Ah, the Benchmade 950 Rift. What a sweet piece of steel. The Rift originally came out in 2008 as part of Benchmade’s “black class” which are designed to be military and police grade blades built for extreme duty. Designed by famed knifemaker Warren Osborne, the 950 Rift certainly is extreme and it took the knife world by storm gaining critical acclaim by reviewers and enthusiasts alike.
Today the 950 Rift is still available with it’s very distinct reverse tanto blade and is available in a variety of configurations; including the ultra cool black and gray G10 handled version shown here. I would say that this knife is appealing as a large EDC knife, a small emergency defense knife, or even a collectors item. Lets take a closer look at this unique and exciting knife.
General Dimensions and Blade Characteristics
The Osborne 950 Rift is a fairly big folding EDC knife with a 3.7″ blade, a total length of 8.27″ and a weight of 4.8 ounces. The weight is perhaps one of my biggest criticisms, but really that is me grasping for straws. If you don’t like heavier knives then this won’t be the folder for you, but many, myself included, enjoy carrying a larger knife and the weight won’t be an issue. For a lighter Benchmade with about the same length, consider the Benchmade Griptilian.
As I mentioned before, the blade shape is classified as a “reverse tanto” which gives the knife excellent tip strength and the large sweeping belly of a drop point blade. I love the way this blade looks and it’s a super practical design for tactical and utility work. The blade is given a nice flat grind making it a very good slicer.
You have the option of getting the blade in a satin, blasted, or coated finish (blasted shown here). I really like the look of the coated version, Benchmade’s coating is very tough and I think the black blade with black hardware is a handsome combo.
The blade material is 154CM, a stainless steel that Benchmade uses in a lot of their knives. Benchmade knows how to heat treat 154CM and I think it was an excellent choice for the Rift. 154CM is a very durable steel that holds an edge very well and is easy to sharpen. In my experience corrosion resistance is very good but 154CM will rust if left in a damp environment so it’s important to keep the blade clean and to cover it with oil if you live in a humid area (I have no problems in South and Central FL).
Handle Ergonomics and Pocket Clip
The handle of the 950 is arguably cooler than the blade itself, which is a pretty tough feat considering. The handle scales are made of sculpted G10. My G10 came in layered black and dark gray, but you can also get black G10. The Rift has full stainless steel liners that, like the rest of the hardware, has been blackened. I wish Benchmade skeletonized these scales as I think they could really drop some weight off this knife. But all in all, the handle construction is very solid and I love the look of the scales.
The ergonomics on the Rift are pretty good. It’s a large and comfortable handle and I really like the way the butt end has been formed – it creates a good “catch” for your pinky and really lets you get some leverage on the blade. There isn’t a ton of jimping, which will turn off some. For me, I don’t mind the absence of jimping and actually prefer that in a work knife. I know some people say that there are some rough edges that they needed to sand down on the handle. If you plan on using the knife for heavy carving, then you may very well want a thicker knife.
The clip of the 950 Rift is Benchmade’s classic “arrow” clip and is among my favorite pocket clip designs. I like the blackened clip, it really helps with concealing the knife in your pocket. The clip will wear, but it wears gracefully and in my opinion, is one of those clips that gets cooler with use. Retention is great and the clip is mounted so that it rides low in the pocket. Benchmade tapped the handles so you have the option of tip up ambidextrous carry.
Deployment and Lock
Deployment on the Rift is very nice. As you would expect on any Benchmade knife, the Rift uses high quality, low friction, phosphor bronze bushings. The bushings are combined with large ambidextrous thumb studs to deploy the Rift’s blade quickly and easily. I really like the thumb studs, there are nicely milled out, have a unique design and have been either anodized or given a DLC coating – it’s been very durable and hasn’t rubbed off at all after a LOT of opening.
As you can see in the pictures, the Rift uses Benchmade’s Axis Lock. For those unfamiliar with the Axis Lock, is is a very intelligently designed lock that Benchmade uses on a lot of their knives. It is very strong and very easy to use ambidextrously. I love the axis lock, it’s among my favorites because it is so smooth reliable and easy to use. One hand opening and closing with this knife is a breeze.
Benchmade 950 Rift Review – Final Thoughts
Well, what is there to say? The combination of great blade design, 154CM steel, G10 handle, and reliable Axis lock mean there is a lot going for this knife. If you are in the market for a larger EDC knife or a folding tactical knife, the 950 Rift has a lot to offer. Build quality is very sturdy, the knife cuts well, it’s comfortable in hand, and 154CM steel is very serviceable. I also like the fact that the Rift is made in the USA.
As far as potential negatives are concerned, my main gripe is the weight of the knife. This is a bigger offering from Benchmade, and you definitely feel that in hand and in pocket. This may not be an issue for some, but for folks that appreciate a lightweight EDC knife, I might recommend the Benchmade 940 or