Benchmade vs. KA-BAR: Two Giants of the Knife Business


When it comes to high end production knives, two U.S. manufacturers stand out: Benchmade and KA-BAR.  It’s impossible to find any knife aficionado that doesn’t have at least one of their knife models somewhere in their arsenal.

Benchmade is frankly a quality powerhouse.  Their steel quality, machine work and craftsmanship are practically a work of art.  Their price tags match their ambitions though, making KA-BAR a very capable competitor.

KA-BAR has a sterling reputation when it comes to their knives, many of which are used by the US armed forces and other members in service (Police, Firefighters & More) across the entire United States.


1. More about Benchmade 

Benchmade has been in this industry for close to four decades and only pushes out high quality steel knives. They produce a range of models, each of which comes with skilled craftsmanship and great performance.

As mentioned prior, the only thing that most people complain about is the price tag.  That is easily solved when you consider the shelf life of most Benchmade knives is many years, making the investment definitely worth the payoff – IF you can afford the cost of entry.

2. Knife Models & Specs

Benchmade has knives in just about every category, but even though it makes excellent products, the company has let us down lately because of its rabid anti-gun stance. The Oregon-based knife maker has not only helped the police destroy seized guns in its home state, but it has also repeatedly funded Democrat candidates with strong anti-gun rhetoric.

Politics aside, some of the most popular Benchmade models currently include:

The 940 Osborne: This one is a pricey EDC knife, but it comes close to perfection in nearly every aspect. The 940 Osborne has a sturdy well polished construction. The blade is made of S30V steel, which gives this gem an out-of-this-world edge retention and excellent anti-rust properties. According to multiple happy campers, the beautiful blade is firmly set in place (there’s no needless play) and it is centered up perfectly. The satin finish of this knife is also a show stopper. So, if you have the money, the 940 Osborne is a must-have in your knife collection.

Related Read: Benchmade 940 Osborne (S30V Steel) Pocket Knife Review

The Hidden Canyon: This compact hunting knife has a CPM-S30V steel blade of 2.67 inches in length. The knife comes in at 6.32 inches in overall length and has a choice of handle materials. It is a plain edge knife with a satin blade finish.

The Foray 698:  The Foray 698 comes with a blade made from CPM-2-CV steel. This is a manual opening folder that weighs 3.58 ounces. It has a satin finish blade and comes in a drop point style.  It’s a great knife to use outdoors and for everyday carry.

The Arvensis: An impressive knife designed by Shane Sibert, this fixed blade knife is 11.72 inches long overall with a blade measuring 6.44 inches. The steel for the blade is 154CM and it comes in a clip point style.

The New Boost:  The new Boost comes with a dual durometer handle to enhance grip performance. It has a CPM-S30V 3.70 inch blade. This is a folding knife with an overall open length of 8.52 inches.

The AFCK: The Advanced Folding Combat Knife by Benchmade is regarded as THE perfect folding knife, but for a mysterious reason, the U.S. knife maker has decided to discontinue it. Its partially serrated ATS-34 blade is outstandingly sharp (it can be used for batoning wood), while the blade design makes this knife perfect for cutting and stabbing when needed – the larger AFCK was, after all, originally designed as a tactical knife. This one’s a classic as it manages to perfectly pair looks and performance. It is hands down one of the best knives Benchmade has ever designed.

Benchmade 4600: The 4600 model offers both high performance and stylish design. This folder has a 3.45 inch blade made from CPM-S30V steel. It weighs 3.01 ounces and has a plain blade edge.  This makes for a great buy if you are comparing other options in the tactical knife category.

H20 Fixed Blade: The H20 Fixed was originally designed for military use as a rescue knife. With a serrated blade edge that measures 3.50 inches, this is a sturdy knife that is perfect for any rescue scenario. It is made from N680 steel and has a rubberized over mold handle in a choice of colors. The weight of the knife is 3.20 inches.

Related Read: Finding the Best Survival Knife in 2020 – Our Favorite Fixed Blades

3. More about KA-BAR

KA-BAR is a huge name in the knife manufacturing industry, which is little wonder given that the company has been making knives for well over one hundred years.  They have a storied history, and have some of the most popular knives on the market when it comes to finding a good knife in a decent price range.

Today, you can choose from a huge range of knives manufactured by KA-BAR, and almost all of them are solid picks. These knives are popular the world over and are used by military, huntsmen, law enforcement agencies, emergency service, and many others.

4. Knife Models & Specs

KA-BAR has knives that fit just about every scenario you can think of.  Here are some of our favorites:

TDI Law Enforcement Tanto: The Large TDI Law Enforcement Tanto is perfect for any Law Enforcement personnel.  The knife has a serrated edge and a 3.68 inch fixed blade. It is made from AUS 8A stainless steel and the overall length is 7.56 inches.

Becker Magnum Camp: The Becker Magnum Camp is a fixed blade tactical knife. This fixed blade knife has a blade measuring 8 inches and an overall length of 13.5 inches. The blade is made from 1095 Cro-Van steel and comes with a Hylon handle.

Gila Folder:  The Gila Folder, which is made from 420 stainless steel and has an open length of 8.87 inches. The blade measures 3.87 inches and it comes in a clip shape with hollow grind.  The Gila Folder is a high quality multi-purpose knife that functions well as an everyday carrier.

Johnson Adventure Piggyback: Solid and reliable are two of the qualities needed with hunting and outdoor knives.  The Johnson Adventure Piggyback has both. This skeleton knife weighs just 0.05lb and has a stainless steel blade measuring 2.62 inches. It is a flat grind fixed blade knife with a recurve shape.

Union Razor Co. Elephant Toe: This is a stunning knife with antique brown worm grooved bone handles and a 1095 Cro-Van blade. The blade length is 3 inches and it is a drop point shape.  It’s classic and trendy at the same time, while providing the utility that you’d expect from any knives made by KA-BAR.

US Marine Corps Straight Edge: The USMC is a popular survival utility knife that is great at many tasks when out in the woods, such as cutting wood, field dressing game, cleaning fish, digging for bait, and keeping evil-doers at bay (although a handgun would be a lot more self-explanatory in a high risk scenario). The USMC comes with a full-tang construction and a 1095 Carbon Steel blade. It is a sturdy general purpose survival knife that won’t let you down, but if you need a specialized bushcraft or tactical knife, invest in a specialty product accordingly.

Zombie Famine Tanto: An excellent fixed blade option, the Zombie Famine Tanto, which has an impressive 7.5 inch blade and an overall length of 13 inches. Made from 1095 Cro-Van steel, this is a flat grind knife with a Tanto shape.

5. Which Knife Brand is Better?

Both of these leading knife manufacturers offer great choice, quality, and value. KA-BAR does have far more experience in this industry but Benchmade has also built up a solid reputation over the last few decades.

Bottom line is this.  If you have the budget, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a steel that’s better quality than what Benchmade produces.  It’s not just “buying a knife.”  It’s an investment.

If you are on a tighter budget, KA-BAR will still give you the quality that’s afforded to members of the United States MIlitary, and many service branches in the United States.  That combination is tough to beat.

Recommended Read: How to Sharpen a Pocket Knife Properly: Hunting & Survival Blade Sharpening Tips

The Out sider

See Also

Related Reads

Recent Posts