I think the Endura 98 with the ATS-55 blade is a much better knife than the Ascent (from another Benchmade fan).
I always get hate mail from somebody who likes the CRKT Apache whenever I post about them, but I can't help it, the one I had was an aweful knife in my opinion. The sharpened edge to handle length ratio is aweful, the handle has no contours to keep it from slipping in your hand, it tries to make up for this with some truly nasty guard-like protrusions on the blade near the pivot that would tear up your hand if they ever came into play, it was heat treated so soft that the brass rod test made waves in the edge, it is bead blasted which is a guilded invitation to rust, it has a really thin, vulnerable tip, and it is a liner lock. Blechh!
My apologies to people who have them and like them. I have nothing personal against you, so please do not send me hate mail, just post your good experience with them to counter my post. Thank you.
I just need a knife (plain edge) for every day use and easy for resharpening. I have a CS "El Lobo" serrater but it is not for every occasion. I am on Benchmade side but need advice. EDI is good (little bit expensive) - should check with REKAT.
If you want something cool for 50-60 dollars, check out the "For Sale: Dealers" forum to get a link to MJS Knives. The Benchmade Spike is available for 60 dollars, both sizes. It is a liner-lock and it is VERY cool looking. I have the automatic version, and I will probably get the manual to carry with me in a few weeks. It has the standard (but awesome) ATS-34 blade, and is among the designer series that Benchmade produces. It has an aluminium handle, and is BIG. It's a liner-lock. As for the Ascent, I have the 830s and I have to say... It s by far the best lockback knife I have. I have a few Spydercos, and although they are also among the top echelon of folders in todays market, the Ascent takes my vote for the best. The blade is VERY thick, there is practically no chance of the thing breaking, no matter what you use the thing for. It is a VERY simple knife, and thus is VERY simple to take apart for cleaning. It has no bronze washers in the pivot system. The entire knife is just the blade, handle, male and female pivot screw and acceptor (respectively;-) and the clip with the three screws. The knife is light as heck, but you wouldn't know by looking at the blade. If you want a lockback, go with the 830, if you wan a cool liner-lock that wont tear up your thumb while closing it (tooled liners can hurt often) then get the Spike. I hope this helps.
Robert Joseph Ansbro
If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed.
-Stanley Kubrick, 1928-1999
Wow, it's rare to see so much agreement! I also dislike both the Ascent 840 and the Apache. Steve has covered the Apache well. As for the 840, I'm a huge Benchmade fan, and I do like the Ascent line, but I feel the largest one (840) has very bad ergonomic problems. The handle just doesn't quite work out for me on that version. It's also a HUGE handle for only a 4" blade.
My choice for this class of knife is easily the endura98. The only knife that might compete with it is the Goddard lightweight, *if* you like partially-serrated blades (I hate 'em). I like some of the Cold Steel zytel folders, but the 4"-bladed Voyager line is also weak compared to the endura98, IMO.
IMO, the Apache series was a good "first try" for CRK&T to move into higher-end pieces. In construction, they remind me of the nice, old aluminum Benchmades. But their ergonomics are strange, the blade-to-handle ration very poor, and the bead-blast is an invitation to trouble. This has all been said already, but...
Don't write off CRK&T yet! They have just released their take on the Carson M-16 series, and they are getting rave reviews. the one I handled had better action and fit than I expect from most Benchmades at twice the price, and was simply an excellent design overall. If you look in the reviews area, folks have quite a few nice things to say about them. I'm still waiting for them to produce the larger and smaller sizes as spearpoints (or anything besides a tanto) and switch the bead-vlast to a satin finsh, but they're already on the top of my knives-for-the-buck list. The large aluminum models retail at $75 and have a street price of closer to $50, while the Zytel models will be even less expensive! CRK&T is a company to watch!
As for the Ascent series, I simply can't see any reason to get one over a Spyderco. The AFCK is my favorite knife, bar none, but the Ascents completely destroy its ergonomics by widening the finger groove and placing the weight too far forward with that Zytel handle. I have read of numerous lock failures and frequent blade play in these knives, observations confirmed by the Ascents I have handled. I was convinced once-upon-a-time that the 830 Eclipse (former name) was the perfect "beater" for me. I went out to buy one, handled it, and chose a Spyderco (Pro-Grip) instead. I'd do the same thing today. The Endura and Goddard offer similar blade size to the 840 in a better steel (BM ATS-34 is too hard!), better lockup, and second-to-none customer service. The only "plus" for the 840 Ascent is the tip-down carry, and that's a matter of preference. Benchmade has a long way to go before they're a "player" in the Zytel knife market, IMO.
Little Bear Knives
[This message has been edited by Corduroy (edited 31 July 1999).]