Benchmade Model 710 Axis Lock - my first review here

Nov 25, 1999

This is my first review on BladeForums and my first published review in English. I wrote this review in July"99 but had not enough courage to publish it because I'm still not sure about my English quality. Please be patient.
Benchmade Model 710 Axis Lock

Saying honestly I'm not partial to folding knives. I always remember that lock between my fingers and blade is only a mechanism, and like each mechanism it can fail. In this matter I can rely at 100% on fixed blade knife only. A good fixed blade is man's best friend in lots of circumstances. I had (and still have) intentions to write about this and here BM Nimravus is an excellent choice: simple, handy, tough, reliable. The folding knife is the necessity of our urban environment and I'm carrying it only because I must.

Well, now tell me please why I can't get my eyes and hands away from Model 710 but not from Nimravus? I found Nimravus as good as I expected and I'm very glad to try and evaluate it. But Model 710 with Axis Lock is something more, much more. It surprised me completely. In the evening when I received these two knives my wife said me: "I see, it's a very nice knife. But please don't sleep with it in your hand tonight".

Here are my impressions:
The first and foremost. For folding knife user the design and the performance of locking mechanism are much more important then blade shape and steel quality (just my opinion). Even very cheap blade can cut out fingers successfully if lock fails. The locking mechanism used in Model 710 is revolutionarily innovative; I simply haven't examples for comparison. I inspected its performance very carefully and I discovered the main difference between all lock designs I know: Axis Lock can hold the blade securely even if the blade isn't opened completely! It's very important because in field conditions it's a great probability that a knife might be dirty and this can affect the blade's complete opening. To test it I inserted a toothpick between blade tang and the stop pin. The Axis Lock held the blade securely. I inserted the same toothpick in the suitable place of some of my favorite linerlocks and this completely prevented them from locking. I tested some of my lockbacks with the same toothpick and the result was the same.
After I discovered this I visited BM web site and saw, that somebody else discovered the same before me. What a pity! I think it's because he had tested (and tested very well, I must say) this knife before me.
Axis Lock is also more user friendly than linerlock: user's fingers must never be located on blade's way when knife is closed.

The second very important thing I'm testing for each new knife: how sure and securely I can grip it in my hand. Folding knives don't have handguards; exceptions are very rare. The firm, secure grip on the handle is the only thing that prevents my fingers from sliding onto the blade. Model 710 fits my medium sized hand very securely and comfortably. The handle shape joined with the checkering on the extended thumb and forefinger rests allows me to throw away any doubts about my finger safety.
Thumb rest is placed directly against forefinger rest. In my reception this grip position is more suitable for powerful stabbing than for precise cutting (for ex. pencil sharpening). For precise cutting I'd like to have my thumb moved more forwards. So I could resume - Model 710 is more tactical folder than large utility folding knife.

No one thing is as good as it can't be improved. If somebody would ask me what I could improve in this design, I would add a couple millimeters to the handle width under my medium and ring fingers for a bit more comfortable grip. But it's my preference only...
Another very important part of folding knife is the action. Model 710 action is very smooth; the operation is very natural and truly ambidextrous. My fingers found both the opening stud and locking bar buttons exactly in the places where they supposed to be. When knife is closed there is no any space between the opening stud and the handle; that reduces the possibility of unintended opening when the knife is drawn.

Model 710 has belt/pocket clip designed for "tip-up" carry mode, which seems to be more natural if the knife is carried in the pant side pocket. Somebody can say: "Tip-down carry is more safe, it's the reason why it's very common. Despite the lack of sound effects the knife unintended opening can be similar to accidental shot in results". It's truth but only if the user is not sure as to the knife closed position retention. I can say certainly, these doubts completely are not justified if you have BM Model 710 with Axis Lock. The blade hold in a closed position is more reliable, than in most liner-locks and is comparable with the best lockbacks in this matter.
Clip can be moved to the knife's opposite side. Taking in consideration truly ambidextrous opening stud and locking device this knife is a ticket for lefties and ambies.

Model 710 at its 128 g (4,5 oz) isn't the lightest knife in the world, but it's no sense to compare the knives which have another dimensions or are made in another technology. SPYDERCO Starmate (excellent knife, one of my top three) is slightly lighter but it has slightly shorter blade and single-liner construction. BM AFCK (another of my top three) is lighter and not shorter but it has a blade with a hole and titanium liners. Cold Steel Voyager with 4" blade is considerably lighter but it has no liners at all. However steel from which liners in Model 710 are made remains steel.
I think in Model 710 the ratio between dimensions, weight and strength is very reasonable and nothing more can be required from good folding knife.

This knife has impressive blade length ratio to overall length. With real blade length 103 mm and overall length 228 mm opened it beats Outdoor Edge "Magna" (102/236 mm), Gerber Applegate-Fairbairn Covetr (99/226 mm) and BM AFCK (102/234 mm). If the maximal blade length in given handle is required Model 710 is the goal.
Visual appearance isn't important for work (or maybe a little important for defense) but it's very important for user's satisfaction. Model 710 looks like if the blade would be longer than handle. I didn't believe my eyes and had to reach for measure tape. Of course the handle is longer (125 mm) than blade (really 103 mm) but visual illusion is perfect!
Be careful, with real blade length 103 mm (4,1 inches) this knife can cause you a problem if 100 mm or 4 inches is limit for legal concealed carry. Don't rely on this knife catalogued blade length and check your local law regulations!

