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Benchmade 710 McHenry & Williams
Axis Lock Folding Knife Review

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Benchmade 710 - Axis Lock Benchmade 710 - Axis Lock

It has been my EDC (Every Day Carry) for over 12 years by now, and the longer I have it, the more I like it :) Actually I have two of them and carry them interchangeably. In its current configuration[M2 steel, 64.5HRC + Al handles on one knife, and M2 steel 64HRC, Al handle with G10 inserts], as a pocket knife 710 McHenry Williams is just a terrific piece of cutlery. Well, at least IMHO. I've started with ATS-34 710, then got M2 and have been carrying it since then. I've modified the knife in several ways, including Aluminum handles, BC coating, rehardening, regrinding and of course and edge reprofiling. The last modification was swapping out the handle on G-10 710 HSSR which was rehardened by Phil Wilson and reground by Tom Krein, the new handle is from another special edition Benchmade 710-02 D2 steel. Before that there was rehardening, regrinding, recoating, another handle change, numerous sharpenings and experiments, and the knife or pair of 710HSSRs were getting better and better with each iteration. back in 2004 I wrote "currently I think it's there and I have no further mods planned. Who knows what'll come up later though..." and after that rehardening and regrindings were done, so much for them being completed ;)

The Story

 - The very first Benchmade 710 Axis Lock (and axis lock knife in general) that I got was in March 2000. It was an ATS-34 stainless steel blade. My impressions were very positive in every aspect. To be honest, partly because of the lack of experience ;) So, anyhow, 2 weeks later I've ordered another one, at this time with M2 tool steel blade. And that was my first M2 blade. Since I don't care about the steel stainlessness that much, for that I think it's nothing extraordinary to take minimal care of my knives, plus I don't live in high humidity area, it was definitely a better choice. Well, speaking precisely, M2 tool steel seemed to be a better choice based on the data I've had at a time, and luckily, turned out to be a better one eventually. Clearly I am more than glad with the choice I've made :)
    BTW, from the beginning I considered BT2 to be a better choice over satin finish. It looks cool before you start actually using it, but not after I've used it for a while :) Now, I'd prefer no BT2 coating at all on my blades, but unfortunately Benchmade doesn't produce their M2 uncoated. At some point it's understandable, as M2 is not a stainless steel, and it'll rust easier if proper care is not taken. Apparently Benchmade doesn't want to deal with frustrated customers who couldn't keep their knives from rusting. On the other hand, worth mentioning that there are many knife users out there who can take good care of their knives and just plain hate BT2, some for the looks, some for it's lack of wear and scratch resistance, some for both, and those folks do have a reason.
    Besides designing the perfect (or almost perfect) lock for folding knives McHenry & Williams also designed BM 705 which was farily popular small folder, although little bit tooo thick for many(including myself) and absolutely terrific small folder Benchmade McHenry & Williams 707 Sequel.

General

 - Despite certain common problems(mainly the thick factory edge) with BM knives and some QC complaints regarding different BM knives, 710 is kind of the ultimate pocketknife. Amongst the high end, mass production knives that is. IMHO - it's a very well thought and designed blade. As for the production blade I think it's very hard to beat, especially considering the price/overall performance/quality ratio. Yes, it may have some QC problems, but in the end it's a workhorse and the beauty ;). Actually, this is my favorite, every day carry knife ever since I got it. Besides the looks, that I like so much (well, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder anyway) 710 McHenry & Williams is a real user knife, stout and versatile, it can take some real punishment, especially in M2 blade configuration.
    One of the things I'd like to notice first is the innovative Axis Lock mechanism. It is very simple, easy to operate, provides very smooth action, plenty strong, durable, prevents knife from opening in your pocket, self adjusting to the wear process, what else would you demand from the folding knife locking mechanism?
    G10 handle provides good grip, durable & dependable, plus the handle design/ergonomics are very good. Lately introduced Aluminum handles are even better(IMHO), though again some dislike the aluminum handle slabs, because they scratch, not very comfortable in cold weather, etc. I find aluminum handles very comfortable though, and they definitely give more solid feel. As for the scratches, here's the picture of those Aluminum handles slabs after over a year of use, as you can se nothing terrifying.
    I carry my knife in a jeans front pocket as usual & it is almost unnoticeable, unlike for example Emerson Commander, which has the same OAL length & even a shorter blade, let alone Strider Buck. And one more nice detail, as on most of the Benchmade folders the clip is reversible, i.e. can be easily attached from any side, and the thumbstud is ambidextrous, thus lefties are covered as well.

Handle

 - As pretty much everything in this knife, the handle is well designed & made. G10 used for scales is well known as a durable & dependable material. Liners are hardened stainless 410 steel because of the axis lock ;) titanium couldn't be used because it's not going to withstand as much load as the axis lock is designed to ;) So the hardened steel was used. The handle itself has very good ergonomics, you will appreciate that after any prolonged use. Especially if you use something like Buck Strider first and then 710. Slim, with smooth contours and no rough edges, it feels very comfortable in hand. The grip is quite secure. Sure Buck Strider provides even more secure grip, but that will take its tall from your palms and fingers ;)
    One of the complaints regarding the 710 handle is the absence of the defined finger groove. If you're stabbing real hard your fingers may slip down on the edge. Obviously that's not something you would like to experience. However, for a user knife that's not a real issue, besides a lot of things depend on your grip anyway.
    In 2001 Benchmade introduced a special run of 710 knives, in their standard amount of 1000. From their TAC series, which stands for Tactically Advanced Knife. What was advanced on the 710 TAC was the handle. The scales were made of hard anodized aluminum. Black colored (For the record - the blade was uncoated 154CM). I haven't seen myself, but as far as I know the first pre prod run of 710s was with aluminum handles too. Basically the scales are made of aluminum vs. G10 on standard production knives. Sure, I got one as soon as it became available. I liked 940 Osborne aluminum handles enough to try out this one.
    In general there are 2 camps, one who prefers aluminum over G10, and the other, who think exactly the opposite, that is G10 is superior to aluminum. Both sides have their arguments, i.e. both materials apparently have their pros and cons, such as G10 is more durable, doesn't scratch, friendlier in cold environment, yet aluminum provides more secure grip, looks better, more solid, increases handle strength, etc... In short, I like aluminum handles better :) It does look better to me, besides the grip is better with it. Obviously anodized aluminum is more susceptible to scratching than G10. I've already managed to scratch it in one place. Click here to see the pic. Anyhow, after all I've said about M2, you could've already guessed what I did next to acquiring my 710 TAC. Yup, I've switched the blade on it, so now I am wearing some sort of TAC/710 HSSRAL hybrid, simply put I've installed M2 blade on my 710 TAC :) Donno if you can tell the difference between G10 and Aluminum from this pic, but definitely it is Super Coooool!.

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