Saturday, February 26, 2011

Benchmade Emissary

The Benchmade Emissary is a new knife for 2011.

The product page can be found here. A fair street price can be found here. It was designed by an in-house Benchmade designer, Warren Osborne, who also designed the Dejavoo, the Mini Dejavoo, the Opportunist 440 the Kulgera, and the oft-beloved (but not by me) 940. He seems to like metal handles as the Kulgera, 940 (a variant of the Kulgera) and the 440 all have them.

The knife has an assisted open, which I think is unnecessary in a well-designed knife. The Leafstorm, for example, has a fantastically fast and responsive opening without an assist. In bigger knives and tactical knives where a guaranteed opening is required an assist is helpful, but in a knife this size I just don't see it as helping. It is more parts to break or wear out. The knife is somewhat unusual in the Benchmade line up, though not unique, in that it has both an Axis lock and an assist. I am not the biggest fan of the Axis lock, but it does seem to work well now that they have fixed the Omega Spring problem that dogged the early versions of the lock.

S30V is a very nice steel choice, even if it is more common now than it used to be. I personally love this steel, so I have no issue there.

The grind is a bit disappointing. I have no idea why they made a false swedge. This is a light knife to begin with and I can't see that extra weight making all that much of a difference. Complex grinds, in my opinion, rarely work. Full flat grind is fine, as is a good hollow grind, but this half grind with swedge does nothing for me. Use may prove otherwise, but it is very similar to the Bradley Alias, which I owned. My biggest beef with that knife was this grind. It just isn't as smooth a slicer as it could be and in this case there is really no reason for the grind other than aesthetics. This seems to be a theme with Benchmade's aesthetics and materials over function and design. Maybe it is just me.

The knife also has an "over the edge" style deep carry clip. This is undoubtedly Nutnfancy's influence on the industry as he has hammered on deep carry clips for years now. Personally I think a well designed clip is more important than a deep carry clip, but this clip looks like both.

I also appreciate the size of the knife. It is on the small side for Benchmade knives, coming in at 3 inch blade exactly. For me, I prefer a smaller blade, something like 2.75 inches, as it is more easily carried, but if the handle is designed well, a 3 inch blade is fine. The Sebenza, for example, carries much smaller in the pocket than many knives with smaller blades. Design can do wonders here and this knife looks well designed.

The handle is aluminum, which is fine. I prefer either G-10 or FRN for weight reasons, but a well done non-steel handle works too. Titanium would have been better, as it is stronger and about the same weight, but then the price would be too high.

And here is the problem--the price. Benchmade's prices are just too high. This is not a $170 knife. It has the same steel and size as the Native which is readily available for $60. The aluminum handle is not worth $110. At $100 this knife would be a great buy, a fancy, well made EDC knife. But at $170 it is in competition with a lot of much better knives. Put it this way, is this knife, even on the best day, $70 better than the Sage II? I don't think so.

If you must have an Axis lock this is a fairly nice knife, but it is not a good value. The same or better materials can be found elsewhere cheaper.

Not a home run.

Next up--a bit about me and EDC


  1. I agree with your assessment. Benchmade is all about aesthetics, even over function. The knife is visually striking, but I just don't see it being that good of a carry knife.

    Also, AO in small, light knives makes them "jump" in your hand, which, worse case, makes you drop the knife, or, best case, causes a moment of hesitation to make sure you have a good grip on the knife.

    1. The knife has an assisted open, which I think is unnecessary in a well-designed knife. The Leafstorm, for example, has a fantastically fast and responsive opening without an assist.

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  2. This knife can now be found easily for $125. Does it make a decent value?

  3. I checked Google Shop, the Find, and eBay and could find no one selling the Emissary for $125.

    Google's best: Harry's Army Surplus: $165.
    The Find's best: SAME
    eBay: $155.00 with almost 4 hours to go, BINs at $170

    Given that, no, it is not a good value because there aren't any available for that price. At the price they are available at, it is still to expensive as I can't see it being a better knife than the Sage II.

    Also, given Benchmade's pricing and internet retail policies I doubt they'd be offered at the price for long, even if they were $125. This is why YourCornerStore and other deep discounters don't have Benchmade knives.

    ASSUMING that you can find them for that price, it is a better value, but it is still not the knife I'd buy. You'd have a hard time convincing me that this knife, with its grind and lesser steel, is better than a Spyderco Carbon Fiber Caly 3 in ZDP-189, which can be found for almost that exact price ($127.95) at

  4. Great review. gpknives and Knifeworks has these for the $125-130 range after utilizing their online discounts for Benchmade knives. At that price point I'm more curious...but doubt it's better than the Caly 3 as far a slicers go.