Last but not least, blade steel. This ATS-34 blade was shaving sharp out of the factory box. So-called micro-serration was clearly visible even without magnification but blade shaved. Now I will test edge retention, but I'll do it calmly, without using stupid methods like car door stabbing or circus methods like free hanging rope cutting. Simply I'll cut all what can be cut using the knife and when more experience in this matter will be collected I'll write about it.
Note: this review originally was written in July'99. Now, some months later, I can say certainly - edge retention is OK, exactly as can be expected from brand-named manufacturer and premium grade ATS-34 steel. I cut all what can be cut with the knife and of course finally the blade became blunt. No chips or something like that occurred, but as I said - I didn't use stupid or circus methods to test edge retention. I resharpened the edge several times with:
  • DMT sharpeners using Diafold Serrated Knife Sharpener on recurved part of edge;
  • GATCO Edgemate Pro Sharpening System using fine triangle hone on recurved part;
  • GATCO Tri-Seps sharpener.
Each time I resharpened blade to shaving sharpness without any problems, all mentioned sharpeners worked very well on this blade.

Is this knife expensive? May be, especially for our thin Polish pockets. But I'm saying to everyone: "If you need a knife buy a good knife. It's too expensive? OK, but you don't need to buy a new knife each month or even each year. Let's own one knife, but let it be a good knife. Don't buy a cheap trash; remember, your can replace your knife but not your fingers!"

[This message has been edited by Sergiusz Mitin (edited 02-01-2000).]
Great review, very well thought out.
I wish my English were as good!
Very good review. BTW I visit Poland quite often. Would you recommend some knife stores in Katowice, Krakow or Warsaw?



My Photopoint pictures
Great review, Sergiusz. Thank you very much. Your English is fine. Please post more often!

AKTI Member #A000289

Deo Vindice

I purchased the Axis lock BM720 and I wondered why no one ever thought of this lock years ago it seems such a no-brainer.
Great review, your written english is excellent.
Excellent review!

You obviously like the axis lock itself (I love it too), and mention that you "inspected its performance very carefully". The toothpick test was very interesting ... did you do any other tests of the lock's soundness? Torquing, spine pressure, etc?

At the end, you seem to say you're going to test the blade performance and then post a follow-up, which is a great idea. You might want to check out whether or not you think the edge is too thick, and let us know how the sharpening experience goes.

thanks for the excellent review!

Great extensive review, quite informative. Oh, by the way your english is fine. Take care.
I'll e-mail you the list of knife stores in Warsaw but I'm afraid you could be disappointed with their offer. Unfortunately I visit Krakow and Katowice exceptionally rarely and I haven't a good orientation in this subject.

My impressions with this knife sharpening are very positive. It's relatively easy to resharpen even using miniature GATCO Tri-Seps sharpener. Of course DMT sharpeners can successfully cope with each blade. I don't use burr method when sharpening. Better results I can get doing some (10-20) strokes with one side of the blade, then the same number of strokes with another one and so on until I obtain required sharpness.
The grit of Tri-Seps or fine (red) DMT grit is enough to restore shaving sharpness on Model 710 blade. I like more polished edges and usually finish my knives on DMT extra-fine (green) grit and further on black natural Polish whetstone, I don't know what the mineral it is. It has grit about 1500 or even more, very dense but not too hard. It could be problem to sharpen ATS-34 blade on this stone, I use it for finishing touch only.

No, I don't think the blade in the edge is too thick. I evaluated blade geometry in two tests:
  • hard use test was old cherry wood whittling across wood fibers
  • gentle use test I usually perform sharpening color pencils for my kids
Both tests Model 710 blade passed very well, in my opinion the blade geometry is OK. I didn't write about it to avoid my review from being comparable in length with "Santa Barbara" TV serial...
I like this so-called utility ground blade geometry. However, if someone likes to have thinner edge he can sharpen this blade to a bit sharper angle or create a back bevel.

About locking device tests, I performed medium forced spin hack test with a wooden toothpick (about 0,3-0,5 mm thick) inserted between blade tang and the stop pin. My 710 passed this test successfully. No one of my linerlocks or lockbacks did lock with the same toothpick inserted in the suitable place.
No, I didn't perform static negative load test and the other tests excepting carefully visual inspection and lots of openings with several forces (from exaggerated gentle opening up to abusive flipping out). All times blade locked securely and could be unlocked without obstructions.
Benchmade claims that they have tested the Axis Lock with something about 200 (do I remember well?) pounds of negative load and I haven't any reasons to don't believe them.

[This message has been edited by Sergiusz Mitin (edited 02-02-2000).]
Great review, Sergiusz!

And yeah, we don't have good knife dealers in Poland. When I go back home over there, I just focus on enjoying our beer

Thank You All!

I'm writer. Although it's not my basic trade I can earn some money with my writings. Writing here is free, but your appreciation is by far more valuable for my spirit than money - for my body.

Thank you once more, friends!

Sergiusz Mitin
Lodz, Poland

[This message has been edited by Sergiusz Mitin (edited 02-04-2000).]

[This message has been edited by Sergiusz Mitin (edited 02-04-2000).]
I am not sure how available they are where you are, but I would love to see you review the 730. I enjoy your reviews. They are very informative and not full of fluff. What others can we expect you to review in the , hopefully, near future?

Dennis Bible
Super review.Wish I had some journalistic talent such as this review.


have a"knife"day
Wow, that was a great review.

As time permit you might do a comparison between the three, Starmate, AFCK and the 710, overall use and durability between the three.