Knife enthusiasts everywhere rejoice when they flip open a blade and see the iconic boomerang with the Osborne name inscribed on the blade, and no knife does the Osborne name more justice than those in the eponymous Benchmade 940 series.
The pocket knife designed by the late, great Warren Osborne is a work of art you can hold in your hand. It’s a stanza of cowboy poetry captured and held in blade form. You can tell he loved pocket knives more than even you do. Born on a ranch in Australia where, he said, from his early childhood days, “knives, or anything with a blade, were of great interest to me. Consequently, knives of all shapes and sizes were made from crosscut saws, chainsaw bars, galvanized steel stays from telephone poles and any other piece of steel found lying around.”
He found his calling in life early, and he became recognized as one of the top best knife makers in the world. He once said, “Quality has always been the motivation for me, bringing tight tolerances and fine hand finishes into one complete package.”
We miss his presence at Blade Shows and in the knife world. As a ranch hand in Australia and a horse trainer in the United States, that cowboy hat he wore was well deserved.
Perhaps Warren Osborne’s greatest legacy in the knife world, and that’s a big perhaps—as a co-founder of Blade Sports International and an important member of the Knife Maker’s Guild, he’s had a huge impact—is the much beloved and still-going-strong Benchmade Osborne 940.
The first incarnation of the Benchmade Osborne hit the knife scene back at Blade Show 2000 in Atlanta. The folder must’ve made an impression because it’s over twenty years later, and here we are still talking about it.
More importantly, the 940 Osborne was made to be put to work, all sleekness aside. Remember, a ranch hand designed the 940. This tried-and-true knife sports a reverse tanto blade, which puts extra reinforcement behind the tip, resulting in a stronger blade for a variety of chores.
The 940 Osborne was a splash of color in a desert of ink–back then, it seems, most pocket knives came dressed in black. And there’s nothing wrong with that; who doesn’t like that touch of sleek? But the sturdy aluminum scales in an eye-catching pop of fresh green were refreshing. Don’t forget that purple titanium backspacer, either. That revolutionary detail adds immeasurably to the beauty of this knife. Besides, that reverse tanto blade—originally made from 154CM steel but changed to S30V just a few years later— gives this knife all the sleek it needs.
And don’t let the slenderness in the handle and blade fool you. I’ve talked to more than one person who thought the folder would be too slight for their hand, just to change their minds when they got a hold of one. Benchmade and Osborne came together to make a knife that seems to fit just about everyone perfectly. Even better, customers say they reach for this knife every day because, despite its workhorse performance, the super light folder disappears into their pocket, and they can forget about it until it’s needed.
Perhaps the Osborne 940 is such a big deal because it is a knife of firsts: One of the first knives to use a super steel, one of the first to have the famous Benchmade AXIS Lock which provides ambidextrous manual opening and gives it strength that rivals a fixed blade, one of the first to have a reverse tanto blade, and one of the first to favor design so well. Even the pivot pin is a marvel–it can withstand up to 200 pounds of pressure without a problem. With all this behind it, the Benchmade Osborne is a knife that’s made to last. Not only is it a solid piece of workmanship, but Benchmade also offers one of the best knife warranties out there. Once you have one of your own, you’ll be glad it’s a lifetime knife.
- Satin-finished reverse tanto blade made from CPM S30V.
- Dual thumb stud openers.
- Green-anodized aluminum handle.
- Secure AXIS lock.
- Reversible tip-up pocket clip.
The Osborne 940 is also available with a black blade in the form of the 940BK, as well as with a black aluminum handle with clip point blades in the 943 series (now discontinued). If you’re looking for simple style, the 940 and 943 models are your best bets. One things is for certain: Benchmade 940 variants are just as iconic and evergreen as the original.
Or if you’re opting for a more unique addition to your collection, this gorgeous thing has all the phenomenal materials as the original, but with carbon fiber scales instead of aluminum. Now this comes down to personal preference, but the carbon fiber makes the folder even lighter. Instead of a backspacer, there are strategically placed, blue anodized standoffs or barrels to support the carbon fiber and prevent any weakness or flex. To cap this updated design, the 940-1 features CPM S90V for increased edge retention over S30V.
If you’re really looking for a next-level addition to your EDC rotation, this is the perfect piece. Natural jade G-10 handle scales give this model a standout appearance and Blade HQ flare. Plus, if you prefer a custom look, jade G-10 can be dyed easily. The black-finished CPM M4 blade is another Blade HQ signature, boasting excellent edge retention and toughness for those who are looking for a knife that stays sharp for a long time.
