Benchmade has been making fine quality knives of all kinds since 1988 and is now based in Oregon like several other US knife manufacturers. Oregon has relatively loose laws surrounding knives and hence is a popular location for knife companies. While Benchmade appeals to a large market and produces a wide variety of models they do place a consistent focus on first-class manufacturing standards. We have experienced nothing but the excellent quality on the Benchmade knives we’ve looked at in the past. In this article, we’ll be looking at the Benchmade 710, otherwise known as the McHenry and Williams after the esteemed designers Bill McHenry and Jason Williams. Let’s take a look…
- Blade length: 3.9 inches
- Overall length: 8.8 inches
- Closed length: 4.9 inches
- Weight: 4.5 ounces
- Blade material: D2 semi-stainless steel
- Country of origin: USA
- Price range: About $150
UPDATE 2017: Well imagine our disappointment when we heard Benchmade was discontinuing the 710 series in 2017. Sad times, BUT there may still be models floating around so good luck.
The first thing we noticed with the Benchmade 710 is that its design is somewhat understated. It’s certainly not flashy and while some may classify this as a tactical knife we think it’s far from having a tactical look to it. It is primarily aimed at sports and outdoor enthusiasts rather than your military-esque followers. In terms of dimensions, the 710 is by no means small with an overall length of eight and three-quarter inches with a blade just shy of four inches long. When closed the knife measures just under five inches and weighs in at about four and a half ounces.
By comparison, the 710 is a little bigger than the full-sized Griptilian and about the same size as the forever adorned Chris Reeve Sebenza. While it’s on the larger side we still think this knife can very much serve as an EDC. It’s a Benchmade Blue Class knife and comes in a small box with a foam liner. In the box, you’ll find a brief owner’s manual and a somewhat unexciting draw-string bag.
The blade on the 710 is manufactured from D2 steel (fairly rare these days) which is a high carbon, high chromium air-hardened tool steel that is superb at resisting wear. It’s considered a semi-stainless steel but provides good resistance to corrosion and can be hardened extremely well. In fact, the 710’s blade has been hardened to 60-62 Rockwell which is very hard indeed and allows it to keep a super sharp edge. Now, before you get too excited about this level of hardness, you should note that this type of steel can have its shortcomings, specifically with brittleness, some difficulty in sharpening and somewhat low quality of finish.
You will find many knife enthusiasts preferring 154CM to D2 because many manufacturers do not do a good job of heat treating the D2 which results in amplification of the shortcomings. However, Benchmade gets it right in this case. Note that the high level of carbon in the D2 can make it a little more susceptible to rust than alternative steels. That said, keep it clean and lightly oiled and you’ll have no trouble.
This blade is a satin finished, modified clip-point with no serration or jimping and has a fairly shallow sweep with a subtle recurve on the edge. The grind is hollow which starts way up high on the blade and provides for great slicing ability. This blade shape is also perfect for piercing and thrusting and as we’ve come to expect from Benchmade the blade is insanely sharp out of the box. You can use either hand to deploy the blade using the ambidextrous thumb studs positioned on either side. The deployment is aided by low-friction phosphor bronze bushings which provide a smooth and swift action.
Benchmade incorporated its impressive AXIS lock mechanism onto the 710, similar to the Griptilian and if you read our Griptilian review you know we are big fans of this mechanism. In summary, the AXIS lock utilizes a hardened steel bar that pushes forward and back along a slot cut into the knife’s steel liners. You can read more about the AXIS locking mechanism (which was also designed by McHenry and Williams) from Benchmade’s website here. The AXIS lock is super simple and easy to operate. It provides a really smooth action combined with durability and strength. There’s no blade play and no way this blade is going to open or close accidentally.
The handle on the 710 is the popular black G-10 which has some scaling for extra grip but overall we found the handle to be a tad bit slick for our liking. G-10 is our “go-to” handle material – it’s durable and dependable in most situations but it comes in many different forms on various pocket knives. Here it’s used to some effect but we’ve seen it done better. The stainless steel liners are produced from 410 steel and have holes cut out (or skeletonized) to reduce weight without sacrificing too much strength.
We were a little disappointed that the handle was not an open-design which makes it a bit easier to clean but that’s not a huge deal. On the handle, you’ll also find a lanyard hole and a stainless steel pocket clip which is reversible and oriented for tip-up carry. Those who prefer tip-down carry will be disappointed that Benchmade did not allow the pocket clip to be flipped upside down to allow that. By using the clip we found the knife sits low in our pocket and therefore enhances concealment.
On the whole, we really do like the design of this knife – is one of the better thought out designs on the market today in our opinion. It’s produced with exceptionally high-quality standards and while it’s not what we would consider being a super-premium knife it certainly is way more than your average user will need and performs very well. We like the overall fit and finish, the ergonomics and the D2 blade. In addition, the locking mechanism is near world-class. The handle is good but perhaps lacks a little bit of grip in wet conditions.
The Benchmade 710 costs a little more than your run-of-the-mill folder but we believe the price is justified. For those wanting great performance without the aggressive stylings of a modern tactical then look no further than the US made Benchmade 710 McHenry and Williams.
The Good: Superb design. Hard steel maintains edge well. Excellent locking mechanism. Refined looks.
The Bad: Handle lacks grip in slippy conditions. The blade may require some maintenance to avoid corrosion. Can be tough to sharpen.
Bottom Line: A top-class pocket knife with quality craftsmanship and good performance.