BUTTERFLY KNIFE BUYERS GUIDE
Welcome to the butterfly knife buying guide! This buyers guide will walk through the necessities of butterfly knives (balisongs) such as what to look for, popular examples and brands, laws, and even a Q&A session with one of our very own from Blade HQ. Who is it, you ask? Hereís a hint: you may find him hanging out in our Knife Banter videos on YouTube.
While balisongs can be used like other knives for normal knife things, balisongs are mostly used for flipping. This buyers guide will focus on that aspect.
Best Butterfly Knives Under $75
A different spin on the butterfly trainer. Not only can you practice flipping with them, but you can write with them as well. Wicked. Buy it here
Yes, this is real life. Not only can you open bottles with this amazing invention, but you can practice your flipping while doing it. Talk about killing two birds with one stone. Just when you thought it couldnít get any better, then we go and tell you they come in many different colors. Buy it here
Bear OPS Bear-Song II
The Bear OPS Bear-Song II is a very popular butterfly trainer. This knife was made popular because it features a dull blade and great build quality. This is a go-to knife for anybody looking to get into flipping or just hone their skills. Protip: If you already have a balisong, duct taping the cutting edge makes for an impromptu trainer. Buy it here
Bear & Son 114TR
Bear & Son makes a 114 series of trainers as well as live blades. These are great budget trainers that can help anybody get into flipping. They are pin construction butterfly knives with a durable epoxy powder coat that can take a beating. Buy it here
Bear & Son 114
The Bear & Son 114 series are great budget knives for anybody looking to get into flipping or just want to own a great practice balisong. Due to their pin construction, these knives are known for their sturdy build and great price. Buy it here
Best Butterfly Knives $75-$200
Bear OPS Bear-Song II B-200 Set
Bear OPS is a division of Bear & Son and is known for their quality, affordable butterfly knives. The Bear-Song 2 is a smooth flipper that comes in different variations, including this set that comes with a sweet trainer blade. Now thatís efficiency. The screw construction makes this a breeze to switch blades. Buy it here
Bear OPS Bear-Song IV
Another Bear OPS Bear-Song hits the list. The Bear-Song IV sports skeletonized handles that make for a lighter weight. There are different blade variations and colors of handles available. You canít go wrong with this flipper to hone your skills. Buy it here
Best Butterfly Knives $200-$300
DogBite balisongs are known to be some of the best bang for your buck butterfly knives available. They feature premium materials like Elmax steel and titanium, but are still offered at a very affordable price. They come in a variety of flavors and are extremely smooth flippers. Buy it here
The Benchmade 51 can be argued to be the best butterfly knife for EDC. Many flippers love it for the smooth pivot and amazing build quality. The Benchmade 51 has many variations and upgrades, which is part of why itís so popular. Want all the 51 in a smaller package? No problem: Benchmade 32. Also, Flytanium offers many upgrades for the Benchmade 51 and other popular knives. Buy it here
The BladeRunners Systems Barebones is a highly-praised balisong knife by those that love flipping. The flipping action is silky smooth and the fit and finish is simply outstanding. Screw construction allows easy adjustments. Truth is, you canít go wrong with any BRS product. Buy it here
Microtech Tachyon III
The Microtech Tachyon 3 comes in a ton of snazzy flavors and boasts screw construction. Each one flips smoothly with authority and makes for an amazing butterfly knife. Many flippers love the rounded handles and lightweight design that the Tachyon III brings. Buy it here
Best Butterfly Knives $300-$400
In comes another quality balisong from BRS. The replicant rocks either carbon fiber (pictured) or G-10 handles. Combine those with super smooth flipping and youíve got an incredible butterfly knife. Buy it here
Benchmade is back at it again with the Benchmade 62. Choose from a variety of blade shapes. The round, skeletonized handles offer a look and feel that is hard to match and the flipping is incredibly smooth. Screw construction for easy adjusting. Buy it here
The HOM Basilisk is one attractive balisong. They are produced by HOM Design with incredible attention to detail. Seriously, flip one of these youíll be hooked. Both the carbon fiber and G-10 models come in different colors and feature the unique curved blade. Buy it here
BRS Alpha Beast
With a name like that, how can you resist? The BRS Alpha Beast was made by flippers, for flippers, and quickly rose to the premium category of butterfly knives. The titanium handles ensure that it is both strong and lightweight. Buy it here
Best Butterfly Knives $400+
HOM Basilisk-R Titanium
Like the original HOM Basilisk, but in titanium! Titanium is a strong, lightweight material that is often found in premium balisongs. This Basilisk-R comes in different colors and sports the flawless fit and finish HOM is known for. Buy it here
BRS Alpha Beast Infinity
BladeRunnerS Systems (BRS) is a company founded by flippers. Their mission is to produce the highest quality balisongs around. This Alpha Beast sports round titanium handles and premium CPM-S35VN steel. Itís one of those butterfly knives you would never want to set down. Buy it here
The Benchmade 87 is truly a work of art. It sports an unique CPM-S30V wharncliffe blade and titanium handles. It also has thrust bearing washers that ensure smooth flip after smooth flip. If youíre in the market, this is one of the best butterfly knives you can buy. Buy it here
What to Look for in a Butterfly Knife
If youíre looking to get into flipping butterfly knives, it helps if the rotation is silky smooth. The smoother the rotation, the better the experience. You wouldnít want a handle to get stuck in the middle of flipping now, would you? Of course not. Both the materials and construction of the knife contribute to how smooth it is.
