Butterfly Knives 101!
When talking butterfly knives, there’s one thing in particular that stands out: majority of society consider the butterfly knife a dangerous weapon, thereby deeming it unsuitable/illegal for personal use. I will not go into the details of what’s right/wrong, or how I feel about this, but I will say this:
Pretty much any knife can be used in a malicious way, if placed in the wrong hands.
However, let me make it clear that I do not disagree whatsoever with the knife laws/legislations in place. It’s important to always have the bigger picture in mind. And the bigger picture is that these laws are in place to serve and protect society at large. It’s up to each of us to behave responsibly and to foster an environment that’s safe for everyone. Very well, now that we got that outta the way, let’s talk butterfly knives!
By the end of this post you should know:
- What to consider before buying a butterfly knife: 5 very important things to think about.
- How to maintain your butterfly knife: 4 simple tips to care for and maintain your knives.
- What is the best butterfly knife. This will be split into 2 parts.
I’m assuming that most of you reading this post are beginners with minimal experience. If that’s not the case and you do have some experience, let me know what’s worked best for you previously. I’ve mentioned this time and again, your comments not only help me, but could also potentially help someone else reading my post. I encourage you to engage and get a discussion going!
FYI: I’ll be using balisong and butterfly interchangeably throughout this post. Balisong knife and a butterfly knife are the same thing!
5 Things You Need To Consider Before Buying
Below are 5 very important things you need to be aware about before buying. By no means is this list exhaustive! I remind you to do your due diligence and research when deciding what to get.
#1 Have You Thought About The Legal Implications?
I touched on this earlier…..butterfly knives are illegal/legal depending on where you live. If you live in Canada for example, these knives are considered illegal. If there’s anything you should consider before buying, it’s this! I feel like I shouldn’t have to say this, but I will:
If butterfly knives are illegal where you live, ummm maybe don’t buy them…..
Sorry to burst your bubble, but there’s plenty of other cool knives out there. If you choose to buy one anyhow, you not only violate the law, but you also risk having it confiscated when it reaches customs. So yea…..my 2 cents….it ain’t worth it! On the contrary, if butterfly knives are legal where you live….this is a non issue. How do you know if they are or they aren’t? Wikipedia never lets me down. Here is another good write-up. I highly encourage you to check them both out! For those of you wondering why they’re illegal, watch the video below (all credit to Funker Tactical – Fight Training Videos).
#2 If You’re Starting Out, You Might Wanna Consider A Trainer
If you’re reading this post, you’ve likely watched the YouTube videos of people flipping and doing all sorts of fancy tricks with their butterfly knives. Let’s not kid ourselves……it all looks pretty damn cool. Which brings me to my next point: if you’re a beginner looking to learn how to flip a butterfly knife, you probably will want to consider a trainer. What’s a trainer you ask? It’s the exact same as any other butterfly knife with one major difference: the blade is purposely blunted/dull, so you don’t injure yourself while practicing tricks. My opinion: I strongly urge you to only consider trainer blades. They’re safer, less of a hassle, and cheaper than “real” butterfly knives that have an actual edge.
#3 What Do You Plan On Using It For?
Majority of people interested in getting a butterfly blade will likely use them for one of three things:
- To Learn Tricks—There’s some awesome videos on YouTube that show you how to do tricks. Also, I’ll be writing a post in the not so distant future that talks about beginner tricks, so stay tuned!
- For Self Defense—Because of how quickly they can be deployed, butterfly knives have become a self defense favorite. If your primary use is self defense, then be certain that you follow the applicable knife laws (see #1 above).
- For No Reason—You have no reason to get one, but you do anyways simply because of how cool it looks. Absolutely nothing wrong with this….and I ain’t judging!
The main takeaway is this: if you’re buying for self defense purposes, you’ll want to ensure you have a quality blade. On the contrary, if you’re just buying one to practice tricks, you don’t need to care about the blade.
#4 Do You Have A Preference On Handle Type/Material?
