hand. Though the grip is anything but wide at a mere .890” thick, the components come together to form a rather comfortable handle. I also appreciated the forward finger guard incorporated into the handle. Throughout use I found it to be comfortable for many different uses. The grip texturing is the high point giving you a good grasp even if your hands are wet or wearing gloves. The butt end of the handle is flat so for drilling efforts it was less than perfect, but it’ll still get the job done. The handle material is black and there is a brass lanyard hole big enough to accept paracord, even doubled up.
The drop point blade on this model performed well, it’s one of my favorite all around designs. Making a decent transition from hunting knife, to bushcraft, to work knife and back again. Blade profile is a flat grind about ¾ of the way up the blade with a secondary bevel at the edge. Towards the tip there is a small section of false edge at the spine. The full width of the blade at the spine is .175 inches and with a blade length of 4.48 inches long the Rant is a hefty contender. The spine of the blade is flat and it will throw a spark off a ferro rod but it could be squared of just a touch more and I believe it would throw it a little easier. The blade is hardened to 58-60 HRC, so with a slightly sharper cornered spine the blade back should really shower some sparks. The tip of the blade is a veritable needle, the distal taper runs over a section of about an inch and comes in very smoothly to a fine tip. Being slightly above center line the tip works well for bushcrafting chores and is easy to control. Though the blade is indeed stout and the construction I believe is full tang the knife is fairly light and nimble. Weighing in at just 7.16 ounces it could make a decent stand-alone certainly, but a truly excellent back up. The edge is easy to sharpen with a clean curve which is easy to follow on a stone or a belt. It held up well in the trials I put it though. As I stated the reported Rockwell is 58-60 so it’s no wonder the 440C stainless blade can hang with the big dogs, so to speak.
Coming from Benchmade I felt fairly confident in doing a little torture testing. Batoning proved to be a breeze. The overall length of the knife being 9.11 inches makes it almost even handle to blade. This gives the knife a great degree of control when being driven into a baton piece or plunge cutting. The better than four inches of edge made for an easy chore of cutting rope or cordage. I found it no problem to whip out a few tent stakes on my last outing. I’ve taken it on a few outings taking photos and on a few morel hunts. For things like this I really appreciate a stainless knife. I don’t have to worry about digging a few wild onion roots or leaving some moisture on the blade. Sometimes I don’t need the brute strength of a carbon blade. But I still want a knife that is comfortable to use, holds a good edge, and is of a size and shape that is functional. The Rant does all that and more.
Benchmade has had a long standing history in the knife community. They stand behind their products offering a limited lifetime warranty on their blades. Now they even offer a sharpening service call “LifeSharp” basically you can send your Benchmade knives back and cover the first knife with five dollars and each additional knife for two dollars and fifty cents for shipping and handling. The knife will be sharpened, no sharpening for serrated sections, and inspected for defects and mailed back to you factory sharp. Not too shabby. Stack these things up with the fact that Benchmade is fostering relations with custom knife makers and getting their input on knives and knife designs. The Rant line is the brain child of Mel Pardue. He has been a longtime maker who has simple function on his mind when he designs a knife. Benchmade’s website put it like this:
Mel Pardue The senior team member, Mel has been grinding sparks, making knives and creating a following for 25-plus years. His style has a class and simplicity all its own. The Pardue collaborations offer great utility to the everyday knife user while at the same time presenting an upscale distinction. Less is definitely more with Mel’s designs.
With respect to these words I think they are true, less is more. However the Rant is anything but a lesser knife. It functions well, its construction though no frills – is certainly reliable, and it feels good to use. Having a lifetime guaranteed knife from a major manufacturer in the United States with a price point right around seventy dollars on the street puts this knife out there as a good every man, or common man, knife. It should be noted though that the common man could do a good bit worse with his money than to buy a reliable outdoor tool like the Rant by Benchmade Knife Company and Mel Pardue. So, check it out if you get a chance, borrow a friends, fondle one at your local knife shop or gun show…..then you’ll know there is truly something to Rant about.