Twenty years after the original’s sensational debut, the long-awaited minis made their entrance with the same remarkable green and purple colorways as the original, but with purple standoffs instead of a backspacer, and also other stunning color combinations. With a blade that’s a half-inch shorter, and over an inch shorter in total, this knife takes the workhorse of the Osborne and transforms it into a work pony. Now the iconic folder was available to more knife junkies who live in states with stricter knife laws. The shorter handle still works for large and gloved hands, has the same reliable handle materials, AXIS lock, CPM S30V steel, and phosphor bronze washers for a classic, smooth pivot action.
Both the original 940 and 945 have much to offer any EDC knife collection. If choosing between the two, the decision will have to come down to the user’s preference. To be honest, I’d like one of each and I’ll tell you which one I like better after a year or two. To fairly represent the brand, I think it’s a sacrifice I’ll have to make. Then I’ll hold onto them for the rest of my life just to make sure, and I’ll let you know if my opinion changes. (Just in case.)
- Reverse tanto blade made from CPM S30V stainless steel with a satin finish.
- Double thumb stud opener that can be used with your right or left hand.
- Green aluminum scales with purple backspacers.
- Benchmade’s renowned AXIS lock mechanism.
- Reversible pocket clip for tip-up carry.
Released in the summer of 2020, the new Osborne blew us all away. All that was good from the original 940 is still front and center, but now with an auto mechanism. The plunge lock is a pleasure to use and the snappy automatic action is a joy. It has the original style jimped purple backspacer, but now with more coverage, and the same green aluminum handle. This is a true EDC automatic . One big plus is the split arrow pocket clip, which is a fan favorite.
- Reverse tanto blade made from CPM S30V.
- Recessed button lock for one-handed automatic deployment.
- Green-anodized aluminum handle.
- Secure button lock.
- Reversible tip-up pocket clip.
Benchmade 940 Customization and Accessories
The beauty of a knife that has been in the game for as long as the Benchmade Osborne has is that the prevalence of aftermarket knife parts and add-ons is vast. The Osborne is a fan-favorite, and all favorites tend to become a canvas upon which knife customizers add. Flytanium, a specialist in aftermarket parts for the top knives out there, creates high-quality replacement scales for Benchmade knives, including the Osborne and Mini Osborne. Take a look at some of the precision-machined Benchmade Osborne scales Flytanium offers:
Glow Rhino manufactures thumb studs compatible with many Benchmade models, including the Osborne, that feature tritium inserts. Up the tactical factor of your Benchmade Osborne knife with a luminescent spot and never fumble for your knife in the dark or lose your knife in the depths of your bag again.
So there you have it. We love the Osborne in its many incarnations, and we think you will, too.
If you’ve wondered in the past why this knife of all knives is such an iconic presence in the blade world, we hope we’ve answered your questions. There is a lot of greatness and craftsmanship out there in our community, but we don’t think you can overestimate the impact the Osborne 940 has had on the knives being made today.
In short, this is a knife we can’t help but wholeheartedly recommend—it’s tough, delicate, lightweight, burly, and undeniably cool all in one easy-to-use package. It has run with the best of them for over twenty years and doesn’t look like it will stop anytime soon. Plus, with Benchmade’s lifetime warranty, easy-to-get replacement parts, and customer service, you’ll never have to go without this everyday carry favorite. For the price point, you’re paying for a lifetime of quality, a knife that can be an extension of you in hard-use cases (like ranch work), and a folder that feels as good in your hand and pocket as it looks.
Before we go, let’s raise a glass one last time to Warren Osborne. He didn’t much like public speaking or making a big fuss about himself, but his presence changed the knife world forever. Lyndon B. Johnson, another famous Texan, liked to say about himself that he was a cross between a preacher and a cowboy, but somehow—with his religious faith and hands-on ranch experience—this saying makes me think more of Warren Osborne than anybody else. It’s been a few years now since his passing, but we still miss him in the knife world. I think we always will.
First comes the cowboy; he is pointed for the west.
Of all the pioneers I claim the cowboys are the best.
You will miss him on the round-up; it’s gone, his merry shout,
—The cowboy has left the country and the campfire has gone out.
Want more of the Benchmade 940? Check out this in-depth look at the history of this iconic knife!