As far as handle material is concerned, you have a plethora of choices. Stainless steel and titanium are 2 of the more popular choices at the moment. If you want to really stand out, pick a handle made from wood! (i’m not joking…there are actual butterfly handles made of wood) How should you decide what handle material to pick? This is where people have differing opinions. Some will say titanium is the best because it’s lightweight and strong, while others choose stainless steel because of how well it resists corrosion.
My opinion is all this doesn’t matter too much. It matters, but not as much as one very important thing: comfort/feel. How does the handle feel when you hold the knife in your hand? Does it grip well? Does it have a good weight and balance to it? If you’re doing tricks, this becomes especially important. I’ve always thought of comfort/feel as a huge consideration when it comes to picking any knife. In truth, it becomes even more important when talking butterfly knives. Imagine learning to perform tricks on something that feels awkward, large, heavy and uncomfortable? To put an end to this rant, I suggest the following:
Actually get a feel for the knife before buying!
If at all possible, hold it in your hands and feel it out. Your palms will guide you whether to pick titanium, stainless, G-10 or whatever else. Someone else’s opinion is just well….an opinion! If you have no choice but to buy online, then you kinda lose out on this. Some people are okay with it, and others aren’t. Anyways, that’s my 2 cents for what it’s worth!
#5 Brands & Pricing!
There is no set price range with balisong knives. Pick a cheap Chinese mass produced trainer and you’re looking at $10-30 tops. Pick a more established model such as the 62 from Benchmade, and all of a sudden you’re looking at $400! How’s that hole in your wallet? As a general rule of thumb, you can expect to pay less for a trainer blade than a real one. What’s the difference in $$$? Let’s just say it’s pretty significant.
Word of caution: Avoid buying cheap Chinese mass produced trainers. While the price might be attractive, the quality is sub par, and it doesn’t take much effort to break.
The Best Butterfly Knife!
What is the best butterfly knife? I hope to answer this questions in 2 parts: part one is about the best “real” butterfly knife, and part 2 is about the best trainer butterfly knife. Why this separation? Simply because I don’t think it would be fair to compare a trainer to a real blade. What’s the famous quote? Compare apples to apples!
Part 1: Best Butterfly Knife w/ A “Real” Edge—Benchmade 51BK G-10 Handles
I’ll share everything I love about this beauty, but for now….watch the video below and prepare to be blown away! (all credit to Blade HQ Overviews)
Everything I Like About It
It’s One Of The Lightest Balisongs!
At just a little over 3 ounces (I think 3.48 to be exact), this is one incredibly light knife. Benchmade have done a hell of a job with this model if you ask me. What contributes to its lightness? I’d say the G-10 handles play a massive part in reducing the overall weight. Oh and let’s not forget about the titanium liners as well!
For those of you wondering, the blade material on this is D2 steel. There’s one thing in particular I love about D2 steel: it’s a beast when it comes to edge retention. What that means is you don’t have to worry about frequent sharpening. The one downside with D2? It’s not the best at resisting corrosion. That being said, if you do end up buying an expensive knife such as this, you’d be quite foolish to not care for and maintain it. Corrosion can be avoided! (see below for maintenance tips)
It Looks Gorgeous!
To be specific, I love how awesome the black and blue combination looks. As far as aesthetics are concerned, 51BK stands out from most of the balisongs out there. Oh one more thing I forgot to mention: it comes with a little pocket clip too!
Everything I Dislike About It
It Is Quite Expensive!
This is one expensive knife. You can expect to spend about $290-340 depending on where you buy, and if it’s on special or not. Based on the reviews of people who do own this, it’s worth every single cent!
Where Can I Buy?
I’m not sure where you can buy this offline. Depending on where you live, you’ll probably need to do some research. As far as online is concerned, I would recommend buying from BladeHQ. Why? They ship fast and they have awesome customer service. Below is a link where you can check it out. NB: this is a non affiliate link, so I get nothing should you decide to buy.
Part 2: Best Butterfly Knife w/ A Blunt Edge (AKA Trainer)—BRS Barebones
Unlike the mass produced crap, this is a solid high quality trainer that’s perfect for both beginners and advanced flippers!
