Benchmade’s Mel Pardue Fixed-Blade High-Quality Knives


by Greg Quinn

photography by Greg Quinn

February 15th, 2009




Benchmade has been designing and making high quality knives for many years, and Gunblast has been using Benchmade products for several years now without failure.  While not the only knives we use and enjoy by any means, Benchmade products utilized by Gunblast are high-quality cutting tools that we use and abuse and that serves the purpose for which they were intended. Most are made in America.  They have a lifetime sharpening service.  And, Benchmade has a great group of cutlery designers that do a super job of creating great designs that are expertly made into high-quality cutlery products by Benchmade’s manufacturing staff.  Benchmade seems to do a much better job than many knife manufacturers of designing and manufacturing products that meet market demands, and delivering these products to the market at attractive price points.  The two knives that are the topic of this article are great examples.

One of Benchmade’s premier knife designers is Mel Pardue.  Mel has been designing good-looking and effective quality cutlery for a long time.  The association with Benchmade has been good for both the designer and the manufacturer.  And, as we can attest, the end user as well.

The subject of this test are two Pardue-designed Benchmades, the Pardue Rant Bowie and the Pardue MDP.

Both knives, under initial evaluation, exude Benchmade quality.  They have good composite handles that give good grip even in poor conditions.  They are made of high-quality steel.  They hold an edge well.  And, they hold up to abuse.  Serious abuse.

We received these knives more than a year ago.  One of the knives is still as it was the day it arrived at Gunblast’s offices.  The Rant Bowie is new and unused (so far).  The other, the MDP, has been used.  Well, the word “used” doesn’t seem to do it justice.  “Abused” is a much more reflective adjective.  Therefore, the knife under review is the MDP.

The Pardue MDP stands for “medium drop point”.  The acronym describes the blade design.  It is a relatively heavy-use knife with a medium drop point blade design that proves effective in many situations.

I chose to put the MDP through extensive tests over the past 12+ months because I considered the blade design to be one of many purposes.  The blade thickness is good enough to keep it intact under stress, and yet is ground fine enough at the blade edge to cut and hold an edge well. 

That said, after more than a year of abuse, and hasn’t yet been sharpened, it is time to sharpen the blade.  I can do that, but will instead send it off to Benchmade for free sharpening.  Yes, Benchmade has a free sharpening service.  If you own a Benchmade, send it to the factory and they will sharpen it for free.  For as long as you own the knife.  Now, that is service!

The MDP has served many purposes over the past year.  It’s blade design works well as a hunting and skinning knife, and it has served that purpose.  It has been a good knife for whittling and basic cutting chores, from cutting rope to cutting tie wire (arrghh).  Beyond that, I asked things of the MDP that one shouldn’t ask of a knife, yet it is still intact.

To state that my wife loves flowers is a humorous understatement.  Our 4-acre place in Tennessee looks like a botanical garden.  Last spring, I used the MDP to cut holes in landscape fabric for new planting chores.  I even used it to cut out old landscape fabric to replace with new, fabric that had 2 years of decomposed mulch, leaves, and other debris.  When placing new fabric, I used the handle of the MDP to drive in fabric staples.  I pried up staples from old fabric.  I dug up rocks out of the soil with the MDP.  And, I actually gave the knife to my wife which was used for 2 months in digging in dirt planting bulbs.  She thinks the blade design actually worked better than her small hand spade to plant new small bulbs.  The ground here is rocky and the earth hard, and the MDP cuts through the dirt and handles rocks much better than her hand shovel.  The MDP was used as a small hatchet.  It was used as a pry bar.  And, it was ran over by a lawn mower and four wheeler (glad it was in the sheath for the benefit of the tires), and was actually lost in the yard for more than 2 months before it was found again, buried in mud. 

Most people would not ask of a knife what we asked of this Benchmade.  While we didn’t put it through well-engineered tests at a factory, we did put it through real-life tests, much like you as a reader would do.  And then some.  It performed well.  I still like the knife.  I like the blade design.  I intend to send it off, have it sharpened, and continue the same abuse over this next year.  In fact, my wife wants it back for bulb planting chores.

I will most likely use the Bowie this next hunting season.  I expect it to perform as well as the MDP.  Yet, the MDP will remain active in our household.

Greg Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.


Two great Mel Pardue designed Benchmades.  One new, one well-used but still working great.



A still new and a well-used Benchmade.  One just coming out of the box, and another with more than a year of very, very hard use.  The used knife is still in great shape, but could use sharpening (which Benchmade will do for free).



New and well-used Benchmades; can you tell which one is which?