A while back I realized I didn’t really have a stout yet lightweight knife for general (and especially hiking) use. I scoured the internet and the local knife shops. Chinese made knives were plentiful as were very expensive one-offs and custom knives.
I set a budget or $100 and decided on the Benchmade Mini Griptillian. Its lightweight caught my attention when I was shopping and when the knife arrived I was very impressed with its finish, solid lock up and light weight. The opening and closing mechanism is light, smooth and secure.
This photo shows the Benchmade’s lock button on the frame and the opening assist button on the blade. Both are perfectly located and operate with precision and a lightness of feel that is unmistakable and lacking in the Kershaw.
The Link’s opening assist tab is show above and it works OK. I’m not wild about the spring that causes the blade to settle into a halfway position. The movement is smooth but bit heavy compared to the Benchmade. Where the Kershaw is really let down is by it’s unlock mechanism which is buried on the underside of the blade. I found it to be fiddly if secure. I may get used to it in time, but I don’t like it much so far.
I bought the Link as a slightly heavier alternative to the Benchmade. Plus, I also wanted a serrated edge for a greater versatility. The blade finish on the Link is not my favorite. My guess is the finish will wear with use when the point seems to look worn and grizzled even when it’s new. I much prefer the finish on the Benchmade.
I like the fact that the Kershaw is thinner than the Benchmade but the knife is let down by being significantly heavier and less grippable. The Benchmade has serrations on the top of the knife that enhance grip further especially when cutting heavier material. My thumb rides those serrations perfectly and the knife feels very secure in use.
I have yet to use the Kershaw with its clip. You can see it uses two rather than Benchmade’s three screws. The Benchmade’s clip looks a little more common than the Kershaw’s and I found it to be a quite tight in use. Worse, the little Benchmade had an unfortunate tendency to try to open on its own when removed from a pocket. I haven’t really come up with a configuration that deals with this problem yet.
One area where the Kershaw scores a clear win is with the size and shape of the its lanyard opening. I am tired of lanyard openings that are more vestigial than practical. Quite simply, it should be easy to get a decent size lanyard through a lanyard hole or there’s no point in having one. Kershaw got it right while Benchmade dropped the ball.
Everyone gets excited about edges but let’s just say that both the Kershaw and the Link have edges that are plenty sharp and quite well ground right out of the box. I’m not sure which will hold its edge better but the look of the Benchmade’s edge and steel make me think that it could be slightly more durable that the Kershaw but only time will tell.
These are two well made, well designed knives and I like them both. I do see the Benchmade to be a bit more focused on function while still possessing a clean form. The Kershaw seems a little balanced in toward style over function. It is almost as if Kershaw wanted to create a knife that looked the part. Then, they set about to making it work as well as possible. Either way, these are two excellent US made knives that are well worth their price.
I’m glad I own both.