Benchmade vs Kershaw: Blade Showdown


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Last Updated: February 21, 2021

It’s a battle of the blades, as Benchmade and Kershaw face off.

For anyone that dabbles, you know that these are two of the most well-renowned knife brands that can be found anywhere from a Wal-Mart Supercenter to a professional knife shop.

Lets dive in and see what sets these famous knife companies apart.

Origins and Current Location

Benchmade

Benchmade logo
Benchmade originated as Bali-Song Inc in a small workshop located in California before it started taking off. In fact, after Bali-Song made the transition to Pacific Cutlery Corp, they soon went bankrupt.

From the bankruptcy, they were able to grow a new company with the lessons already learned from years in the knife industry.

Deciding on the name Benchmade was a show of their quality, as it was neither homemade or factory-made. This new company set off with a mission to give quality products to customers that they strive to have positive relationships with.

Benchmade began to create knives for the military when they became the top automatic knife supplier in the world after moving to Oregon and purchasing a high-powered laser cutter to work with incredibly tough steel.

They still are based in Oregon, what has been known as the epicenter of knife creation.

Kershaw

Kershaw logo
Pete Kershaw saw quality in simplicity and set out to build the best. Also in Oregon, Kershaw began producing knives out of an old cement plant in 1976 creating simple and high-quality hunting knives.

Kershaw partnered up with Kai, a Japanese blade company that has mastered the art of knife making over the course of 65 years. It wasn’t until 1995 that Kershaw strayed from their classic design and began producing liner lock knives. This shift made for a boom and huge step into the modern world.

Kai saw this opportunity and grabbed it. They expanded Kershaw in the US and have continued to push the technology to new levels.

Kershaw does have some models that are still being produced across the pond in China. These tend to be their lower, budget series.

They are still producing new knife technology and manufacturing in Oregon, almost neighbors with Benchmade.

Where Are The Knives Made?

Benchmade: Every Benchmade knife produced after 2010 was made in their Oregon manufacturing facility in the USA. Some knives manufactured prior to 2010 and in their budget range were made overseas.

Bottom line: All new Benchmade knives are made in the USA.

Kershaw: Early manufacturing (pre 1997) was done in Japan, this has subsequently moved to the USA.

Bottom line: The vast majority of Kershaw knives are made in the USA. However be aware that some of their budget range is manufactured in China.

Warranty

Benchmade and Kershaw are on par with each other and both provide a limited lifetime warranty on almost all of their products. You buy a knife from either one of them, and you’ll have that warranty until you die or lose the knife.

Note that there are some reasonable terms and conditions which you can read below.

Design

Benchmade

One of the best parts of going with Benchmade is the chance to buy a design that is highly customized. You start off with a base model and can customize just about everything on there.

The 535 Bugout by Benchmade

Benchmade bugout

Benchmade makes knives that range from high-end kitchen cutlery to sleek and minimalistic pocket knives. They have broadened their production capacities and bring a high-quality blade to every different design.

Whether you are looking for an everyday survival knife, or an assisted opening survival knife that will take a real beating when you need it to, Benchmade makes it.

Kershaw

While Kershaw produces all different styles of blade, they have become much more focused on sport knives and pocket knives. The company started off mainly producing hunting knives, but have definitely moved away from that.

The Launch 10 by Kershaw

Kershaw Launch 10

They have filet knives, neck knives, and hatchets, but their true glory lies in the SpeedSafe assisted open pocket knives. This was the revolution that brought Kershaw up to the top of the knife world and is still what stays as their best seller.

Kershaw does put out a lot more unique knives than Benchmade. They will experiment more with differently-shaped blades while Benchmade sticks to a much more classic design.

Build Quality

Benchmade

Their first mission was to create something better than has existed before. Making the best only happens with the best materials and dedicated production facilities. Benchmade uses the top-quality steels available and aerospace-grade materials for their handles.

Benchmade uses 15 different types of steel in their blades and seven different materials are used in the handles.

Additionally they have 11 different mechanisms for opening and locking each knife. This ranges from a traditional butterfly knife to various forms of assisted opening.

Kershaw

Kershaw prides themselves on meticulous design and quality control for every knife that they put out. They use premium materials even on the budget lines.

While a few of their models are still being produced in China, they are still under a close eye for any possible imperfection.

Kershaw utilizes 14 different steels that all are great for making knives more affordable, or for making knives built to last against anything. Their 5 different opening styles are all based around the classic folding pocket knife, but they tend to push the SpeedSafe opening.

It’s worth remembering here that both of these companies back their knives with limited lifetime warranties. They believe in the quality knives that they are putting out and will stand up for it.

Price

Benchmade

With Benchmade, you’re less likely to pick a budget-friendly knife. Their knives are priced a bit higher mainly due to the US production. They have to pay their workers more, and still use only the top-tier materials for both blade and handles.

Kershaw

Kershaw is going to have the much larger catalog of knives if you are looking for a lower priced knife. Their knives are a fraction of the cost of most Benchmade knives, but some are also produced out of the US. This method tends to cut down on the cost of labor as well as materials.

The Winner?

Well, between Benchmade and Kershaw, I have to say that Benchmade comes out on top with its quality and customization. Their knives are simply beautiful and they last longer than the warranty does.

The only place where Kershaw is winning in this competition is the price. If that is your only factor for choosing what brand to go with, Kershaw is your best bet.

I would still recommend getting a budget Benchmade like the Mini Griptilian over a similarly priced Kershaw, such as the Blur.

Related Reading: Benchmade vs Spyderco knives

Benchmade Mini Griptilian

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