Everything I Like About It
The Fact That They Used 154CM Steel For The Blade!
For those who don’t know, 154CM is considered a high end steel. It’s what I like to call an all around winner, because it retains an edge well, resists corrosion, and isn’t too hard to sharpen. If you gave me a “real” knife with 154CM as the blade steel, I’d be thrilled! It’s commendable what BRS have done here, however. Despite this being a trainer (with no edge), they didn’t cheap out on the steel. Two thumbs up from me, BRS!
Skeletonized Handles & Blades
See those little notches and cutouts on the blade and handles? They help provide balance and reduce overall weight. Some people also call them lightening holes. Add too many lightening holes and you negatively impact the feel of the trainer. You’ve got less surface to grip on to. Add too few, and your device is too heavy/bulky. BRS have hit the sweet spot!
Crowned Blade Spine
Yet another small detail that makes a big difference. The spine of the fake blade is crowned, or you could say rounded. What’s the big deal you ask? Less brunt on your hands and knuckles as you flip the knife. Again, it’s the small details that make all the difference in the end!
Everything I Dislike About It
At 5.1 Ounces, It’s A Tad Bit Heavy
This would be the only thing I dislike about the BRS Barebones trainer. 5.1 ounces is the maximum weight I would consider. I wouldn’t go any higher than that! Again, it all comes down to feel and preference. What I consider heavy and bulky, might be the best butterfly knife for someone else!
4 Simple Maintenance Tips!
If you own a balisong, you probably already follow these 4 things (at least I hope you do!). If that’s the case, feel free to skip this section. For the rest of you who are new to butterfly knives, keep reading!
#1 Lubricate, Lubricate, Lubricate!
It’s so important, I had to say it 3 times! You could probably get away without lubricating most other knives, but if you fail to lubricate your balisongs, you risk causing damage and wear in the long run. Why is lubrication so vital? The answer is simple. It’s got everything to do with how a balisong functions. What i’m talking about are all the moving parts, and in particular the 2 counter rotating handles. Because of how frequently both handles are in motion, you get a lot of friction between moving parts. Friction, if left untreated will eventually result in wear and damage. So our goal is to lubricate. Lubricate, and you drastically reduce friction, and that means everything runs smooth and lasts longer. The good news is…..lubricating is about as easy as making a cup of coffee! The video below from CalviNNation demonstrates how it’s done. Give it a watch!
Just like lubrication, you’ll want to ensure you frequently clean your balisong knife. The biggest concern here is sweat and grime, which is especially an issue for those who use their knife for tricks. Sweat and grime will negatively affect grip, which is why it’s so important to have clean handles. A clean knife not only lasts longer, but also performs better. What’s the best way to clean a balisong? Same as every other knife. Use warm water and rinse with mild dish soap for a couple minutes. Remember to towel dry when done!
Important: Always clean first before you lubricate!
#3 Think About Where You Practice Your Tricks!
Flipping a butterfly knife requires some serious dexterity, not to mention hours of practice. Before you master the art, you will fail several times…..that’s a given. If you’re using a “real” balisong, be ready to spill some blood! Not only this, expect to also see some knocks on your knife, considering how frequently you’ll be dropping it on the floor. As such, I suggest you give some thought about where you practice your tricks. Outside where the ground is concrete, or inside above an old, cheap rug…..what do you think is better?
#4 Sharpening Et Al
This point applies to non trainer balisongs only. If you don’t already own one, you’ll want to pick a sharpening system. As far as electrics are concerned, my top pick is the Work Sharp KO (click here to read my review). As far as non electrics are concerned, invest in a set of sharpening stones. Water stones or diamond stones, either one should be fine. Lastly, don’t forget to hone and strop.
That Concludes It!
Now that you know what my best butterfly knife is, what’s yours? Let me know in the comments. I hope you got some value out of this post. If you enjoyed reading, please consider sharing on the socials. Lastly, if you have questions, please do not hesitate to ask. I’ll be more than happy to help!