Comparative Review: Axis vs. Carnivore

Got my hands on a couple Carnivore samples over the weekend, and since
there have been stand-alone Carnivore reviews, I thought I'd do a
comparison review versus the Axis. I've seen numerous requests for a
comparison of the two, due to the similarity in the new locks each one

The Blades:

Both knives have ATS-34 blades. The Axis blade is a hair under 4",
the Carnivore blade is 1/4" shorter at 3 3/4". The Carnivore is a
clip-point blade with a full-length unsharpened false edge and
moderate recurve. The Axis is a drop-point blade with a half-length
unsharpened false edge and a slight recurve. The Carnivore's blade is
about 5/32" wider than the Axis's blade. Carnivore has a stone-washed
type finish, the Axis is satin finished.

What this comes down to is that the Carnivore has a slightly shorter,
but wider and more recurved blade, and is more aggressive-looking due to
the long false edge and clip point. The Axis's blade has longer lines,
less wide and less-aggressive-looking blade.

Both blades use thumb studs for opening, but the Axis's thumb studs are
ambidextrous, while the Carnivore's is right side only (on all the
samples I looked at).

The Pivot/Lock:

Both locks have a nice feature that's found on lockbacks -- a spring
which pulls the blade back in at the end of its swing. As a result,
both knives can safely be made to carry blade-up.

The action on the Carnivore is a little bit gritty, on the Axis it's
silky smooth.

The lock release button on the Axis is up high, on the Carnivore it's
down lower near the index finger groove. Just looking at the knives
you'd think it would be easy for the index finger to hit the lock and
release it on the Carnivore. However, the button on the Carnivore is
low-profile and takes deliberate effort to release it (a good feature).
This will vary from person to person, but for me, I was never able to
grab the knife in any kind of realistic hold and make it accidently
release. Same with the Axis.

The Axis's lock can be operated from either side, for lefty or righty
manipulation. The Carnivores I've seen were righty-only.

The lockup on both knives is extremely good and solid, better than most
anything out there. Torquing and twisting a bit, the Carnivore seems
even a tad more solid than the Axis.

The Handles:

The Axis's handle is 4 15/16" long, the Carnivore's 5 1/8". The
Carnivore's handle is also 1/4" wider than the Axis's handle for
much of its length.

The result is that the Axis has an excellent blade-to-handle ratio.
The Carnivore's smaller blade is housed in a handle that is bigger
all the way around.

The Axis's handle is mostly a couple gentle curves and a thumb ramp.
The Carnivore's handle is a deep index finger groove followed by
contouring for the rest of the fingers, and a thumb ramp.

The clips on both knives are mounted at the butt end, so both knives
are tip-up carry. The Benchmade's clip is black and mounted via 3
screws; as befits its ambidextrous nature, the clip can be moved to
the other side of the handle for lefty carry. The Carnivore's clip is
natural steel colored and held in by a single hex screw, while a small
projection in the clip fits into a cut-out in the handle to provide a
second stabilizing point.

Overall Impressions & Performance:

My initial suspicion, just looking at the handles on the two knives,
was that the Carnivore would be more secure but less comfortable than
the Axis. This was confirmed quickly in use. The Carnivore's handle
really locks your hand in, the index finger groove is deep, and the
contouring really molded well to my hand. The substantial size of the
handle adds even more to the security. The Axis's gentle curves
hugs the hand nicely, but does not have the deep index finger
groove and other palm-hugging contours of the Carnivore.

In longer-term use, the Axis has proven to be one of the most comfortable
handles I've ever used. The Carnivore's contoured handle raised
hot spots in the predictable places. The Carnivore's more-pointed
and aggressive thumb grooves bit in and became uncomfortable fairly
quickly. Depending on which way I was cutting, the pointed projection
that forms the back of the index finger groove would raise hot
spots on either the index finger or middle finger.

The Carnivore is noticeably heavier than the Axis, and has a
much larger footprint as well. The Axis is about the limit of the
size of knife that I can comfortably carry in my fave carry position --
in waistband at the kidney -- without noticing it. The Carnivore's
length, width, and weight make it uncomfortable in that position for

The Carnivore's factory edge is thicker and smoother than I normally
like, but performed well considering. About comparable to the Axis
factory edge, as far as I can remember, maybe a tiny bit more
aggressive. The Axis with my edge on it (as described in a
previous article) is in a different league altogether, but that is
strictly a matter of the edge. I believe a Carnivore with my 15/20
edge on it would perform at least as well as an Axis, if not a tiny
bit better because the Carnivore is more recurved. In theory, the
more recurved blade (i.e., the Carnivore) should perform slightly
better but be slightly more difficult to sharpen.

