If you work at Blade HQ long enough, you’re going to buy a Benchmade knife.
They are undeniably great knives. Anyone familiar with the community and the top-performing companies knows that, but we also know that a Benchmade tends to be pricier, which can be a deterrent to owning one. However, the more we use them every day, the more we realize they actually have an excellent value. The superior materials, thoughtful design, and heirloom potential are exceptional.
Keep in mind, we see thousands of knives coming through the HQ, and the fact that, eventually, we all seem to snag one—from the newbie knife nerd to the guy who’s banging out a blade or two in his basement—means a lot.
Each Benchmade knife is hand assembled, and that’s where their name comes from: Bench-made. This kind of professional detail can’t be reproduced by a machine. They started in the 80s with founder Les deAsis’ handmade custom Balisong knives, and the company gained notoriety with the very first production Balisong. To this day, American-born and bred Benchmade continues to set industry standards with innovative designs and premium products.
Perhaps most admirable is their commitment to the Benchmade customer. The general lifetime warranty is excellent, and their LifeSharp service, as the company says, “guarantees that Benchmade will re-sharpen your knife to a factory edge for free, for the life of the knife.”
They stand behind what they sell, and their motto encapsulates this commitment:
Yours, for Life.
For this Best Of list, we’re going to have our staff and customers weigh in.
We’ve written about “Best Benchmade Knives” before, and I admit I’m switching it up and talking about the 940 first this time, even though these are listed in no particular order. Why? Because when I asked about favorites around the office, the 940 was the clear winner. Blade HQ employees love their Benchmade knives, but the 940 was mentioned the most. It got to the point I felt like asking, “What is your favorite Benchmade and why is it the 940?”
One of the firsts to use a supersteel and to use the Benchmade AXIS Lock, this knife arrested the notice of the knife world and has managed to hold onto its status with distinction. The 940 is one of the few models on the market (from any brand) that’s consistently kept its popularity and relevance.
The 940 has fabulous grip and it just feels right in your hand. We hear a lot that people think it will be too slim but are surprised by how perfectly it fits in their palm. It’s a knife that manages to be slender and tough. Don’t forget, it was designed by a rancher, renowned knife maker Warren Osborne, for the toughest of jobs. That’s what makes the reverse tanto blade shape so perfect. The tip is sharp for major piercing ability, but the tanto makes that tip strong and difficult to break. That little extra swell of belly by the tip also gives you some nice slicing action. It’s a total win-win.
- Reverse Tanto Blade
- AXIS Lock
- 2.60 oz.
- Made in USA
Brianne, our Marketing Manager, says, “My first Benchmade was the Osborne 940 Blade HQ exclusive! It is my favorite knife and I usually always carry it as my workhorse knife. The blade shape is perfect in style, utility, and profile. I love how lightweight it is, and it cuts with ease due to the quality steel!“
Jacob from our copywriting department says, “I like the Benchmade Osborne 940 for a lot of reasons. I love how sleek and slim it is, requiring little room in the pocket and bolstering my stylish aesthetic when I dress up. I like its unique blade shape and how the handle feels in my hand. Most of all, though, I like how many customization options exist for the 940. On mine, I have black DLC-finished titanium handle scales and titanium hardware from Flytanium, with a custom-anodized titanium thumb stud. It has the Blade HQ-exclusive black M4 steel blade, which—aside from refusing to get dull—blacks out the knife, leaving only the thumb stud as a pop of color (rose gold, if you want to know). The Benchmade 940 is a stellar platform for gentlemen and EDC users that features a customizable aesthetic that allows you to nail your vibe.”
By no small margin, we sell more Benchmade Bugouts than any other knife, and once you get one in your hand, the reason becomes clear. It comes in at a close second at the office for our favorite Benchmade, and the owners here are passionate about their choice. Why the love? Bugout users often say that this is the best pocket knife they’ve ever carried. It’s compact and so deceptively light, you’ll forget you have it on you—but it’s sturdy enough for almost any job. Perfect for hikers, and of course your bugout bag, this blade rose to the top of the EDC community quickly. Well, I could go on and on, but Mitch was so enthusiastic I’m going to let him take over.
- Drop Point Blade
- AXIS Lock
- 1.85 oz.
- Made in USA
Mitch from our copywriting department says, “The Bugout might be kind of a basic answer when it comes to picking a favorite Benchmade knife, but it’s a classic for a reason. I use my Bugout the most when I’m out on the trail or in the backcountry, where I need my knife to be sharp, durable, and lightweight. The Bugout’s CPM S30V steel does a great job checking all three of those boxes, particularly excelling in edge retention and corrosion resistance. I’ve always been a fan of bright and bold colored gear, so the Bugout’s blue grivory handle is what initially caught my eye, and I love how thin and lightweight it is. The Bugout has let me cut weight without sacrificing comfort or function. I picked up my Bugout to be a quick last-minute addition to my pack that I could mostly ignore, but it’s quickly become one of my favorite pieces of gear and I rarely leave home without it.
