BLADE Magazine

Benchmade Drops HK Knife Line to Refocus on Own Brand


Photo courtesy of Benchmade Benchmade and H&K officially kicked off their collaboration 12 years ago with the 2004 release of the HK Pika.

Over a month ago Benchmade decision makers opted to immediately ramp down production of all Heckler & Koch (HK) knife lines, according to Benchmade Public Relations and Communications Manager Derrick Lau. Benchmade will concentrate efforts on its own brand of sports cutlery and edged tools.

The Oregon City designer and manufacturer notified knife dealers that although not official until Jan. 2, 2017, they would no longer make approximately 17 to 18 different models. Some supply remains, but is quickly dwindling. Dealers are encouraged to contact Benchmade if there are any HK knives they’d like to get before they are all gone.

The tactical design and affordability of HK knives attracted law enforcement officers. The knives include the Entourage, Patrol Axis, Ally, Turmoil, Dispatch, Plan D, Nitrous Blitz, MP5 and Epidemic families.

Benchmade designed and manufactured knives for other companies in the past, such as Harley-Davidson® and Bone Collector. Three years ago the company ended its collaboration with Lone Wolf to rededicate its efforts to Benchmade-branded knives. This is a continuation of that plan, Lau explained, adding it was a case of the company needing to “get our bearings back.”

The licensing agreement specified that Benchmade would design and manufacture the knives, and retain the use of any resulting innovations, while HK would lend its name and branding to the product. Such an arrangement can be a marketing boost for the manufacturer and provide a platform for creative innovation. Since automatics cannot be imported into the U.S., Lau explained, the German-based Heckler & Koch benefitted from the ability to get HK autos into the U.S. market through Benchmade.

The Benchmade-HK arrangement was another in a series of firearms manufacturers working with knife manufacturers to create a mutually beneficial business endeavor. Other examples include Remington and Bear & Son Cutlery, Ruger and CRKT, Smith & Wesson and Schrade and others.

“Our dealers are our most important asset,” Lau said. Dealer feedback indicated that the Benchmade brand is Benchmade’s most attractive selling point. After 30 years in the business, it was simply determined that Benchmade should refocus on its own brand.

Heckler & Koch does not have anything lined up in terms of continuing its knife brand, according to the company’s public relations spokesperson. “We’re a firearms company,” she reiterated, but “we like to offer our fans the accessories we know they want.” She added, “Benchmade did a great job of showing us there was a market for the knives.”

Benchmade would consult with HK officials on some designs they were considering, and HK would choose some for its web shop. Benchmade had the infrastructure in place for wider distribution.

In the future, Benchmade may be open to other collaborations, but for now the company is committed to growing its own line of knives. Some of the Benchmade knives in the works will have features inspired by the HK lines.

Benchmade did not issue an official press release because they wanted their dealers to know first, allow them time to ask questions, and provide any support they might need.

Steve Shackleford, BLADE® editor, contributed to this article

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