September 26, 2022

Spotter Up

In Depth Tactical Solutions

Benchmade 178SBK SOCP Spear-Point Knife

Most readers are familiar with the Benchmade® SOCP Dagger, which was developed by Greg Thompson, founder of the Special Operations Combatives Program® (S.O.C.P.®) taught to US military SOF personnel.

In a close-quarters lethal-force encounter, we may not have the time or ability to deploy our firearm. Empty hand, knife and gun need to be (or become) an integrated combatives skill set. The SOCP Dagger is designed to the bridge the gap between hand-to-hand and firearms. It allows you to create space to transition to your firearm if the attacker still presents a lethal threat. It facilitates seamless transitions while allowing you retain control of the dagger.

Thompson spent several years developing the prototype of what was to become the SOCP Dagger. He took the prototype to several companies before finally hooking up with Benchmade, who helped him develop the final sheath concept. The specialized sheath was designed to integrate into gear while keeping a low profile.

The patented SOCP Dagger (NSN # 1095-01-609-1246) is an outstanding tool that serves its intended design parameters exceptionally well. Not surprisingly, it’s one of Benchmade’s most popular knives. It has spawned an entire family of knives the Mini SOCP Dagger, SOCP Tactical Folder®, SOCP Spear-Point Family and the SOCP Rescue Tool. Benchmade additionally offers Training versions of the SOCP Dagger and the SOCP Tactical Folder.

Benchmade 176SBK SOCP Spear-Point Knife

Benchmade 178SBK SOCP features 3.22” partially-serrated spear-point blade made of 440C stainless steel (58-60 HRC). The SOCP family is optimized for personal defense and allows the user to maintain dexterity and manipulate other objects without putting down the knife.

The Benchmade SOCP Spear-Point Family provides all of the features of the SOCP Dagger Family, except with a single-edged blade. They’re designed to provide the defensive capabilities of the SOCP Dagger along with added utility functionality. The 178SBK SOCP Spear-Point Knife is the full-sized serrated version. Benchmade recently provided me with the 178SBK SOCP Combo, includes both a 176T SOCP Training Dagger and the 178SBK SOCP.

The 178SBK SOCP has an overall length of 7.25″ (18.42 cm) with a 3.22″ (8.18 cm) partially-serrated full-tang drop-point blade with a false edge (swedge) and skeletonized tang. It has a 4.03″ (10.24 cm) handle with finger ring on the pommel. Blade and handle thickness is 0.175″ (4.45 mm). It weighs in at 2.20 oz. (62.37 g) without the sheath. The dimensions are identical to the SOCP Dagger.

As is the case with all of the Benchmade SOCP knives, the 178SBK SOCP is crafted from a single piece of 440C stainless steel, heat treated to to 58-60 HRC. 440C is a high-carbon martensitic stainless steel. It has the highest carbon content of the 400 series.

When selecting a knife steel, it’s important to select the right steel for the intended job. While some steels are better than others for certain tasks, there’s no single “ultimate” blade steel. All steels are by necessity compromises.

Although it’s not one of the new kids on the block, 440C remains an excellent all-around knife steel when properly heat treated. It provides a good balance of hardness and corrosion resistance at a value price. It’s a mid-range steel that used to be high-end. Simply put, it’s a tried and true standard.

The symmetrical spear-point profile of the 178SBK SOCP’s drop-point blade places the tip in-line with the user’s hand, thus maximizing thrusting power, as with the SOCP Dagger. The swedge runs approximately 2/3rds the length of the blade, approximating a double-edge blade.

In my own admittedly unscientific testing into layers of corrugated cardboard, the 178SBK SOCP performed as well as the double-edge SOCP Dagger in stabbing penetration capability. Plus, it’s a multi-functional blade. Although optimized for personal defense, the blade profile lends itself well for use as a small utility knife.

Although you do give up the capability of a double-edged blade to cut in any direction, allowing fighting with the back of the blade, the single edge keeps the knife legal in jurisdictions that restrict double-edged knives. The single edge also allows you to choke up on the blade for delicate cutting work if needed for utility applications.

The 178SBK SOCP is partially serrated. The partially serrated blade offers the advantages the plain edge for precise push cuts and the advantages of the serrated edge for slicing cuts, especially through tougher or fibrous materials, such as rope and webbing. Tough tasks can be handled by the serrated edge, saving the plain edge of the blade.

The serrated edge is a functionally longer cutting surface, so it will hold up longer without needing to be resharpened. Over half of the edge on the 178SBK SOCP is a plain edge allowing you to still make long clean cuts. The combo edge gives you the best of both worlds for utility, although you do lose length for both which may hamper cutting capabilities to a degree in some tasks. A drawback to serrations is that they aren’t as simple to resharpen, although with the proper sharpening tool and technique it’s not a daunting task.

