Knife Reviews Page

Benchmade Allen Elishewitz 140 - Nimravus
Knife Review

Tweet ThisShare On FacebookStumbleUponDigg itShare on Del.icio.us

Home > Knives > Fixed Blade Knives > Production Knives
Google
Benchmade Allen Elishewitz 140 - Nimravus

Nimravus was the only fixed blade Benchmade was offering for a while, well not anymore, they have plenty :). Though, I am not exactly excited about their new fixed blade, but I definitely love this one. Very interesting, hi-tech piece. As a medium size, all around, utility knife, IMHO one of the best production blades on today's market. Busse Combat knives & Chris Reeve fixed blade knives are rather semi-custom or semi-production knives. Besides, the intended use for those is quite different. Much more on the heavy duty use side, compared to the Nimravi family. Nimravus is much thinner than .25" thick Busse and larger CRK knives, well, matter of fact its thinner than small CRK knives such as Shadow III or Mountaineer I. Thus, as a cutter it is more efficient, but not as strong as the knives mentioned above.

Also, if you look at the different production fixed blades, there are very few knives in Nimravus class. Gerber Yari, SOG Recondo which is not exactly an utility knife, Camillus CUDA, basically that's all. Personally, I like Nimravus the best. This includes blade geometry, handle design and of course the blade material, which is M2 tool steel. I say hi-tech, because of the design and materials. Nimravus is sporting G10 scales on the handle and M2 Tool Steel. On the other hand it's a rugged, tough & simple tool. One piece, fixed blade. Not much to break in there. After having it for over 8 years, I can say it's a user, and one of the most used knife in my inventory, which is getting rather large :) I liked it enough to get 3 more :) One more plain blade Nimravus, and the Nimravus Cub, also no serrations, and later one more, with no BT-2, to be more exact, stripped and polished. And of course all of my 4 Nimravi are made of M2 high speed tool steel ;) I've had more than one chance to be convinced in its[M2 steel] high performance. Well, actually I was sure all of them were M2 steel. However, later on, I had to send one for rehardening to Phil Wilson and it turned out 154CM. Phil did manage to save the blade which was initially heat treated as M2 steel, and it cost him quite some time to get it back in shape. I'm really grateful of Phil's metallurgy skills :) More on that, further below and also in the article The Importance Of The Knife Blade Hardness.

General

- I like Nimravus design a lot. I think that Allen Elishewitz did an excellent job with Nimravus. It's a high performance cutter, period. However its point is strong enough to handle some serious prying and leveraging for the knife that thin. Partly because M2 steel is plenty tough partly because of the geometry, However I wouldn't recommend to overdo with prying. After all it's only 2.9mm(.115") thick. Yes, Nimravus has a fairly thin blade, well, again, depends what we are comparing it with. If you take such hard core knives as Busse Combat Knives, Chris Reeve Knives, yes then it's very thin :) Compared to kitchen knives it's thick. Anyways, the thin blade has its advantages, and is preferable for certain types of cutting tasks and materials. I was interested, what did the name Nimravus mean. Turned out, that's a cat, well it was a cat ;) A prehistoric cat, though with very impressive set of teeth ;) I've learned about that and many other things at James Mattis' web site, actually James was the one who gave the name to this knife. Unfortunately he's no longer with us :( He'll be always remembered in knife enthusiasts society. For those, who like even smaller blades Benchmade has one for you, #145 Nimravus Cub has a blade of 92.7mm(3.65") long.

Blade

 - Made out of M2 tool steel that I like so much, Nimravus is an impressive piece of cutlery. Of course there are better blade materials, but IMHO, out of all steels used in production knives this one is the best choice for non-stainless steel. Sure, the most important thing is the heat treatment, yet out of all the production knives I've handled so far M2 was the best in terms of edgeholding and toughness combined together. Benchmade specs their M2 blades at 60-62 HRC. Knowing production blades it's absolutely safe to assume that the real number will be 60. Sadly, as I found out later, it was 59HRC. The best to my knowledge this is lower than M2 optimum performance level, but still, very good. As I know custom makers who work with M2 harden their blades up to 64HRC. Phil Wilson being one of them, and even though M2 was not his usual working steel, he did reharden it for me, came out exactly 63HRC. The difference is very substantial. For a while I thought M2 would be rather on the brittle side, but time showed I was very wrong. M2 steel easily outperformed ATS-34 and 154CM, considered as a premium grade cutlery steels. Where the later 2 had chipped, M2 had been holding up just fine. I wrote in more details about the edge chipping problems with 154CM/ATS-34 in Osborne 940 review. And once again, it's all in heat treatment, because Strider MH made of the same ATS-34, but heat treated by Paul Boss had no problems, although more substantial edge too.

