In 2001, Benchmade Knives introduced the now-iconic Griptilian line of knives. Designed to be the quintessential outdoor pocket knife, the Griptilian evolved through a series of changes and upgrades in its 23 years on the planet. But for me, the most significant version of the Griptilian was the 552, designed by survivalist, pilot, and all-around good guy Doug Ritter.
Recently, I told Ritter I believed he was the reason behind the Griptilian’s ultimate success. A modest guy, Ritter responded, “It was only one model out of many.”
Suffice it to say the 552 Griptilian and its little brother, the 558 Mini-Griptilian, earned their place in the history books. Since their inception, people have relied on those models on adventures and in daily life, and certainly in a variety of sticky situations. But because they were discontinued, you can only occasionally find them on eBay or Arizona Custom Knives — albeit slightly beat up or modified.
If you want to pick up a new, improved version of those classic models, Ritter worked with Hogue Knives to make sure you can.
In short: Sometimes sequels are better than the original, as is the case with the Hogue Knives Ritter RSK Mk1-G2. Utilizing MagnaCut steel, textured G10 handle scales, and an improved lock mechanism (above and beyond Benchmade’s legendary Axis lock), the Mk1-G2 is a fantastic upgrade over its predecessors.
- OAL 8.15”
- Blade length 3.44”
- Blade steel MagnaCut
- Blade shape Drop point
- Grind Flat
- Hardness 61-63 HRC
- Lock type ABLE lock (Crossbar)
- Carry Deep carry, right or left hand, tip-up
- Weight 4.5 oz.
- Price $190
- Doug Ritter. Hands down.
- MagnaCut steel
- Textured G10 scales
- ABLE lock
- Under $200
- These knives sell out within days of being in stock.
- May be too large for users (better suited to mini Mk1-G2).
Hogue Knives Ritter RSK Mk1-G2: Review
Design & Features
The RSK Mk1-G2 is a full-sized folding knife made of machined and textured G10 handle scales that provide exceptional grip. It uses a MagnaCut steel drop point blade with a high flat grind and an oversized thumb stud for quick deployment.
One of my favorite features on the Mk1-G2, carried over from the 552 Griptilian, is the blade thumb ramp above the pivot, on the spine of the blade. This bit of detail is covered in jimping and allows for better blade control overall.
That said, the real shining star on the Mk1-G2 is the ABLE lock mechanism. Short for “Ambidextrous Bar Lock Enhanced,” the ABLE lock is a fresh approach to Benchmade’s AXIS lock. Compared to the AXIS, the ABLE lock carries refined geometry, a tougher lock bar, and improved springs. Combined, these improvements result in smoother operation and a stronger lock-up.
When Ritter first set out to create his RSK (Ritter Survival Knife), he had a list of requirements:
- One-hand opening
- Locking blade with a very secure and strong blade lock
- Pocket clip
- Fully ambidextrous (clip, lock, and blade opening)
- Traditional wide-chord drop point blade shape, 3 to 3.5 inches long
- Composite nonslip handle/scales
- Effective finger guard
- Lanyard hole
- Premium-grade stainless steel blade that holds an edge
- Quality construction beyond reproach
- Preferably made in the USA
Just like the first gen of the Mk1, the Mk2 meets those requirements. But, the improvements in materials and functionality only add to the knife’s strengths.
If there’s any knock to be found here, it could be the size. It’s a big knife in hand, and while it fits my bear paws, the Mini Mk1-G2 — nearly an inch-and-a-half shorter OAL and almost half the weight — may literally be a better fit for some folks.
The 552 Griptilian was one of the first knives I fell in love with, or “my first adult knife.” The 552 spent many moons with me on adventures and served as my EDC until I gave it to a girl — at the time, the gesture was a good one. Looking back, I should have kept that damn knife.
But in November of last year, I met Doug Ritter. The stars aligned and he reached out to me after reading my article on the Benchmade Freek. Soon after, he was kind enough to send me the Mk1-G2 in both manual and automatic.
The knife itself is everything I remember of the 552, but with the noted improvements. The grip on the handle is uncanny, as is the pattern built into the G10 scales. A lot of the G1 geometry carries over, but the changes remain noticeable.
For one, the butt of the knife has an increased taper. This allows your hand to fall more naturally, and folks with bigger paws like me will appreciate that.
Also, the choil is more pronounced, which allows for better finger indexing. It also gives your thumb a place to land naturally, on top of the blade thumb ramp.
In addition to being a major inspiration to me for his contributions to the survival and knife worlds, Ritter is also the founder of Knife Rights. Founded in 2006, the goal of Knife Rights is twofold.
On one hand, it seeks to keep folks informed of current knife carry and usage rights, based on state regulations and laws.
On the other hand, it advocates to help eliminate some of the outdated regulations and laws that complicate our ability to use and carry knives.
Anything I ever tell you regarding those laws and regulations comes from Knife Rights or Ritter himself. With automatic knives gaining popularity, this site — as well as the LegalBlade app (a joint venture with Blade HQ) — has been a godsend.
In the Field
I was 20 years old, going to college, and working in a local camping store when I first got my hands on the 552 Griptilian. I was just as much of an outdoor enthusiast back then as I am now, but much more unrefined (see the 4-inch scar down the side of my left hand).
And through it all, that knife was there for me. Digging. Prying. Slashing. Cutting. It let me release all of that angst left over from my teen years.
Now, at 42, I can appreciate a knife like the RSK Mk1-G2 much more than I did the 552 Griptilian. That doesn’t mean I’m not digging, prying, slashing, or cutting with it. It just means that I can recognize key factors like its geometry and the materials Ritter chose to use in this iteration.
It’s the balance between being a bull and a ballerina in trying to get knife-related tasks done.
One of the things I appreciate is the choice to go with MagnaCut steel for that big, oversized, stonewashed drop-point blade. MagnaCut is by many accounts the best EDC steel out there, so it’s great for use and abuse. It didn’t flinch at digging stake holes in a snowstorm to help me pitch a tent.
It also excelled at helping me with my own hobbies. The combination of the blade thumb ramp and the blade’s razor-sharp edge allowed me to push down on the cordage and gave me a nice clean split that I can cauterize and turn into a lanyard!
But the grip — the grip! How ironic that the first generation of this knife was called the Griptilian and the grip on this scion is so much better. That’s not a knock on the 552 or the other Griptilians. That’s a kudo to the choice of machined and textured slabs of G10 for the handle scales.
Hogue Knives Ritter RSK Mk1-G2: In Conclusion
Over the last month or so with the RSK Mk1-G2, I learned that Hogue Knives is the cream of the crop. The brand took the 552 Griptilian and 558 Mini-Griptilian and made them even better. Partnering with Ritter, the duo improved materials, geometry, and the overall experience. Perhaps most impressively, they kept the price under $200.
I still have love for any Griptilian, but I fully endorse the Hogue Ritter RSK Mk1-G2. MagnaCut aside, you can feel the difference between the ABLE lock and the AXIS lock. And I love that the Mk1-G2 uses G10 scales.
So, if you’re looking for a reliable, full-size folding knife that’s designed to be the primary tool in helping you survive, or serve as your next EDC, I think you’ll find the Hogue Ritter RSK Mk1-G2 is the right choice for you. It’s utilitarian by design and very comfortable to put to work. It’s also a telling example that expensive knives don’t always equate to being effective ones.
You can grab both the full-size or mini Mk1-G2 exclusively through Knife Works. And if you are hopping on the automatic knife train, hold on tight to the Auto-RSK, because that spring action is some serious action!