For years, Gold Class designs have given our team a unique opportunity to flex a little creative muscle. Eye-catching materials, heightened attention to smaller details, and subtle hidden features are intended to provide a touch of class to popular production designs that will cater to enthusiasts and collectors alike. Despite the focus on dressed-up aesthetics, we haven’t forgotten the simple fact that a knife is a tool at the end of the day, and functionality is by no means compromised amidst the Gold Class offerings.
In the same vein as Benchmade’s standard production models, the ideation phase begins with concepts from the Product Line Manager. Once a knife has been chosen, the Industrial Designer will use the pre-existing sketches and CAD design as a platform to add or remove desired materials. Design Engineers are pulled into the process, to provide their respective expertise in regards to proper fit and function. When the team has landed on a final design, prototypes start to work their way through a small corner of the factory in Oregon City.
Our Gold Cell team is comprised of factory-veterans that exhibit a high level of knowledge and experience in knife-making, with an unrivaled passion and attention to detail. As a result, we are able to design knives for the Gold Class that utilize ultra-tight tolerances, as well as new materials and finishes, with an expectation for the highest level of quality in the finished product. On occasion, Gold Class designs are restricted to a specific production quantity (Generally 150-250 units), while Unlimited Limited Gold Class knives like the new Bugout 535-191 are manufactured throughout the course of a single calendar year.
For 2019, our team decided to give the Gold Class treatment to the 535 Bugout; an incredibly popular ultra-light EDC design that has been in production since July of 2017. “It’s a great platform that speaks to a variety of consumers. It’s well suited for every day carry, maintains user-friendly ergonomics, and has a slim profile in the pocket. The Bugout was the perfect candidate for a Gold Class design.” explains Design Engineer, Jason France. The intent behind the design was to maintain the modus operandi of the ultra-light Bugout by selecting new materials that wouldn’t add unnecessary size or weight, while paying homage to the original blue color scheme.
The 535-191 Bugout provides a unique blend of these modern mediums that share visual and functional similarities with the original 535 design. Known for its strength as a lightweight material, Product Line Manager, Vance Collver chose ghost carbon fiber to craft handle scales for the Gold Class Bugout. As a tip of the hat to the original colorway, these handles are outfitted with blue C-Tek inlays, and the titanium thumbstuds were anodized to match. Despite the simplicity of an inlay, the narrow profile of the Bugout made it difficult to incorporate the additional feature. “Machining the recess for an inlay in the thin handle, while still maintaining strength and allowing for fasteners to secure the C-Tek proved to be one of the bigger challenges from an engineering standpoint.” states Design Engineer, Mark Delplanche.
The Gold Class line is commonly furnished with the high-alloy Damascus patterned blade steel from Damasteel; a notable steel manufacturer located in the historic Swedish town of Söderfors. Damasteel’s Munin™ pattern is accentuated by the high flat grind of the Bugout’s blade, creating a strikingly beautiful aesthetic that doesn’t sacrifice performance. To round out the final touches of the design, the liners, pocket clip, and hardware were treated with a smoked grey PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) coating, providing a smooth and durable finish that blends nicely with the color of the ghost carbon fiber handles.The end result, is a creative expression of artisan-level craftsmanship, that embodies the core principles of the Bugout’s original design.