Info on butterfly knife


Jan 6, 1999
Can anyone give me some info on a butterfly knife that I recently received? It is small, about 5-7/8" open, with a little less than a 3 inch blade. It has Bone inserts (I Believe, which is also what I was told by the person that I received it from.) and bras everywhere else. On the handle latch there are 2 vertical lines, a red dot and 2 more vertical lines. There are no other markings on the knife. The blade is satin finished, also I just noticed that the red dot in the latch is some material inserted and is not just paint as I originally thought. Thanks for any info.

This is no help to you Brian but,I thought that I would throw it in here.In 1966,whilst going through JWTC at Schofield,I bought a balisong down on Hotel St.It was built like a Mack truck and I husked a couple of coconuts with it.It was lost in combat.Does anyone else remember such a knife?

I have several knives with that same pattern on the latch, and I'd love to know who's mark that is.

I am told that these knives were made in the Philippines in the 1950s.

All three of mine have bone inserts in brass handles with the inserts held in with cooper pins. Obviously hand made.

The blade is probably made from steel stock taken from the springs on a leftover Jeep.


[This message has been edited by Gollnick (edited 19 June 1999).]

[This message has been edited by Gollnick (edited 19 June 1999).]
Gollnick's right. Those are made in the Philippines, particularly in the Batangas region.

As to the latch patterns, nobody owns that mark. It's a random pattern made according to the whims of the maker that time. It can have one or two red dots, and different designs. The red dot inserts on the latch are made of plastic.

Sometimes the inserts are made from animal bone (usually Carabao) but the more expensive ones uses deer horns (or stags) for inserts.

Yep, they use copper pins to hold down the inserts in place.

The balisongs made here in our country are okay. For testing purposes, they drive these through our peso coins to prove the tip strength. Some even go as far as stabbing away a whole block of ice (dunno the significance there, as I don't think ice is stronger than steel, though the temperature difference might be a factor).

The only "flaw" is that since these balisongs are indeed handmade, they don't really follow any scientific step when it comes to heat-treating, tempering, etc.. The art of making a balisong is handed down from generation to generation, so each handmade balisong is unique in its own.

Hmmm.. maybe I'll try to capture it all on film, as to how they make those butterfly knives, and post it here someday.

Someone even brought a itsy-bitsy balisong which really looks cute! but fully functional. Costs only around a dollar, too!

Dannyc, how do the "home grown" butterfly knives compare to the Bencnmades that were being made up until a year ago?

I know you said they are OK quality but, are there some high quality ones also? If so, how much do they go for? When I say high quality, I mean strength, fit, finish, not necessarily materials.

Hi Bernie,

Just got your email.

Well, even if these are mass-produced knives, they still do it manually, meaning, hand-made, as there are no machines used (except for maybe the grinder).

Yes, there are also some high-quality ones that I've seen. But one has to really look for the well-known guys who make these. They can make one according to your specs if you have any. Fit and finish is around 90% okay most of the time, but you can actually choose the knives you want, and ignore those which have cosmetic defects, or opening defects. Strength-wise, they use spring steel for the blades, and they temper it "by feel".
I know a couple of guys there who makes these knives, and they can tell just by looking at the color of the blade being forged, when it's time to start folding or whatever.

They are proud of their work and would gladly demonstrate how strong the blade is, by, you guessed it, puncturing peso coins over and over, and still retain a good blade tip with no dents or chips.

As with anything else done manually, one cannot really expect 100% quality, fit and finish-wise, compared to mass produced ones like the BM's, which uses machines.

Balisong makers here consider their trade an "art form", rather than something made to earn a living.

As to how much they go for, it depends on what materials you want used (usually the price of the knife itself relies on the handle materials more than anything else).

A regular balisong here would cost roughly around $20-$30 each. A good one would cost around close to $40. A custom-made one? sky's the limit..

Oh yeah, I don't know if this is a test of strength or not, but I just remembered what I did to my other balisongs here (I have plenty lying around, hehehe).

I remembered using one to really pry something lose. Also used one with a hammer (forgot why, or what for). But basically, the knife is still alive and kicking. The only thing that will give in, if ever, would be the pivot pins where the handle attaches to the tang of the blade. But then, I think they use nails for those, which are pretty hard themselves.

Does anybody have a balisong wherein aside from it having a razorback, it has a couple of holes near the serrated spine of the blade? I bet only a few knows what purpose those holes serve..


A video preserving the traditional processes would be a valuable tressure.

As for the holes in the blade, I've always assumed they were decorative. I've heard some suggest that they're used to lash the blade to a stick.

Many American butterflies have "skeleton" holes in the handles. I have never seen a Filipino one that has such handles. I can see why. The American ones typically have solid handles either cast or milled out, while the Filipino ones have handles made from bent sheet brass. The wood or bone or other material is then added to the sides of the handles to give some width and a better grip surface (and decoration, too, of course). Is the solid handle style and the skeleton hole pattern found in the Philippines?

Have the American styling influenced the Filipino makers?


Yep, we also have those skeletonized handles here... but very limited, as most still prefer a solid grip... not to mention the decorations involving handle inserts.

As to the holes just below the razorbacks, err... they have more "morbid" implications, not just decorative. It has a very bad purpose. Remember that the balisongs here were made for self-defense, so these makers couldn't care less about looks, but more on functionality of each design that comes out.

I will try to make a video out of it, and will probably ask the help of a local TV station here, of which I have close ties with..

Who knows? I might just get crazy enough to get some balisongs, and send them over to some forumites here as gifts!
been thinking about that just a while ago.. but don't quote me on that just yet! hehehe...


