BLADE Magazine

Benchmade Infidel Review: Breaking The Mold For OTF Autos

Benchmade Infidel models

Photo: Marty Stanfield - Marty Stanfield Photography

Breaking from the boxy OTF autos, the Benchmade Infidel cuts a unique profile that’s made it a hit among high-end knife lovers.

Out-the-front (OTF) automatic knives have long been popular with knife enthusiasts because they are different enough to be unique but not so odd as to be useable. OTF’s main mechanism of action is propelling the blade fore and aft in relation to the handle, as opposed to out the side in a radial fashion as most known automatic folding knives operate. Presently a few knife companies offer OTF automatics but there is one drawback to most designs (if you see it as such)—most have boxy handles.

This is primarily out of necessity. The handle shape in generally needs parallel sides to facilitate the fore and aft motion of the blade as it extends and retracts into the handle. And with the sliding switch actuation located on the spine, there isn’t much that companies can do with handle shape changes.

Enter the Benchmade Infidel, a high-end USA-made OTF with a curvy handle.

Photo: Marty Stanfield – Marty Stanfield Photography

How did the company accomplish this? By relocating the actuation slide switch from the handle spine to the handle scale. Moving the switch opened up possibilities of experimenting with different handle shapes, even ones that enhance user grip and safety as well. The Infidel’s handle is curvy, yet symmetrical and sports a three-dimensional texturing pattern to boost hand traction.

Infidel Blade

The Infidel’s dagger-shaped blade measures 3.9 inches in length and sports a traditional grind for this style of knife and a symmetrical appearance. This truly is a dagger blade with edges sharpened fully on both sides. Benchmade opted for D2 steel for the blade, selected for its known edge retention and toughness.

Photo: Marty Stanfield – Marty Stanfield Photography

A fuller is machined down the centerline of the blade, enhancing the appearance and giving it a bit of an edgy attitude. The blade is finished with a black coating, serving as an additional layer of corrosion resistance, as well as a low profile, non-glare finish. For those who might not be aware, D2 is not stainless steel and requires a little extra care. This coating accomplishes this job.

Infidel Handle

The handle measures 4.8-inches long and it is machined from aircraft-grade aluminum for both strength and weight reduction. The overall handle shape is inviting with its multiple curves that define a forward guard of sorts to park your hand in place. Moving towards the middle, there is a slight contour that helps to fill your grip more, and the expanded section at the rear of the handle aids in preventing rearward sliding.

Like the blade, the handle shape is symmetrical and very pleasing in appearance when you factor the blade’s uniformity. The handle sports bi-directional machining patterns helping to hold your hand in place. If the machining pattern look familiar, it should. It is the same style used on Benchmade’s Presidio automatic folder.

Photo: Marty Stanfield – Marty Stanfield Photography

To fire the blade, there is a stepped slide switch on the presentation side of the handle. The machining pattern on the switch allows for positive thumb engagement to deploy and retract the blade. The reverse side of the handle is smooth and you find a deep carry, fold-over style pocket clip affixed to the handle to carry the Infidel tip down in the pocket. The clip easily attaches to your pants pocket and holds the knife securely.

Using The Infidel

While it is possible to EDC a dagger blade OTF (though, be sure to check your local laws first on knife carry), I will have to caution against the fact that its use as a working knife is rather limited given the blade design. The dagger grind makes the tip devastatingly sharp and pointy (a good thing), it also leaves the tip more susceptible to damage or even breakage if the knife is used heavily. This is especially true when prying or twisting while cutting actions may be involved.

With certain tasks where puncturing and cutting—such as opening bags of mulch or topsoil—the Infidel definitely excels. Push the blade through the bag and pull it to the side to slice the top open. It all happens effortlessly. Opening mail, opening packages, cutting cardboard, breaking down cardboard boxes, and cutting shrink wrap are some tasks that the Infidel can also handle with aplomb.

Photo: Marty Stanfield – Marty Stanfield Photography

The ease of extending and retracting the blade simply by moving the slide switch forward or backward makes using the knife easy. One thing to note regarding the handle ergonomics in general, the Infidel is glove-friendly. With some knife handles, the handle feels lost in your gloved hand. You cannot manipulate it easily, it feels too thin. With the Infidel, the handle design translates well to gloves.

The D2 steel is respectable in performance, offering enhanced edge retention and toughness against wear and impact. It’s a well-known steel, especially in the outdoor knife market, where large camp knives and choppers may be made from D2 for these very reasons. While you are certainly not going to do any chopping or batoning with an OTF, it’s nice to know the blade is that tough and can take a fair amount of abuse before it needs to be sharpened.

I have always had good luck with D2 and found it to be a very good-performing steel for its price. Since you’re not going to be engaged in heavy work with the Infidel, D2 is perfect and when it does come time for a resharpening, D2 sharpens up quicker than all your high-performance steels. Another plus!

Infidel Variations

For those of you who wish for a smaller Infidel, there is the Mini Infidel which has a 3.1-inch long dagger blade. All the material specs are the same as the full-size Infidel. The overall length is 7.1 inches, and the Mini Infidel is a very pocket-friendly design. It’s sized right for daily carry and for those with smaller hands. Size wise it’s not as imposing as the full-size Infidel but its smaller size allows it to get in and out of more daily carry tasks like opening packages, mail, and some general cutting tasks as you work around the home, yard, and garage.

Photo: Marty Stanfield – Marty Stanfield Photography

Additionally, there is an upgraded model with a few bells and whistles. Benchmade dressed up the Infidel by offering three shades of nature-inspired colors: Crater Blue, Woodland Green, and Flat Dark Earth. These limited edition knives come out in 1,000 batches, and are also equipped with upgraded blade steel to satin-finished, premium CPM S30V. This is a long-time standard steel in the knife industry, known for its toughness and extreme wear resistance.

Final Cut

The Infidel is one of the more interesting OTF automatic knives on the market. It combines style, function and quality materials to equate to a long-lasting tool that will stand the test of time.

The Benchmade 3300BK Infidel has an MSRP of $550.00. The 3350BK Mini Infidel has an MSRP of $500. The Flat Dark Earth, Woodland Green, and Crater Blue full-size Infidel have an MSRP of $650.00 each. The same colors for the Mini Infidel are $600.00 each.

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