Founded in 1988, but with a history that dates back seven years prior, Benchmade makes precision products with a hand-finished polish. The brand got its start producing custom balisongs (a.k.a. butterfly knives) using crude machinery.
Benchmade has since grown to become one of the most recognizable names in knife making, developing brand recognition and a reputation for producing quality and innovative knives. While the brand has produced a wide range of knife models since its founding, one of the most iconic is the Benchmade 940 Osborne.
The Benchmade 940 Osborne was first introduced in 2000 at the Blade Show in Atlanta, GA, where it made a big impression even among some of the bigger players in the field. It has been produced and sold by Benchmade ever since. Below we will take a detailed look back at this historic knife to better understand its evolution from newcomer to industry staple—in essence, how Benchmade became a benchmark.
First Impressions Of the 940
At first glance, the Benchmade 940 Osborne looks almost too thin to be practical. While sturdy, it has virtually no heft yet fits in even large hands. Thumb studs on both sides of the knife make it extremely easy to open, and Benchmade’s AXIS® locking mechanism keeps the blade firmly in place for peace of mind.
Once opened, its textured thumb ramp and superb balance allow for superior ease of wielding. This makes it not only functional but also versatile for people of all types—from fair weather campers to rugged survivalists.
Benchmade 940’s Stats & Specs
The reverse tanto-style blade, made famous by the 940’s designer, Warren Osborne, is 3.4” long and only 0.114” thick. The handle is a mere 0.41” thick without considering the clip and is 4.47” long. With the knife locked in an open position, the overall length extends to 7.87,”.
Almost weightless in your pocket, the 940’s 2.9 oz makes it seem like it should not be as strong as it really is.
The 940 Osborne is a manual-opening knife with ambidextrous thumb studs and contains Benchmade’s proprietary locking mechanism. The blade is made of satin-finished CPM-S30V steel, while the handle is made of a green anodized 6061-T6 aluminum with stainless steel liners. The belt clip is Benchmade’s classic painted black stainless steel.
For a bit of added flair, the 940 features a purple titanium backspacer. Machine broached, it adds to both the grip and visual appeal of the knife. While this could have been a flat piece of black or silver metal to match the rest of the 940’s other fittings, Benchmade’s characteristic attention to detail gives it the subtle prominence it deserves.
Benchmade 940 Osborne Performance
Designed for everyday carry (EDC), Benchmade’s 940 Osborne is intended to be highly versatile yet still slim and stylish. Though light, you can tell the 940 is well made as soon as you pick it up.
The anodized aluminum handle grips like a second skin, with ridges on the thumb ramp to help keep traction during heavy-duty use. This combination of sleek design and reliable handling is just one of the many aspects that makes it such an iconic pocket knife.
The 940 is a beautiful looking knife. You can tell just how much care and thought went into every detail of its construction. The handle’s matte green aluminum is accented wonderfully by the purple titanium backspacer and the black hardware that holds everything together. The stainless steel lining plays off the purple backspacer inside the handle, giving it a unique effect when you peer inside.
You will find that everything is nice and snug, with all the parts lining up immaculately. Even after repeated use, the screws hold tight, and both the blade and handle show no signs of looseness or wobbling. Such craftsmanship is imperative for those who use their knives on a regular basis.
The ambidextrous thumb studs are a thoughtful touch and make opening the blade a breeze. The AXIS® keeps the blade in place, making it feel almost like a fixed-blade knife. That being said, it is still effortless to close with one hand. Opening and closing the knife feels smooth, with no resistance whatsoever, even after repeated use and age. This is a product built to hold its own.
Once open, the balance of the 940 is impressive. The overall length, width, and, surprisingly, weight all come together to create a knife comfortable enough to use as an EDC. The S30V stainless steel blade holds its edge through even the dirtiest jobs and sharpens up quickly.
Whether you are cutting through the tape on a package, nylon rope, rubber hosing, or even piercing the lid of a can, the Benchmade 940 handles the job with efficiency and ease. It can even cut through a seatbelt with ease—an added bonus for an EDC. Thus, the knife has both safety and utility value.
This fantastic functionality comes down to quality materials and the reverse-tanto shape of the blade. The reverse-tanto form puts more steel behind the tip, allowing the 940 to pierce more challenging materials while still excelling at cutting and slicing.
Benchmade’s choice of blade style allows the 940 to retain its thickness up the blade’s entire length. A high, flat grind leads to a beautiful edge that improves both the blade’s aesthetic and its ability to cut. From tip to tail, the 940 Osborne has a magnificent appearance that combines innovations of form and function one can find in no other knife.
The only downside to the knife is Benchmade’s choice of stainless steel belt clip. Though perfectly sturdy, the clip is painted black and starts to show wear rather quickly in comparison to the quality construction of the components to which it is attached. While this does not affect the clip’s function, it serves as a sharp visual contrast to the care put into the rest of the 940’s design.
For those who may be bothered by this, Benchmade does offer different clips for sale on their site. Their clips come in silver or black and are available in standard carry, deep carry, and mini deep carry sizes.
