Sunday, June 24, 2012

Benchmade VS Kershaw


“Three little knives are we….” (With a tip of the hat to the Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan) my song should go.
I just got three new knives in and let me bring them out on stage.

Kershaw Brawler,
Benchmade Barrage in Tanto,
and
HK Entourage.


Benchmade Barrage, HK Entourage, Kershaw Brawler
My three little knives.....Barrage on top, Entourage in the middle and the Brawler on bottom.  Still, who makes up these names??


They almost run the gamut of knives found in pockets across the nation.  The Brawler is made in China by Kershaw who is owned by Kai the makers of Zero Tolerance and Shun kitchen knives.  Benchmade makes HK knives as well as their own.  Both of these were made in the USA.

Two are assisted, two are made in the USA and one is not.  One is an auto.  You would be surprised how many people have a knife in their pocket with one of these descriptors.

Let’s bring one out.

Of all the knives the Entourage is the simplest in appearance.  

Hk Auto Entourage well made switchblade
HK's Auto Entourage 


The knife is tapped for tip up, left or right carry.  The handle is detail free, snag free and has that annoying nail-on-chalkboard feel that enhances grip.  These are positive attributes for an auto opener.

The steel?

The 3.75-inch tanto blade is made from 440C hardened to 58-60 RHC.  The C stands for Rockwell C scale.  Rockwell has several scales including one for copper sheets and aluminum tubes, so it’s important we acknowledge which scale we use.   

This blade has Benchmade’s BK finish.
BK?  Oh, that’s Benchmade’s black ceramic coating, probably Cerakote made by NIC Industries.  I don’t know what that means either.

The spring is powerful enough to open and lock the blade even if the initial opening is slightly hampered.  We've all seen autos that snag, or catch on something and only get three quarters of the way open and the blade just dangles.  Don’t let yours dangle.

A simple wrist flick opens and locks the blade.  No biggy, except for those times when there is no spare time.

The Brawler
The Brawler sports a 3.25-inch blade made from 8cr13mov steel.  The steel is a Chinese stainless and we’ve all seen complications from so called Chinese quality products.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Quality depends on the company and not the country of origin.  Kershaw is a well-known name and I would trust their products.

Kershaw assisted opening Brawler
Front of Brawler




Assisted opener
Back.  Note the high carry clip and tapping in all four positions.


I can’t find any information on blade hardness.  Other companies harden their 8cr13mov steel in the 56-60 RHC range.  I suspect Kershaw is in that range as well.

This knife is assisted opening, incorporating both flipper and stud.  It’s tapped in all four locations for tip up or down, left or right carry.  Very handy for any of us who like different carry modes.  The handle is a glass-filled nylon which makes for a very strong and durable handle.  The blade has a DLC finish.

DLC?  Diamond-Like Coating.  Did you know that $4000 Rolex wrist watches come with a DLC coating.  You should also be aware there is a family of DLC finishes.

Is it a balloon?  No - it's a Barrage.
The Barrage is one of the nicest designed knives I’ve seen in years.  The AXIS lock is so nice and so easy to use.  The knife’s grip sports little finger bevels to amp up your grip.  Why?  This assisted opening knife opens with authority and has a satisfying “thunk” when the blade locks open.  The blade is made from 3.6 inches of 154CM steel and the handle is composed of Valox.

assisted opening barrage
Barrage in Tanto, Assisted opening




Valox is a thermoplastic polyester resin made by Sabic.  Benchmade doesn’t tell us if it’s a PET or PBT polyester or if it’s filled or not.  But really, how would that information make a difference to you the knife consumer?  At some point we all must trust the company.  That’s why it’s important to buy from quality companies.

So where are we with our three little knives?

Knife
Steel
Blade Length (inches)
Open length
(inches)
Lock
Action
Price
Entourage
440C
3.75
8.44
Opened & closed
Auto
$165
Brawler
8cr13mov
3.25
7.38
Liner lock only
Assisted w/ flipper
$39.95
Barrage
154CM
3.6
8.35
AXIS with safety
Assisted w/ stud
$145

Takes the romance out of it, doesn’t it!

Both Benchmade knives have a safety that locks the knife in closed and opened conditions.  The Kershaw Brawler depends on needing sufficient force on the flipper to start the blade opening.  Its liner lock is stout enough to keep it open until you make the effort to close it.

assisted opener Barrage showing lock
Lock on Barrage.  Both the Auto Entourage and the Barrage can be locked closed or locked open.


Both companies offer lifetime sharpening.  Kershaw will even pay the postage to return it to you.  The auto creates a problem.  If you send it back for sharpening, you need to prove (a department letterhead or such) you can legally own the knife.  I don’t see it as a problem.  There are plenty of sharpening systems available as well as professional knife sharpeners.  (Hint:  Learn to sharpen your knife in the field.)

So which knife would I carry?  Depends.  In New York I couldn’t carry any of them. 

If I went in harm’s way, I’d carry the Entourage and back it up with the Barrage.  Why?  Excluding the 'one is none' rule, I’d use the assisted opener for normal activities: opening care packages from home, whittling, cutting cord and other non-lethal stuff.  I’d save the auto for those responses when only coarse motor skills were available to me, like fighting for my life.

With my lifestyle, the Brawler is more than enough.  I’d back it up with a full serration Spyderco Endura, but that just me.

2 comments:

Mark Louis said...

Nice information on the Kershaw Knives and Benchmade.

The knife guy said...

I find it interesting that Kershaws's Eversharp program seems to apply to only their knives made in the USA. At least that's what the product inserts imply.