What To Look For In A New Balisong (Butterfly) Knife In The New Year.
This guide should give you a good idea of the basics of butterfly (also known as balisong) style knives.
Butterfly knives are one of the most popular knife styles around and have been for decades. This style of knife is instantly recognizable to anyone who has seen it before, and there are a lot of different types available. The best butterfly knives can be found by breaking them down into sub-categories based on shape, purpose, materials, etc. There are tanto bladed balisongs, bowie bladed balisongs, and even karambit bladed butterfly knives. In this short buyer’s guide, we will provide basic information to help you choose the best type for you.
This unique knife style is characterized by its distinctive, almost fan-like design. The handles of a butterfly knife are attached to the blade by two pivots, which allows them to rotate around the blade. This function also allows the user to open and close the knife with one hand by flipping the knife instead of traditional opening methods.
There are trainers, which don’t have an edge or point, for use in acquiring skill and proficiency using this style of knife. Butterfly knives are prized for their unique flipping motion, which can be used to perform a variety of tricks. They’re also popular as everyday carry knives due to their compact size. They also still fill their original niche as a very efficient self-defense weapon, quick to get into action, and possessing the strength of a fixed blade, when compared to other folding knives.
Before we get into what to look for in a butterfly knife, a brief lesson in the history of this intriguing weapon.
A Brief History of the Butterfly Knife
The butterfly knife is thought to have originated in the Batangas region of the Philippines, where its common name is a “balisong”, meaning butterfly, knife. Most indications are that the balisong knife did originate in the Philippines back somewhere around the 9th Century AD. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of concrete evidence to support this idea. It’s mostly based on oral, tribal tradition.
Some, however, believe the knife comes from an adaption of a French measuring device created in the 16th or 17th Century, which was subsequently brought to the Philippines by explorers. Wherever it originated, the Philippines is where it became the knife and tool we recognize today. The Philippines are where the tricks and flipping techniques of quick blade deployment for artistry and self-defense were perfected.
In the West, the butterfly knife was first popularized by Hollywood and has been a part of pop culture ever since. This is also where this knife style has gotten a bad rap as something particularly dangerous and used mostly by criminals.
The balisong was used primarily as a self-defense weapon in the Philipines and was usually made by local craftsmen or pandai.
The knife style came to America in the early 1900s, as American servicemen stationed in the Philippines began bringing balisongs back home with them. It wasn’t until much later, in the 1970s and 1980s, that the butterfly knife really caught on in America, helped along by Jeff Imada, a student of Dan Inosanto, who published several books and videos on the butterfly knifes use, as well as the work of other Filipino Martial Arts pioneers.
The balisong was restricted in the US under the Switchblade section of the Interstate Commerce Act of 1958. In recent years, many states have softened their position on this type of knife. Be sure to look for our graphic and article coming soon on the legality of butterfly knives and switchblades in different US states.
Butterfly Knife Types
Although the knives were originally made out of wood, carabao (buffalo horn), and other native materials, modern balisongs are typically made out of metal.
There are two basic types of balisong knives, the channel, and the sandwich. They function the same way, but they do have some differences in how they handle. This doesn’t mean one is necessarily better than the other, they just handle a little bit differently
Channel butterfly knives have handles machined out of single pieces of metal (sometimes out of cast metal) and tend to be a little heavier in the handle. This generally means that the weight of the handle provides more momentum in the “flipping” movement, which can be smoother because of this fact.
Sandwich butterfly knives are made from two pieces of metal for each handle, with a spacer (usually steel) separating the two pieces of metal. There is really no uniformity in the weight or spacer size, so this can lead to many sandwich-style butterfly knives handling a little differently, both from each other and from channel-style knives. The handle on this knife style is typically made out of metal,G10, bone, antler, or titanium, which provides an outlet for more creative and artistic knife handles.
Butterfly knife blades, in general, have been made from a variety of metals, including carbon steel, titanium, and stainless steel. More modern ones are made from the same high-end super steels as any other premium knife.
As far as price goes, expect to pay roughly $50-$100 for an average trainer balisong; around $50-$200 for a normal production butterfly knife, and between $300-$600 if you want a higher-end, premium brand; upward of $1000 for custom and artisan-made balisongs.
What to Look for in a Butterfly Knife
When looking to buy your first butterfly knife, or even if you’re just upgrading from a cheaper model, there are some things you’ll want to look for:
-A good balance. In order to safely flip and open the knife, and keep control of it during manipulation, the handles must be balanced, symmetrical, and smooth in rotation.
-A solid construction. The handles should be made out of one piece of metal (or two pieces with a spacer), with no weak points where the handle and blade meet. The screws that hold everything together should also be high quality and tight-fitting – this will keep your balisong feeling solid and in working order.
-A good feel in the hand. Butterfly knives, like any other knife, should fit comfortably into your hands with an ergonomic design that makes it easy to hold open or closed and flip for extended periods of time with minimal to no hot spots, and no rough edges.
-A locking latch. Not only does this keep the knife secured in the closed position, but it also provides a visual and tactile indicator of the bite side of the handle, versus the safe side that you hold while flipping your butterfly knife.
5 Popular Butterfly Knives
While there are many high-quality butterfly knives available, here’s a list of five popular balisong knife styles to consider:
Butterfly Knife Trainer – Butterfly trainer blades have dull edges and rounded points so you can safely practice your tricks without accidentally injuring yourself. These are available at all price points, and range from generic butterfly knife profiles, all the way to high-end trainers that exactly duplicate the live blades’ weight, balance, and manipulation. Prices range from $25 to over $400 for a Benchmade trainer.
-Benchmade 85 Balisong Knife
The Benchmade 85 features milled handles made of one piece of billet titanium, a magnetic latch, and a clip point style CPM-S30v blade
-Benchmade model 63 Butterfly knife trainer;
This trainer model mimics the weight, feel, and balance of the Benchmade 60 series butterfly knives, constructed with the same stainless steel handles, same milling patterns, and latch, while featuring a red-coated, holed blade, to indicate its drone status.
Other popular brands and models of balisongs include Bear & Sons, which range from regular stainless steel handles, all the way up to Damascus steel blades and staghorn handles, the Bradley Kimura series, featuring G10 handles in different colors, or the very popular Kershaw Lucha, with great balanced steel handles, awesome texture, and now has a dedicated drone for training.
Looking for the perfect butterfly knife to add to your collection? Check out any of these five popular models! Remember: always use caution when flipping any type of knife – even if it’s called a ‘butterfly’ trainer! These knives are still capable of inflicting serious injury if used improperly. For more information on how to safely use and care for your balisong knives, visit our website or contact us today.
Butterfly Knife Tricks
Now that you know a little more about the history and types of butterfly knives, it’s time to learn how to use them. Butterfly knives are opened by flipping them open with your fingers. This is done by grabbing the blade between your thumb and first two fingers, then using your other hand to flick the knife open. It should be noted that doing this incorrectly can easily result in injury.
Once you have the knife open, there are a variety of tricks you can do. These include:
– The Fan: A basic trick where you flip the knife so that it opens like a fan and snap it shut again.
– The Spinning Top: A more advanced trick where you hold the knife by the base of the blade and spin it on your finger.
– The Butterfly: One of the most basic tricks, where you flip the knife over so that the handles are parallel to the ground.
As with any skill, practice makes perfect. So find a safe place to train and start flipping!
Now that you’ve got a better idea of what butterfly knives are, their history, construction, and use, check out our butterfly knife page here.