I’m also really looking forward to the release of the Benchmade Narrows—and not just because it’s named after one of my favorite areas of my favorite national park. The Narrows is 33% thinner than the Bugout and is made from Bohler M390 steel and titanium.“
When you want a fixed-blade knife, but then you also want a pocket knife EDC, but then you also want a fixed blade but … this is the perfect knife for both worlds. It manages to be fairly light, compact, and easy to carry—but it’s also a solid, hardcore knife you can work hard. The high, flat grind is wonderfully slicey, but the blade is thick enough for heavier-duty tasks. You’ll find this beast is front forward, the balancing shifting towards the blade. Although this is from the Benchmade Blue Class, the balance lends itself well to tactical movements should you need them, and to formidable wilderness chores. It’s a little bigger than most folders, but there is a Mini Freek if that isn’t right for you.
- Drop Point Blade
- AXIS Lock
- 4.30 oz.
- Made in USA
George says, “I love the Freek because it looks great and can take a beating. A knife is a tool, after all, but it’s always more fun to put a good-looking knife in your pocket than something ugly. The gray and black looks great, and the fading of the blade matches it super well. The handle is comfy, the blade steel is tough and holds a great edge, and the AXIS Lock is strong and fidgety. I smile every time I slide this knife into my pocket!”
From the Black Class, the Bailout’s been described as a “Tactical Bugout,” and who wouldn’t want that in their pocket? I know I do! (No, really. I don’t have my Benchmade yet, and this is the one I’ve been eyeing.) For one thing, a tough tanto blade like this one means strength and versatility, and Benchmade has shaped and finished theirs to perfection. The aluminum scales are strong and light, and the glass breaker is perfectly placed so it doesn’t get in your way, but it’s there when you need it. We also love the extended pommel that serves as a lanyard spot. A beefed-up beauty and beast, but it only weighs 2.70 ounces. Sign me up!
- Tanto Blade
- AXIS Lock
- 2.70 oz.
We think customer Joshua G.’s got this covered. He says, “The Bugout was a good knife that everyone loved, but the Bailout improves on it in every way for me! What an incredible knife, excellent design, a slightly longer handle which helps with my hands, a tanto blade (my favorite), 3V steel while being dressed down in muted gray and black, great job BM! It’s my EDC currently and will be for a while! I’m probably going to buy a second one to play around with the upcoming mods—it’s that great.”
If you ask around the knife community about any folder, there’s a good chance you’ll hear, “But how does it compare to the Griptilian?” multiple times. It’s the least expensive AXIS Lock knife you can buy, but it still uses top-quality materials and has a top-quality build—and with its extra wide and contoured handle scales, it is second to none in ergonomics. With all that Benchmade has to offer, including the incredible AXIS Lock, the Griptilian brings the quality but at an accessible price. It’s a classic pocket knife with a grippy handle, dual thumb studs, and an impressive blade. The jimping is a joy and the blade finish is gorgeous. Benchmade applied this design to both the Griptilian and the Mini Griptilian.
- AXIS Lock
- 3.82 oz.
- Made in USA
Nate, a blade HQ buyer, says, “It has come in a variety of different blade steels and with thumb studs or a thumb hole (I prefer the thumb hole). It’s also customizable. It is just a great-sized knife, capable of doing a lot of work, and holds up well.”
When people talk about the Meatcrafter, they tend to say the same thing. It’s sooooooo shaaaaaaarp! Aside from its scary-sharp, keen edge, another huge plus is its tremendous versatility. Whether you use this knife to dress game, cook in the field, filet a fish, or slice and dice in the comfort of your own kitchen, the Meatcrafter was made for you. People tend to toss it in their truck or reserve it for the holiday roast, but this knife from Benchmade’s hunting class is ready for whatever you have in mind. An exceptional knife, whether you choose the pricier versions with matching price point materials or the more accessible model with still high-quality elements. We love this hybrid fixed blade and its ability to debone and slice meats with chef-quality results. Designed with just the right amount of blade flex for excellent hunting/cooking performance perfection.
- Trailing Point
- Fixed Blade
- 4.52 oz.
- Made in USA
Kendal, our resident fisherwoman from the copywriter and photography department says, “The Meatcrafter is wicked sharp and I like it because it can cut through basically anything, so watch your fingers. It cuts through steaks effortlessly. I use it mostly to filet fish. When you are fileting a fish, there is nothing worse than a dull knife. I also like the blade shape because it allows me to slide right through while gutting a fish. This knife does more than a good job. It is excellent.”
You don’t see something like this very often. An automatic, out-the-front knife this strong and this light? Impossible. Not for Benchmade! The tough CRU-WEAR steel blade is reliable whether you’re out in the field or need a sharp blade in an EDC environment. The knife has an excellent snappy opening and closing action. (Yeah, that’s right. This beaut has a double-action thumb slide opener.) Many consider this as a perfect EDC: an automatic knife that is similar to what an OTF Bailout would be. The tanto blade, however, clinches its usefulness as an excellent tactical knife.
