If you’re going to ask any prepared person what the most essential tool that they carry is, I’ll bet you a hundred bucks they will say their knife.
Knives are simply indispensable… Whether it is as multi-purpose tools or vicious close-quarters weapons, a good knife is quite literally worth its weight in gold when the chips are down.
And speaking of gold, some knife brands fetch a very pretty penny indeed. Benchmade is one such maker.
They make a huge variety of knives, but all of them have one thing in common: for a production manufacturer, they tend to be among the most expensive in their class. But just why are Benchmade knives so expensive?
Benchmade knives are expensive because they use premium materials, high-precision manufacturing, excellent quality control processes, and are made in the United States.
The bottom line is that Benchmade knives just tend to be a lot nicer than their competitors.
Lots of folks might be happy with a cheaper knife, and I’m one of them most of the time, but there’s no contesting that Benchmades are definitely a cut above, if you’ll pardon that awful and overused pun.
Want to know more about what contributes to the steep price tag of Benchmades? Keep reading and I’ll tell you all about it.
They Are U.S. Made…
Something that is commonly overlooked by detractors of the brand is that Benchmades are made right here in the good, old US-of-A.
And before you say so, yes, it’s true that some of their knives were at one point manufactured overseas, or components of their knives were outsourced. But those days are past.
Presently, all of Benchmade’s knives are made right here domestically and you can verify this for yourself on their website.
Say what you want about the state of American manufacturing, I like to believe that it is a hell of a lot better than the borderline slave labor in some plantation-scale industrial sweatshop overseas.
But because they are made in America that means they cost more. Whether or not this factor makes a difference to you is a matter of opinion and taste. As for me, I’ll gladly pay more for a domestic product…
Benchmade knives tend to use a preponderance of high-grade materials throughout.
Yes, you’ll find a fair share of plastic depending on the model and the variant, but you also find a lot of good steel and other alloys used in all models, including on small parts like fasteners, liners, pivots, bearings, and so forth.
Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than in Benchmade’s choice of a “standard” blade steel in CPM S30V. Arguably a super steel, it is easy to sharpen, highly corrosion resistant, and takes a ferociously, and I mean wickedly, sharp edge.
Different models have different options for blade material, and likewise for frames and tangs, but you don’t see any cheap flea market-grade Chinese steel in Benchmade knives.
In fact, several of their models make use of titanium and other frighteningly expensive materials for many components, which contributes to breathtaking price tag- if you want a top of the line model…
Do you need this kind of performance and assurance? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t, there’s nothing wrong with being honest. But it is true to say this preference for high-end materials significantly increases the cost of a Benchmade knife.
Precision Manufacture, Precision Assembly
One thing that even detractors of Benchmade will have to begrudgingly admit is the overall build quality of their knives. There’s just something daggone nice about them, something that you can recognize and feel as soon as you pick them up.
All of their parts are precision machined and, for some steps, assembled whereas other models and certain delicate operations are performed by master craftsmen.
Unlike so many competitor’s knives, particularly much cheaper offerings you’ll find adorning the blister pack aisle in the camping section of a department store, there is no sloppiness, irregularity or poor fitment in your average Benchmade knife, and if there is it is truly an anomaly.
Fitting, finishing, and the almost imperceptible final touches that true connoisseurs alone will recognize: Benchmade spares no expense when it comes to precision in manufacture.
Exacting QA and QC
One of the most commonly overlooked contributors to quality knives, and really any other device or machine including cars, firearms, clothing, and more, is how much a company invests in quality assurance and quality control.
Commonly abbreviated as QA and QC respectively, these two processes are similar and overlapping, complementary you might say, but also distinct.
Quality assurance is basically a set of standards, guidelines or ethics that inform, influence and direct the development or creation of a product.
Quality control, on the other hand, is sort of the hands-on element of quality assurance, ensuring that all facets of production necessary to meet a certain quality standard are adhered to at every instance, accounted for, and that someone is made accountable for their production.
Basically, companies that have high levels of both will reject far more products prior to shipping them, both in the design phase and in the production phase, than companies that have low levels of one or both.
For instance, even the slightest blemish on a single component might be enough to get it rejected from use in a Benchmade product. Depending on the importance of the product, the entire knife might be scrapped.
More so, more knives from each batch and each lot produced will be inspected at multiple points for compliance and adherence to standards.
As part of this, it’s much easier to get a “failing grade” when going under the microscope this way. Now that is what exacting standards look like!
That’s also why Benchmade knives are so famously consistent from year to year: they have made quality assurance and quality control a borderline religion at the factory.
The sum and most tangible outcome of all of these factors is in the performance of a Benchmade knife. The bottom line is that you know it when you use it. These knives come from the factory so sharp they will cut you if you look at them.
All of their knives lock up as solidly and permanently as the breach of an artillery piece. Their scales do not shimmy, or wiggle or have annoying edges that will cause hot spots in hard use.
They do not bind or seize or fail even in harsh conditions so long as they are given the most rudimentary care. When you go to cut something with a Benchmade, by God it is cut. The effortless hiss of a Benchmade sliding through common materials is truly addictive.
That’s real performance staring back at you, and part of why these knives have a high price tag.
And lastly, something that’s intangible, at least for some of us. Lots of folks who don’t like expensive, nice things often decry them as just being a name, or a brand. “You’re paying for a name!” they shout.
With some things this is true. Hype and popularity have indeed raised many an empire built on a shabby product. But that isn’t true with Benchmade…
All the same, you are not paying for a name. Rather, you’re paying for the reputation associated with the name, and that reputation, as we’ve learned, is well-earned and worth it.
Benchmade makes high-performance knives for discerning users, whether they are everyday knife aficionados, hunters, EMS, police, military, or something else.
Their reputation precedes them, and in this case, you will indeed pay for it. Is it worth it? Once again, I leave that up to you, reader.
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.