Benchmade HK Axis Folder (14715) Review
By Matt, 2/11/2016
Around six months ago I joined the website Massdrop. For those not familiar with Massdrop, it is a site dedicated to facilitating product group buys (known as 'drops') as requested by their members.
So the weeks rolled by and every now and then I'd get an email with the latest 'drops'. Over time I noticed that every second week or so there would be a new 'drop' for a variant of Benchmade's Heckler & Koch (HK) Axis folder (funnily enough there is another HK Axis drop in progress right now).
Now I thought, there must be something to this knife if it keeps being requested so frequently. So I did a bit of research... USA made, G10, D2, Axis lock... $80 USD... say no more, just take my money!!
- Overall Length: 21cm (8.35")
- Blade Length: 9.4cm (3.7")
- Closed Length: 12cm (4.65")
- Blade Thickness: 4mm
- Blade: D2 black coated
- Hardness: 60 - 62 HRC
- Handle: G10 over steel liners
- Lock: Axis
- Pivot: Phosphor Bronze Washers
- Weight: 140g (5 oz)
- Country of origin: USA
My first thought was "how can this thing only cost $80 USD'?". I'm not sure exactly where Benchmade is cutting costs on this knife, but when compared to an equivalent Griptilian this HK sure does seem like a bargain.
In hand it feels solid, hefty and built to work hard. The Axis lock and the blade are as smooth as silk and I can't fault the fit and finish.
Benchmade calls this blade a clip point which technically speaking is true. Personally I think it has a bit of a reverse tanto vibe going on. The 4mm D2 has a 3/4 flat grind which runs straight and doesn't follow the sweep of the blade. This style of grind results in a stronger tip while keeping the edge behind the straight portion of the blade reasonably thin. As a result despite the thicker stock, this blade slices very well and doesn't bind up on sheets of material. Personally, I really like this grind and I wish it was more widely used.
There is a short run of jimping on top of the blade. It is sufficiently sharp to lock the thumb in but not so much as to cause discomfort. I do wish that Benchmade extended the run of jimping just a bit further along the blade spine as in harder cuts my thumb seemed to sometimes slip forward past the jimping.
Out of the box the black coated blade has a clean satin finish. I'm not exactly sure type of coating Benchmade applied, but in use it picks up scratches and wears pretty quickly. Mine looked well used (with one scratch going all the way through to the steel) after only a few days of medium duty use.
D2 is one of my favourite steels when done right. It is pretty much stainless, holds a great edge and sharpens easy enough with diamonds. I'm happy to report that Benchmade got the D2 right on this HK. The knife was shaving sharp out of the box. Resharpening wasn't too painful and the blade took a nice keen edge and held it satisfactorily during the week.
All in all, the blade on this HK is just about perfect for a general utility EDC blade that can flex into some harder stuff if required.
The handle of the Axis is a bit of a lowlight for me. Aesthetically speaking I think it looks great, the coffin shape and the raised plateau above the lock differentiate it from the crowd. Likewise one can't complain about the materials (G10 over milled out stainless liners).
But, once in hand it is a bit of a dog if I'm honest. My first three fingers and thumb are naturally located by the finger cut out and sit very comfortably. The problem is with my pinkie, which falls perfectly on the protruding corner of the coffin section of the blade. When gripping the knife hard this gets quite uncomfortable. Moving my hand back slightly helps things, but it is still not great as my pinkie then falls across the jimping at the base of the knife and the rest of my fingers feel slightly out of position.
The G10 falls on the milder side of the grippiness spectrum but it still offers adequate traction even when wet. I like how Benchmade have chamfered all the edges of the G10, with the angle of chamfering changing along the length of the handle.
The liners are black coated to match the blade, however, like the blade the coating has shown wear pretty quickly. Also, props to BM for milling out three large circles in each liner to reduce weight.
Now the clip is standard Benchmade fair, albeit stamped with the HK logo. The knife is tapped for both right and left tip up carry. No complaints on how it slides into and out of the pocket.
While not a low rider clip, it is mounted high on the handle. The knife rides in the pocket well with just enough of the handle exposed to give you something to grip onto when drawing the knife.
On my example the clip sits 1/2 a mm off the handle, as such it sometimes feels a bit 'twangy and makes a clicking noise when pressed against the handle. I would have liked it to be a bit tighter to avoid this, but at least the current tension means the G10 doesn't tear up your pocket.
In hand the clip isn't perfect as the tip digs into the hand when gripping the knife hard. I wish BM would add another bend at the end of the clip to flatten it out some and eliminate this issue.
The axis lock is, in my opinion, one of the best locks around. It is strong, quick, ambidextrous, easy to use and locks up tight as a bank vault. There isn't much more to say really.
The only thing I could ping it for is when the knife was wet, the Axis nubs are a bit more slippery than I would have liked.
The knife glides opens smoothly and quickly with a flick of the thumb stud (or an Axis flick for those skilled enough). I love that little kick the spring of Axis lock gives when opening the knife. Hard to describe if you haven't experienced it.
The handles have a groove ground into the G10 which guides your thumb onto the stud at the appropriate angle. I do wish that there was a little more space between the stud and the handle as sometimes (in the wet especially) I found it hard to get traction on the thumb stud.
After a few days carry the pivot loosened up slightly which resulted in minor side to side blade play. Tightening the pivot sorted this, but I did note that the sweet spot was pretty small (1/2 mm turn of the pivot screw).
Funnily enough, while I was carrying this knife for the review it was announced that the entire HK line was to be discontinued come 2017. I'm not sure if it was purely a business decision by BM or a falling out with HK, but, I for one will be sad to see the HK line go.
In my opinion the HK Axis folder represents some of the best value in BM's lineup. While the ergonomics didn't fit perfectly for me, a lot of people have no issues. If you are interested in this blade I say grab one before they are gone. Hopefully BM will replace them with some equally high value knives in 2017.
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