I’ve owned pocket knives from a dozen different brands over my lifetime. All brands have their ups and downs – and not every knife will tick the right boxes for every person. With that said, brand loyalty and trust shouldn’t be overlooked. I’ve always advised my friends and family to buy the knife, not the brand – but there’s no denying that some knife makers just have that “special touch”. In this Benchmade vs Spyderco breakdown, we’re going to look at the important differences.
Bear in mind that many of these points are going to be somewhat subjective and experience is often the best guide when choosing your next knife. Take what you learn here and go get your hands on a couple of knives from each of the two brands. See what works for you and what catches your attention the most. With all this in mind, let’s take a look at what separates two of the biggest names in the pocket knife world!
Table of Contents
Spyderco vs Benchmade – The Main Differences
As we touched on above, we’re going to look at the main differences between Spyderco vs Benchmade knives. As we go through the guide, don’t forget how important your own experience is! What works best for you might be a total mismatch for me, so keep what you’ve learned over the years handy.
If this is your first knife then we’ll give you a good grounding to make a solid decision from. Just remember that there is no perfect knife. Each has their specialties and focus areas, so you need to choose what suits you best. Let’s get started!
Price Range and Quality
Price is an important factor for most people – and it’s a good indicator of the quality you’ll be getting (but not always). On average, Benchmade knives tend to be more expensive when you compare competing knives. Spyderco has several options that cater to the budget market, whereas Benchmade sticks to the premium range.
Don’t let the price deceive you though. There isn’t much difference in terms of material quality between the two brands. In each brand’s premium range the quality is exceptional – but you’ll pay a bit more for the Benchmade option. This has a little to do with after-sale service (we’ll touch on that next) and is linked with the brand image of the company.
If your budget can’t stretch too far and you don’t need a premium knife, Spyderco is probably the way to go here. You most likely won’t find a similarly priced knife from Benchmade. Both brands use excellent quality steel in their premium knives, with Benchmade taking a slight lead in terms of material quality. This is reflected in the price though, so it balances out in the end.
Warranty and After-Service
Benchmade knives come with a generous warranty that allows oftentimes free repair on any damage done to the knife. If this is your first knife, or you’ve had bad experiences in the past, this feature could be a lifesaver. Some testimonies lean both ways and you’ll find that in general, Benchmade handles after-sale repairs better than Spyderco – though this is quite subjective.
I’ve had a new Benchmade knife repaired for free, and the damage was my fault. That being said, you may not have the same experience, or could even get the same (or better) treatment from Spyderco. It depends on where you live and the condition of the knife. Just remember never to manually take apart your knife or you’ll risk voiding the warranty.
Ease of Opening the Blade
This is a big one for me – and a lot of EDC knife owners. If you’re going to be spending a lot of time working with or carrying your knife, it’s essential that you like the opening action and method. If you’re a fan of the traditional thumb stud, then Benchmade is the way to go. Not everyone likes the finger hold on the side of the blade that you’ll find on most Spyderco knives.
On the other hand, if you’re anything like me – the “Spidey” hole is awesome. You can use your middle finger to hook the hole and quickly whip open the blade. Admittedly, it takes a while to get used to, but when you do, it’s hard going back to a simple thumb stud. Don’t let this dissuade you from the Benchmade thumb stud.
It’s exceptionally sturdy and lets you open and close the blade one-handed without any hassle. While this area comes down to personal preference, just bear in mind that you’ll adapt quickly to the opening and closing action, so this shouldn’t be your primary deciding point (unless you don’t like the “Spidey-hole” on Spyderco knives).
Design and Ergonomics
This is where the most apparent and easy-to-notice differences are. Benchmade knives look more like you’d expect a pocket knife to look. They’re quite symmetrical and hold closer to that traditional “rectangular” look. Their handles are often quite straight and not overly ergonomic.
Spyderco knives, on the other hand, are very ergonomic. The spine of the blade sticks out in a sort of triangular shape (to make space for the Spidey-hole in the side of the blade). This isn’t necessarily a bad feature as they’re just as lightweight (often even lighter and slimmer than their Benchmade counterparts).
If you’re used to the traditional pocket knife design and feel, you’ll most likely lean toward Benchmade. If you want something that looks and feels a little different – without straying too far from the path – then Spyderco might have what you want. It takes a little time to get used to the feel and balance of Spyderco knives, and you’ll need a little practice to open/close them one-handed.
Once you do though, they fit exceptionally well into your hands and are some of the most comfortable knives on the market. If you’re a lefty (or ambidextrous) then you’d likely be paired better with a Benchmade knife as their symmetry helps you out a lot.
Axis vs Compression Locks
It’s not a complete Benchmade and Spyderco knife comparison without looking at how they lock up. Benchmade knives use the renowned Axis locking mechanism, whereas Spyderco uses the common compression-type lock. Both have their strengths and my favorite of the two is the compression lock.
This is mainly because I don’t like assisted opening pocket knives and most of the knives I’ve used in the past have a similar lock design. So, which one is right for you? If you prioritize safety and consistency, then you might want to go for Spyderco’s compression locks. They’re exceptionally secure and easy to use. You won’t have to go through a long adjustment period and they’re easy to maintain.
If you want speed and don’t mind assisted opening knives, then Benchmade’s axis lock is top-class. The blade release is swift and snappy, while still being reliable and durable enough for everyday use. Long term durability is a bit of a concern with Axis locks as they have thinner, more fragile moving parts that can rust or wear over time. You can counteract this relatively well with good care and maintenance.
Quality Control and Other Issues
While much of Benchmade’s quality control issues are made up of people adopting others’ opinions, there is some truth to the argument. There are frequent complaints that some of their knives come dull and uneven, with the blade not centered. This can be fixed manually, or sent back for a replacement – either way, it’s an important consideration.
If you’re going to pay premium prices, then you should expect premium quality and QC. That being said, Benchmade’s quality control issues are often overstated and aren’t as widespread as many would have you believe. In case you get a faulty unit, their excellent customer and after-sale service will take care of you. Spyderco doesn’t struggle in this department though, thanks in part to the simplistic design of knives.
You might need to spend a little time centering the blade, but you don’t need to worry about too much up-down play on the blade (as with some Benchmade knives). The good news is that Benchmade is aware of the issue and is constantly trying to improve quality control to bring you the best quality possible.
Benchmade vs Spyderco? Which way are you leaning? We’ve looked at the most important and pressing differences between these fantastic brands – so there’s still more to dig into if you need to. Hopefully, we’ve shed some light and have helped you edge closer to making a decision.
Don’t forget how important your experiences are. How many brands have you tried out before? Do you know what you’re looking for? These are the questions you should be asking if you want to make a more informed decision.
We’ve done tons of reviews of some excellent knives to help you out, so feel free to take a look – you’ll find loads of helpful information! Take what you’ve learned here with our Spyderco vs Benchmade breakdown, list what you’re looking for and what’s important to you, and take a look at some knives! Good luck!