Benchmade Rift 950 Review

A stout folder with thumb-powered blade

Benchmade 950 Folder_lead. Click to enlarge.Benchmade’s Rift 950 honed blade flashes into fixed position with a simple boost of a thumb-stud. It’s not an automatic, spring-loaded folding knife, but it opens awfully quick and quietly. It doesn’t matter whether you’re right-handed or left. This blade whips out just about as fast as a true spring-loaded auto folder. But it’s your thumb working with the rift-shaped handle shells and your entire hand that fires the edge fast. It’s a fun knife. It’s sturdy, sharp, yet with a flair of design and craftsmanship that’s just fun.

Rift’s reverse-tanto blade is 3.67-inches long, with a deep blade belly that continues as a robust cutting edge to the tip. The stainless 154CM steel blade of this 950 Rift pops out of the box with a fine edge; something you can expect from Benchmade. From past experience with Benchmade to more recent products reviews, each knife, fixed-blade or folder, arrives razor sharp. You mess up that fine edge, and it will take a new fine edge. And just as intuitive as it is to use your thumb to open the blade instantly, it’s also got a blade designed to get maximum power when you bear down for a cut.

This cutting power comes, we’d like to think, from the way the reverse tanto blade works with the G10 handle material and shape.

Thumb stud blade deployment works smoothly.
Thumb stud blade deployment works smoothly.

G10 is a composite of fiberglass and epoxy resins bound together under high pressure. The G10 handle shells of the Benchmade 950 Rift tend not to absorb moisture or conduct electricity. It’s a stable material that can be readily milled and shaped for both form and function. We liked the layered, multi-dimensional grip-surface of these handle shells that tend to mimic geologic rift valley formations.

Handle shells are 0.560-inch thick. The blade is 0.114-inch thick, and sits perfectly centered between the blade liners. AXIS® blade locking mechanism works like a vault latch, every time. And the ambidextrous thumb stud doesn’t discriminate between right-handed or left-handed people. Rift also has a fairly slim profile, excluding the clip height, at about 12mm or .5-inch thick. It’s not bulky.

Blade design and your hand positioning offers you the leverage to sever any material you realistically need to cut. It’s not a delicate slice; it’s more like dividing asunder. You get full power in working this blade like bull shark on a ham hock. Your hand clinches on the asymmetrically –shaped handle shells with full grip and power. Rift lends itself to be used as a daily working knife very well. Or you can use it as a surgical instrument you keep spoiled-rotten sharp. This writer loves to keep a blade flat hard core sharp right up till the moment a heavy-duty razor is required.  Yet it sure is fun to cut with this blade. It has a forward bite, down and away from your body… or down and back.  Bite and slice.

We valued the pure aesthetics of this Osborne designed folding knife.
We valued the pure aesthetics of this Osborne designed folding knife.

The one thing we would like to see in a folder like this is the ability to lock the blade shut. Although this one is not an auto, it’s not much slower in opening. Locked in the open position, the blade won’t collapse. But when folded into the blade liners, this blade can unfold at an undesirable time. The thumb stud is the principle snag/hold on this knife, and the blade can deploy. Carrying this folder in a sheaf, never a worry; carry it clipped onto your pocket-top or at the bottom of your pocket, it might go crocodile on you. The same blade-locking safety mechanism used on the Benchmade 9051 SBK AFO II automatic folders would be a great asset to the non-autos.

Six-lobe headed fasteners bolt the handles to the 420J stainless steel liners in the core structure of the knife. You can acquire the

Spring steel clip is adjustable to either side of knife.
Spring steel clip is adjustable to either side of knife.

Benchmade tool kit to adjust screws, swap the spring clip, and general maintenance of the folder. These folders can pick up lots of debris and grit just sitting in your pocket. On a recent trip out to Moab, Utah we experienced several days of high wind and blowing sand. Even with the protection of your pocket or a belt sheath, driving sand will find its way into your gear, all of it.

The spring-steel clip can be moved to either side of the knife body. Both clip positions are attached with three six-lobe screws. This clip is strong and will clasp onto your jeans pocket with a certainty. But it transports best, for our purposes, just sitting on the bottom of whatever front pocket with the thumb-stud pointed down and in towards the leg. At this position, the Rift comes out of the pocket ready to deploy. By the time it was decided to carry the Rift this way, it was also fairly clear this folder would benefit from a locking mechanism to keep the blade shut while it’s in the pocket.

In general, the Benchmade Rift is a solid, good-looking, and fun folder to have around. The blade and handle design compel you to put this knife to work. It’s sharp, and the blade is readily maintained. Unfolded, the blade is very secure within the core-structure; no wiggle room here. We like this knife, and it fit in very well as a back country blade that is strong, light, sharp, and versatile enough for using as a camp and general purpose blade.

By Rick Shandley

Additional Features:

  • Class: Black (Benchmade extreme-duty series of knives)
  • Overall length: 8.27-inches
  • Closed length: 4.60-inches
  • Weight: 4.80-ounces
  • Origin: Made in America
  • MSRP: $180.00

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