Last Updated: November 20, 2017
If you are as obsessed with knives as I am, you may be on the hunt for “the perfect EDC knife.” You know, the one blade that has it all. Naturally, it is the perfect size, features great materials, is beautifully designed, and carries like a dream. But in my mind a perfect EDC needs to go beyond that. It has to be greater than the sum of its parts, and a little “X factor” never hurt either. Lets be real, for a knife to earn some time in the rotation is one thing, but to stand the test of time the knife has to work for you on another level.
That is what drew me to the Benchmade 940. On paper it has all the basic requirements of a good EDC knife, which is always nice to see. But then the 940 had something else. Maybe it’s the unique handle, or the unconventional blade shape. Whatever it was, it drew me in like a moth to a flame, and I know that I am not the first to succumb to this emerald beauty. The 940 has been in Benchmade’s catalog for well over a decade, and remains one of their most popular designs to this day. Needless to say, it is high time we gave this classic a thorough review.
General Dimensions and Blade Details
The 940 (or “940 Osborne”) has an overall length of 7.87″, a 3.4″ blade, and weighs 2.90 oz. In my mind these are real nice numbers for EDC, and that is exactly how I have been using my 940.
But I can also appreciate how the 940 could go beyond a mere EDC item. First of all, this is a wicked little knife. With an almost 3.5″ blade and an equally generous handle, the 940 could easily be pressed into a self defense role (although I sincerely hope you will never need to use it that way). On the opposite end of the spectrum, the 940 is a beautiful and elegant knife. In many ways exemplifies a modern gentleman’s folder. This is a knife that would do just fine in a suit pocket, or carried on special occasions. So I really like the versatility of the 940. It is fancy enough to make for an upscale EDC, but has enough bite to be seriously considered as a self defense option.
The blade on the 940 is a reverse tanto design. Popularized by the 940’s designer, Warren Osborne, this unique blade shape is best known for providing a sturdy tip, although I think the main draw is just the unique aesthetics. Warren has designed a few reverse tanto models for Benchmade, including the Benchmade Rift and I have generally been impressed by them. This particular blade has been given a high flat grind, and features a swedge running across the top. The 3mm thick blade holds it’s thickness pretty much to the tip thanks to the reverse tanto design. This is an interesting blade shape, and I found it quite capable for all my daily tasks.
The 940 Osborne makes use of S30V for the blade steel, an excellent USA made stainless from the folks over at Crucible. I have spoken about S30V many times before, but as a quick recap S30V is widely regarded as one of the best high end steels commonly found on production knives. When properly heat treated S30V is known for good edge retention, high corrosion resistance, relatively easy sharpening, and a good level of toughness for daily use. I am a big fan of S30V and Benchmade always does a fantastic job with heat treating their blades. Treated to 58-60 HRC, this 940 was no exception.
Handle, Ergonomics and Pocket Clip
The handle on the 940 is where things start to get interesting. First you have the striking aluminum handles. These have been bead-blasted to an attractive matte finish, and then anodized a deep green. I absolutely love the texture of these handles. They aren’t particularly aggressive, but they aren’t slippery either – given the intended use I found it to be a nice balance. Sandwiched between the aluminum handles is a single piece of anodized purple titanium. This backspacer compliments the green handles nicely, and provides a good deal of visual interest.
As for actual construction, the 940’s handle is top notch. There are partial stainless steel liners, and they have been polished to a lustrous shine. I like how when you peer inside the knife the liners reflect the titanium backspacer. It is a little detail, but some times it’s the small stuff that gets you going. Everything has been screwed together with black hardware, and all the pieces line up perfectly. The overall fit and finish of this knife is exceptional.
In 2015 Benchmade released the 940-1, a premium version of the 940 with carbon fiber handles and a S90V blade. It’s a beautiful knife and well worth considering if you are a fan of the original 940. Check out our review of the 940-1 here.
In hand the 940 is surprisingly capable. I say “surprisingly” because at a glance we have a rather thin handle here. In practice I found the handle long enough to comfortably accept my larger hand, and the rows of jimping on both the thumb ramp and finger choil provide a good amount of grip. It is a comfortable knife in forward grips, and I can get some good work done with it. The 940 also works well in reverse grip, and in the closed position as well. Actually, when closed, the 940’s thin profile makes it an excellent choice as a kubotan – another nice option to have.
The pocket clip on the 940 Osborne is a standard Benchmade clip – the same kind you will find in models like their classic Griptilian and Mini Griptilian. I am a big fan of this style of clip. It is simple, sturdy, and works quite well. Benchmade drilled and tapped this model for ambidextrous tip up carry. In pocket the 940 carries wonderfully. Thin and lightweight, this is a knife that you forget you are carrying.
Deployment and Lockup
The 940 makes use of a pair of ambidextrous thumb studs and an axis lock. Much like many of the other Benchmade knives that I have reviewed with this configuration, deployment on the 940 is extremely fast and smooth. The thumb studs are easy to access allowing you to flick the blade out with alarming speed and very little effort. Phosphor bronze washers aid in that regard, and the net result is reliable deployment in any situation.
Similarly, the axis lock on my knife has also been really well done. Lockup is tight with no blade play, yet the lock is easy to disengage with a single hand, and the blade rotates freely into the closed position. It is no secret I am a big fan of the axis lock, and the 940 is a great example of why. If true one hand operation is important to you (as a righty or a lefty) then I find the combination of thumb studs and an axis lock very tough to beat.
Benchmade 940 Osborne – Final Thoughts
The 940 combines excellent materials with smart design and wonderful fit and finish to produce an exceptional daily carry item. On paper this has always looked like an awesome knife, so I was very happy to find that the 940 was just as awesome in real life. Everything works, and it works well. The way I see it, the biggest potential downside here is that the knife isn’t particularly cheap, but for a made in the USA folder with these kinds of features, I actually think the price is quite reasonable.
But what about beyond the specifications? Do we really have a “perfect” EDC knife? I must admit, there is something special about this one. The 940 has really distinguished itself as a design and it has a little something extra that keeps me coming back. I don’t doubt that for many people this will be a perfect EDC knife.
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