Everyday Carry

Benchmade OTF Knives for 2023 - We Review Our Favorites!

Adam Molina
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Benchmade OTF Knives for 2023 - We Review Our Favorites!

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In This Article

While automatic out-the-front (OTF) pocketknives tend to be more restricted, they find a critical use for many people’s everyday carry and offer an entire product category of collectability. Benchmade is one of the most trusted knife makers in the EDC community, but unfortunately, they seldom release automatic knives. They offer a few models, but the options are fairly limited, adding to their rarity and appeal. With the introduction of the Shootout, Benchmade brings their eye for design and prowess in crafting with premium materials to make a truly top-of-the-line OTF blade ready to snap into action.


5370FE

5370FE Shootout

Purchase
Key Features
CF-Elite handle
Reversible deep carry pocket clip
Carbide glass breaker
Specifications
Blade Length
3.51"
Blade Steel
CRU-WEAR
Weight
2.8 oz
EDC Rating


Price
$$$$
What we like: Benchmade spent a lot of time making sure that the blade on the Shootout was truly centered in the handle, which is a bit of a rarity in most OTF pocket knives. That’s been something that’s irked many in the community, and that attention to detail is well-appreciated. They’ve also given the Shootout a 3.51" CPM CRU-WEAR premium stainless steel blade with a superior Rockwell hardness of between 63-65. CRU-WEAR is an innovative tool steel that features more vanadium, tungsten, and molybdenum than the standard D2 tool steel that you might be more familiar with, letting it get to impressive hardness while maintaining great wear resistance in the field, without even factoring in the additional protection from its Flat Earth PVD coating. Additionally, the choice to make the blade a single-edged tanto is a bit more practical (and permissible) than the dual-edged daggers that tend to populate the OTF market.

The out-the-front mechanism allows for the lightning-quick deployment, and it’s a great choice for emergency or first responder use in tight situations. This is especially important where only one hand might be free to move or the space is limited for a blade needing to swing out to deploy. Benchmade also thought to include a carbide glass breaker at the pommel in keeping with the emergency use case.

What we don’t like: Automatic knives tend to be hard to carry in certain jurisdictions, making this exclusive EDC knife too exclusive for some, and that’s before getting into the high-end price this knife commands at retail. And while the blade steel is decidedly premium, the polymer handle will likely rub some potential users expecting a more premium option, regardless of the advantages of the custom-molded texture. It's a delicate balance of the novelty and rarity of an OTF from Benchmade with permissible locales and prohibitive price points, so the choice to pick one up may not be so clear for many.

Benchmade

3400BK Autocrat

Purchase
Key Features
G-10 handle
Reversible tip-down pocket clip
Spine-fire thumb slide opener
Specifications
Blade Length
3.71"
Blade Steel
S30V
Weight
3.93 oz
EDC Rating


Price
$$$$
What we like: The Benchmade Autocrat is a straightforward out-the-front knife with a lot going for it. It features a 3.71” blade with a stealthy black DLC finish that deploys quickly and automatically at the flick of a switch. The blade is made from tried-and-true CPM S30V steel, considered a step up in quality compared to some of the more popular entry-level knives. This steel is better than more common steel, like D2, in almost every meaningful way. It has better edge retention, corrosion-resistance and can withstand more general wear and tear, which is key in an EDC blade. The blade measures 58-61 on the Rockwell hardness scale, which isn’t the most impressive on this list, but a lot tougher than your average knife.

The Autocrat also has a reversible tip-down pocket clip so you can carry it safely regardless of which pocket you prefer to carry it in. It also comes with blue sapphire titanium-coated hardware, which gives it a stylish look. The G-10 composite handle has slight curves that improve ergonomics while maintaining a sleek minimalistic design.

What we don’t like: While it’s hard to argue against the benefits of CPM S30V steel, price is one thing it does not have going for. At $450, the Benchmade Autocrat is not an impulse buy. The 3.71” blade is also longer than is legally allowed in most places. An automatic out-the-front knife is already not allowed in many places, and the longer blade length isn’t doing it any favors.

