An admitted knife and flashlight junkie, I’ve been on something of a lifelong quest for the perfect folding knife, and after years of daily carry and hard use, the Benchmade 940 series has won me over.
Opinions about the ‘best’ EDC (every day carry) knife abound, with strong opinions everywhere, and sizes and prices from mild to wild, but in my opinion Benchmade has really hit a home run with the 940 design and execution.
Size – not too big, not too small. Small enough to comfortably clip in and carry with any casual pants, or on the waistband if going pocketless in the summer, but big enough to take strong and long cuts in any material, and to be a formidable threat in a self defense situation.
Weight – the large comfortable grip and non-cutting, non-locking parts are executed in aluminum alloy, titanium, and stainless steel where needed to dramatically reduce weight without sacrificing durability or balance.
Grip – very comfortable for my large hands, bead blasted finish provides excellent traction without being sticky or feeling cheap like many plastic or rubber grips. Shape provides easy and natural one handed transitions to normal or reverse holds.
Clip – reversible and doesn’t weaken even after years of use. ‘Nuff said.
Steel – the modified reverse tanto S30v stainless blade is beautifully ground, beefy enough to make you want to test stab through steel drums, but the tanto design terminates in a point delicate enough to pick splinters out of your leathery palms or tiny o-rings out of oily grooves. Takes an edge with ease and holds it a long time – since it’s a matter of a minute or two for me to freehand sharpen, I generally keep knives ground to a very shallow angle – making for an easily attainable but fragile razor edge that should dull a lot faster than it does on the Benchmade. No annoying curves or sweeps that make it difficult to sharpen. Optional partially serrated model if you like that sort of thing – my preference being plain. (from the Wiki link above: CPM S30V steel is considered a premium grade knife steel so expensive that it strongly affects the price of the knife, and is largely used in higher end production, bench made and custom knives. Buck Knives calls it “the absolute best blade steel available”)
Price – Well. $140-180 average street price is not cheap, and many may hesitate to spend this much, or to use a $100 plus knife hard (it can take it), or carry it in risky loss-prone situations (understandable). But I believe Benchmade gives you a lot for your money here – the quality of the steel, the precision of the grinding and machining, and the understated but sexy details added here and there rival many custom knives found at much higher price points. And when you consider that I had my last one for about 10 years and it was smoother and sharper than new, once again buying real quality doesn’t actually cost so much in the long run. I carry it every day that I can and only use other knives for clearly abusive work or activities like hiking and camping.
The Action – Oh, the action – Benchmade’s axis lock is simply far and away the most sensible and easy to use deployment and locking mechanism that I’ve ever used in a folder. Before I experienced the axis lock, the right handed liner lock was my preference since it allowed easy one handed closing. But a few minutes handling the 940 and I forgot about everything else – it’s the only design I’ve used that allows me to both open and close my knife, one handed, and at any speed I want. You can whip this knife out of your pocket and deploy with lightning speed and a hard, menacing click. Then put it away just as fast. Or slip it gently out into your hand, casually and silently drop the blade open, and delicately slice an offending tough plastic bag or orange peel without breaking the rhythm of your conversation or making a scene. Benchmade produces many of their knives with this lock, and I’ve handled a lot of them, but somehow the 940 action is just butter – the weight of the blade is enough to really make it shine once it breaks in a little. It comes with an attractively machined ambidextrous thumb stud that I’ve never actually used, since the axis lock is so smooth it allows just the weight of the blade to do all the work, then locks up solid without any detectable wiggle in the blade.
Highest recommendation. I’ve bought three – my original, probably 10 years ago, which I handed to someone recently who immediately dropped and lost it. My current replacement, which I had to have immediately after the loss. And one purchased as a gift for a very good friend.
Here are some photos of my newer personal copy