My big question with Balisong knives is why it seems to be impossible to find a good production knife. Remember the old Benchmade 3" blade ones. No matter how many times you opened them, there was no side-to-side play between blade and frame. I remember buying one of their 50$ ones, then a couple of weeks later playing with one of the 100$ ones (the good ones) but being unable to rationalize buying a second knife in as many weeks. About a month later, Benchmade discontinued their bali song line, and I've been kicking myself ever since.

Does anyone know where I can get a real bali song. I don't have money for a custom knife yet, and I don't need something that has rare material like Madonna's pubic hairs inset into the handle. I'm a very straight-ahead guy and I want a straight-ahead knife that isn't going to loosen up on me.


Thanks much,

Please, please, do the video and send a copy over, and the knives too. We'll talk about the details...

In the mean time, please do enlighten us about the holes.

I have a couple that have very serious teeth along the back of the blade. I've assumed these were for sawing through branches, etc. out in the jungle. Perhaps I'm mistaken there too. I'd love to hear all that you can tell us. Perhaps I'll e-mail you some pictures of a few of mine if you have the bandwidth for it.

As to Mr. Chizpuf's question, Benchmade has proven that it is technically possible to make seriously nice butterfly knives. But, unfortunately, they decided that the tooling used to make those knives, much of which is twenty to thirty years old now, had worn out to the point that they can't make a consistent quality product. Demand for these special knives is not great enough to justify the investment in new tooling.

I am not aware of anyone else who, on a production basis, makes anything similar. There are several custom makers who make wonderful knives equal to BM's best. But, they're very expensive.


I too am very interested in the holes in the spine of the blade as I have a couple of balisongs with this feature, each one different at that and would love to know the reasoning behind them. I also have one where the base of the knife, (where the pins are at) is carved to resemble an eagle. This has me curious as to what purpose if not for aestetics it serves.
Hey, Dan,
You can't run off and not answer the question about the holes.

Jonathan -- that eagle-like carving on your bali-song (also called a "fan knife" in our country) serves simply as a bottle cap opener! Drinking beer while fanning bali-songs are popular in the more risky locales here, you know.
Hi guys,

Sorry... too much threads around, and got carried away... lol...

Anyway, to answer your questions with regards to the holes in the blades, nope, they aren't like Spyderco holes that you can open the knives with them.. hehehe..

The REAL purpose it serves, if my sources are true, is to ensure "death" to the one that gets stabbed by the knife.

How, you may ask?

It's like this: When a person gets stabbed, by a balisong, for example, the wound closes shut after the blade is withdrawn, right?

The "holes" act as a sort of security measure. It will create air bubbles during the puncture sequence, and we all know what air bubbles in your system can do to a person. I believe the idea there is similar to injecting air into the bloodstream... painful way to go.

I've seen some locals survive a knife fight after drinking one too many bottles of beer.
Though I've yet to see anybody survive a stab that came from such a blade w/ holes. Of course, this will depend where you get stabbed. If the air bubbles don't get you, internal bleeding will.

As to the razorbacks, yes some use them to saw through thick branches, or something else. Depending on the design of the teeth, it usually does wonders to the internals of the victim as well.

That is probably why the newer models rarely come out with those holes anymore. I think they've decided to discontinue it, although I still see some floating around.

I'll try to visit the locals there and see if I can catch some footings on how these balisongs are made, from start to finish. If not, I'll try to be as observant as I can, then put it in writing as well.

So, don't go making holes now, y'hear? lol...


You have to remember that Benchmade uses machines to make these balisong knives, whereas the original balisongs here in the Philippines are made manually, by the locals. Quality will depend from area to area, as no two balisongs are ever the same.

The loosening up of the pivot pin on balisongs is a normal occurence here, though personally, it's unacceptable. But like I said, these are handmade, and attention to detail depends on where you get these, and if you're lucky enough to choose among a bunch of balisong knives, you can easily pick up one which the maker seems concentrated while he was working on that particular knife.

That is probably why I do NOT buy just any balisong knife I see being sold there in Batangas City. I usually go see a maker and have him custom-make one for me, according to my specs. This is how I ensure that my balisongs don't have any side to side play even after years of use and abuse.

Oh yeah, one last thing.. that side to side play might mean that the latch isn't secured properly, which is often the case in balisong knives. As the two separate handles have their own pivot pins on the tang, if the latch isn't securely fit, then movement will occur. Though I have yet to see someone get injured due to the play itself.


That's very interresting, about the holes.

It's especially interresting when one looks at a modern Microtech Halo or Dalton M6, both of which have holes, more like slots, along the back of the blade.

I just put another in my collection today. This one has a five-inch more-or-less Weehawk blade with five of those holes along the spine near the back (Say, Dan, is there an a name for those holes, by chance?), and some minor, but nonetheless present serrations along the spine near the tip.
This knife was apparently not made for opening letters.

Interrestingly, this obviously Filipino handmade has a polished blade (all of my others have brushed finishes).

It has the classic Filipino handles made from brass sheet stock with copper pins holding a dark wood.

Very nice.

So, Dan, how much regional variation is there in the traditional handmade Bali-Songs? Are there stylistic properties that can indicate where the knife was made? And one more question: Why don't the makers mark or sign their work? Very few American custom makers don't stamp or mark their products in some way. Perhaps there's a cultural reason?

As always, your expert advice is received with thanks.


Nope, I'm not an expert in anything (except maybe w/ computers, hehe) but I gather information regarding balisongs from people by word of mouth. That is why I intend to visit the place on of these days and maybe make like a reporter and try to go deeper into it like history, any telltale signs to differentiate one from the other, etc...

I think that most made in commercial quantities won't have those signs, but I think custom-made ones will, particularly if it's one of the older guys in the field.

I will try to get more info so that I can answer most of your questions.

As to the "holes" near the spine, I don't think they have a name for that.. but I could be wrong though.