The Axis is of course an ambidextrous knife. Thumb studs and the lock
both work from either side, and the clip can be moved from one side to
the other. The Carnivores I've handle were all right-side only; I
assume lefty versions are or will be manfactured as well.


My biggest conclusion is that I don't at this moment see any advantage
that either knife has to completely recommend it over the other.
They're both excellent knives with a number of advantages versus the
other, and the best choice depends on accurately sizing up your needs.

My typical needs are as follows: I want to carry the knife all the
time, most important is utility work but I consider backup defense as
an important secondary purpose. Sometimes the utility role requires
cutting over a relatively long period of time. Carry comfort is a
very top priority -- as soon as I feel a knife is uncomfortable, I
start leaving it at home.

For the purposes I've outlined above, and given my size and comfort
limits, I will stick with the Axis. It's more comfortable for
long-term cutting and utility use, and its smaller footprint and
lighter weight mean I'll actually carry it with me. The black clip
keeps things a little lower-profile. In addition, it's a fine design
in a backup defensive role.

If I were bigger and didn't mind carrying a larger and heavier knife,
the choice would be more difficult. If I were doing utility jobs that
required extreme security-of-grip, I would definitely lean more towards
the Carnivore.

I can come up with any number of "if this" or "if that" that would
make me consider the Carnivore over the Axis, or vice-versa. This is
not a slam dunk in either knife's favor, but that's what makes knives
so interesting! Perhaps as more experience is gained with these two
knives, some other factors will be uncovered that will favor one over
the other.

I also have both the Axis and the BF Carnivore. I prefer the Carnivore as a defensive knife first and as a utility knife second. Whereas, I consider the Axis to be just a very good utility knife.

I agree with JT about the gritty action on the Carnivore. I wonder if the stone washed finish has any thing to do with this?
Joe, about how long does it take for the Carnivore to become uncomfortable and what kind of cutting are you doing with it to generate this ?

Did you notice any difference in the behaviour of the two ATS-34 blades in regards to general material properties?

Oct 3, 1998
Nam, I came close to calling the Carnivore the better defensive knife and the Axis the better utility knife. But I couldn't quite bring myself to do it.

For me, I find the separation of "defensive qualities" and "carryability" completely artificial. One of the most important features -- perhaps THE most important feature -- of my defensive knife is carryability. Because of the Carnivore's greater weight and larger footprint, I know I wouldn't carry it quite as much. For some people this isn't the case because they'll find the Carnivore perfectly comfortable, but I'd like to get people thinking more about carry comfort. However, in the end, if you told me "tonight, you'll be going somewhere where you have a high chance of needing a folder for defensive use", in that case I wouldn't be as concerned about comfort, and I would admittedly grab the Carnivore instead of the Axis.

Similarly, on the utility side, the Axis's carryability and handle comfort speak well for it. But for some utility jobs, maybe you want the Carnivore's incredible grip security, and are willing to give up everything else for it. But again, given the statement "you'll be doing your typical utility work and the need for defense is unlikely but possible", I'd grab the Axis first.

When you can pack heat legally then the knife is just gravy. The Carnivore is 1000% more comfortable to carry than my Colt Govt 380 or my Glock 26.

I did the more-or-less usual testing with my friend's knife. Whittling, cutting rope, cutting cardboard, some slicing, cutting pvc, and random other cutting. Some of the cutting I'm really driving the edge hard.

The Axis's handle kind of melts away in your hand, you don't even think about it, except those times you need to tighten your grip for security. With the carnivore, you always know there's a knife in your hand, you can feel it. I should mention that sometimes this is a good thing -- occasionally, it was nice to be able to pull the knife when it gets a little stuck, and have subhilt-like projection behind the index finger to tug against. This can definitely be a plus for some utility jobs, especially if I'm working where it's wet & slippery.

Anyway, right from the beginning I'm more aware of the Carnivore's handle. After a couple minutes some spots can start getting warm. The 25-minute cardboard cutting marathon I did with the axis a few weeks ago would have definitely been uncomfortable.

That of course brings out another point. I think working hard for even 5 minutes with a folder is fairly rare. I tend to work for a few seconds, put the knife down, pick it up in a little while and cut something else. I don't know how relevent the continuous-usage test is for most people.

I didn't get the chance to test the steels head-to-head. I would love to have had the chance to put a 15/20 edge on the Carnivore and then done some edge flexing on both folders, but my bud doesn't want to risk me chipping his new folder just yet.
Nice review, Joe,

I ordered the Carnivour strictly for "defensive" purposes. I carry another for utility. I'm glad the handle "locks" up the hand as I would want for that purpose.

