BENCHMADE ELISHEWITZ SENTINEL
By Dexter Ewing, Knife Collector and Enthusiast
In continuation of Benchmade's dedication to high quality folding fighters, they unleashed their long awaited installment to their highly successful designer series knives -- the Allen Elishewitz Sentinel. Note that this particular Benchmade does not have that tactical look that the others share, but it is definitely one snazzy looking knife with its blue anodized titanium frame with black aluminum overlays. Personally, I am the proud owner of 11 other Benchmades. Every one of them are designer models. So naturally, I have been looking forward to this knife ever since the time it was announced that Elishewitz would be collaborating with Benchmade. This is a top notch, upscale factory folder that has a touch of class.
For those who may not know, the Sentinel is a reproduction of Elishewitz's Phantom folder. Having examined the Phantom at a previous knife show, I can safely say that the Sentinel is a spitting image of the more expensive custom version. The titanium-frame-with-overlays style of construction is unmistakably Elishewitz. While it appears that there's nothing much to the overall construction of the handle, it is a very strong but light knife that is nothing but a pure pleasure to carry and use.
As with most of the high dollar Benchmade folders, this one employs ATS-34 steel. In several of my other reviews, I have commented on how well this steel performs. Doing so here would merely be redundant! Its spear point hollow grind has a pleasing "un-tactical" appearance and the false edge adds to the look while shaving off some weight. The blade is deployed via ambidextrous thumb studs. These studs are unique in that they also double as a positive blade stop, too. These dual function studs were pioneered by custom automatic knife maker Butch Vallotton. The main idea behind them is that the studs are moved further back towards the pivot, so they will not catch on the material being cut. Moving the studs farther back also reduces the arc your thumb makes while opening and closing the blade. The result is rapid deployment and closure with little effort.
The handle is what lends the Sentinel its flash factor. It's definitely ergonomically shaped, with a nice swell at the rear of the handle to accommodate the palm. Notches were added at the right places where your thumb, index, and middle fingers make contact. In return, the users gets a very secure non-slip grip. The notches placed on the locking bar also make sure thumb does not slip off while disengaging the lock.
The black aluminum overlays provide a nice contrast to the vibrant titanium frame. There's a little space between the two aluminum halves on each side of the handles, allowing a thin strip of the titanium frame to show through. On the side with the pocket clip, this little break poses a bit of a problem, which will be discussed later. Finally, the overlays seem to have a barely noticeable texture to the touch. This maybe a result of the anodizing process. Very nice indeed.
Overall, the Sentinel is very pleasing to the eye. Perhaps in an elegant way. This is definitely the knife that one can carry while wearing either a suit or casual clothes. Somehow, a CQC7 looks out of place with a tux or your Sunday best! With the reputation that Benchmade has among the industry and with its fans, this knife will no doubt bring a big grin to the face of the most discriminating knife aficionado. With as good a job as Benchmade did at reproducing an Elishewitz design, it would be interesting to see if his sales of the Phantom will decrease a bit.
The only problem that I found with the Sentinel is with the pocket clip and its relation to that diagonal break between the overlays. Specifically, the curve of the clip that prevents the knife from becoming unintentionally un-clipped from your pocket or waistband. I discovered that when you try to remove the knife when it is clipped to the pocket, the lip of the pocket will be caught by that gap in the aluminum overlays. Thus, the best way I found to tote the Sentinel is via waistband carry. Since it's very light, it won't pull your pants down!
In summary, the Benchmade Sentinel is an excellent knife in all respects. With this new addition to their popular designer series, Benchmade will no doubt please its hard core fans as well as earn new ones. This folder does not have a menacing look to it like the CQC7, but it does attract attention for its colorful look and unique handle shape. Being a die hard Benchmade fan myself, I am extremely pleased and grateful for all the hard work invested in producing another top notch factory piece. In my various communications with Mark McWillis, Benchmade's Vice President of Marketing and New Product Development, he informed me that they are currently working on another designer series knife, hopefully to be released sometime before the end of 1997. It will definitely be another must-have piece for those who appreciate fine production cutlery.
DEXTER "Blade Man" EWING
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