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BENCHMADE Model 730 Ares - review

Nov 25, 1999
Benchmade Model 730 Ares

IWA'2000 in Nuremberg (Germany) was the European premiere of this newest Benchmade - Allen Elishewitz collaboration. I heard and read about this knife a lot and naturally I couldn't wait the moment when I would have an opportunity to handle it. At last this occurred! I picked up my Ares # 0431/1000 First Production Run directly from Benchmade booth at IWA, played with it about four weeks practically non-stop and here are some my impressions on this knife.

Visual appearance somewhat differs from usual tactical folder with black G-10 scales. However I would like more if the scales would be in black/dark-maroon instead of black/purple colors. Think it would better match the name - Ares was the Ancient Grecian god of war and I'm naturally associating this name with black and dark-maroon (just my subjective impression).

Blade shape caused some discussions here - I think it is modified spear point. Full-length almost sharp false edge makes it highly penetrative. Full blade thickness in just 24 millimeters from the tip makes it strong enough for the wide range of tactical and utility use. Blade steel is 154 CM - the American counterpart of Japanese ATS-34. Out of the factory box the edge sharpness I could consider as "only just" shaving. On the other hand I must to take in consideration that this particular knife was the part of BENCHMADE exposition during four exhibition days and some hundreds of people played with it. I guess really out of the box it would be somewhat sharper.
I sharpened this blade to hair popping sharpness using my DMT Diamond Whetstones with the finishing touch on natural polish black whetstone (no-name and I don't know what the mineral it is). I did it with ease: this blade takes the edge very nicely. After this sharpening I could slick in half free falling A4 format paper sheet - not the worst result for the less than 4" long blade.
I didn't perform any special edge retention tests but in one month long everyday multipurpose use it behaved flawlessly.
Handle fits my medium sized hand very securely and comfortable. The hump on the handle downside falls directly between my medium and ring fingers and serves very well for grip improvement.

This lacks me in Model 710 Axis Lock handle, I noted it in my review on Model 710: http://www.bladeforums.com/ubb/Forum3/HTML/001301.html
Thumb rest is very slightly ramped and reasonably deeply patterned as well as curved forefinger rest. Long mild curve on the rear of the handle's spine lies down in the palm nicely and improves handling comfort also.
I found Ares handling security and comfort much better than I could expect looking onto the photos.

Thick steel liners and half-length G-10 backspacer make the handle very strong and non-flexible. It is noticeable less flexible than my BM AFCK handle. The rows of round cutouts in the liners cause weight reduction without strength compromising.
Black teflon plated pocket clip is designed for tip-up carry and can be moved to ether side of the handle. I tried to handle this knife with and without clip and considered that clip affects handling comfort only minimally. Here I must say honestly: I like more how I can carry and draw tip-down designed knives (BM AFCK for example) but I like more how I can hold tip-up designed ones. So what style should I choose?
Axis Lock - this ingenious locking device was described and reviewed numerous times but I can't to resist the desire to do it once more.
However locking device is the most important part of each folding knife. Even the cheapest blade can successfully cut out one or more fingers if lock fails in the hot action. The most important properties of the Axis Lock are it's incomparable strength and reliability - this fact is noticed by all this lock reviewers. But the most exciting property (for me at least) is that Axis Lock can hold blade securely even if it is not fully engaged! It can be very important in field conditions when exists a great probability that knife might be dirty or even very dirty. To prove this I made the insert hammering flat one end of the piece of 2-mm thick copper wire.

You can see - this insert has 0,6 mm thickness in "working" area.

Now I opened the knife placing this insert between blade tang and stop pin and performed spin whack test. As result the insert fell out of the locking mechanism but the blade remained locked. I repeated this test numerous times and with the same result, no one time lock failed!
Next I put the blade into the vice (of course using felt inserts), put the insert in its place and locked up the knife. Now I lightly hit some times knife's handle with the rubber mallet and nothing occurred. My rubber mallet is very dirty and ugly, so I replaced it with my Fallkniven A1 handle to make this photo.

