A good knife is not a tool; that is the extension of your hand. When the Benchmade set arrived, I immediately grabbed the utility knife (which I would call a small knife), and for about 10 minutes I forgot I was holding it (in a good way). The blade was thin and slippery under the flame on a skirt that I washed without mending. My fingers moved and the knife obeyed. A good tool allows you to use it naturally and know it that way.
The handles are comfortable and have good contact with the blade, although I question the wisdom of having ring holes in a chef’s knife, as they are more likely to collect food and moisture than they would with a folding knife. Otherwise, these are good looking, light, very responsive knives. After a few months of using them, I find that about 80 percent of the time, I still reach for the 6-inch knife.
They have a very sharp edge, which means they are sharper in less time. I’ve only sharpened them twice since I got them, which is a lot less than I sharpened my knives in the same time. This seems to have a better edge than my Benchmade folding knife. This may be due to Benchmade’s SelectEdge technology, which uses a 14-degree angle. This can be difficult to maintain, but I used a Work Sharp sharpener ($30 at Amazon, $34 at Work Sharp), which has 20-degree tips, and then lowered it to 14 from there.
It’s worth noting that, more than a knife for the fanatic, these are great knives for the novice. They are more accessible and easier to work with than many of the knives in our knife guide. I can’t explain why, but I’ve seen it in my whole family.
Because of that knife pointer, I test many knives every year. They all live in a kitchen cupboard (I know, scary, but it’s a good stress test). Benchmade knives are the first test knives that my wife uses regularly. My kids also use these knives without hesitation.
I have no clear explanation for my family’s willingness to acquire these knives. Part of it may be that it’s a little more polished than most knives I’ve tried. They look like most people’s ideas of chef’s knives. They don’t have a crazy shaking pattern in metal, and they don’t seem like they need hours of care when you’re done with them (because they don’t). But more than that, there is something dysfunctional about them that makes you want to pick them up and use them. Good tools tend to call you.
Knife enthusiasts may look for things like this, but these knives will not appeal to them. They would rightly say that there are tougher metals out there. It is true, although there are two options for the Benchmade set, the CPM-154 or the 440c, the first of which I tried.
Another big question is whether they are good value for money. A good knife doesn’t have to be expensive; My favorite knife has no markings on it, and I don’t remember where it came from or what it cost. At this price, you can order regular knives, like my chef friends did years ago.
If you know enough about your taste in knives and have the money to order a custom knife, then that’s what you should do. But for everyone else, these Benchmade knives are excellent. They’re affordable, they’re thin and light, they have a great edge, they sharpen easily, and they come with a lifetime warranty.