Now about the 'gritty" feel in the pivot. I have that in the Pioneer as well. Hmm... what is it? Can it be smoothed out?

Needless to say, a very informative comparison, which complements nicely some other recent reviews. Thanks a lot.

Mr. Talmadge,
Thank you very much for taking the time and effort to do this comparison. I was so enamored with the Axis that I got one the same day they came in at my local cutlery dealer. Same with the Carnivour. I read your thread on the 15/20 edge and was impressed enough to take time and put said edge on both my Axis and Carnivour. OH MY GOD! the level of performance on both blades was raised considerably, to put it lightly. I used my Lansky sharpener to do the honors and I would suggest everyone who can do this give it a try. The results are almost scary!
BTW, I have been searching for years for the "perfect" carry knives to meet my personal criteria. The search is FINALLY over because now the Carnivour lives in my right pocket and the Axis lives in the left. Long live the Axis/Rolling lock!!
Gritty feeling opening the Carnivour is an understatement. I had to play with the pivot and pour 1/4 bottle of Tuff Glide into the washers and then cycle it 200 times before it opened smoothly. It was tighter than all of the other REKAT's I have purchased before.

Now it is as smooth as silk. I really am enamored with this knife the more that I use it. Like all REKAT's-it has tank-like qualities. Built tough for tough usage.

I thought that the handle would become uncomfortable after long term usage, but after 30-40 minutes of whacking at the mesquite in the back of the house, it was still fairly comfortable.

I like the Carnivour.


Do you have early model Carnivours? I was looking at the REKAT site and can not see the recurve in their picture. Do you know if it is the angle of the image or has the recurve been dropped?

The recurve is quite evident in pictures of the Benchmade.

You got me interested in getting a Benchmade Axis lock.

Will --

I think the situation is reversed. The pictures are of the early prototypes, and are straight-edged. The full production versions from REKAT are recurved.

I tried both out and bought the AXIS, only to be unsatisfied with the way it felt in my hand and returned it. There I noticed the dealer had just got REKAT knives in stock where I held the Carnavour. The main difference I found in the handles is that the Carnavour is big at the rear, giving the back of the hand good grip, whereas the AXIS is tappered, not allowing good grip for my taste. At first I questioned the weight, but after carring and using it a few times, it is my daily carry.

Good comparison Joe.
I think the Carnivour rocks, so I own two of them. I also have three old-style Pioneers and a utility neck knife.
Needless to say, I'm impressed with REKAT's stuff.
If I want silky smooth, I grab a Sebenza or Socom. But these knives don't get the use/abuse I subject on the REKATS.
Ugly and tanklike as they are, the REKAT line is very attractive to me.
You know, as I've taken my Axis around, I've noticed that although most people agree with me about the excellent ergonomics on the Axis, there's a definite percentage of people for whom the Axis handle doesn't work at all. They usually cite the exact same thing, their hand doesn't feel secure at the back portion. For me, my hand feels secure, and incredibly comfortable.

Nice review Joe. The Carnivor is a nice knife but I'm a bit like you regarding puting alot of emphasis on carryability. Lightweight and thinness is very high on my list of advantages when choosing a knife to carry in my pocket or belt; Furthermore, the utility aspects of a knife also far outweight its defensive advantages (for an all-pupose everyday carry knife). I concure with your conclusions.
Mr. Talmadge, Its been a while now and I wanted to get some of your updated impressions about these two knives. Do you still feel the same way about these two knives or has your opinion about either changed? I am especially curious about your feelings on the locking mechanisms now that you have had an opportunity to use both for awhile.

Dennis Bible
Knoxville, Tennessee

[This message has been edited by shootist16 (edited 14 December 1999).]
Who the hell is Mr Talmadge?

Shootist, over the intervening months, the Axis has become my favorite 4"-bladed folder bar none -- and that includes all custom 4" folders. The only one that has a chance of knocking off the Axis is my new Apogee. I carry the Axis every day. After Darrel does some adjusting of my Apogee, it will probably knock the Axis down to favorite 4" production folder / 2nd favorite 4" folder overall.

I've stopped carrying the Carnivore. Just too big and heavy a package for too little blade. And the gritiness of the action really irritates me, even though that's really a minor thing. I can still easily see how someone might choose the Carnivore, it has a lot going for it. I just feel like there are better fits for me. When I want a knife with a shorter blade than the Axis 710, I now carry my newly-purchased Pardue Axis 720. Excellent -- nay, flawless -- workmanship, slightly smaller blade in a *much* smaller and lighter package.