Do you want your balisong to flip better? Does your butterfly knife look boring and drab? Is your balisong having a mid-life crisis and feeling the need to reinvent itself? Fortunately, if you or your balisong is experiencing any of these problems, there is a solution: modding.
Modding runs deep in the world of butterfly knives. There are endless ways to customize your knife and numerous people that specialize in mod work. Prices will vary depending on the modification you want, as well as the experience level of the modder doing the work.
Balisong mods come in all shapes and sizes, and not all mods are created equal. Some are purely cosmetic, others will change both the look and the performance of the knife. They can be budget-friendly, budget-unfriendly, or anywhere in between. Some are subtle, others are loud and vibrant. Some mods are specific to a single model, while others can be applied to multiple knives.
The options may seem endless, but don’t worry: here’s a list of the top 10 mods for butterfly knives that are currently out there, as well as a few recommendations for trusted modders that are exceptional at their craft.
Kicking off this list is one of the most common butterfly knife mods: anodization. Scientifically speaking, anodizing is an electrochemical process that adds an oxide layer to the outside of the metal.
Unlike processes such as painting or cerakoting, anodization does not chip or crack (though it can fade and be rubbed off over time).
The oxide layer that forms on steel is known as rust (which is not very desirable to have on any knife!), but the oxide layer formed on titanium and aluminum via the anodization process can be controlled to create corrosion-resistant customizable color patterns.
Strictly speaking anodization is a cosmetic mod and doesn’t affect flipping performance in and of itself. It is not uncommon, however, to have handles refinished just prior to anodizing, which may change the texture and grippiness of the handles.
Although aluminum can be anodized, the process is much more involved than that of titanium. Balisongs with aluminum handles will often come anodized from the factory, but unlike titanium anodizers it can be very difficult to find a modder that offers aluminum anodizing services.
Titanium, on the other hand, can be anodized relatively easily. Strictly speaking, basic titanium anodizing can be done with some common household objects, but some special equipment is required for more advanced anodizing techniques.
Some people want to try their own hand at it, but if you’re looking to send out your knife to be anodized you’ll likely find plenty of options at several price points, from inexpensive amateurs looking to build their portfolio all the way up to professionals that can create more intricate designs and consistent coloring.
Not every color can be achieved through anodization, but there is a wide range of colors that are possible. There are also a number of styles that handles can be anodized, including single color, dual tone, fade, toxic ano, LSD, and splatter ano, just to name a few.
Some modders even anodize according to a specific style or idea, using complimentary color combinations to mod the knife according to a specific theme such as the joker (green and purple) or cotton candy (pink and bright blue).
As previously mentioned, the anodizing process can be used to achieve many, but not all colors. This is one of the advantages of cerakote - the ability to color your balisong into colors that anodization cannot achieve.
Cerakote is a thin ceramic coating that comes in a variety of colors and can be applied to a variety of materials, so unlike anodizing it is not restricted to specific metals. This means that you can cerakote not only your titanium handles, but also the blade!
This balisong mod is a great choice if you’d like your balisong to have colors that are not possible through anodization. This can be used to create striking color combinations, such as the black and red combination found on several knives in @clockworkflips’ collection.
3. Barrel Spacers
One of the most important factors in the flipping performance of a butterfly knife is its weight distribution. The overall weight of the knife is significant, but how that weight is spread throughout the blade and handles will affect the balance, handling, and how the knife carries momentum.
A “heavy” balisong with calculated weight distribution and balance is likely going to be much more comfortable to flip than a poorly-balanced knife within the “goldilocks” weight zone.
That being said, there is no one right answer. There is no “one size fits all” solution that will result in the “best” configuration. Some flippers prefer blade or handle bias, others like a more neutral knife.
One of the ways that makers and modders have been able to cater to flippers with different preferences is with spacers with varying weights.
Those who flip butterfly knives will notice even the smallest variations in the weight at the end of a handle. This is one of the reasons why many people take off their latches and pocket clips, and why some makers are experimenting with ways to customize handle weight distribution that don’t involve spacer replacement.
