Benchmade stunned knife dealers by discontinuing the entire Heckler & Koch (HK) line of knives and a number of main line Benchmade models.
The largest cut from Benchmade’s core catalog is the Presidio family. All variations of this model, over a dozen in total, are getting the axe. Joining it are the 746 Mini-Onslaught and the 586 Barrage. All manual iterations of the 900 Stryker will be gone next year as well. The 665 APB has also been retired after only a year in circulation.
But what really raised eyebrows was the discontinuation of the HK line. These products have been quietly chugging away in their niche for years without indication from Benchmade that they were ever in jeopardy. Rather than wait for 2017, dealers were told Benchmade would not be replenishing any HK product effective immediately.
While some took issue with the timing, others say they were more concerned about the overall costs. “We spend time and money on photography and setting up products on our site,” says Jason Kunkler, Head Buyer for KnifeCenter.com. “When a line like this disappears a lot of work goes to waste.”
HK knives were popular with law enforcement officers as an affordable alternative to the more expensive products under Benchmade’s own brand. Most police departments don’t supply their officers with a budget for pocket knives. Black Class folders are not priced for entry-level users, and Benchmade automatic knives like the Infidel cost well over $300. The HK lineup provided good performance and quality at prices that a cop could afford.
“We’re sad to see the products go,” Kunkler tells us. “HK was one of the better gun-knife crossover brands.” But Kunkler isn’t concerned that the move will create a vacuum in the marketplace. “Kershaw with the Launch series really owns the lower-priced auto market.” Outside of the automatic realm, other gun manufacturer-branded knife lines were entering the fray and competing for dollars. CRKT’s Ruger collaborations have a strong designer pedigree, and Smith & Wesson knives have been holding steady in a declining market.
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In recent years, Benchmade also discontinued its Harley-Davidson line and closed the doors on Lone Wolf Knives, which it acquired in 2010. A source tells us that Benchmade still owns at least some of the HK designs and will be bringing certain models back under the Benchmade brand. Whether the transition back to the butterfly logo will mean an increase in price remains to be seen.
A representative from Heckler & Koch says the relationship has been a mutually beneficial one, but that business between HK and Benchmade is over. HK is open to discussing licensing opportunities with other knife companies. KnifeNews also reached out to Benchmade Knife Company for comment but we did not receive a statement in time for this story.
Knife featured in image: Heckler & Koch Turmoil