Benchmade Saibu Gets a Royal Sendoff with Gold Class Release

The Benchmade Saibu, designed by Seiichi Nakamura, was among the knives the company decided to discontinue for 2021. But the elegant EDC is going out in style with one last hurrah: the 486-201, a super premium Gold Class release, decked out with material upgrades from tip to tail.

Even in its standard Blue Class configuration, the Saibu leaned into elegance and style. The skeletonized, G-10/Cocobolo scales were modeled after the segmented look of a bamboo tree. The 486-201 doesn’t make any structural changes to the handle, but replaces the black G-10 and Cocobolo wood with ivory and crimson G-10, respectively. According to Benchmade, the color scheme was chosen to emulate the look of Shinto architecture. The heightened look is set off by 24-karat gold-plated hardware.

Now, despite its emphasis on style, the original Saibu was also a highly competent EDC, with a slim, slicey 2.98-inch drop point blade made from CPM-20CV. As you might expect given the handle rejigging and gold-plated hardware, the 486-201 favors aesthetics over absolute performance. Benchmade and Nakamura chose Rose pattern Damasteel for the blade steel, boosting the visual appeal at the expense of some performance. That being said, if you are so inclined to treat the 486-201 as an EDC of any sort, the Damasteel will perform admirably enough, even if it doesn’t quite rise to the heights of the standard model’s more utilitarian super steel.

Benchmade released its discontinued for 2021 list at the beginning of October. A hefty number of models got cut, including the Saibu. The fact that a discontinued knife is getting a Gold Class release suggests that we might see other knives in the class of 2020 return in limited variations.

All Gold Class models are produced in short runs, and the 486-201’s batch is particularly small – kept to a release of just 250 pieces; so if you want to get one you probably should act fast. Benchmade has the release date currently set for December 11th, 2020.

Knife in Featured Image: Benchmade 486-201 Saibu

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