Benchmade 178SBK SOCP comes with injection-molded polymer sheath. The specialized sheath design also integrates into gear and webbing while keeping a low profile. The clip has been redesigned to grab materials for secure retention.

When the original SOCP Dagger was introduced by Benchmade, the edges were only sharpened for just a tad over the first 1/3 of the blade, with the rest of the blade left unsharpened. The thought being it wouldn’t adversely affect penetrating capability, while eliminating any chance of big hands overlapping the sharpened edges of blade when the dagger was gripped. The sharpened edge was also purposely left dull as the SOCP Dagger was intended as a stabbing weapon.

Benchmade lengthened the sharpened portion of the blade on later production SOCP knives and honed it to a finer cutting edge for slicing. This was done as the result of many user requests. Benchmade also added a ricasso with jimping, while keeping overall dimensions the same. This significantly improved the original design by giving it added capability. The 178SBK SOCP I received from Benchmade came out of the box with a razor sharp cutting edge, both straight and serrated.

The 178SBK SOCP has a durable black Cerakote® ceramic coating, as do the other SOCP knives. Cerakote is proprietary thin-film ceramic coating made by a company called Cerakote. It provides excellent corrosion resistance and lubricity, as well as high chemical resistance. It’s hard and wear resistant.

The handle on the SOCP knives has been well thought out. It has a symmetric shape that works equally well with a forward or reverse grip. The handle has three matching finger grooves on both sides with jimping on the middle finger grooves. The pommel is equipped with a finger ring.

The finger ring has an inner diameter of one-inch, allowing for use with duty gloves. The finger ring has a small flat raised extension / thumb rest on the butt with jimping on it. It’s designed to provide added control using the thumb when employed in a reverse (hammer) grip with the forefinger through the ring. The gripped thumb rest coupled with the finger grooves stops the knife from sliding in your hand. The extension / thumb rest flat on current production SOCP knives is slightly smaller to reduce any chances of it catching on clothing during the draw.

The knife is easy to deploy with either hand. The finger ring aids in rapid deployment and retention. The finger ring and thin handle allow full use of your hand to perform tasks without having to let go of the dagger and facilitates knife to firearm transitions. It allows you to deploy and operate a handgun without having to transfer the knife to your other hand. The finger ring also doubles as an impact weapon. The SOCP knives are instinctive to use, unlike a karambit, which requires quite a bit of training and practice to use effectively.

Benchmade SOCP knives come with an injection-molded hard polymer sheath that’s single-loop PALS-compatible. The sheath for the full-sized models is available your choice of either Black or Sand (tan) colorways. Tthe Mini SOCP sheath is available only in Black. The full-size sheath also fits the 176T SOCP Training Dagger.

The sheath is completely ambidextrous. It retains the knife with a friction-fit, allowing easy deployment. The sheath extends up the side of the ring, making it difficult for an assailant to access the knife. There’s no extended handle for an assailant to grab or to print under clothes or dig into the body. 

The sheath has four holes for lashing or attachment of a neck lanyard or chain, as well as a drainage hole. It comes with two 2 ft. lengths of 550 Paracord in matching color. The sheath has a corrosion-resistant spring-tempered stainless steel clip with a matte black oxide finish. The clip is attached to the sheath by two matte black stainless steel round-head Torx®-socket screws. 

The clip on current production SOCP knives has been greatly improved over previous clips. A little background is in order. The SOCP Dagger sheath was originally designed primarily for military applications to be mounted in a single PALS webbing row on the plate carrier center mass to allow for easy access with either hand. It worked well in this application with the original clip, since the width and thickness of the sheath aided in its retention in the PALS webbing.

The Benchmade SOCP Combo includes the SOCP knife and a red 176T SOCP Training Dagger. The Training Dagger tool integrates into the same sheath that accepts both the 176 and 178 models so the kit placement and training integrate seamlessly with real world application.

But for other modes of carry, the original clip left much to be desired. The sheath had a tendency to come out with the knife when it was drawn, when clipped to some materials. Obviously not good. To address this issue, Benchmade added a thick, non-slip textured rubberized dip coating. It wasn’t really much of an improvement, plus it eventually wore off with use. It was back to the drawing board again.

The new clip was the result. The new clip solves the problem. It features two little “fingers” that that fit into a groove in the sheath. The fingers grab into material and provide exceptional retention. The clip works well with active clothing. There’s absolutely no need for a belt. The clip may be a little harder on clothes than the older clips, but it’s worth the trade-off. First introduced on the sheath for the Mini SOCP Dagger, it’s now also standard across the Benchmade SOCP line.

176T SOCP Training Dagger

The 176T SOCP Training Dagger closely replicates the full-size SOCP live blade in size weight and handling for safe and realistic close contact distance training. It allows you to work with a partner in practicing these skills.