Officially, according to Benchmade Nimravus has an "Asymmetrical Tanto point" blade, but doesn't really look like one to me. However it's slim & sexy, I like it a lot, and it does what it was meant to do just great. Which is cutting. What else would you want from your knife :). Although Nimravus has more like a fighter style blade, it's a great user knife. I don't really have anything to complain regarding the blade. As I have already stated, its been optimized for cutting, or at least I think so and I use Nimravus just for that. Its thickness, flat grind, blade geometry, that all contributes to the improved cutting ability. For its size Nimravus is a one tough piece and a very good cutter. Plenty of belly to slice and slash. Serrations also might be a real help for some applications, though they are rather rough.

Steel

- At the time of its introduction Nimravus was offered in either ATS-34 stainless steel or in M2 high speed tool steel. ATS-34 was soon replaced by American steel, 154CM from crucible, which is basically the same steel. Here, see for yourself ATS-34 steel vs. 154CM steel composition comparison graph. Couple years later Benchmade discontinued M2 steel knives altogether. That was really bad for knife enthusiasts, but for Benchmade using M2 was incurring higher costs and inexperienced customers had problems with non stainless, wear resistant steel too. Instead, D2 tool steel was introduced. Which is also high carbon tool steel, although it's not high speed tool steel like M2, but a die steel. It's not really important that M2 can hold the edge when red hot. What matters is the composition and heat treatment. Besides, D2 steel can have very large variances in its composition and heat treating D2 properly is really complicated. So, given all that I wasn't very enthusiastic about that change. I did get one D2 Nimravus, but gave it away as a present soon. As for the statistics and references: M2 tool steel composition; D2 tool steel composition; M2 steel vs. D2 steel composition comparison.

Boron Carbide coating

 - BT-2 has been BM standard coating for long time. It's mandatory for all their non stainless and semi-stainless steels(such as D2). To be fair, Teflon based BT2 does good job in preventing corrosion. At least I've never seen complaints about that. However, there are some other requirements to the knife blade coatings, and BT2 doesn't perform all that good in some of them. Basically the main complaint to BT-2 has always been its very low scratch resistance. This picture was taken after a 14 months of use. As you can see the coating on this blade is far from pristine. Main use for my Nimravus is what I'd call light cutting - cardboard, boxes, plastic, small wiring, etc. Nevertheless the coating is scratched quite bad. If your primary concern is corrosion resistance, then those scratches, unless very deep will not affect your knife's resistance to rust, for the Teflon based BT2 penetrates the pores in the metal, thus preventing rusting, even when the BT2 is worn on the surface. If you need scratch resistance then you'll have to look for something else.

In 2001 Benchmade started using Boron Carbide(referred as BC) as an alternative coating. The best to my knowledge first knife to receive BC coating was 770 Osborne. Later that year boron carbide coating related thread appeared on Bladeforums. What was said about BC sounded interesting and I've decided to give it a try. BC coating is offered by BodyCote. I've contacted them in December of 2001 and worked out the details. As you can guess, the #1 blade from my collection to receive the new coating, was my trusty Nimravus. Turnaround time was couple weeks, and the price for a single blade is 25$ now. That included blasting off the old coating and shipping/handling. Here is the image of the Nimravus with its new BC coating. It looks dark gray, non glare, somewhat matte finish. BTW, after receiving Nimravus I was surprised that it looked different that the other Benchmade blades, even though all BC coating was done by the same BodyCote. The explanation turned out to be a simple one :) Depending on the blade finish mirror, satin, blasted, the coating color changes from glossy brownish to dark gray.

For details about BC you should check on Bladeforums, you can dig up a lot in archive threads. In short it's very hard, around 90HRC, and very thin, few microns. Obviously those are positive qualities for the blade coating. However, don't count on super-hard coating to increase the edge wear resistance. Even if some dishonest or misguided knife salesman tell you so. Coated edge will be "uncoated" during the very first sharpening, and frankly, coated edge isn't a good sign at first place. As of the real life use of BC coated Nimravus, I don't have much data yet, it's been only few days since I've received it back. However I've already had a chance to use Nimravus for its usual chores and BC held up very well. Definitely much better than the old BT-2. After cutting several hundred inches of cardboard, plastic boxes, fiberglass tape, and cable there were no visible scratches. That is after I've cleaned the knife with a cloth. So far other people report the same. Of course BC is not indestructible, yet it is very durable. Well, seems to be so far. I'll be posting pix and updates as I use it more.

