October 2021 Fixed Blade of the Month

Designed by Benchmade for the Hunt Series, the Saddle Mountain Skinner is a refined fixed blade for serious hunters. Benchmade’s fixed blade lineup features a versatile spread of capable blades, but none more suited for big game skinning than the Saddle Mountain Skinner. With an overall length over 8.7” the Skinner is also well suited to large or even gloved hands without being overbuilt. The model itself has had multiple variations in aesthetic and material over the years with handles ranging from Dymondwood to G-10 paired with high quality CPM-30V, but perhaps the most notable upgrade Benchmade has implemented is the CPM-S90V blade on the 15002-1 model.

The 15002-1 Saddle Mountain Skinner boasts the same 4.2” drop point blade style that has made this knife a bonafide classic, but Benchmade has taken the opportunity to use the implementation of a new steel to also refine the edge they put on it. In the field CPM-S30V and CPM-S90V are both excellent steels for a fixed blade hunting knife, they are both strong enough to retain a razor sharp edge, and corrosion resistant enough to take on the blood, mud, and water that they will encounter during their intended use.

However, CPM-S90V has a bit of an upper hand when it comes to keeping its edge and Benchmade has used this to showcase their new Select Edge. The Select Edge prioritizes push performance as opposed to more common designs that emphasize a pulling motion and cutting with micro serrations. This design choice creates a scarily sharp 14 degree edge with an emphasis on downward force slicing ability, making it ideal for skinning and carving all kinds of meat.

The 15002-1 Saddle Mountain Skinner is certainly a special model, well suited for those who truly value the longevity of use in the field between sharpenings, but this by no means is reason to dismiss the 15001, 15002, and 15003 configurations that use CPM-S30V. The lack of the select edge on the other blades is well contested by the toughness and ease of sharpening that CPM-S30V is well loved for. In practice both materials perform incredibly. In addition, all of these variations of the Skinner feature two jimping sections on the spine of the blade for extreme precision cutting, aside from the 15003-1 Saddle Mountain Skinner which boasts a gutting hook in place of the second grip section.

All great blades need a handle to truly see their full use potential and Benchmade has done a great job of designing a grip surface that is ergonomic and functional enough to accommodate heavy use with a variety of materials. The aforementioned 15002-1 utilizes a charming wood-grain-like stack of Richlite over a layer of orange G-10, ideal for matching a wide range of hunting loadout styles and withstanding the forces of nature. If you are a fan of renewable resources, Richlite is made from a form of resin infused paper, so you can rest a little easier knowing that your handle isn’t exhausting a natural resource that can’t be replenished. Other models feature Dymondwood scales and grey and black G-10, both of which look very natural on the design. Whichever knife style calls to you, it seems apparent that the Saddle Mountain Skinner will deliver an unwavering level of quality to your arsenal.

Possibly the only remaining concerns when acquiring such a superb tool is how to carry it safely, effectively, and comfortably. Depending on which model of the Saddle Mountain Skinner that you buy, Benchmade includes a leather or kydex sheath, or in the case of the 15002-1 a Boltaron sheath (with the added benefit of being less brittle than kydex in cold conditions). All of these manufacturer included sheaths do their job and with proper care could even last for the lifespan of the knife, however there are sheaths that exist out there that could do the job better, and those sheaths are available at grommetsleathercraft.com. Our leather shop offers higher quality materials, design, construction, customization, and style than can be provided by a mass produced sheath. If you are going to carry a premium tool, why not make sure that the way you carry it is just as effective and thoughtfully built?