Recently, Benchmade further expanded the Bali-Song line adding black powder-coatings to the handles. The BM42BLK, BM43BLK, and BM47BLK are the result. They are the exact same knives as the BM42, BM43, and BM47 but with black coated handles. To read my review of the BM42, click here. And to read my review of the 43 and 47, click here.
Powder coating is a finish process in which the solid finish material is ground into a fine powder. The part to be coated is electrostatically charged and the powder is then blown onto it. The static charge causes an even layer of the powder to stick to the handle. Then, the coated handle is heated in an oven causing the powder to melt and reform into a continuous coating. If you do everything right, the result is a very durable finish. Powder coat finishes are particularly noted for their wear resistance. Here's an interesting article on powder coating. You can read more about powder coating on the Powder Coating Institute's excellent website. Powder Coating Magazine has a very nice website too. As you can see, powder coating is a very common process. You probably own dozens of things around your house that are powder coated.
One problem, if you will, with powder coating is that the result is a very thick finish on the part's surface. A balisong depends on precision fit. Adding the thick coating could easily interfere with that fit. So, the trick to success is to mask off the areas where the coating is not wanted. I call it a "trick" because getting that done consistently in a production process can be tricky. Benchmade has succeeded perfectly. The handles are evenly coated but the joints are completely unaffected. The black-handled Bali-Songs move just was well as their uncoated or anodized counterparts.
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Of course, the other big question on everyone's minds is, "How durable is this coating."
I'll tell you how durable it is:
Only time will tell. It certainly looks good to me. It doesn't rub off or chip easily and it's resistant to common cleaning solvents. I do know that Benchmade has put extensive testing and development effort into this process and they certainly seem to think it's gonna be a winner.
The areas on the safe handle where the latch rubs as you latch and open the knife will wear very quickly. This isn't surprising since on non-coated handles, the even the titanium eventually wears in these areas.
Will it eventually wear off in other areas? Yes, I'm sure it will. That's just the nature of things. But, with reasonable use, I think it'll last a long time. Powder coating is noted for its durability. As one of the online articles linked above mentions, "after the powder cures in the oven, mistakes can only be removed by sand blasting or burning it off."
While powder coating is very wear-resistant, it's less resistant to chipping. If drop one of these Bali-Songs onto a rough surface, the coating may chip off.
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