Handle

 - The G10 scales are not thick & they're nicely rounded, so the handle doesn't feel bulky in your hand, plus it has good ergonomics, scales provide secure & comfortable grip, reverse grip too, is comfortable. The knife is very easy to control. The rifling (positive indexing notches) on top of the blade, at the blade base & a finger groove are a very good support when the greater force has to be applied either for stabbing, cutting or slashing applications. Although have to admit that after prolonged usage my thumb does feel sore, those notches would've been much nicer, were they just a bit smoother. Later on I am planning to smooth them down using the dremel. The same trick worked very well for my SOG X42 field knife, so Nimravus is the next in the line.

Edge holding (59HRC)

 - It is very good with M2 blades. Just like most of the other production knives, Benchmade blades have the same problem, they are sharpened at very high angle, in other words the edge is too thick. On the average my Nimravi had the edge sharpened at ~50° included. That's good for an axe, actually not every axe is that thick either, but not for the thin, utility knife. Depending on your sharpening skills and the equipment used it may take considerable amount of time to reprofile the edge on any M2 blade, but believe me it's well worth it :) After I got my Edge-Pro Apex sharpening system, which is an excellent sharpening device, I have resharpened all of my Benchmades. Currently they all have the edge around 30°-36° included. Which gives 15°-18° per side. I've experimented a while with various edge thickness and profiles. Some of them have double bevel edge, 15° primary, 21° secondary. Some have single bevel, 17°-18° per side. The results are just great. Cutting performance gain as usual is 400%-500% and more, compared to factory edge. Plus, when it gets dull it so much easier to touch up and resharpen.

Polished double bevel edge 21°/17° per side - I've been using Nimravus with this type of edge for several months. It served well for various cutting tasks. Mainly I was using it for light cutting, occasionally I'd cut something rougher such as a piece of an old carpet, or linoleum, or some cable. primary bevel at 21° held up very well for those things, and even when I hit an occasional staple or two. I've had very good results with cardboard and other soft materials.

Later I've decided to experiment with rougher and thinner edges. Current configuration is approx. 15° angle per side and it is not polished. I've used 180 grit stone with the Edge-Pro for final sharpening. The edge is really thin now and quite rough compared to mirror polished edges I've been using before finished with 3000 grit polishing tape. Don't have too much to report for now, except the fact that the edge this thin is quite susceptible to the damage :) Last weekend I've accidentally hit the steel staple in the notebook I was cutting in half and the edge got deformed badly. Steeling and following touchup with the 1000 grit ceramic rod didn't help. I'll have to resharpen it again. However, pure cutting performance gain is easily noticeable. I guess for a while I'll keep it at that level to get more substantial results. In short rougher edge has its advantages for cutting, as it is more grabby, and needless to mention, the thinner edge is more efficient cutter.

Benchmade Allen Elishewitz 140 - Nimravus, 154CM steel, rehardenedandreground by
Phil Wilson

Rehardened & Reground Nimravus

- As I mentioned above, one of the Nimravi turned out to be 154CM steel. It was sent to Phil Wilson for rehardening and regrinding, thinning down the blade in other words. The blade was rehardened to 62HRC. It was also considerably thinned down, and the new geometry can be seen on the photo attached here. The paragraph above was written several years ago, for the M2 blade at 59HRC. Later, in 2009 I had a chance to compare 62HRC 154CM blade to that experience. I've sharpened the rehardened Nimravus with standard set of Japanese synthetic waterstones and strops: 500 Grit Beston(Bester) Synthetic waterstone, 700 grit Bester Japanese waterstone, 1200 grit King waterstone, 3000 grit synthetic (blue) aoto waterstone, 5000 grit Naniwa Chosera waterstone,10000 grit Naniwa Chosera Super Finishing waterstone, 0.5µm diamond crystal loaded leather strop, 0.25µm diamond crystal strop, stropping on the plain leather. The steel was hard, but I didn't have to use the rougher stones, because the blade was so thin behind the bevel. Needless to say the blade was blazing sharp after all that. Hair was splitting in half just by touching. Next day, there was a major cardboard fest in my garage. I had two blades from Phil Wilson that weekend, the 154CM rehardened Nimravus and the experimental custom CPM 3V Utility Scalpel made from CPM 3V steel.

