Benchmade announced 771/773 in late spring of 2002, if I am not mistaken. 771 and 773 are variations of the same knife. The differences are in handle colors, 771 comes in silver and red/black splash, 773 comes in black. For simplicity I'll be referring to 773 in this review. So, in short 773 is further evolution of the earlier knife from the Benchmade Osborne 770. 770 as you might already know was a collaboration between BM and custom knifemaker Warren Osborne. This time the knife became available quite soon after announcement. Aluminum handles sounded interesting, and even though I am not fan of 154CM/ATS-34 I've decided to go for it. Looked very nice on the pix to be honest :) So, I went ahead and ordered one from Jeff at C-RUMS.
General- First thing that looked odd once I've opened the package was the box. It was too small compared to regular BM knife packaging. Once I've opened the box and took the knife out I just said wow! I've handled lots of folders from Benchmade and other makers and without any hesitation I can say, 773 has top notch fit and finish. I've been examining the knife for a while, and couldn't find any problems or flaws. Very well made knife. To me 773 Osborne is next level of 770 model Osborne. A step further if you will. There are a few major and minor differences between 773 and 770 and I do like all novelties in 773.
- Handle - 773 features anodized Aluminum handle, which I do like a lot; 770 has CarbonFiber, which I don't really like, it's ok but nothing exciting;
- Blade Thickness - 773 blade is 0.09" and 770 is 0.11" thick. For the small, gents folder I like the thinner blade better. Cuts cutter, and I won't be chopping trees down to be worried about its strength too much;
- Blade Geometry - 773 straight, 770 slight recurve. In general I do like recurved blades, they do cut better, although are harder to sharpen. However on the 2.8 inch long blade the recurve is not all that important, may be the ease of sharpening is of greater importance;
Blade- 2.8-inch spearpoint blade (official BM designation for it Modified Spear Point) looks slick. I don't really like the blade geometry visually all that much, it's an Ok design to me. On the other hand, for what it is made for, it is good. 773 is a small folding knife and the thin, pointy blade works very well for suitable tasks. For fine cutting, opening envelopes, etc 773 works better than my other EDCs, such as Camullus EDC or Sebenza. Of course thin blade and thin edge impose their limitations on the knife use, and 154CM hasn't ever been the toughest steel either. Therefore, I won't cut many things with 773 Osborne that I wouldn't hesitate to cut with my other, small EDC. Two reasons, they have thicker blades, and better steel. Although, as usual I carry more than one knife on me, and at least my 710 McHenry & Williams is always with me ;) I've been carrying 773 since I got it every day, so far so good. For small cutting chores it's just great, for something rough I have another knife. Obviously if I am forced to take only one knife with me and I have blade length limitations then I'll pick something else, but as usual that's not the case, so it's fine. Besides small blade isn't going to scare non-knife people easily.
Handle- One of the major upgrades for 773 was the new, Aluminum handle. I do like metal handles a lot, so I was really excited when I've learned about that. 773 has hard anodized, black Aluminum handle. Anodization on BM Aluminum handles in my experience was wear and scratch resistant enough to survive everyday carry and use. I've been using 710 and 940 over a year and have no complaints about them. Handle texture on 773 resembles Al handle texture on 710. 940 Osbornes have smoother handles, even though it's the same anodized Aluminum. Therefore, it's slightly more "grippy". For a small knife the handle is fairly comfy. To be honest, I haven't had to exert any significant force while using this knife so far. Thus I can't really comment on comfortability, but I'm not gonna use it in such manner anyway. So far, so good ;) The handle texture and geometry is nice, and I am satisfied with it, fits the designation so to say. The clip on 773 is not reversible, so lefties may be disappointed. On mine the clip was too tight, had to work on it a little bit, just bent it out.
Like 770, 773 has axis lock modified accordingly, it has been scaled down to fit a knife this small. Looks nice, although because the release button is smaller it's harder to disengage, but nothing problematic.
EDC and Light Utility Use- Well, that's the only purpose of this knife unless you have an emergency and are not trying to break it :) As you can see from the picture and the specs it is really small. The following is a short summary of my experience and impressions after carrying 773 for roughly 3 weeks. Since I did like the knife and was interested how the blade that small would perform for me in small EDC role I was carrying it every day, no rotation.
