Benchmade is of the most iconic names in production folding knives. They have been around for decades, and have made hundreds of designs and styles of knives over the years. In recent times, they have boosted their morale even further with the great success of the Bugout, Mini Bugout, Freek models, and the long running 940. The Adamas has been in their lineup for many years as well, but pushed away many of their target market with it’s large size and heavy weight.
Enter the Mini Adamas. It remains a stout, durable knife, but with some welcome changes. With a greatly reduced weight, length, and overall footprint, the Mini Adamas sounds like it fits the “Mini” nomenclature properly. But there’s some argument that the Mini should be called the standard Adamas, and the standard should be called the XL. It’s quite the large mini, but comes with some added benefits to it’s refresh. Let’s take a look at what might be the biggest little thing that Benchmade has ever produced.
Key Specs: Benchmade Mini Adamas
Any new features on a new model of a folding knife should be upgraded along with it’s blade steel. I’m no metallurgist, but I have a strong preference toward tough steels that are heat treated well. And with the new Mini Adamas (and standard Adamas) getting an upgrade to CPM-Cruwear blade steel, I was quite excited to put some use on this knife. Along with the new blade steel, comes a new blade coating. The old, now retired D2 Adamas was coated with a black finish, but the newer Adamas blades are finished with either a gray coating with black handles, or FDE with olive drab handles. One aspect of the original blade that has carried over to the newer one is the fuller in the blade. With a blade thickness of 0.14”, and a length of either 3.8” for the full size or 3.25” for the Mini, any weight reduction on the blade is a welcome aspect.
Benchmade has partnered with Shane Seibert again for the refresh of the Adamas family of knives (which also includes the fixed blade variants). In my estimation, the teaming of these two entities has created a great knife. Another aspect of the blade that quite frequently gets lost in review, is the grind of the blade. As mentioned above, the blades are 0.14” thick at the spine. They have designed the Adamas to have very little tapering to this blade, but have added a swedge to the spine out near the tip.
Along with this swedge, though, they have left the blade quite thick in the center of the grind, while leaving the edge very thin. This is something that is very uncommon on production knives, often times likely because the manufacturers don’t want users to chip out the edge of their thinly gound blades. But, with Cruwear, and a seemingly great heat treat, there’s no fear of the edge losing it’s integrity in normal use. Put all these qualities together, and you get a blade that cuts incredibly well, penetrates material easily, and has plenty of durability for some abusive use.
Deployment / Lockup
Benchmade seems to have a good idea of how to make a good thumb stud. It may not seem to be a big deal, but when some higher end manufacturers make a pointed, anodized thumb stud that loses color right away and is uncomfortable with repeated use (the legendary Sebenza comes to mind), you grow an appreciation for a thumb stud that’s done right. With some light stepping, and a reasonable size for good purchase, it’s a comfortable, dual thumb stud that is easy to find when looking to deploy the knife. And, thanks to the Axis lock, once the blade is set in motion to open, the knife is locked in the open position with gusto.
There are some positives to the Axis lock, but one negative in my view is the lack of a detent. The Mini Adamas blade never accidentally deployed on me during normal carry and use, but I couldn’t help but wish that the blade was held more securely in it’s closed position. The spring on the axis lock seems as if it could use a heavier gauge when considering these thicker, heavier blades. As far as my research can tell, the full size Adamas down to the Mini Bugout all use the same Omega spring to keep the lock positioned, effectively keeping the blade either closed or open. It seems to work, as Benchmade has been using this method for many years, but it sure would be nice to see a heavier gauge steel for the spring in the heavier blades.
The Mini Adamas has a small detail hidden up it’s sleeve that I haven’t found on any other Benchmade knives, and that is a polished blade tang. With the Axis lock, the blade tang has continuous contact with the lock bar during deployment. With the Mini Adamas’ polished blade tang, it allows for an extremely smooth feedback when opening the blade. This is a small detail I’m happy to report, showing that the company still puts effort into the execution of their new designs. Along with the polished blade tang, the large phosphor bronze washers aid in a very smooth, solid action. The washers appear to be a fairly standard diameter, but they feel a good deal thicker than the usual washers on a folder, which gives the knife another point toward the overbuilt status.