On its own, the reground Nimravus is a fantastic cutter. It just glided through the cardboard, pretty much effortlessly, and after about 350" I could still whittle hair with it. Never had a combat knfie that could do that, although, given the modifications performed to it, it hardly qualifies as production knife anymore, same for combat things. There were absolutely no chips from cardboard cutting, so I picked up some dried wood and whittled for about 5 mins. No chipping again. Then, I did what Phil does for edge toughness testing, that is stick the blade into the wood and pry pieces out. Approx 5-7mm deep incisions, prying, no chipping again. I did few shallow cuts for prying again, to test may be if it was just the very edge embedded in the wood it'd chip, nothing, no damage whatsoever. Finally, I cut the RG-6 coaxial cable (the one they use for cable tv). I made a loop and pulled knife and cable in opposite directions. Took quite some effort to get through the cable, but that did chip the blade. Note for you, what I just described is a knife abuse, and shouldn't be attempted unless you realize what you are doing. On most of the knives that will simply destroy the edge. All in all, I think that is exceptionally good result, for 154CM at 62HRC it's really, really good, and more than enough for 99% of utility cutting. Bear in mind, this was the same 15° edge I was having troubles with, as described in previous section. M2 will do even better given its properties (higher toughness and hardness). So far I haven't gotten to rehardened M2 testing.

Cutting ability, Original Nimravus vs. Buck Strider

- As an example of how important the blade grind is for cutting, I could tell you the following: The other day I was cutting cardboard (again:), this time I've had 2 blades for experimenting, trusty Nimravus and then new Strider Buck spearpoint folder. Even though the Strider is a folder it's significantly thicker than Nimravus, and its blade grind is different too - low saber ground. In general if we compare the blades in terms of raw strength, the Strider will easily outperform Nimravus. While both knives are made of high quality tool steel, BG-42 in Strider and M2 in Nimravus, just because of the amount of metal in its blade Strider is much stronger. I haven't conducted head to head edge holding ability comparison tests yet, because those 2 knives have very different edges for now, but later I will. Obviously, egeholding is a very important criteria, at least for the knives :) However, as usual when you cut, the point is how easily you defeat the material being cut, right? In this case, with the cardboard Nimravus won.
    In the beginning both knives had the edge that was able to push shave in both directions. Nimravus had double bevel edge, 17°/21° for primary and secondary bevels accordingly, and Strider folder at that time had roughly 25° per side edge, as I haven't had reprofiled it by that time. I've started cutting with the Nimravus, and after it lost shaving ability I've switched to Strider folder. Some time later, I've noticed that I needed apply more and more efforts to push cut through the cardboard. I've checked the blade, it was shaving sharp, and it remained such for quite long time, yet when I've switched to Nimravus, it'd cut through the cardboard with significantly less effort, even though it had already lost the shaving sharp edge. Apparently, several factors contributed to that fact:
  • a) The edge thickness, Nimravus had much thinner, and polished edge, when the Strider had a rough, thick edge;
  • b) I think one of the most important factors was the blade grind. Nimravus is flat grind, Strider - hollow, thus during the push-cutting Strider would create significant drag;
  • c) The blade thickness, as I've mentioned above, the two blades differ in thickness, .115" for Nimravus, .1875" for Strider;
  • d) And the last, but not the least the handles. Nimravus handle is much more comfortable then Strider's;
So, in the end, for heavy duty use, I would rather choose something else than Nimravus, but for finer cutting tasks, push cutting, especially things like cardboard, Nimravus is a great choice.

Cutting Ability, Reground vs. Original Nimravus

- I'm having hard time to estimate the increase. Physically it's several times easier to go through any medium with the thinned down Nimravus and if I say cutting gain was another 400%-500% on top of just sharpening at a lower angle, perhaps I'll be conservative :) I'll post more updates as soon as I use rehardened M2 blade. Perhaps I should split the reviews into 2 parts, original Nimravi and regrind/rehardened stuff. Later are way better for cutting.

Specifications:

  • Model: #140 Elishewitz - Nimravus;
  • Blade - 114.30mm(4.5")
  • Thickness - 2.92mm
  • OAL - 231.39mm(9.11")
  • Steel: M2 High Speed Tool Steel Hardened to 60-62 HRC;
  • Handle: : G10 scales;
  • Weight: : 175g (6.20 oz.)
  • Warranty: Limited Lifetime;
  • Acquired - 06/2000 Price - 110.00$

Last updated - 09/01/11

go to top