The Tsunami from Squid Industries, for example, comes with extra pins that can be placed in or removed from the insides of the handles for minute adjustments.
Features such as this are not very common and are relatively new. A more common way to adjust the weight distribution in a balisong is with barrel spacers. These replace the stock spacers on the knife, and come in a variety of sizes and materials to make the handles slightly lighter or heavier.
The most popular barrel spacers come from @kuski_craft, who makes a variety of barrel spacers for an array of different balisong models.
@kuski_craft has barrel spacers available for a variety of balisongs (many more than pictured here)
4. New Scales
One of the most fun and versatile butterfly knife mods is scale replacement. The two most common balisongs you can find scale replacements for are the Replicant from Bladerunners Systems (BRS) and Benchmade model 51 Morpho, although some makers do make scales for other knives and balisong trainers.
G10 is one of the most popular scale materials, but there are many other options on the market. Flytanium makes great titanium scales for the Benchmade 51, 6x series, and the Kershaw Lucha. Still other scales are 3d printed, and you may even come across some wooden ones here and there!
Keep in mind that changing the scales on your balisong will often affect not only the look of the knife, but also the way that it flips.
Different scales can change the texture, add or remove weight, change the balance, and alter the dimensions, making it thinner, thicker, rounder, or blockier.
A BRS Replicant with replacement scales from @hammerdesigns sits atop this balisong pile
5. Custom Hardware
Sexbolts and screws are often overlooked when modding, but some colorful hardware can add some nice accents to a butterfly knife if done tastefully.
Titanium screws are a great way to add some flair. Squid Industries even offers some of their products with anodized titanium hardware. Steel is harder than titanium, making it a functionally better choice for hardware, but titanium screws are still hard enough to use without major issues and have the advantage of a wider variety of color customization via anodization.
Since titanium is lighter than steel this will affect the weight and balance very slightly, but is nowhere near as noticeable as spacer or scale replacement.
If you don’t want to go the titanium route but still want to color your hardware, blackened stainless steel screws might be for you. Kuski craft often has these in stock, and are great for people wary of titanium hardware but still want to change up the look of their knife. Not to mention they’re a must-have for anyone going for a “murdered out” build.
6. Jimpy Designs: Space Invaders
The Benchmade 51 has a lot going for it, but it’s never been known for being a great flipper in its stock configuration. For a lot of people it might be their first step into the world of butterfly knives and flipping, as they are generally relatively easy to obtain, have a pretty low price tag (as far as balisongs go), and come from a reputable company that knows how to produce a rugged, long-lasting knife. It makes a great EDC - D2 steel, titanium pocket clip, spring latch for easy opening, and a light weight that will make it disappear in your pocket.
As a flipper, however, some of these features are a detriment to the 51. Pocket clips can get in the way, latches can throw off the balance, and its short handles and low weight (only 3.3oz) make it a somewhat awkward flipper. Luckily, due in large part to its sandwich style construction, the 51 is a great platform for modding.
There’s a long list of ways to mod your 51, but one of the most sought after is to install Space Invaders from Jimpy Designs. These g10 faux channel spacers replace the stock spacers and make the balisong latchless. They also add a bit of length and weight to the end of the handles, dramatically increasing its flipping performance.
Due to the popularity of this mod they are almost always out of stock. When they drop they come in a few different color options, but make sure to place your order as fast as you can because they usually sell out quickly!
Although some of the most common balisong mods involve changing the handles in some way, reblades are also a great way to customize a knife to your liking and there are many different reasons to get one.
One of the more common reasons for reblades are to make a live bladed knife into a trainer or vice versa. Aftermarket trainer blades are becoming more and more popular, and some makers have started producing trainer versions of their more popular live blades.