Once the Mini Adamas is locked open, it’s solidity is akin to a fixed blade. We all know that a folder is never a replacement for a true fixed blade for many reasons, but having a folder with you that can mimic a fixed blade in rigidity is quite pleasing. There is absolutely no side to side blade play, or front to back blade play when the blade is locked open. Disengaging the Axis lock is easy, of course, allowing the blade to freely fall to it’s closed position. There has been a lot of buzz in the last few years of Benchmade falling short in their quality control, but the Mini Adamas feels to have shaken that stigma with it’s build quality. This knife is smooth, solid, and reliable.
Features, Fit and Finish
With CPM-CRUWEAR, G10 handle scales, full steel liners with weight reducing holes, and a new color scheme, the Mini Adamas is packed with features to compete with today’s modern folder’s expectations. G10 is an extremely tough material, and full sized liners aids in a handle feel that’s remarkably rigid. I do wish that the body screws were one size bigger, as the heads are quite small, but taking the knife apart wasn’t an issue, so maybe that’s just a preference. Benchmade has fitted the Mini Adamas with the longer variant of their deep carry clip, which works well and fits the knife without issue. But, I prefer the clip used on the Bugout, so I swapped the clip on my knife to try it out. The position the clip lands in the hand with the smaller clip felt better in my use, and had much better pocket retention. Luckily, Benchmade offers their pocket clips for a very fair price, if you would like to try swapping one out on your own.
The fit and finish on the Mini Adamas is very well done. There is some light jimping on the handle scales, but even in places like this on the handle, Benchmade has done a great job making sure there are no sharp edges left for the user. This attention to detail can be found all around the knife. The blade feels smooth (until you get to the sharpened edge, of course), the scales are finished well, and provide great traction without being overly grippy. Speaking of the scales, they are contoured, too. That may seem like a small detail, but when you get a slightly smaller sized folder that fills the hand like a broom stick, you’ll appreciate that contouring. It’s also another testament to Benchmade going the extra step to make sure their designs are complete and well thought out.
The finish of the blade is quite durable. I have done some rough testing with this knife, and most of the coating stayed put. It’s a nice choice of coating that’s used, as it feels somewhat slick to the touch, allowing the blade to cut material without getting the binding, sticky feeling many other blade coatings seem to produce. The handle scales are a finished G10, and are left with just the right amount of grip, but enough polish to allow the knife to go in and out of the pocket with ease. The fitment between the liners and scales is uniform and consistent, without any varying spots of manufacturing. The knife as a whole feels premium and solid, and brings pride to Benchmade’s name.
I wanted to really test this knife hard. Actually, nearly abusive. So I did. Cutting some cardboard and twisted sisal rope was quite surprising in performance, as the grind of the blade is quite thin behind the edge. The cutting performance of the Mini Adamas is better than one may expect, just by looking at the specs of the blade on paper. Using a folding knife outside of it’s normal limitations isn’t always necessary, but we’re here to test this knife for you, so you can save yours and know you can rely on it when needed.
Using a small wood baton found out in the back yard, I used the Mini Adamas to baton through a 2×4. Yes, this is a small knife, but the blade is long enough to get it through a piece of standard lumber. The blade took the abuse without flinching, and the lock did not change in terms of rigidity or function. The edge of the blade didn’t seem to dull hardly at all, still cutting paper cleanly at this point. The following day, while working on a door, I had a piece of weather stripping up against a metal door frame that was painted on, and was stubborn to remove. Fully admitting there are better tools for the job, I grabbed the Mini Adamas from the pocket and used it to twist and scrape the weather stripping free. I managed to get a couple rolls in the edge at this point, and lost a little of the blade finish, but all in all, things were still running fine for a small pocket knife.
