BALISONG RE­NAIS­SANCE

THE BUT­TER­FLY KNIFE MAKES A RESUR­GENCE IN POP­U­LAR­ITY

Knives Illustrated - - Gear Up - STORY BY AR­MANDO BASULTO, PHO­TOS BY AR­MANDO BASULTO AND MAN­U­FAC­TUR­ERS

The re­nais­sance is here! Any­one walk­ing around this year’s BLADE show would have quickly no­ticed a rather large rep­re­sen­ta­tion of younger con­ven­tion­eers in at­ten­dance. Equally re­mark­able is that many of them were dex­ter­ously flipping knives—play­fully spin­ning their blades in com­pli­cated swirls and tosses like it was a psy­chopath’s fid­get spin­ner. The click-clack of these unique dou­ble-han­dled knives could be heard through­out the con­ven­tion floor.

It seems that the balisong knife has made a come­back af­ter sev­eral years of ob­scu­rity.

Resur­gence

“What we are see­ing is a re­nais­sance of the balisong,” says Ben Peter­son of Bladehq. “Knife man­u­fac­tur­ers are wak­ing up to this. Twenty years ago, if you wanted a balisong, you had Benchmade and maybe some cus­tom mak­ers. Now—with so­cial me­dia plat­forms like In­sta­gram—mak­ers, col­lec­tors and ‘flip­pers’ are con­nect­ing di­rectly and driv­ing the de­sign, mar­ket and pro­duc­tion of new bal­isongs.”

The main im­pe­tus of this balisong re­vival are kids and mil­len­ni­als who col­lect these blades for their unique­ness and en­joy the friendly com­pe­ti­tion of try­ing to out-styl­ize other flip­pers with new moves and chains of flips, aeri­als, hand switches and limb-de­fy­ing catches. (One par­tic­u­larly ter­ri­fy­ing move, fit­tingly called The Van Gogh, in­volves toss­ing the spin­ning balisong to­ward your face then reach­ing be­hind your head with your other arm to catch and close the blade right next to your ear). Mod­ern-day balisong shop­pers are a dis­cern­ing group. They col­lect their “balis” for rar­ity, beauty and most of all, “flip­pa­bil­ity.” They hunt for the per­fectly bal­anced com­bi­na­tion of weight, size and pleas­ing aes­thetic lines. This has also lead to a cot­tage in­dus­try of balisong parts, with cus­tom mak­ers craft­ing ev­ery­thing from han­dles to screws and pins to styl­ized blades. Even the mar­ket for balisong train­ers (the blade re­placed by a dulled, but prop­erly weighted fac­sim­ile) has ex­panded, with many mak­ers cre­at­ing high-end mod­els.

Benchmade 87

The new­est en­try into the Benchmade Balisong line-up is the long-awaited Benchmade 87. From stem to stern, the 87 is meant to please the new gen­er­a­tion of balisong fans, while push­ing the en­ve­lope on the use of newer ma­te­ri­als, shape and blade pro­file. The sleek and clean sweep of the CPM-S30V blade, which blends so seam­lessly with the milled ti­ta­nium han­dles, has an eye-catch­ing and unique Wharn­cliffe de­sign. This is a dis­tinc­tive pro­file choice for a balisong that also al­lows for an ap­pro­pri­ate blade mass to bal­ance with the beefy han­dles, help­ing to make slick open­ings a breeze.

The thick 5.5-inch han­dles are milled from bil­lets of qual­ity ti­ta­nium with per­fect pre­ci­sion, at­ten­tion to de­tail, and a sand­blasted coat­ing for grip. Though the two han­dles to­gether may first ap­pear too bulky for those with av­er­age-sized hands, one just has to pick up the 87 to feel how each one is ma­chined so that the shaped grooves sit com­fort­ably into the hand. The latch uses a mag­netic lock­ing sys­tem, which keeps the latch in place when flipping, or locked when closed. There is no greater buz­zkill than to be in the mid­dle of a balisong flipping trick and have the knife-latch lock the han­dles to­gether.

“IT SEEMS THAT THE BALISONG KNIFE HAS MADE A COME­BACK AF­TER SEV­ERAL YEARS OF OB­SCU­RITY.”

Bear OPS Bear Song II

As balisong man­u­fac­tur­ers forge ahead with new ma­te­ri­als and styl­iz­ing, the price point rises, of­ten­times dis­suad­ing those look­ing for an en­try level balisong. Bear & Son have al­ways been the go-to for af­ford­able bal­isongs and their new Bear OPS Bear Song II B-200 is the per­fect blade for the novice.

De­signed for Bear Ops by BRS (Bladerun­ners Sys­tems, an orig­i­nal balisong man­u­fac­turer started by ded­i­cated “flip­pers”), the Bear Song II is in­tended to please young flip­pers. The blade is in a clip point style made from 1095 high car­bon steel with a par­tially skele­tonized spine for styling and re­duced mass that bal­ances nicely with the just-right grippy G-10 han­dles. For the ten­der­foot balisong player, this edition comes with an in­ter­change­able train­ing blade that is eas­ily swapped out with a T10 Torx bit (which also helps ad­just the tight­ness on the han­dles for smoother flipping).