Benchmade 940 Pricing
The Benchmade 940 is one of the company’s mid-range knives, falling in the middle of their pricing scale. While there are plenty of budget EDC knives out there, you are paying for quality and longevity when buying from a brand like Benchmade. The 940 is a knife that, if well cared for, will be with you for decades to come.
Benchmade knives also come with a limited lifetime warranty. The company sells spare parts and offers repairs on all knives as well. When you buy a Benchmade knife, you are purchasing a knife for life.
Benchmade has several other models in the 940 Osborne line. These knives have slight variations from the classic 940 design and come in at different price points depending on which one you choose. Except for each knife’s notable differences, you can assume all other features and specifications are the same.
Benchmade 940BK Osborne
(Image Credit: Benchmade Knives)
Boasting all the same specs as the Benchmade 940 Osborne, the 940BK features a sleek blade fully coated in black. The knife is exactly the same as the 940, with the only difference being the blade color, thus making it a purely aesthetic choice.
(Image Credit: Benchmade Knives)
The 940-1 upgrades the Benchmade 940 in a few special ways. First, the blade of the 940-1 is made with CPM-S90V steel, which is more resistant to wear and tear and corrosion. In addition, the knife’s handle is made of carbon fiber instead of the anodized aluminum featured in the 940. The purple titanium backspacer has also been swapped out for a blue titanium backspacer to better pop against the carbon fiber’s black.
These changes also drop the overall weight of the 940-1 to 2.44 oz, making it slightly lighter than the 940. Thankfully, this does not affect the balance of the knife in any perceivable way. If anything, the change in material increases the thickness of the handle ever so slightly. The carbon fiber handle comes in at 0.44” instead of the 0.41” of the 940’s aluminum handle. For experienced knife users who know exactly what they want, this could be a deciding factor.
(Image Credit: Benchmade Knives)
A more modern approach to the Benchmade 940 is the 940-2. This model makes two dramatic changes to the 940 Osborne. The first is that what was once a green anodized aluminum handle is now a textured black G-10 handle. The purple titanium backspacer has been replaced with green titanium barrel spacers.
G-10 is a glass fiber resin laminate, similar to carbon fiber, known for its strength, moisture resistance, and high electrical insulation. Slightly thicker than the 940 at 0.44”, the knife, even without the full backspacer, still weighs in a bit heavier at 2.65 oz. The added weight, negligible as it is on paper, may be preferable if you want something with just a bit more heft.
Benchmade 940BK-2003 Osborne
(Image Credit: Benchmade Knives)
This beautiful knife, being a limited edition model, is a bit harder to find these days. The 940BK-2003 deviates from the Benchmade 940 in most ways, featuring upgraded materials and luxury accents. The blade is coated in diamond-like carbon (DLC) black CPM-S90V steel with blue titanium thumb studs. A mini-deep carry clip, blue titanium barrel spacers, and blue titanium screws adorn the flat, black titanium handle, giving it an aesthetic appeal that is as balanced as the utility of the knife itself.
These changes to the classic design increase the knife handle’s thickness to 0.44” and the overall weight to 3.42 oz. The 940BK-2003’s DLC blade is exceptionally scratch-resistant, guaranteeing a great looking knife even after years of use.
Released in 2020, the 940BK-2003 was only a 2000-piece run. Currently out of stock on Benchmade’s site, it is still possible to grab one from several retailers for a premium. Should you decide to splurge, you can be sure of getting what you pay for.
As an EDC, the Benchmade 940 is top-notch. Its impeccable attention to detail, lightweight and slim construction, and multi-use reverse-tanto style blade do more than place it at the top of its place—rather, this suite of features defines a class unto itself. While the clip does suffer from paint chipping, this by no way deters from the overall functionality and precision engineering of the knife. Whatever it might lack in this one peripheral oversight of quality control, it makes up for in exceptional blade steel, resilience, and customer service.
No matter which model of the 940 you choose, you will be sure to be impressed by the craftsmanship and how truly functional your Benchmade will be. While folding knives like the 940BK-2003 are more suited to the collector, the other models reviewed above offer up enough variety of changes to suit the EDC needs of just about anyone. Benchmade prides itself not only in the meticulousness of its construction but also in understanding the needs of its customers, who come from all walks of life.
Having used various EDC knives throughout the years, I have always been partial to the 940. If you have done your homework, you know that many companies out there advertise their knives as being versatile. But the 940 is one of the few knives out there on the market that I can say with confidence truly fits the bill as my everyday carry. In fact, these days you will never find me without that trusty tool on my person. It is reliable, robust, and keeps its edge for quite some time before needing to be resharpened.
The Benchmade 940, now 20 years old, shows no signs of slowing down. While newer models update the classic design, the original 940 from Warren Osborne holds up well in its old age. When Osborne passed away in 2016, he left behind a legacy as indelible as the blades that bear his handiwork. And so, the 940 is more than just one of the best EDC available anywhere; it is also a testament to one man’s vision for what a knife should be, then going one step further.