Red-Carpet Rollout for ‘Gold Class’ Knife: Benchmade 601-211 Tengu Flipper
Who’s ready to get fancy? Benchmade brings its Gold Class back into session with custom knifemaker Jared Oeser to produce a premium version of his popular Tengu folder.
Originally announced in January, it seems only fitting that this upscaled version of the Tengu is “inspired by the Scandinavian winter.”
Launched to the public this week, this entry into Benchmade’s paradoxically named Unlimited Limited stable is “handcrafted by Benchmade’s best, [setting] a new standard for American craftsmanship.”
Here’s why the Gold Class Tengu Flipper commands a luxury price — and the awe of many knife knuts.
Benchmade Tengu Flipper
Let’s hit the stats before diving into the materials, starting with the handle. The Gold Class crew chose black-and-white marbled carbon fiber, broken up only with a vibrant blue G-10 shield inlay. Closed, this attractive package measures just 3.85 inches long and 0.44 inches thick.
But the real stunner deploys with a press of the flipper tab. You’re looking at 2.77 inches of Bifrost Pattern Damasteel, forged to an HRC between 58 and 60. This means that the 601-211 will hold its edge through dozens of fancy dinner parties.
And with an overall length of 6.61 inches, its modest size should make it perfectly at home in exactly that type of ritzy setting.
Clipless, Hidden Elements
Like the base model of the Tengu, this Gold Class version forgoes the pocket clip. This brings it in line with the popular “Higo no Kami” friction folders produced in the homeland of its namesake.
In place of a clip, users will be treated to an attractive leather sheath, tacking 0.32 ounces of pocket weight onto the knife’s 2.62 ounces.
Per Benchmade, the material choices are “nods to the cold, dark, windswept mountains of the region.” Certainly paints a mood of mystery, doesn’t it? But wait, it gets better!
“As is tradition with the Gold Class models, there are a few design elements hidden in plain sight. On this one, there is an ode to the Northern Lights integrated, but it can only be seen in the right conditions.”
Spoiler warning: This is a reference to the Tengu’s use of UV-reactant Raffir Blue Uranium. Color me intrigued!
Benchmade Gold Class Tengu Flipper: High-Quality Design
All this quality and creativity does come at a cost, however. Benchmade set the price at $550 for the 601-211. That’s more than twice the price of the standard Tengu, and far above what your average knife user would be willing to pay. So, can someone explain to me why I’m so attracted to this?
Looking at the specs, I think it’s a combination of things. The design is strong, the materials are gorgeous, and though the construction is high in quality, it feels somehow more accessible because it’s from a company you’re used to seeing at your local big-box store.
But how many of these little devils will be available to the public? According to the press release, “this iteration of Jared Oeser’s design will be built only for the 2021 calendar year, in an unlimited quantity.”
This is a nice change of pace from the sprint runs we see from other companies, which tend to send secondary market prices through the roof.