The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Benchmade 15031-2 North Fork Review

A solid little knife for all-around “every day carry”. With assisted opening, this model would be similar enough to our Editors' Choice to really complicate our assessment.
Benchmade 15031-2 North Fork
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Price:  $185 List | $157.25 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Great blade, classy wooden handle
Cons:  Expensive, no assisted opening function
Manufacturer:   Benchmade
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 24, 2019
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75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 19
  • Blade and Edge Integrity - 30% 9
  • Ergonomics - 20% 8
  • Portability - 20% 7
  • Construction Quality - 20% 9
  • Other Features - 10% 0

Our Verdict

What makes a super pricey knife twice as good as one that costs half that? In short, it is smoothness. The North Fork knife is super smooth. It opens smoothly, locks smoothly, and cuts smoothly. It will cut well for years and years, and Benchmade will sharpen it in a process that is also, well, smooth. Our only wish with the North Fork knife is that it was assisted opening. We've come to appreciate this function, and when the competition is so good, we can't award our top honor to a knife that isn't assisted opening. Benchmade markets the North Fork knives to hunters. For this, it is great. The blade will hold an edge through an entire large game field dressing, while the simple construction can be easily cleaned out afterward. For more pedestrian "everyday carry," these same attributes will be appreciated.


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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Great blade, classy wooden handleIncredible blade quality, assisted open, perfect combination of compactness/functionalityProven and well-respected blade, smooth, comfortable ergonomicsImmaculate materials, assisted opening, fully symmetrical performanceSmall, excellent materials and construction
Cons Expensive, no assisted opening functionPricey, blade lock mechanism not intuitiveLarge, no assisted openingLarge in your pocket, expensiveShort blade, issues with opening the blade, expensive
Bottom Line A solid little knife for all-around “every day carry”. With assisted opening, this model would be similar enough to our Editors' Choice to really complicate our assessment.Immaculately constructed knife in a form-factor that is easy to carry and large enough for virtually every task.Full-size, basic folding pocket knife with immaculate construction.The full size version of our Editors' Choice is less portable with minimal but real gains in usability. If you know you need a full size pocket knife, the Barrage 580 is a great choice.Compact, carefully designed knife for the discerning user that seeks uniqueness and can forgive some usability issues.
Rating Categories Benchmade 15031-2 North Fork Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585 Benchmade Griptilian 551 Benchmade Barrage 580 The James Brand the Chapter
Blade And Edge Integrity (30%)
10
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9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
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9
10
0
9
Ergonomics (20%)
10
0
8
10
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8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
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4
Portability (20%)
10
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7
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7
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5
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5
10
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8
Construction Quality (20%)
10
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9
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9
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9
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9
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9
Other Features (10%)
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Specs Benchmade 15031-2... Benchmade... Benchmade... Benchmade Barrage... The James Brand...
Weight (ounces) 3.2 oz 3.4 oz 3.9 oz 4.2 oz 2.8 oz
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 Thumb stud
Lock Mechanism Proprietary (Axis) Proprietary (Axis) Proprietary (Axis) Proprietary (Axis) Frame lock
Carry Style, in addition to loose in pocket Pocket Clip Pocket Clip and lanyard hole Pocket Clip Pocket Clip, lanyard hole Pocket Clip
Blade Material CPM-S30V stainless steel 154CM Steel 154CM steel 154 CM stainless steel Crucible S35vn stainless steel
Handle Material Stabilized wood Plastic Plastic Valox 6al4v titanium
Blade Length (inches) 2.9 2.9 3.5 3.8 2.7
Closed Length (inches) 3.9 4 4.6 4.8 3.8
Overall Length 6.9 6.9 8 8.5 6.5
Thickness (w/o pocket clip) (inches) 0.53 0.57 0.6 0.7 0.3
Other Features or Functions None None None None None

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Benchmade North Fork knife can be thought of like a special edition of the Editors' Choice Mini-Barrage. 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.

Performance Comparison



The North Fork from Benchmade is a classy  functional piece of equipment eclipsed by the Mini Barrage only in that the MB has assisted opening functionality.
The North Fork from Benchmade is a classy, functional piece of equipment eclipsed by the Mini Barrage only in that the MB has assisted opening functionality.

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 blade and edge integrity. Your blade must be sharp and stay that way. Also, because every knife requires ongoing 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 is 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.
Simple whittling would be "beneath" the capabilities of the North Fork if it weren't just so enjoyable to shave precise curlicues with the razor sharp blade.
Simple whittling would be "beneath" the capabilities of the North Fork if it weren't just so enjoyable to shave precise curlicues with the razor sharp blade.

Ergonomics


Aside from one major variable, the ergonomics of the North Fork knife are virtually identical to those of the Editors Choice Benchmade Mini Barrage 585. And it is ergonomics that set the Mini Barrage apart from other high-end knives we tested. These two are both just the right size, with smooth hinges, easy one-handed operation, and locks that work easier and more reliably than any other in the 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 in such a way 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.

Like the Editors Choice Mini Barrage  the North Fork knife is smaller than "full size". For the vast majority of tasks  though  this size is just right. For carrying  of course  smaller like this is better. We like this size compromise.
Like the Editors Choice Mini Barrage, the North Fork knife is smaller than "full size". For the vast majority of tasks, though, this size is just right. For carrying, of course, smaller like this is better. We like this size compromise.

Portability


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 pocket clipped North Fork. It's always handy this way  and largely unobtrusive except in the most formal of situations.
The pocket clipped North Fork. It's always handy this way, and largely unobtrusive except in the most formal of situations.

Other Features


There are no other features on the Benchmade North Fork. It is just a simple blade in a handle. The knife we test with the most other features is the Victorinox Climber.

Construction Quality


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.

Value


This contender is not an inexpensive knife. 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 for discerning users.

Conclusion


For those discerning users, the quality of the Benchmade is self-evident and will be well worth it. Just be sure you can keep track of such an expensive piece of small equipment. It would be a tragedy to lose the North Fork knife. 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.


Jediah Porter