The 176T SOCP Training Dagger features a 2.78″ (7.06 cm) 440C stainless steel trainer blade, with blunt edges and a rounded tip. The 176T SOCP Training Dagger has a red Cerakote coating to clearly distinguish it from the live blade.

In addition to its training applications, the 176T SOCP Training Dagger may also be employed a less-lethal impact weapon and pressure-point pain-compliance tool. It may be carried in many situations where the live blade isn’t allowed.

Although the SOCP knives are very intuitive to use, I highly recommend getting the 176TSOCP Training Dagger along with a SOCP knife. It takes training and practice to get good at (or with) anything. Training and practice will also bolster your confidence in a SHTF situation. And if you buy them as a Combo and not separately, you’ll save a few bucks too.

Vertx S.O.C.P. Sling

The 178SBK SOCP or any of the SOCP knives are the perfect companions to Vertx®’s innovative new S.O.C.P. Sling™. The S.O.C.P. Sling was also designed in collaboration with Greg Thompson. Launched in Fall 2020, it’s an ultra-compact, low-profile waistpack/sling bag with a tactical difference.

The Vertx S.O.C.P. Sling is the perfect companion to a Benchmade SOCP knife. Among it’s many features it has a hidden rapid access pocket for a SOCP knife or other tools. Photo courtesy Vertx.

Developed with both overt and covert operations in mind, the S.O.C.P. Sling is designed to blend into almost any casual environment. It looks like just a typical waistpack or small cross-body bag, but it packs some unique tactical (and everyday practical) features that set it apart from others on the market.

One of the many features of the SOCP Sling is a hidden rapid access pocket designed for the SOCP knife family, although it can be also be used for other tools, as well. The rapid access pocket features a pass-through design that can be set up for right or left side deployment of a SOCP knife. There are hidden access openings on each on each side of the S.O.C.P. Sling to allow for quick deployment of the dagger.

Other features of the S.O.C.P. Sling include a cell phone pocket that is adjustable for use as a nav board, fold-down flaps that give you the ability to to surreptitiously take videos and photos with your smartphone, multiple additional internal pockets (including an expandable internal pouch that can be used as a drop pouch) and a removable coin pouch that can be used as an improvised sap. It’s quickly reconfigurable for multiple carry options.

As with all Vertx products, the design, workmanship, and materials used on the S.O.C.P. Sling are absolutely top notch. For my full review of the Vertx S.O.C.P. Sling go to Vertx SOCP Sling — Classic Accessory with a Tactical Difference • Spotter Up .

To Sum It All Up

To sum it up, the Benchmade 178SBK SOCP Spear-Point is an outstanding lightweight and easily concealed personal defense knife that offers some unique capabilities, plus added utility. It does what it’s intended to do and does so well. As has been the case with all Benchmade products I have examined, the workmanship on the sample provided to me is excellent.

The 178SBK SOCP has an MSRP of $125.00. MSRP for the 176T Training Dagger is $75.00. The Combo has a MSRP of $155.00. Custom lasermarking options are available from Benchmade. The 176SBK and 176T SOCP Training Dagger are made in the USA. All Benchmade knives are covered by Benchmade’s Lifetime Warranty and Lifesharp lifetime sharpening.

The Vertx S.O.C.P. Sling has a MSRP of $75.99. It’s currently available in three colorways It’s Black, Canopy Green/Galaxy Black and Shock Cord/Smoke Grey. It’s available online from Vertx at or at authorized Vertx dealers.


Benchmade, Inc.

Special Operations Combatives Program (SOCP)



Manufacturer: Benchmade
Model: 178SBK SOCP
Designer: Greg Thompson
Type: Fixed Blade Knife
Mechanism: N/A
Blade Steel: 440C Stainless Steel (58-60 HRC)
Blade Length: 3.22″ (8.18 cm)
Blade Thickness: 0.175″ (4.45 mm)
Blade Edge: Combo (Partially Serrated)
Blade Style: Skeletonized Drop-Point
Blade Finish: Black Cerakote
Overall Length: 7.25″ (18.42 cm)
Handle Length: 4.03″ (10.24 cm)
Handle Thickness: 0.175″ (4.45 mm)
Special Features: Finger Ring
Weight: 2.20 oz. (62.37 g) without Sheath
Lanyard Hole: Yes
Sheath: Injection Molded Plastic
Sheath Color: Black or Sand
Sheath Weight: 1.04 oz. (29.48 g)
MOLLE/PALS Compatible: Yes
Trainer Available: Yes
Type/Use: Tactical
Origin: USA
Warranty: Lifetime
MSRP: $125.00 (Knife); $155.00 (Knife & Training Dagger Combo)

Material Disclosure

I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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