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Benchmade Volli Axis-Assist

Written by Tactical Response Staff

The Volli is the newest AXIS®-Assist tactical folder from Benchmade. AXIS-Assist refers to the locking mechanism. There are many designs of tang-lock, and the tang-lock is definitely the way to go on a hard-use tactical folder. Any tang-lock design is superior to any lock-back or any liner-lock design. The AXIS-Assist is arguably the best tang-lock on the market.

AXIS-Assist also refers to the opening mechanism. Again, there are many designs of spring-assisted opening tactical folders. In an assisted knife, the operator starts the opening with a thumb stud or thumb hole, and then the internal spring takes over and opens the blade the rest of the way. The AXIS-Assist is one of the best such assisted opening designs.

What really caught our attention was the S30V blade alloy. This is an extremely expensive stainless steel, a very hard-edge hybrid alloy. S30V is ideal for the kind of abuse we patrol and tactical officers constantly do to our knives. That said, the Volli has an MSRP of $160, and online prices as low as $115. That is less than half of what S30V tactical folders usually go for.

 

Go-To Police Knife

The Benchmade Griptilian is the go-to tactical folder for law enforcement. Our new class of sheriff’s deputies was given the choice of over a dozen makes and models of department-approved issue knives to carry. The Griptilian was the clear knife of choice.

At just under $100, the Griptilian uses the AXIS internal tang lock, is a perfect fit for most hands, and is completely functional for patrol use. The legendary police knife instructor George T. Williams gives the students attending his police knife tactics course the Griptilian. It is that good.

Think of the Volli as an upgraded Griptilian, as the next step up for the more demanding, knife-enthusiast officer. We covered the Griptilian a few years ago and gave it top marks for police use. (Go to www.hendonpub.com, Resources, Article Archives.)

Both the Volli and Griptilian, use the AXIS locking mechanism. Both are available in plain edge and partially serrated edge. Where the Griptilian uses Noryl® fiberglass-filled plastic handles, the Volli uses the more rugged G10 handles. The Griptilian is strictly a manually opening folder, the Volli uses the AXIS-Assist to fully open the blade. Where the Griptilian uses the (excellent) 154CM blade steel, the Volli uses the (outstanding) S30V blade steel.

 

S30V

The most important factor in choosing a patrol or tactical knife is the blade steel. A confusing variety of blade alloys exists. Even among the police-oriented steels, there are many steels. The “good” blade steels are 440-C, AUS-8, N690Co and VG-10. Lots of tactical folders use these blade steels, and ones that are similar. They are corrosion-resistant stainless steel but are soft, i.e., they start off sharp, dull easily, and sharpen easily.   

The “better” blade steels are 154CM, ATS-34 and BG-42. Actually, these stainless-steel alloys are better than “better.” They are very hard, and have excellent edge holding. They are harder to sharpen but need sharpening less often. These alloys are so good, that price-wise they may be the best bang for the buck for a patrol knife.

The “best” blade steel for the rigors of police use is S30V. It is hard for edge holding, and has the toughness for blade abuse. While other alloys are just fine for patrol-type use, the S30V is the right alloy for tactical operator-type use. The downside has always been price—and Benchmade just fixed that with the Volli.

The Volli uses a 3 ¼-inch long-drop point blade. Since S30V is so strong, the Volli easily gets by with a 0.100-inch thick blade. Many other police-oriented knives use thinner blades with much weaker blade steels. The Volli is available as either plain edge or partially serrated, with partially serrated being the most common choice for patrol use. The tactical folder comes with a bright finish or black finish. This is only for esthetics—the Volli S30V blade steel has such incredible corrosion resistance, a finish is not needed.

 

AXIS-Assist

Lock-back knives can unlock under a firm grasp—the palm simply exerts unlocking pressure right on top of the lock located on the knife back. The liner-lock knives can unlock during hard twisting motions—the knife rotates the liner under the fingers, which is like the fingers pressing out on the inward locking liner. This is such a problem with liner-lock knives that some of them come with secondary locks to keep the locking liner in place. None of these aggressive motions will unlock a tang-lock tactical folder, which is also the strongest of all the lock designs.

The Benchmade AXIS-Assist is a long-proven mechanism to both open and firmly lock a tactical folder blade. The Volli has dual, ambidextrous thumb studs to start the one-hand opening, and then the spring takes fully over to open the blade. Just one time try to open a tactical folder with your support hand in the middle of a struggle to fend off a duty gun disarm attempt and you will see the benefit of an assisted-opening folder in police work.

The locking bar in the middle of the liner slides forward in the tang slot and the blade is locked, period. The tang-lock is as close as any folding knife gets to being a fixed blade. The locking bar is also ambidextrous, so the Volli can be unlocked by sliding the bar to the rear with either the thumb or index finger or more commonly by a pinch between both.

What makes the Volli a bit unique is the safety located on the back of the knife. If the officer is concerned about the folder inadvertently opening, the safety can be slid forward to hold the blade closed. Heads-up…you have to remember the safety has been activated and if you need to use the tactical folder, you may have a lot more things on your mind.  Some other tactical folders have such safeties that can unknowingly work themselves to the safety-engaged position. Not so with the Volli. The safety has to be pushed down while it is slid forward. The Volli safety cannot be accidentally engaged—which is a very good thing.

 

Textured G10

G10 is epoxy-impregnated fiberglass and it is tougher than all of the plastic handles, even the good ones. G10 is the ideal handle material for police use. It is impervious to blood, and all kinds of chemicals. It will not crack, chip or warp. G10 is also both rigid and strong, which adds to the overall locking strength of the Volli. The Volli uses stainless-steel liners, the skeleton frame the G10 handles are fastened to in four places with cap screws. The Volli uses indestructible handles around a strong framework to lock a tough blade in place.

The handles strike a fairly good balance between being textured enough for a good grip under stress and being smooth enough to carry in your uniform pocket without tearing your knuckles up every time you reach in. A slightly rougher, more aggressively machined G10 surface would be OK, but something short of the “fully textured” G10. A small index finger groove, subtle finger grooves, and slight palm swell all add to the ability to hang onto the Volli under actual police use.

The Volli uses a reversible, split-arrow pocket clip with a blade-up carry. And carry it we did…and still are. The Volli is very light, just over 4 ounces, and about disappears in the duty pants, and off-duty pants. The S30V blade started off sharper than razor sharp…the sharpest production blade we have ever reviewed. The S30V alloy is so hard, the Volli stayed sharp. That makes it perfect for a police knife because we never sharpen our knives. The Volli has our highest praise…it is an awesome tactical folder. Think Griptilian. Think Volli.


Published in Tactical Response, Jan/Feb 2014

Rating : Not Yet Rated


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Benchmade AXIS-AssistBenchmade GriptilianBenchmade VolliBenchmade Volli Axis-AssistKnivesTactical FoldersTactical KnivesTang-Lock
 

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