Okay, you know that a butterfly knife is also called a Balisong, you know their history, you can name every part of the knife and you can even flip them open and closed. Your next step? Really fleshing out your collection. Who makes the best butterfly knives and where can you get them? This particular article won’t cover anything custom- this is production stuff only (another article will focus on some of the beautiful custom butterfly knives that are floating around).
Who makes butterfly / balisong knives?
Benchmade Butterfly Knives. If you’re into butterfly knives then you’re familiar with Benchmade Knives. Started in the 1980’s Benchmade has been consistently producing quality balisongs for decades. Most famous for their 40 series butterfly knives (the Benchmade 42 in particular), their current production models as of 2011 are the 51, 32 and the 53. Know for quality and commitment to innovation Benchmade consistently raises the bar when it comes to balisong knives.
Bradley Butterfly Knives. While Bradley doesn’t actually manufacture anything in house, their commitment to quality and value is immediately apparent. Bradley is best well know for their Mayhem & Kimura series. The Mayhem is made by Benchmade, so you know that the quality is going to be second to none. Bradley’s Kimura series is manufactured by Kershaw Knives and may have the most variety. Now in the 7th run, there are dozens of available Kimura styles. These models are well built and economical with many priced below $100.
Bear & Son Butterfly Knives. Easily the least expensive option with many knives available for less than $50, Bear provides large variety of good quality knives. Bear offers numerous sizes of knives, some excellent training options (dull blades) and even offers some custom butterfly knife varieties. Later this year Bear is poised to offer some new butterfly knife options under their Bear Ops brand.
Spyderco Butterfly Knives. In the past Spyderco was more active in the manufacturing of butterfly knives with the SpyderFly, Szabofly and Smallfly series readily available. There are still numerous Smallfly runs available (which include an excellent butterfly trainer). Spyderco has scheduled their last run of Smallfly butterfly knives to be produced later in 2011 and has announced it will no longer make butterfly knives. Spyderco also operated a company called Baliyo. The Baliyo product is a pen that functions similarly to a balisong knife.
Companies that had a good things going:
Cold Steel. While no longer available, the Arc Angel from Cold Steel was a very popular butterfly knife. Once available in three varieties (one included a double edges dagger model!) for around $150 these knives are now available on secondary markets for as much as $400 each. Cold Steel has shown no interest in reviving this particular model.
Microtech. During their heyday, Microtech produced both the Dragonfly & Tachyon. The titanium Tachyon is considered by many butterfly knife enthusiasts to be the zenith of butterfly knife production. The Dragon fly was less expensive aluminum version of the Tachyon, featuring the same design. It is our sincerest wish that one day Microtech revives some of these exceptional butterfly knives.
All the rest…
There are endless other options if you’re looking for cheaper butterfly knives. These knives typically have cast handles, low grade steel and questionable construction. If properly maintained, however, these knives can be an excellent introductions to the world of butterfly knives. They can be ideal for practicing complicated tricks (if you drop them, no big deal!).
Where do you buy butterfly knives?
There are hundreds of places to buy butterfly knives. Your local Army surplus store, your local knife shop and anywhere online. All of the mentioned butterfly knife companies in this article have corresponding links to online stores where they can be purchased.