The Benchmade 940 (also referred to as the Benchmade Osborne) is one of the few knives that has truly achieved iconic status. I don’t often review Benchmade products due to the relatively high entry costs, but this has been on my list for many, many years. On paper, it’s easy to gloss over the appeal of Benchmade products. The materials are not particularly exotic in this day and age and the designs, whilst unique, don’t exactly break the mold. Beyond superficial technicalities, however, there is something very special about Benchmades once you have one in your hands. Much like Spydercos in fact.
Aesthetically, the Benchmade Osborne 940 is quite brutish in appearance, which is odd as the aluminium scales are pretty in an unconventional sort of way. We have this quasi bolstered lookalike detail with deep sculpted swoops on the sides, and yet dressed in a sober, bead-blasted matte green anodized colour. It’s weird, but it works, and even though I was confused by the styling when the Osborne was first released, I couldn’t imagine it any other way now. It’s definitely unique, and I really like EDC-ing something other than black G-10.
Elise was pretty surprised by how compact the folder was when it arrived in the mail. It’s nearly 3.5 inch long blade folds into the scales so discreetly that you would think its a compact sub 3 inch folder.
As a matter of fact, in hand, I could swear that it’s smaller than the Spyderco UKPK just because the entire knife is so deceiving going by looks alone. To give you an idea, In terms of size, the Benchmade 940 is comparable to the Spyderco Paramilitary 2, but in hand, even though you get a serious amount of blade relative to its perceived size, you just don’t notice it.
I think the Osborne is probably the most blade you will get for a knife that looks this small, if you know what I mean.
Going back to the weird aesthetic flourishes, the back of the scales have a bright purple jimped back spacer. So dark green scales, anodized purple titanium back spacer and super unique tactical reverse tanto blade. Weird combination, but I can promise you that it really grows on you, and judging by its popularity, I am not alone in thinking this.
Speaking of the reverse tanto blade, the Benchmade Osborne also comes in a clip point, but frankly, I would strongly advise you to stick to the reverse tanto option. This blade is unbelievably versatile for all sort of tasks, including aggressive slicing, all whilst retaining a significant amount of strength compared to the more anemic clip point version. I don’t know why reverse tanto blades are not popular, but after rocking this knife for the past couple of weeks, I think Warren Osborne designed a real winner.
The axis lock, once considered the best lock in the industry, has been overshadowed by the TRI-AD lock when it comes to toughness, but the axis lock is still pretty damn impressive. For a lightweight solution, I think axis locks are a solid option. Lock up is tight and I never really worry about the 940 failing, despite the design relying on teensy tiny omega springs, which has always made me a smidgen uncomfortable even though I have never had a bad experience.
Deployment and lock up is super smooth and even a child could disengage it. For a lock with above average strength, I think it’s very impressive and intuitive. Bonus points as it’s lefty friendly, completely ambidextrous.
The thumbstuds are functional, but in my opinion not particularly natural to deploy the blade with, as I find that they ride a touch too close to the scales. This could be just me, though. These days I just flip out the blade by pulling the Axis lock down, which eliminates the detent. I would say deployment speed is as fast as an automatic knife with practice, and it’s definitely a lot of fun to play with (much to Elise’s annoyment, as she has to put up with the constant opening and closing when we are watching movies together).
In pocket, the clip is tight and secure, but definitely not a deep carry choice. With that said, its blacked out design coupled with the matte dark green scales means that the Osborne is relatively discreet for EDC use. The clip is left and right reversible, but tip up only, as God intended (Someone please tell me the appeal of tip down? I just don’t get it).
In hand, it’s shocking how much blade you get with this knife. I mean, just look at that photograph below.
The Benchmade 940 is a good sized 3.40 inches of CPM S30V, but if you place the knife closed on a table you really wouldn’t believe it.
