I’m a medium sized blade kind of guy. I don’t love small blades, and I don’t love big blades. I like knives that sit right in the 2.7-3.1” cutting edge length. That’s enough blade that the balance and handle length are nice, but still small enough to slip into your pocket.
I’m also not a heavy knife guy. I’m not a someone who loves to clip a knife to the top of their pocket (though I used to be). I tend to like the knife to sit in pocket, hopefully out of the way. Because of all of that, a knife that is thin and light really catches my attention (Benchmade Mini Bugout being a prime example).
There is, however, no denying that sometimes big and beefy is what you want in a knife. No denying that Benchmade’s Crooked River family doesn’t look amazing. So a while back I picked up the Benchmade Mini Crooked River, and it’s pretty neat, even if it doesn’t conform with any of my pocket knife ideals.
Sometimes overbuilt and amazing looking tools deserve you tossing what you normally look for out the window, and embracing the absurd nature of them. I love this knife, but it is also massive to carry.
You might be wondering how a ‘mini’ version of a knife could possible be too large for my 2.7-3.1” blade length standard, but in Benchmade terms ‘mini’ simply means “smaller than the other one”. So this is a CPM-S30V (Benchmade standard, plenty fine) blade that clocks in at 3.4”.
In other words it’s a big knife for a mini.
Adding to that is a lovely clip-point blade shape — one that really gets the job done. I love this blade. It offers a nice pointy tip with a narrow profile and a beefy working section to get down to business.
For boxes, this knife can be tricky as it can easily plunge too deep and destroy whatever backpack you ordered (one close call for me). But for working with the blade, for more serious tasks — this blade rocks. For cutting fruit, it rocks. For breaking down the recycling, garbage, or cutting errant sprouts off a tree trunk, this knife is great.
Nimble, but serious.
Carry In Pocket
This knife sucks to carry in your pocket without the clip. It’s too big, too heavy, and too fat to sit in the bottom of your pocket. So for that you need to carry it with the clip.
Unfortunately it has Benchmade’s worst clip possible. It’s not a deep carry clip, nor is it a nice feeling clip. I constantly felt as though I was going to destroy my pants using the clip on the pocket with it. Even the deep carry mini pocket clip from Benchmade would have been a huge step up. But no, that’s not what you get, so you should plan on throwing away the clip instantly.
To remedy, I installed a Lynch NW deep carry Titanium pocket clip and immediately my feelings about this knife changed (for $20, this is a crazy good upgrade if you are someone who carries with a clip). Whereas in the past I felt this particular clip added too much bulk to my knives, now it feels balanced with the Mini Crooked River and is a true joy to use on my pocket. My pants feel like they are not being ripped to shreds, while the retention remains very solid. It’s also nicely rounded on the edges, and I suspect will wear your pants much slower than your standard shitty Benchmade pocket clip.
To recap: get a better clip for the knife, and plan on carrying it with a pocket clip.
Once you carry with a pocket clip the size and weight of the knife is far less of a big deal. So much so that I carry it around clipped in my shorts pocket without even realizing I still have it on me.
This knife has been fantastic to use. It’s pure overkill for the majority of everything in my life. At no point have I needed this blade, and in many cases I used this knife instead of a more dedicated tool simply because I wanted to. For me that’s a sign of a good knife to use: you want to use it over something which might do the job better.
On a road trip we took while testing this knife out, I carried it as my only knife during the trip. And when the AirBNB offered nothing but dull and crappy kitchen knives, it became the fruit slicing champ of the kitchen. Was it ideal? No, but it worked far better than my normal EDC knives would have worked.
It is big, but the large and long handle balances the blade size so well that you forget you are using an oversized knife. And not to mention just how great the handle looks with the stabilized wood and orange accents. It’s amazing.
In a lot of ways, this knife feels like a successor to the classic Buck 110 I have. That insanely beefy knife is sweet, and mine was inherited from my grandfather and has a long story. The Mini Crooked River is a an excellent modern take on that knife.
There are better knives. The full sized Bugout being one of them. But nothing that looks like this, and if you need a good point to your blade, this clip point is a better shape than the drop point of the Bugout.
Benchmade also lets you customize it to upgrade the steel (M4 and S90V both being options, yesss), and yes select a better pocket clip (grab the mini deep carry).
I won’t be parting ways with this knife, it’s really that good. But I likely won’t use it a ton either, because while good, it is still large and heavy. It’s not a backpacking knife, that’s the Bugout, there’s nothing better there. It’s a camp knife. It’s a hunting knife. It’s a working knife.
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