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Benchmade 940/942 Osborne
Folding Knife Review

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Benchmade 940/942 Osborne

Benchmade 940/942 Osborne is a result of collaboration between Benchmade and custom knifemaker Warren Osborne. After few years of their work together I can say it was successfull. First introduction of 940 by Benchmade was on the Atlanta 2000 blade show. IMHO this is a real gent's folder ;) It's quite different from whatever is on todays market. The blade is somewhat awkward looking, but I like it a lot, interesting, original & functional after all :) I don't know what would be the proper name for this blade style, officially that's a Reversed Tanto. Anyways, this is not a fighter, nor a tactical folder; it's just a small, slick & stylish folding pocketknife.
    The best to my knowledge, it's not out in production yet (by 08/00), the word is that it should be out somewhere in December, 2000. (Well, it went out in October 2000 though ;) There was the usual pre-production run of 1000 knives, and then first production run of another 1000 knives.
    I myself, am a proud owner of the 940S numbered 250 :))) Not really sure, but all the pre-production BM 940-s were uncoated combo edges, (half serrated). As a compensation, first production run had all variations Benchmade produces for a given model - coated & uncoated, plain & serrated.

Blade

 - Well, like I said, officially it's a reversed tanto ;) Blade material is Crucible 154CM steel. ATS-34 steel made by Hitachi is a copy of 154CM. So, basically all the characteristic & chemical compositions are identical, however some knifemakers claim 154 CM has a cleaner grain. When good heat-treated it's a good steel, though personally I'd much rather M2 or CPM S90V (I hope Benchmade will adopt it sometimes). When I got my Osborne I've resharpened it, since all knives from Benchmade come with an equally very thick edge. For comparison you can check the picture at the beginning of this page, the second knife from the top has the factory edge, the rest have 21-degree polished edge that I put on them using the Edge Pro sharpening system. One thing I noticed immediately, was that 154CM was much easier to sharpen (grind) then my Nimravus with M2 steel blade, (I resharpened it right before the Osborne). Well, the ease of sharpening sounds good, however this means the knife will get dull easier, which in turn doesn't sound good at all. All right, everything is relative :).

Edge Holding

 - After using one of my Osbornes for 6 month as my EDC (Every Day Carry) knife, (I still continue using it in that role BTW), I've could honestly say that I've got quite some experience with 154CM steel on different materials. To be more exact, with Benchmade 154CM. Hence, I won't be generalizing my impressions about 154CM, for that the particular one I was(am) using was produced and heat-treated by Benchmade, everything I write here relates to Benchmade 154CM only. Well, actually the edge holding is very good on soft materials, i.e. pure wear resistance is high. If you mostly open envelopes with your knife and cut cardboard packages etc, it will not need sharpening for a long time, all I did during the first 2 months of such use was stropping it twice, and not because I was lazy :) I do maintain shaving sharp edge on all my folding knives. Well, on large fixed blades as well, but that's not as important with the large blades, besides for particular use a rough edge might be more usful.
    However as soon as you start cutting harder things, such as plastic or cable, etc. things get worse. After all, you may accidentally hit a staple in the cardboard. That's where the bad things begin. The edge is quite chipping prune so to say. Originally I've had 18° angle put on my 940 Osborne, first time I got chips and rolls on the edge, was after cutting a plastic box. I've decided that 18° was too thin and resharpened it to 21° angle using my Edge-Pro Apex sharpening system. This improved the edge resistance to chipping, but couple weeks ago I've had to cut a thin wire to open the box; it was rather a push cut upwards. I've got 3-4 chips on the edge, closer to the tip, in the first inch. For experiments sake I've pulled out my 710 McHenry & Williams and cut the same wire several times using the same motion. Even though 710 has 18° angle on the edge vs. 21° on the Osborne, it handled this task without any problems. Well, theoretically nothing new, M2 steel is tougher than 154CM and it's copy ATS-34, though there's a result in a real life - one blade chipped, another was just fine with still shaving sharp edge. As an illustration or an example of how important the blade toughness is for the utility knife, it was a good one :)

Locking Mechanism

 - 940 Osborne features Benchmade Axis Lock. Compared to my 710 McHenry & Williams axis lock, Osborne is much smoother. BTW, their now discontinued, 730 Ares had a very smooth Axis lock too. Apparently Benchmade is improving their locking mechanism; I'm really pleased with that.

The Handle

 - It's made of aircraft aluminum, deep anodized. It's light, slim, quite scratch resistant, thanks to deep anodizing & aluminum, feels very nice in hand & has good ergonomics. Some say a handle on 940-s wears fast on the clothing fabrics, however I haven't seen anything like that on mine. Here's a handle close-up picture and as you can see there's sign of wear, even though I was carrying it everyday for 6 months at the time the picture was taken.

In 2000 Benchmade introduced their Knife Of The Month program, which unfortunatelly got terminated in 2001 :( Donno exactly why. It was a chance to get something different and may be a bit better then the standard production models, like Ascent in M2 tool steel for example. Simply put, every month they(Benchmade) would pick one of their production knives and alter it in some way.
    For the October 2000 it was blue handled 940. Also there was a special run of red handled 940 of all kind, so just for the collection I got 2 of them, BT2 coated and satin finish. Here they are, Opened and Closed. Otherwise identical, for unknown reasons (to me at least) the blue one, October knife of the month has significantly coarser handle then other 940-s. Don't know why, may be some kind of coating. BTW, on the Benchmade web page 940 Osborne picture was really dark and it looked like a black handled one, quite a few people (including myself) got confused with that picture.
    Finally Benchmade made it :) Black handled Osborne 942 is out there, and I've managed to snag one already :) IMHO it looks very cool. Basically it's the same as 940 Osborne, except the Benchmade is stamped on the clip using much larger font, and mor eimportantly the back spacer is blue. Which by the way looks verry cool :) I guess it kind of becomes a standard for BM, to give black handled knives model number + 2, same thing happened with the Ares if you remember, first that funky looking red handle, then the special run, I mean Knife Of The Month, april one was the black handled Ares, and then 732 was introduced in late fall.

One thing I would like to note, is the edge on 942. Typically BM knives come with the edge that's far from perfection. It's thick, usually over 27-28 degree, rough, etc. Just to get an idea, chack this picture of 4 Osbornes, All, but the second knife from the top(that'd be the red handled, satin finish one) are sharpened by me, using edge pro sharpening system, at 21 degree angle. I think you can see the difference. Said all that, I'm glad to inform that 942 was a good one. It came with the edge that was sharpened at exactly 21 degree angle on both sides, (too often production knives have different angles on the different sides of the blade) that was quite smooth too. Pleasant surprise, I want to believe that BM is listening to the customre complaints, and that 942 was not an exception. In general the factory edge is the least of my concerns, for that I like sharpening my blades anyways. Besides that factory edge si for once only. However finishing this edge to my liking was a lot easier than other BM blades :)

Specifications:

  • Model: 940s Osborne;
  • Steel: 154CM Steel 60-61HRC;
  • Blade: 86.36mm (3.4")
  • Thickness: 2.9mm (.115");
  • Open: 200mm (7.87") Closed: 115.54mm (4.47");
  • Weight: 82.21g (2.9oz);
  • Handle: Aluminum, deep anodized 410 stainless steel liners;
  • Lock Mechanism: Axis lock (U.S. Patent #5737841);
  • Warranty: Limited Lifetime;
  • Acquired - 05/2001 Price - 110.00$

Last updated - 09/01/11