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I picked up one about 2 years ago at SMKW, and I think its pretty good myself. I have looked at plenty of Benchmades, and they are better as far as quality in fit and finish, but they are also 2-3 times higher in price. I got my Bear for around 45.00, they seem to be well made...
They're very similar to the BM economy line except that they tend to come out of the box quite tight which seems to be due to excessively thick power coating inside the joints. That wears out quickly and they settle in and become quite nice. Then, they crack at the top of the handle where the pin goes in and fall apart. BM's economy line would splay at the top and the pin would fall out. You could take them to the factory and they'd reassemble them, but since the zinc used to cast the handles is quite brittle, the cautioned against any serious use for such a repaired knife. On Jaguars (another respectible brand), on the other hand, the pin actually breaks, You can repair this yourself. For a discussion of this, refer to the Bali Song Online thread which is currently active. Mike, your gracious innkeeper here, imports a line of butterflies under his Dragon Forged name. He offers a lifetime warranty. I haven't tried one yet to know how they break. After years of almost daily play, working on the most demanding tricks, my favorite BM 45 just keeps going and going. Well worth the extra price.
The 45 is just one of Benchmade's Production Quality line. The 45 happens to be my personal favorite
Have you been over to bladeauction lately? There are two of the aforementioned BM Economy line knives for sale. Both are currently well over $100.
I just can't belive that! In this light, I have no idea how much a 45 is worth anymore. They used to be $120-$150, and "used" means just as little as a few weeks ago. If it was one knife and one buyer, I'd discount it. But it's two knives with a frenzy of buyers.
I don't think you can afford any of my 45's. I don't think I want to part with any either.
My advice is to shop around for a 45, 45S, 44, or 44S. They come up every now and then. But, once you've got one, you dare not use it because A) you just paid $150 for it, and B) it's a collectible that's skyrocketing.
So, buy a Jag, use it until the pin breaks, and then replace the pin as Clay instructs in the other thread and on his website. With the pin replaced, Jags go a long time. It's a pitty that Jaguar can't just put a good pin in in the first place. It would add ten cents to the cost of the knife, but would make it a very nice product.
For what it's worth, I've had a couple of Jaguars for several years and neither has broken. I think they're Jaguars ... they both say Taiwan on the blade and have zinc handles and brass rivets.
I don't know, maybe I don't beat them as hard as the people who are breaking them? Or maybe I've just been lucky? I don't know ... I can't really see how I could beat them any harder ... I used one as a knife quite a bit as well as as a yo-yo. They're both very loose by now but that doesn't bother me at all -- they lock up tight both open and closed, though that requires occasional adjustments.
Anyway, rivets aren't hard to replace. If a zinc handle started to crack at all I'd chuck it; I wouldn't trust it at all.
I always try to stay away from cast handled Bali's. My history with them shows them to be very undependable. As Chuck said, the handles tend to break at or near the pins. Nothing worse than your Bali letting you down when you need it. The top of the line Jaguars are made from solid aluminum, and cost about the same as the Bear brand ($35). And though I've broken handles on those too, At least they crack first, giving you a good amount of warning. Cast handles, on the other hand, tend to .... explode, without warning. Just my Two cents.
I just bought one from Smoky Mountain Knife Works for about $20. The quality is not very good, although it had a surprisingly sharp edge out of the box. Which, I quickly ground off. I bought this as a practice piece while I await delivery of my first BM Balisong. It serves that purpose well, especially for the price.
Knowledge without understanding is knowledge wasted.
Understanding without knowledge is a rare gift - but not an impossibility.
For the impossible is always possible through faith. - Bathroom graffiti, gas station, Grey, TN, Dec, 1988