Pounding the knife through a 2×4 with twisting and prying throughout the test seemed to fit the continued testing of the Mini Adamas. No surprise here, it made it through the wood and didn’t seem to have any issues anywhere. I gave the blade a quick touch up on a sharpening stone, and went forward. I found a used tin can from a drink I had just finished, and pushed the tip of the blade through the top of the can. With a thicker tip on this blade than most, there was a little resistance to piercing the metal, but not enough to make the can buckle under the pressure. Once the lid was cut off, I went ahead and cut up more of the can. The blade finish wore away slightly in some spots, but seemed to really hold quite well for some rough testing. Later the same day, I was installing some solar lights for the back yard. I hit a spot in the dirt that was too hard for the plastic stake to get through. I used the Mini Adamas to make the hole deeper, hitting sand and small rocks to dig deeper. This test obviously dulled the blade edge, but there were no chips or major rolls in the edge, and the blade finish still held well.
Deployment, lockup, centering, and action were all still just like new after all the testing. There was plenty of other normal use throughout my time with the knife, but these are the more abusive, “hard use” tests that really allowed the knife to shine for a true field test. Sharpening the knife was a breeze, using the KME sharpening system. I had a great, hair whittling edge back on the knife in about 20 minutes, and other than the blade coating wear, the knife felt and looked new. This is a knife that can be trusted, carries well, can go to work or the office, and looks good while doing it.
All these knives available at BladeHQ.The Adamas family has grown, with the full size Adamas (in either an auto or manual version), the Mini Adamas, and the fixed blade variant. The Adamas knife family are also available with or without serrated blades, too. But, if you’re looking for an alternative to the Adamas for some ridiculous reason, here’s a few that may pique your interest.
Benchmade’s Mini Griptilian is an alternative to the Mini Adamas, with some exceptions. It’s fairly close in size, albeit a little smaller. The Mini Griptilian has a 2.9” blade, .10” thick, and weighs only 2.5 ounces. The Mini Adamas has a .14” thick blade at 3.25” in length, and weighs 4.3 ounces. The Mini Adamas is ~$212, while the Griptilian is ~$106, exactly half the price. You’ll be buying a Benchmade product, with the same lock mechanism, LifeSharp service (including free sharpening and restoration to many broken parts), and durability as the Adamas, when buying the Griptilian.
And, the Mini Griptilian has a big brother, the standard size Griptilian. The Griptilian family is also open to Benchmade’s Custom Shop, allowing the buyer to upgrade handle material (from the factory Grivory, to G10 or other materials), upgraded blade steel (from S30V, to M4, 20CV, and others), and pick and choose many different color options. With some upgrades, the Mini Griptilian can reach up into the price range with the Mini Adamas, leveling the playing field as an alternative when more aptly equipped.
Benchmade has been making their 940 Osborne model for decades. And it’s still a relevant knife in today’s folder market. It comes in 3 base model variants, an automatic version, and a Mini version. The 940-1 is the carbon fiber handle variant, with an S90V blade steel. It’s touting a 3.4” blade, at 0.12” thick, with a reverse tanto blade shape, and comes in at a price of ~$272. It’s extremely light for it’s size, at 2.4 ounces, due to the carbon fiber handle scales, and slim package. The 940 series has earned it’s rank, and has been an EDC champion for many users for decades. It’s a knife that is synonymous to Benchmade’s name, and will be remembered as a true folding knife classic forever. It may not be as overbuilt as the Mini Adamas, but it’s been proven as a knife that’ll take some abuse and keep running for years.
The Mini Adamas has landed with gusto. It’s tough, looks great, handles like a much bigger knife, and brings the EDC capability to a knife that’s been overlooked due to it’s original, larger size for many years. Benchmade and Shane Sibert have put together a knife that can be carried every day, inspiring confidence in use during any task, from the tough-as-nails Cruwear blade steel, Axis lock strength, thick blade stock, full steel liners, and premium build materials. This knife was made to be carried and used, and remains ready for just about any task, even outside of standard folding knife use. It feels great in the hand, operates smoothly, locks up solid, and hides away in the pocket with ease. It is a bit on the heavy side for a smaller folder, but the weight translates to a heavier use knife that will serve well for many years.
- Premium upgraded materials, stout and solid, great for EDC use, performs incredibly well.
- Lack of blade retention/detent, heavy for smaller size.