- Automatic OTF
- 2.80 oz.
- Made in USA
Customer Travis J. says, “The handle is lightweight, perfectly fit, and rigid with no play. The blade has minimal play, on par with Microtech. The blade is razor sharp and the finish has held up well. Yes, it does smudge, but a quick wipe with a wet towel will restore it. The pocket clip seems quite strong. I have snagged it once on my seat belt and it did not bend. It carries comfortably due to its slim profile and lightweight design. Overall, this is one of my favorite OTFs out of the several that I own (including Microtechs). It is a quality blade that deserves to be carried and used with regularity.”
It’s a tactical beast of a blade! The brawny Adamas is overbuilt with full steel liners, has a rugged AXIS Lock of course, and supremely tough CRU-WEAR steel. Make no mistake, this knife is big and heavy, but thanks to its contoured handle scales and thoughtful design, it’s a joy to use and doesn’t feel unwieldy in the hand. It’s been designed to keep fighting without tiring you out. Is it a little too big for you? Check out the Mini Adamas. Still a beast, still tough, but more convenient when it comes to versatility as an EDC knife as well as for tactical use. Check out the Adamas Fixed Blade. Need it to open faster? There’s an Automatic Adamas, too. Any of these options will probably outlast you.
- Drop Point
- Axis Lock
- 6.45 oz (Mini 4.60 oz.)
- Made in USA
Ben, a Blade HQ buyer, says, “My fav is the Mini Adamas! It’s one of the only Benchmade knives that I own that I feel like I don’t need to upgrade anything. It’s kind of a beefier knife, but that’s why I like it. The contoured handle feels great, the thumb stud is big and easy to hit with any part of my finger, the Cru-Wear blade steel and the thickness of the blade give me confidence for hard use tasks, and the action is very smooth due to the weight of the blade. Its only real downside is the overall weight; it’s a tad heavy, but that’s a fair trade-off in my opinion.“
There’s so much jimping on the infidel, this knife’s not going anywhere no matter how hard it hits. The double-edged dagger point is highly effective—AKA crazy good—at piercing and slicing, and the high-quality steel provides excellent edge retention and corrosion resistance. Thanks to its symmetrical design and double-edged blade, the Infidel is also 100% ambidextrous and 100% the boss in the field. Sturdy aluminum keeps things light.
- Double-edged Dagger Blade
- Double-Action OTF Mechanism
- 4.90 oz.
- Made in USA
Customer Travis W. says, “I have several OTF-type automatics and this one definitely takes the cake. It arrived perfectly and carefully packed in an original box and inside a holster. It was mercifully free of any blemishes or oil on the blade and handle. The action is solid, satisfying, and pretty unbelievable considering the size of the blade. It’s well-constructed, feels good in the hand, and even has a feel of balance that I haven’t had before with OTF knives. The handle is textured and definitely customized for this particular model. I particularly love the ridges under the release that allows for a better grip. I have nothing negative to say about this knife. It’s amazing.”
Hold on to the Claymore when you’re ready to give it a go; when you hit the automatic push button release, the knife deploys with admirable action. Happily, Benchmade puts plenty of texturing and jimping on the body so your grip is solid. The safety slide is also a crucial element, keeping you secure from the horrors of accidental deployment. Grivory handles are weatherproof and the excellent blade, whether you choose a drop point or a tanto version, is sharp and corrosion-resistant. Basically, a Claymore is a classic tactical knife that is made for hard use in the elements, yet you can get away with carrying it as an EDC in your everyday life. The Morse code on the handle, however, is there to remind you what this knife is really all about: FTE (Front Toward Enemy).
- Drop point blade and tanto
- Automatic button lock
- 3.87 oz. weight.
- Made in USA
Customer Rob W. says, “Yes, I have many knives but this by far is the most I have ever spent on a knife. I always thought that most knives were pretty much the same. Boy, was I wrong. From the moment I felt this in my hand, I knew what I had been missing. The auto is aggressive, to say the least, but predictable once you open it a few times. It is bigger than what I usually carry, although this has now found an everyday place in my pocket. The blade has remained sharp as new even after a month of use. I am so impressed by the build quality, I am now looking to see what Benchmade knife I purchase next!”
Let’s be honest. There’s something that feels almost wrong about making a Best Of list when it comes to Benchmade, because they all have their place in your collection. While typing this up, I felt the need to personally apologize to the Anonimus and the Redoubt, because they deserve to be here, too. But then, don’t they all? Thoughtful engineering is what Benchmade is known for, and every knife they make is worth consideration. Their hunting knives have jimping made specifically for sideways motion and work in the field. The Bugout is so light and tough because it was made for your bugout bag. Their tactical knives can fight the good fight right to the end.
As I said, they all have their place. Your preference and the purpose of your knife purchase is really the deciding factor here, but you can’t go wrong with any Benchmade.
Stay sharp, knife friends!