Knife action is very smooth. It is even smoother than the one on my BM Model 710 Axis Lock. I tried to find why but I discovered nothing. The same locking device, the same top notched execution quality, the same lubricant (MILITEC Weapons Grade Synthetic Based Metal Conditioner - I can highly recommend it, BTW) - but Ares action is noticeable smoother! Maybe BENCHMADE folks could explain this wonder?
Opening stud is ambidextrous, it is small enough to don't obstruct knife draw and don't cause unintended opening when drawing. On the other hand it is large enough to provide comfortable and sure thumb engagement when you need to open your knife. No special movements are required, just push the stud forwards along the handle's edge and the knife will open. I haven't special reservations as to stud black color but on the black coated blade it looks somewhat better.
Another amazing property of the Axis Lock is the tendency to pull back the partially opened blade. Please look onto the photo below: if I would release the blade now it would be just pulled back into the closed position!

Think no one locking device can be compared with the Axis Lock in this matter. It is especially important for tip-up carry: drawing your knife in high stress situation you can be completely sure it is not partially opened in your pocket and will not make you a harm. Not the least advantage - the artery in the groin is fairly close to the pant side pocket...

The BENCHMADE Model 730 Ares with its straight blade-handle line and spear point blade is near the ideal tool for the fast straight stabbing techniques in the defensive action. BTW, it is the best techniques in my honest opinion and only on this one I would rely if I would be forced to fight to save my life.
Incomparable Axis Lock strength and knife handling abilities are supporting the highly adequate for this purpose shape.
Knife is fully ambidextrous, it is one of the few really ambidextrous knives available on the market.
You also can't to go wrong using the Ares as the handy tool for everyday carry. It will serve you flawlessly in this role and I wish you never to be forced to use it as a weapon!

[This message has been edited by Sergiusz Mitin (edited 04-16-2000).]

Outstanding review. Very complete and informative. Do you like the knife?

Great job!

Very impressive review, nice photos and great text follow-up. My Ares is due to arrive this week, and it looks like a keeper. I'll let you know if mine matches your review.
Very nice review.
I hope you do more.
Maybe the BM 42 when it comes out.
I have a 705 and 710 and like them both.

IMHO the blade to handle ratio of the 730 does not look good; blade too small.
I am dissappointed.

RICK - Left Handers Unite
I look forward to logging onto this Forum and seeing a new review from you, SM. Please keep up the great work!

I am rocking back and forth on the seesaw about getting this knife and this review has helped with the decision making process. Thank You!

The individualist without strategy who takes opponents lightly will inevitably become the captive of others.
Sun Tzu
Sergiusz --

Nice write-up!

In your pics, the Ares grinds look hollow, not like Benchmade's typical flat-sabre grind. Is that right, or a trick of the photos?

Friends, thank you for your appreciation.

Daniel, yes, I like this knife very much, but for everyday carry I am faithful my BM AFCK

At IWA gun show I asked Mr. Less de Asis does he planning to make the AFCK with the Axis Lock? He said - so far he does not... What a pity!

RGRAY, you have no reasons to be disappointed!
I understand you very well: when I got BM Model 710 first time into my hands I couldn't believe my eyes - the blade looks longer than the handle. Model 710 is unbeatable in this matter!
But believe me - the Ares blade/handle length rate is really much better than it could be considered looking onto my cheap photos. It is perfectly balanced knife!

Joe, you are right - on my photos it looks like hollow grind but really it is flat saber grind exactly like on other BM knives. Making my photos I never know in advance will blade look white or black, flat or hollow

My understanding and patient wife promised: when our polish magazines will pay me a bit better for my writings she will buy me a bit better photo camera. But who could found me a bit better photographic skills

[This message has been edited by Sergiusz Mitin (edited 04-17-2000).]
This is what a good knife review is all about. Good job, Sergiusz, thank you for the review.


To: Sergiusz Mitin,

My ares arrived and it is everything you said in your review, perhaps more. Fit and finish is perfect and the blade was plenty sharp. Like you said, the ratio of blade to handle is near perfect, and the handle conforms to the hand beautifully.

Thanks again, and for the Sharpmaker info, just ordered the 204.

Great write up and pictures I have the 710 and love it, I ordered a 730 should be here any day.
Mine just arrived today. Incredible knife. The only thing I would do is add an additional spacedr farther toward the lock to make the knife more solid (not that it isn't already incredibly solid, but it can always use more).


Nice Review! I'm waiting for mine to come in. Sergiusz, hello from a former resident of Szceczin.