Benchmade

4600DLC Phaeton

Purchase
Key Features
Aluminum handle
Spine-fire thumb slide opener
Stainless steel deep carry pocket clip
Specifications
Blade Length
3.45"
Blade Steel
S30V
Weight
3.01 oz
EDC Rating


Price
$$$$
What we like: The Benchmade Phaeton 4500DLC is another OTF automatic knife worth having on your shortlist. This out-the-front blade features a plain edge DLC-coated blade that measures 3.45” in length. It’s also made using CPM S30V steel which gives you all the benefits of premium steel. It’s more corrosion-resistant than other knives that use a more common steel type, plus it holds an edge for longer. With care, the Phaeton could be a lifelong knife that will always have your back.

The all-black aesthetic continues down the handle with a black anodized handle made entirely from 6061-T6 aluminum. This gives the knife more presence in hand and the pocket. Speaking of which, it has a reversible stainless steel pocket clip and only weighs about 3 ounces making it easy to carry around with you.

What we don’t like: The biggest problem with the Benchmade Phaeton is the steep asking price. While CPM S30V is a great steel for a lifelong blade, you’re paying for it. When looking for the best, you should expect to pay a little more, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is double the price of some of Benchmade’s other most popular knives. Another thing to note is that there are no colorful accents here. That’s great if you’re trying to keep a low profile, but it can be a hassle when you’re trying to dig it out from the bottom of a bag.

Benchmade

3300BK-2001 Infidel

Purchase
Key Features
Aluminum handle
Double-action thumb slide
Deep carry pocket clip
Specifications
Blade Length
3.91"
Blade Steel
S30V
Weight
4.9 oz
EDC Rating


Price
$$$$
What we like: For anyone looking for a longer OTF automatic knife, look no further than the Benchmade Infidel. This blade style is a 3.91” plain-edge dagger, making it the largest knife on this list. The handle alone measures 5” long, so when fully deployed, the Infidel is just short of 9” long. The all-black blade is again made of premium CPM S30V steel, but the aluminum handle comes in a striking blue color this time. As with the other knives on this list, CPM S30V is robust steel used by knifemakers that want to give their products an edge over the competition. While expensive, it’s also more durable and can withstand everyday wear and tear while maintaining a sharp edge. The double-thumb automatic switch makes one-handed deployment a breeze.

The deep pocket clip also allows for ambidextrous carry, so regardless of which pocket you carry in, you’ll have quick access to it. The handle comes in a gorgeous blue color and is made of tough aluminum designed to fit perfectly in hand. The smooth curves on the side are perfect mirrors of each other, so whether you’re right-handed or left-handed, you’ll get the same comfortable grip.

What we don’t like: While it’s a great knife, the Infidel is also a big knife. The handle alone measures 5” long, making it a pocket hog. The blade is also the longest on this list, making it even harder to carry in areas where OTF automatic knives are already questionable. It’s also the heaviest knife on this list at 4.9 ounces. Then, of course, there is the price. At around $450, this knife isn’t one you should get without careful consideration. Not everyone can use OTF blades properly, but if you can, this is one knife you don’t want to miss out on.


FAQ

Is Benchmade better than Microtech?

Benchmade and Microtech both make fantastic OTF knives, and you can’t really go wrong with either brand. It comes down to your budget and what materials you prefer.

Is the Benchmade Infidel worth it?

The Benchmade Infidel is worth it if you know that you want to add an OTF automatic knife to your EDC. Considering that most people probably reside in areas where the legality of OTF knives is questionable, we’d recommend double-checking local laws before adding one to your carry.

What is the weight of a Benchmade Infidel?

The Benchmade Infidel weighs 4.9 ounces thanks to CPM S30V steel for the blade and aluminum for the handle.

What does OTF stand for?

OTF stands for “out-the-front” due to the blade of the knife deploying out of the front of the knife. This is in opposition to flippers, where the blade is always visible and flicks into position. When not in use, the blade in an OTF automatic knife retreats back into the handle.


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