BENCHMADE STRYKER M2 Steel Model
By Peter Ervin
THE NEW IMPROVED STRYKER AND WITH M2 STEEL TOO!
Benchmade's new version of the Stryker has been out for awhile now and I've recently received one from the Knifecenter with the M2 high speed tool steel blade. This model is a vast improvement on the original Stryker with the ATS34 blade. Benchmade have made some minor but noticeable changes to both the handle construction and blade design.
The G10 scales have been finished with more texture for better grip and there is an additional stainless steel stop pin used to halt the blade when closing. It is located about an inch from the main stop pin used in the lock-up process. The blade now has a semi circular cut out at its base which sits nicely on this stop pin when closed. The original blade had an edge going straight back into the handle and after many trips to the sharpening stones this edge fails to line up with the base of the blade at the handle juncture, which might look a bit odd to some knife enthusiasts. This has been solved by adding the small cut out for fitting around the closing stop pin. You would have to sharpen about 1/4 inch off the blade to have the same effect as before.
The Stryker always had a very rigid handle and the added stop pin only adds to this great feature. Nothing is more frustrating to me than a flexible handle which can rub against the blade with only minimal pressure.
Another improvement has been the relocation of the thumb disc into the center of the finger well, which greatly helps in the opening of the blade quickly. Gone is the raised section of one of the liners used to stop the blade during closing, which makes for a more comfortable grip.
Benchmade has been producing knives using ATS34 stainless steel with the option of their BT2 coating for some time now. ATS34 won't rust easily and the coating has been only really needed as a non-glare finish. To make the most of this very rust-proof coating, Benchmade has broken new ground in tactical folders by using M2 high speed tool steel. This steel is not stainless and will rust if not looked after but the BT2 coating practically pushes this steel into the stainless category. M2 only has about 4% chromium but has high quantities of carbon, molybdenum, vanadium and tungsten. This makes for a steel that is extremely tough and wear resistant which when used as a knife steel provides excellent edge holding capabilities. Just how much better than other stainless steels is hard to determine and can be very subjective, but with a few simple tests the results are very promising.
I've read a lot about the M2 AFCK being stuck through car doors and being used to open up steel cans, but my only use (so far) for a knife is for cutting purposes. Why anyone would want to potentially ruin a high-end factory knife by piercing steel is beyond me, my bank balance wouldn't be able to cope!
My initial test for edge holding involves cutting up 1/2 inch thick manilla rope until the edge dulls. I sharpened both my Strykers, one with ATS34 and the M2 version with a 20 degree edge. My ATS34 Stryker started to dull at around 40 cuts and after 100 cuts with the M2 version I gave up- M2 the clear winner. Only CPM440V would be in this class of edge holding but would not compare to M2 in the toughness category.
The M2 blade, by all reports, seems to be a lot less brittle than other stainless steels, the tungsten content of M2 is about 6% which would tend to back these reports up. As yet I haven't tried to test this out by whacking the edge on a hard object, but time will tell I guess.
Sharpening the M2 blade was easier than I anticipated. Using the Lansky kit produced a very, very sharp edge in no time. M2 doesn't seem to get a burr as easily as ATS34, but when it does get one it is alot easier to remove. It can sometimes be very frustrating to remove the wire-edge on ATS34 but with M2 this is not a problem. I've read that maybe M2 has a finer grain structure than ATS34 and with the vanadium and tungsten, the edge doesn't seem to roll over as easily as ATS34. I thought I could get a very sharp edge on my ATS34 Stryker but until I sharpened the M2 blade I didn't realize how sharp a knife could get, the M2 blade is noticeably sharper. As far as M2 excels at cutting other materials, I'm yet to find out, but I have noticed that it is harder ( but not impossible) to get a "toothy" edge on M2 which is great for cutting fibrous materials. It might take a little more work than ATS34 to sharpen but the results are more than worth it.
In conclusion, I can't see myself carrying an ATS34 Stryker when I've got the M2 version handy. With the new improvements Benchmade have made to the Stryker's design and with the addition of M2 steel this knife is definitely a winner.