Here in the United States, knife legislation can get tricky depending on the state. Some laws even vary from county to county, making it tough to stay on top of what’s legal. Beyond the United States, knives are frequently subjected to exceedingly strict limitations, ranging from locking mechanisms to blade length. For those that travel internationally it’s often more convenient to leave the knife at home, but leaving behind one of your most trusted companions is easier said than done. With these difficulties in mind, we partnered up with French knifemaker, Patrick Famin to create a knife that can travel with ease. The new 380 Aller features a screwdriver and pry tip, micro bit slot, a custom pocket and money clip, as well as a bottle-opener for that well-deserved beverage at the end of a long travel day. Spending the majority of his time bouncing between France and Florida, Famin is well versed in the world of international travel and knifemaking, which contributed to the motivation behind this design. We had a chance to ask Patrick a few questions regarding his background, inspiration, and intent for Benchmade’s first friction folder, the 380 Aller.
Let’s start with an introduction. Who are you? What do you do when you aren’t making knives?
My name is Patrick Famin, and I am 57 years old. I was born in France, and studied computer technology before continuing my studies in Arizona, where I met my wife. We returned to France in 1990 to open a computer business which we ran until 2010. I started to make knives as a hobby in 2007, and in 2010 started a new career as a full-time knife maker. After two years, I opened my knife shop in Moulins, France in 2012. My in-laws live in Gainesville, Florida so we opened a second store in an effort to break into the US market. In my spare time I enjoy trap shooting and motorcycle riding.
When did you become interested in knives, and what was your motivation to start making them yourself?
I became interested in knives at a young age. I was 7 years old when I got my first knife for Christmas. It was a Laguiole, and that knife started my passion as I quickly began collecting knives. After 39 years of collecting, I decided to design my own knife and found my mentor, Christian Avakian. He was a French knifemaker who trained me, eventually helping me design my first knife in 2007. Shortly thereafter I began to build a name for myself with my first dual-action automatic design and balisong in 2008.
What inspires your designs? Function? Aesthetics?
I’m always drawing parts for motorcycles and sports cars, so I wanted to create designs that are comfortable in hand. I call them “comfort designs”, similar to the feel of handle bars, brake-clutch levers, steering wheels, and gear shifts. I follow this inspiration as I draw my knives, in order to create a knife that fits perfectly in your hands. I enjoy playing with different opening mechanisms, like my dual action deployed by a handle scale release, clip releases, fake screw releases, or flippers with front and back tangs. The first Benchmade balisong actually inspired me to draw a balisong of my own, called the LAMBO.
Walk us through your process of bringing a knife design to life?
When I start to draw a new knife, I like to focus on two elements that I regard as the most important features of any design. I aim to create a knife that will accommodate an incredibly sharp edge while maintaining a safe function, before working in my “comfort designs”. Once I’ve figured these two features out, I can start to incorporate ergonomics, so that the knife handles perfectly in both the opened and closed positions.
What do you enjoy most about collaborating on a design?
What I like about collaborating on a knife design is the opportunity to share and combine different methodologies while creating the best prototype possible. In addition to creating an incredible product, I enjoy building new relationships throughout the process.
What was your motivation behind the 380 Aller?
When I started to design the 380 Aller, I intended to make a knife that could travel around the world. Blade length is a major limitation in many countries, so I designed a non-locking blade under 1.7”. I came up with a design that allowed the user to lock the blade in an open position as they hold the knife, by creating a pinch point between the thumb and index fingers. Once I had a design in mind, I asked another French knifemaker, Eric Demongivert if he would be interested in collaborating. He helped me design a variety of tools we could add to the knife, in an effort to make the design more useful during travel. We started to build the prototype together and brought the design to Atlanta for Blade Show in 2017.
Patrick will be joining us at SHOT Show this coming week in Las Vegas. Keep an eye on our various social media platforms for updates with Troy, Hans, and Patrick!
EDIT: This knife is NOT TSA Approved for carry-on luggage. The 380 Aller must be stored in checked luggage when traveling.