“MOD­ERN-DAY BALISONG SHOP­PERS ARE A DIS­CERN­ING GROUP. THEY COL­LECT THEIR ‘BALIS’ FOR RAR­ITY, BEAUTY AND MOST OF ALL, ‘FLIP­PA­BIL­ITY.’”

Emer­son Balisong

But not ev­ery­one sees the balisong only as a high-speed, sharp fid­get-spin­ner. A name syn­ony­mous with tac­ti­cal fold­ers is Ernest Emer­son. The Emer­son CQC-6 and CQC-7 fold­ers are closely as­so­ci­ated with the Spe­cial Oper­a­tions com­mu­nity and their adop­tion by many mil­i­tary and fed­eral agen­cies is a de-facto en­dorse­ment of Emer­son’s fo­cus on the tac­ti­cal ef­fec­tive­ness of all its fold­ers. The Emer­son Balisong is first and fore­most in­tended as a func­tion­ing tac­ti­cal folder and the first open-close flip will at­test to its su­pe­rior work­man­ship.

The G-10 han­dles are just grippy enough to not in­ter­fere with com­plex flipping tricks, and are eas­ily in­ter­change­able with dif­fer­ent scales for those who wish to pimp their blade. The ubiq­ui­tous Emer­son wave on the back of the blade looks, at first glance, as if it would in­ter­fere with some ad­vanced open­ing and clos­ing tech­niques, but in­stead serves the orig­i­nal pur­pose: a se­cure rest for the fin­ger when us­ing the blade.

Ernest Emer­son’s balisong is in­flu­enced by his years spent study­ing the mar­tial ap­pli­ca­tions of the but­ter­fly knife and he feels that, con­trary to pop­u­lar opin­ion of this blade as solely a flip­per-toy, the balisong’s unique de­sign makes it a su­pe­rior folder. Emer­son be­lieves that there is a tac­ti­cal weak­ness to most fold­ing knives that a balisong ad­dresses with its unique de­sign.

“Ev­ery knife lock can be de­feated with the right or wrong con­di­tion. Blade locks fail!” Emer­son em­pha­sizes. “The balisong is a fold­ing knife that once you have a grip on it, it can­not close ac­ci­den­tally; an al­most un­de­feat­able ‘lock­ing sys­tem.’ If my hands are around it, it’s not fold­ing!”

In keep­ing with the tac­ti­cal pur­pose of the Emer­son Balisong, the open­ing is smooth, quick and ef­fi­ciently in­dexes to a se­cure grip. The trade­mark Emer­son wave is fea­tured on the blade for its orig­i­nal in­tended pur­pose: as a thumb ramp for pre­ci­sion cut­ting/ stab­bing. This com­bat­ive balisong is bal­anced with a blade-heavy bias to al­low the han­dle to swivel ef­fort­lessly from a drop-draw or pocket de­ploy­ment.

“WHETHER YOU EM­BRACE THE BALISONG AS A HANDY TAC­TI­CAL/UTIL­ITY KNIFE OR AS A FUN FLIP­PER, IT IS A GOOD TIME FOR THESE BUT­TER­FLY KNIVES.”

Emer­son is now work­ing with in­put from a com­mu­nity of balisong flip­pers to cre­ate a sep­a­rate line of flip­per bal­isongs.

Re­newed Ben­e­fit

Blade col­lec­tors will be able to ben­e­fit from the cur­rent re­nais­sance of bal­isongs, as more mak­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers con­trib­ute to the mix. Just be sure to check your lo­cal laws and or­di­nances to make sure that the balisong is le­gal in your state or town. Whether you em­brace the balisong as a handy tac­ti­cal/util­ity knife or as a fun flip­per, it is a good time for these but­ter­fly knives. KI

Left: Benchmade 87 has solid weight and flips smoothly.

Left: The Benchmade 87 has a rugged yet smooth de­sign. Right: The Benchmade 87 comes with qual­ity co­coon-style ny­lon sheath. Left: The in­ge­nious Benchmade 87 mag­netic lock keeps the latch in place.

Right: The Bear Song II comes with in­ter­change­able trainer blade for safely learn­ing flips and tricks.

Above: The Benchmade 87 (top) and Bear Ops Bear Song II (be­low).

Right: The Emer­son Balisong pro­to­type is eas­ily rec­og­niz­able by the pro­file and dis­tinc­tive wave. Bot­tom Left: The Emer­son Balisong Pro­to­type prom­ises smooth open­ings and the tac­ti­cal ca­pa­bil­ity ex­pected from Emer­son Knives.

Top Left: The Emer­son trade­mark wave works as a thumb ramp.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.