Well, so far I am very positive about 773. Major cutting tasks for it are opening mail, snacks, and just for the heck of it I cut cardboard boxes from time to time. Didn't have a chance to use it for pencil sharpening, or that'd be my wood whittling test ;) Anyway, the very slim blade profile makes 773 a very efficient cutter. Also, as I've mentioned earlier it is really pointy. In short very well suited for fine cutting. As an optimized or specialized blade it does have drawbacks and tradeoffs. Which in this case is the blade strength. Obviously you shouldn't do heavy duty cutting with it, no chopping, no prying. But for fine cutting 773 really excels. It's thin, narrow point can easily get in difficult spots for delicate tasks ;) Comparing to Benchamde 707 Sequel, 773 has thinner blade, that is narrower too. Depending on the task this might be preferable, or vice-versa. At this point I prefer 707 if I have to carry 1 blade though.
Edgeholding- As of the edge holding, I've steeled it twice during those 3 weeks. Once because it really needed and another time because my hands were itchy. First steeling was necessary after cutting up a large cardboard box. For experimenting I've used 773, even though I've had 3 other blades on me at a time. After processing roughly 200 inches of cardboard the knife stopped shaving. Sure I couldn't cope with that, so the next thing to do was to restore the edge. All that happened after 5-6 days of use. 20 strokes per side restored shaving sharp edge and after that I've proceeded with CrO loaded leather strop. Which further improved the edge. Now, given the designated use of this gents folder it will rarely need sharpening. For starters I don't have to cut too much due to my life style, I'm referring to me being a programmer. Then, whenever I cut it's mostly soft materials, and if something is relatively hard then I use another blade. In short 773 won't see anything tough to cut unless something weird happens. Hope it won't. So, for its current use, 773 holds an edge very well :) In terms of pure edgeholding 154CM/ATS-34 are good, until you start cutting rough stuff, where chipping starts.
Conclusion- Well, it is the most current conclusion to be precise ;) Later I might change my mind. Which is that 773 is a nice gents knife. Well designed and very well executed. For its intended use it works better than well. However I wouldn't call it a utility knife. May be I'm too careful, but I think 154CM blade at 61 HRC and that thin will not withstand hard cutting. Something like wiring or accidental staple may damage the edge, and most likely that will be a chip, not a roll. Also, the blade length 2.8 is really small, and you simply will not be able to make many cuts with that tiny blade, or will have to work longer and probably tear up the medium instead of making a clean cut. Which isn't really nice, is it ;) Summarizing all that, I personally wouldn't choose 773 if I were to carry a single folding knife. If the blade length limitations apply, whenever I go to SF for example, than I carry Sebenza, EDC, BM 705, or something like that. The blades are slightly longer, but it's enough to make a difference, plus they're stronger knives.
However 773 fits very well in my usual, 2+ EDC knives setup. With BM 710 and Letherman Micra in my pockets as a minimum 773 makes a useful backup/small user knife. It looks pretty innocent and friendly not to scare non knife folks, and I've already commented about its cutting abilities above, which are totally satisfactory to me. Therefore, if you are looking for a second or third EDC blade you might as well choose 773, but it won't do as a primary one. Although it all depends on you again. Some folks survive without a single knife on them >:0... Go figure.
- Model: 773 Osborne
- Blade: 154CM Steel hardened to 59-61 HRC;
- Length: 71mm (2.8")
- Thickness: 2.28mm;
- Open: 171.45mm (6.75") Closed: 95.25(3¾");
- Weight: 48g (1.7oz);
- Handle: Black Anodized Aluminum
- Lock Mechanism: Axis lock (U.S. Patent #5737841)
- Warranty: Limited Lifetime
- Acquired - 07/2002 Price - 115.00$
- Benchmade 16707BT Blackwater Folding Knife review
- Benchmade 707 Sequel Folding Knife review
- Benchmade 770 Osborne Folding Knife Review
- Benchmade 705CFHS Forum Folding Knife review
- Spyderco Chaparral 3 C152STIP Stepped Titanium Folding Knife Review
Last updated - 02/09/15