The ergonomics are decent in a saber grip. I say decent and not excellent because the width and “hand filling” capabilities of the scales go against the general rule of good ergonomics. Let’s be real, the 940’s got a pretty thin handle, and that will always impact comfort. This is not an issue for me, as I like to think of the Osborne as a discreet little big knife. Not the sort of utility blade that you would use for strenuous slicing for 3 hrs a day, every day. It’s the sort of knife you whip out and cut whatever needs cutting, and then just as quickly it will disappear back into your pocket.
The blade has a lot of edge. Slicing capabilities are better than you would expect as from the photographs. It looks almost like a dagger with its relatively narrow design and reinforced tip. In terms of edge retention, it’s excellent, but for a knife that costs this much, I would expect nothing less. Same with fit and finish – my 940 has zero flaws or defects and that’s not something noteworthy as far as I am concerned, as I wouldn’t expect any quality issues.
I know many people review knives from a “price agnostic” point of view, but to me, price point matters. If you are going to drop close to 2 Franklins, the knife better be damn perfect out of the box.
Interestingly, Benchmade saw fit to grind the blade of the Osborne to a pretty lean edge (surprisingly, it’s a flat grind, not hollow) and that goes a long way in increasing its versatility. I didn’t expect the 940 to be so adept at slicing, but it really handles its own. The top swedge is, in my opinion, cosmetic only, as it doesn’t taper down to the tip. Frankly, the knife is stabby enough as it is, and not tapering down to the tip does mean that the Osborne is very, very tough. On top of that, it looks bad ass.
I wouldn’t say the Osborne is a beater knife, but a reverse tanto is definitely one of the tougher blade shapes as far as lightweight tactical knives go, which is to say that you shouldn’t abuse it, but if you did, it would handle the abuse just fine. My 2 cents.
The Benchmade 940 weighs in at 2.90 ounces. It’s not a featherweight folder, but it’s definitely on the light side for an EDC, with a 3.4 inch blade. I would say its biggest draw is its pocket-ability relative to its cutting prowess. I can’t think of many knives in production that have such a diminutive footprint (in pocket) whilst still being completely “full-sized”.
As I said quite a few times, this design definitely grows on you.
The green anodized scales are durable with limited scuffing even when handled roughly (as a matter of fact, only the edges seem to show any wear thus so far), and its versatility makes it pretty unique.
I can’t really think of any alternative models to the 940 from the competition. The Kershaw Blur and Spyderco Paramilitary 2 would be the two closest, but their width really makes the comparison difficult when placed side by side.
Reviewing the Benchmade 940/Osborne puts me in a difficult position. In a lot of ways, it’s the sort of knife that will fit whatever role you need at any given time, and yet most of the time, manufacturers release a knife with a clear purpose. Some knives are tough beaters and others are pocketable slicers. Here, we have a lightweight knife that carries more blade than you would imagine with a relatively lean grind, but a reinforced tip that can handle quite a bit of abuse.
Couple that with a lightweight, but strong lock, and solid but discreet scales, and you have a knife that is at home inside a church or the battlefield. It’s definitely an outlier, but if anything was to knock the Spyderco Paramilitary 2 off the number 1 spot for EDC knives, this would be it. The Benchmade Osborne 940 is the sort of folder that you really learn to appreciate after owning and carrying it for a while. Yes, a lot of you may question its bang for buck, and to put it bluntly, it’s a Benchmade, but I don’t think any of you really expected any different. $180 is a lot of money, especially when the Para 2 is $120, but I am not here to defend its price. Benchmade sells truckloads of the Osborne, so they certainly don’t need me to stick up for them. Personally, I would say the 940 is more “worth it” than the Griptilian and, I do feel like I got $180 worth of knife, but that’s just my opinion, and I know Benchmade pricing has been a sticky point with a lot of you.
At the end of the day – unique design and performance from a renowned designer with premium materials, perfect manufacturing, and the axis lock. Downside is it has a sticker price to match. You will have to make up your own mind if that’s okay with you.