Benchmade 15031-2 North Fork Review
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Benchmade 15031-2 North Fork
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|Pros||Great blade, classy wooden handle||Incredible blade quality, assisted open, perfect combination of compactness/functionality||Light, simple, well-made, full size blade, full-function||Beautifully constructed, assisted open, good value||Small, portable, well-constructed|
|Cons||Expensive, no assisted opening function||Pricey, blade lock mechanism not intuitive||Expensive, low profile handle, flexy plastic construction||Slender handle makes it hard to apply even pressure, thin blade is fragile||Not made for heavy-duty use|
|Bottom Line||This is one of the best knives we have ever tested with a wooden handle||Immaculately constructed knife in a form-factor that is easy to carry and large enough for virtually every task||For a full-function, full-size pocket knife, this is as light as it gets, and is the premier option for all sorts of human-powered adventures||A slender, svelte pocket knife with great materials and a reasonable value||A tiny, multi-function pocket knife|
|Rating Categories||Benchmade 15031-2 N...||Benchmade Mini-Barr...||Benchmade 535 Bugout||Kershaw Leek||Victorinox Classic...|
|Blade and Edge Integrity (30%)|
|Construction Quality (20%)|
|Other Features (10%)|
|Specs||Benchmade 15031-2 N...||Benchmade Mini-Barr...||Benchmade 535 Bugout||Kershaw Leek||Victorinox Classic...|
|Weight||3.2 oz||3.4 oz||1.9 oz||3.1 oz||0.8 oz|
|Blade Length||2.9 in||2.8 in||3.0 in||2.9 in||1.4 in|
|Blade Material||S30V stainless steel||154CM stainless steel||S30V stainless steel||Sandvik 14C28N stainless steel||Proprietary Stainless (between 440A and 420)|
|Handle Material||Stabilized wood||Plastic||Grivory||410 stainless steel||Plastic|
|Blade Style||Drop point, straight||Drop point, straight||Drop point, straight||Drop point, straight||Drop point, straight|
|Blade locks closed?||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||No|
|Opening Style||Ambidextrous thumb-stud||Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud||Ambidextrous thumb stud||Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud; back-of-knife finger tab||Fingernail|
|Lock Mechanism||Proprietary (Axis)||Proprietary (Axis)||Proprietary (Axis)||Frame lock||None|
|Carry Style||Pocket clip||Pocket clip and lanyard hole||Pocket clip and lanyard hole||Pocket clip and lanyard hole||Keyring|
|Closed Length||3.9 in||4.0 in||4.2 in||4.0 in||2.3 in|
|Overall Length||6.9 in||6.9 in||7.4 in||7.0 in||3.8 in|
|Thickness (w/o pocket clip)||0.5 in||0.6 in||0.4 in||0.3 in||0.4 in|
|Other Features or Functions||None||Lanyard hole, modular clip||None||None||Scissors, nail file, small screwdriver, tweezers, toothpick, key ring|
Our Analysis and Test Results
You can think of the Benchmade North Fork knife as a special edition of the Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585. Notable differences include fewer customizable options, the wooden handle, and the lack of assisted opening. If you are ok with the blade steel of the North Fork (the Mini Barrage offers choices, the North Fork does not) and do not want the assisted opening function of the Barrage, the wooden handle of the North Fork may appeal to you. All others will prefer the Mini-Barrage.
Blade and Edge Integrity
All you might think you care about, as it pertains to a knife's edge, is "is it sharp?" Now, that is a simple question, with a complicated answer. First, even right out of the box, there are different definitions of "sharp." Sure, sharp is sharp; the blade has a pointed edge, or it doesn't. However, that is not the whole story. The angle(s) at which the faces of the blade meet determines the function of that edge. A steeper angle may very well be sharp, but it doesn't cut very well because the faces must force the material apart further after making the initial cut.
A smaller angle cuts very well but won't last very long, which brings us to the other part of the blade and edge integrity. Your blade must be sharp and stay that way. Also, because every knife requires constant sharpening (despite what certain budget knife manufacturers claim), it must be easy to resurface. All these attributes are difficult to balance and tune. Additionally, the variables are many. A blade's sharpness and integrity are a function of usage, materials, heat treatment, and geometry. In the end, after tuning all of these, Benchmade does a dang fine job with the blade of the North Fork. The blade is carefully tuned and consists of excellent materials. The other Benchmade blades are similar and provide good quality as well.
Aside from one major variable, the ergonomics of the North Fork knife are virtually identical to those of the Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585. And it is ergonomics that set the Mini Barrage apart from other high-end knives we tested. These two are just the right size, with smooth hinges, easy one-handed operation, and locks that work easier and more reliably than any other test. Larger knives are better in bigger than average hands and for bigger than average tasks, but the size of the North Fork is just right for most people in most applications.
The one way in which these two are different is in the assisted opening function. On the Mini-Barrage, the blade is spring-loaded so that the user just needs to start the process of opening it, and the spring pulls it the rest of the way. Our test team (and likely you) like this feature. It is this that mainly sets the Mini-Barrage ahead of the North Fork.
Portability is a function of size, weight, pocket clip utility, and other carry options. Portability, regarding size, is also at direct odds with ergonomics. Larger knives (to a point) are easier to use. Smaller knives (with no limit, really) are more portable. On the entire continuum of pocket knife size, the North Fork is near the top. However, it is not at the very top. It is this size that seems to offer the best compromise of ergonomics and portability. The size is such that it clips relatively unobtrusively to your pants pocket. The pocket clip is secure and can be switched from one side to the other, depending on your hand preference.
The North Fork from Benchmade is well made. In fact, all the knives we tested are well made. We only review top-scoring products, and top-performing pocket knives are all well made of excellent materials. What sets the best of the best apart is their weight for the construction quality. It is easy to make a heavy, sturdy knife. Benchmade makes sturdy knives that are lightweight. This is a greater feat.
There are no other features on the Benchmade North Fork. It is just a simple blade in a handle.
Should You Buy the Benchmade North Fork?
For those discerning users, the quality of the Benchmade North Fork is self-evident and will be well worth the cost. For the price, you get great quality and lasting design. However, we cannot call it a great value. It is a boutique piece of equipment, and losing such an expensive pocket knife out on a camping trip would certainly be a tragedy.
What Other Pocket Knives Should You Consider?
Benchmade stacks the deck with their products. They make immaculate pocket knives with mass distribution. It is no secret that they are going to top lists like ours. If you're enamored with the performance and style of Benchmade knives, it is well worth your time to consider the similarly compact Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585 and the Benchmade 535 Bugout.
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