Balance and Weight
This is where we start to get into personal preference. Butterfly flippers like their knives balanced in a way that is easy to flip. The goal is to find a knife that pivots around the blade well with little resistance. The better balanced the knife is, the easier the handles can rotate both ways around the blade.
Everyone loves a sturdy knife, but this is especially true with butterfly knives. Chances are, you are going to drop it somewhere along the way on your road to becoming a flipping master. Youíll want a knife that can take the abuse and keep on ticking.
There are two types of balisong construction:
Find out what you prefer and roll with it. Just because screw construction is widely known to be better doesnít mean pins wonít work as well.
Another thing to keep an eye out for is if the balisong has washers or ball bearings. Ball bearing pivots are used in high end butterfly knives and provide extremely smooth openings. Teflon, phosphor bronze, and metal washers are also used to create a smooth pivot without using ball bearings.
When talking about balisong construction, there are three main types of spacers:
Butterfly knives are a different kind of animal because theyíre not normally used like any olí knife. Butterfly knives have a wide range of blade steels. If youíre going to use a balisong to cut a lot, youíll want a higher-end steel like CPM-S35VN. If not, a budget steel like 440 should do the trick.
Cheaper models like the Bear & Son 114 feature aluminum handles. The BRS Alpha Beast boasts titanium. In most balisong cases, you get what you pay for in quality and materials.
Want to talk more about personal preference? In come handle shapes. They can be round, square, or somewhere in-between. There is not one best design for everybody. Trying to decide which is best is like picking between a bear and a shark in a fight. Itís a dangerous argument that we'll never know the answer to.
Butterfly knives are mainly used for flipping. Sure, many have live, sharp blades that can be used as a great cutting tool, but sharp blades just add to the excitement of flipping.
Whether you're new to flipping or a seasoned master, check out the Bali Royale Showdown video below. This was an event we put on with BRS at Blade Show 2017 with some of the best flippers in the world. It sure didn't disappoint!
Best Selling Butterfly Knife Brands
Benchmade is not only known for their quality folding knives, but their balisong knives as well. Benchmade is going on three decades of producing amazing butterfly knives.
Bear & Son Cutlery has a rich tradition in knife making and offers many affordable butterfly options. Balisong knives by Bear and Son are a popular option for beginners in the flipping game.
Bear OPS is a division of Bear and Son that also makes butterfly knives. These knives are higher quality than the Bear and Son starters at a little bit higher price point.
BladeRunnerS Systems is a premier butterfly knife company that was founded by flippers. BRS is widely known in the flipping community to make outstanding balisongs.
Flytanium makes aftermarket parts for knives such as scales, screws, and even blades. They have many common products for the Benchmade 51.
HOM Design HOM is a brand that has set out to make every knife they produce both functional and appealing. They design their butterfly knives to have soul and flip extremely well.
Butterfly Knife Laws
Letís move this buyers guide on to the touchy topic of knife laws.
So, youíve read this balisong buying guide and youíre a pro with all things balisong. Before getting one of your own, you need to know the laws. Unfortunately, these knives are often grouped in with switchblades, which means they are illegal to own or carry in places around the United States and many parts around the world. Different states have different laws around butterfly knives. We know, itís a cruel, cruel world.
It is important to remember to look up the butterfly/balisong knife laws for your state and area.
Q&A with Austin
A: Officially, I am the Digital Marketing Specialist here at Blade HQ. I am the guy who gets to interact with all of our fans and followers on our social media accounts! I post all of the awesome content we make to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. and help creatively within our Marketing Department.Q: How did you get into flipping?
A: I should preface this by saying I am a novice flipper at best. 4 or 5 years ago, long before I worked at Blade HQ, I came across the Spyderco Baliyo on bladehq.com. I had to have one. When the Baliyo came it also included a little tutorial on how to do some beginner tricks. I quickly learned all of those and kind of forgot about it after that. Fast forward to a year ago when I started working at Blade HQ. Within the first month, I purchased my first balisong (it was a Bear and Sons) and the rest is history.Q: What do you personally look for in a butterfly knife?
A: The balisong niche is an interesting one. It is one of the best examples of Ďget what you pay for.í I am typically looking for a brand name when I am seeking out a new bali. BRS seems to find its way to the top of that list often for most balisong hobbyists. As far as size and materials are concerned, they arenít too much of a factor for me. I am looking for something that is well weighted, and can take a bit of a beating. My Flytanium customized Benchmade 51 fills that current role for me.Q: Do you ever use a balisong for EDC?
A: Absolutely! I have a Benchmade 32, which is essentially a miniature version of the 51, that I love to EDC. They are a little less practical than a standard folding knife but as long as you arenít doing any heavy cutting tasks I donít see a problem in carrying one.Q: What is your favorite butterfly knife that you own?
My favorite has to be my Benchmade 51 with Flytanium Custom V6 scales. It has a great weight to it, and I think it makes the knife look even better than it already does. I just have the standard Ti scales but Flytanium makes scales in all kinds of other materials too, such as copper or carbon fiber.Q: You see a lot of butterfly knives working at Blade HQ. If you could own any one, which would it be?
A: It has to be a BRS Premium Replicant. From the way it flips to the way it looks, everything about that knife is perfect to me. Donít be too surprised if you see me rocking a Rep in the next few months. ;)
This buying guide is meant to help readers understand more about butterfly knives and help determine what they want to look for.
To reemphasize, start looking at these things when buying a butterfly knife:
There is a wealth of information out there on butterfly knives, along with many personal preferences and reviews. The trick is to find out what your needs are in a butterfly knife and find the perfect fit for you.