On the flip side, you can also find sharpened blades for some balisongs that are produced only as trainers. People have made live blades for the Bbbarfly, Glidr Sahara, and even the Squiddy! Not only can getting a reblade make your trainer into a real knife, you can go even further and make it a double edge.
In addition to changing the functionality of your balisong, reblades can also add aesthetic customization. Perhaps you want a blade with a dragon scale finish, made from damascus steel, or just with a different profile or blade shape. Reblades give you the option to make your knife look very different from how it comes stock, and allow you to really make your knife your own.
If changing the spacers and scales isn’t enough or isn’t an option, rehandles can be a great way to level up your balisong. Although you can technically rehandle any balisong, the most common production rehandles are made for butterfly knives with stock steel handles due to their notoriety for being too heavy.
If you are looking to improve the flipping performance of your butterfly knife, rehandling might be the way to go. FlyTanium makes excellent aluminum handles for the Kershaw Lucha that drastically improve flipping performance by making the knife lighter and improving its balance.
Not only will rehandling your balisong change its performance, but it will obviously alter its look as well. This makes for yet another way to customize your knife to exactly how you want it to look.
9. Fox Fire Factory Replicant Liners (and more)
The next mod on this list are titanium liners for the BRS Replicant made by Fox Fire Factory (@fox.fire.factory on Instagram). Aftermarket Rep liners have been available for some time, however they’ve typically been made of a single titanium slab just like the stock liners.
Fox Fire’s liners are still made from titanium but also contain skeletonized patterns that reduce weight, making for a more unique flipping experience. They are especially great for reducing weight on the BRS Hybrid Replicant (which some flippers find to be too heavy in its stock configuration), and pair particularly well with @Aestheticdesignllc’s clear Rep scales to show off the skeletonized pattern in the titanium.
Also worth mentioning are Fox Fire’s Replicant spacer replacements. He makes full-length spacers as well as full-length faux-channel spacers, both from titanium. Both are great ways to further customize the look and feel of your Rep, as well as change the sound profile for the balisong ASMR enthusiasts.
Note: In the context of spacers, “full-length” refers to spacers that extend all the way to the ends of the handles, and therefore do not leave room for a latch. “Faux-channel” refers to spacers that fill in the gap between the handle scales/liners all the way from the ends of the handles up to near the tang of the knife, mimicking channel construction.
10. Make it Glow
Although some might consider it to be a bit gimmicky, putting some glow in the dark mods on your balisong is a great way to add a little something extra, unique, and unusual. Glow in the dark parts are available for several different balisong models but can be somewhat difficult to come by.
Noteworthy producers of glow in the dark balisong parts include @imoddcustoms, @aestheticdesignllc, and @snoby_works. @imoddcustoms produces scales for the BRS Replicant, albeit in quite limited quantity due in part to the material used being particularly fragile and difficult to work with, kirinite.
@Aestheticdesign has made similar glow scales for the Benchmade 51, as well as full-length faux-channel spacers for the Replicant. If you happen to have a Maryn from @Machinewise, @snoby_works makes “glow worms” that fit snugly into the spaces in its skeletonized handles.
If you’re looking for a more subtle touch, there are several makers that offer parts made out of glow carbon fiber. You’ll likely find this material being used most often to make replacement spacers, although it can also be used in replacement scales.
There’s 10, But There Are Many More!
Although some people prefer to keep their knives exactly as they come from the company, others enjoy the option to customize their balisongs and change either the look of the knife, the flipping performance, or both!
There are many more types of mods out there than what are included here, including blade regrinds, shorty Krakens, engravings, etc. Deciding on what mods to get can be a bit overwhelming, but hopefully this list has given you a good starting point. If you’d like to hear some perspectives from some excellent balisong modders, check out our previous article Quick Questions with 3 Balisong Modders!
Mods come in a wide variety of price points, alter your butterfly knife in different ways and to varying degrees, and can be either temporary or permanent. Just remember that although a mod might make your balisong a better flipper, it’s not going to make you a better flipper, so modding is not a substitute for good old fashioned practice!