Side by side: Benchmade Infidel vs Microtech Ultratech

Dirty Dog

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I can be a bit of a blade nerd. During my HEMA days, I spent a lot of time smithing, and made more than a few daggers and swords.
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I did not make the gold hilted sword, third from the left.
More recently I've been focused on kitchen knives and small folders.
I also like gadgets, so automatic knives, and knives with unusual mechanisms fascinate me.

I recently obtained a Benchmade Infidel and a Microtech Ultratech. Today I'm going to compare them.

I'm going to start with basic information and terminology. If you're a knife person, you probably can skip over this bit.

In the US, Automatic knives, AKA switchblades, are defined by federal law:
any knives which open "1) by hand pressure applied to a button or other device in the handle of the knife, or any knife having a blade which opens automatically; (2) by operation of inertia, gravity, or both".
Automatic knives are illegal in many places. Please check local laws, etc. etc. etc.
Automatic knives fall into two basic categories. Side opening and OTF (Out The Front).
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This is my Benchmade Autostryker, an example of a side-opening switchblade.
Pressing the button will cause the blade to spring out and lock in the open position. The knife is closed manually.
Side opening knives are near universally single edged, for obvious reasons.

OTF knives fall into two basic subgroups. Single action and double action.
With single action, pressing the button causes the blade to extend and lock in the open position. Like a side opening knife, it is manually retracted or recharged.
With a double action knife, pressing the button forward causes the blade to spring out. Pressing the opposite way causes it to spring back into the handle.
Blades may be single edged or double edged.
OTF knives, by their nature, have some degree of "wobble" when the blade is extended. Less wobble is generally a sign of quality. Both these knives have negligible amounts of wobble.
The springs in both knives are at rest when the blade is in either the extended or retracted position, so it doesn't matter how you store them.
The springs in OTF knives are NOT strong enough to cause serious injury if they eject in your pocket. This is 100% intentional. I held both knives ~1" from a sheet of paper and opened them. Neither blade penetrated the paper by more than 1/2". Both blades reset with just a flick of the wrist.
Both of these knives are double edged, double action OTF, and both are considered flagship models.

The Ultratech blade is from M390, while the Infidel is S30V. From a practical standpoint, these two steels are virtually identical. Neither is stainless. M390 might have a tiny edge on corrosion resistance, S30V has a similarly tiny edge on sharpening and edge holding characteristics. Both have slightly better edge characteristics than the far more common D2.

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The Ultratech has a 3.35" dagger blade made from M390 steel with black aluminum handles and a weight of 3.5oz.
The button is placed along the edge of the blade (or spine, if it is a single edge design). There is a nipple on the butt that can be used to break car windows. There is a lanyard hole. There is a pocket clip.
The handles are closed with unusual bolts with triangular heads. This is, no doubt, to keep customers from disassembling the knife.
Microtech includes a lifetime warranty. Opening the knife voids the warranty. You can still send it back for servicing, but you will pay a $50 fee to renew the knife and warranty.
The blade is flat ground with a stonewash finish. The edge is a double bevel flat grind. It arrives with a wonderfully keen edge.


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The Infidel has a 3.91" dagger blade. Most are made from D2, which is an excellent tool steel for knife making. The one I got is a limited addition with a blade from S30V and OD green aluminum handles. The larger size equals more weight, and it comes in at 4.9oz.
The button is placed along the flat of the blade. There is no lanyard hole or glass breaker. There is a pocket clip. There is a small hole on the butt that can be used to blow or wash out the internals, and to apply a little gun oil.
The handles are closed with Torx bolts.
Benchmade is known for their service. Although opening the knife voids the warranty, many people have reported sending their knife to Benchmade in pieces and getting it back perfectly restored, at no charge. Benchmade will also resharpen the knife at no charge. They also offer a Lasermark service, burning whatever you want into the blade.
The blade is flat ground with a black finish. The edge is chisel ground. It arrives sharp enough to shave.

Both blades open and close quickly, firmly, and reliably. If opening is blocked (as in my test) the blades can be reset by either flicking the wrist to extend the blade, or carefully pulling on the flats of the blade. The Benchmade requires noticeably less pressure to fire, but it's certainly not a hair trigger.

Under Colorado law (your mileage may vary, consult your local listings, etc. etc.etc.) knives of all sorts are legal, except ballistic knives (which turn the blade into a projectile). Butterfly knives are a bit of a gray area. Anyone can open carry. It is legal to conceal a knife so long as it has no more than a 3.5" blade. The Ultratech falls into this category, at 3.35". The Infidel (or any other weapon) can be concealed if you have a CCW permit.

So which knife is for you?
I don't think you can go wrong with either of these knives. They're top quality items with outstanding service and support.
I personally find that the Benchmade button position feels more natural, but I suspect that is a matter of how an individual holds the knife.
The Infidel had been discontinued, and has been extremely difficult to find. However, I checked their web site today, and it looks like it's back in stock. At least for now.
The Benchmade is larger, has some customization options, and will be factory sharpened forever. The Microtech is about $200 less, and although you have to sharpen it yourself, it's still got an excellent warranty.
 
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