Whether you’re a prepper, survivalist, or someone simply interested in knives. The most reliable knife is a critical survival tool in many scenarios. In the case of a power grid failure, it can serve as a multi-purpose tool. In the woods, you can use it to spark fire, scrape bark, and for self-defense.
When it comes to survival knives, Spyderco and Benchmade are the two most popular options in the market.
Spyderco vs Benchmade, which is better?
I have used products from both brands for more than a decade while testing my survival skills in a wide variety of situations. In addition, I also gathered a lot of feedback from my friends in the survivalist community through the years.
IMO, both are extremely competent products when it comes to quality and craftsmanship. You can depend on both brands for your survival planning needs.
But there are some differences between them as well.
Let’s dig a little deeper and find out more.
Quick Comparison: Spyderco vs Benchmade
Here’s a quick look at the main differences between the two brands.
- Benchmade was founded in 1987 by Les’ de Asis. He started his knife design career by building customized Balisong knives. Spyderco was founded a few years earlier in 1976 by Sal and Gail Glesser. Their first folding knife, the C01 Worker was launched in 1981.
- Spyderco outsources its knife production in other countries. This allows them to keep the production costs down. Benchmade manufactures almost all of its products in the USA. That raises their product price by a significant margin.
- Both brands have a wide range of knives for a wide range of categories like everyday carry, survival, outdoor, tactical, and hunting. So, choosing the right one for your specific needs can be a daunting task.
Now, take a look at the main differences in terms of knife quality.
- Both Benchmade and Spyderco use a wide variety of high-grade steel and aerospace-grade handle materials for their knives. Materials like CPM-S90V are used by both brands to ensure corrosion resistance and edge retention.
- Both brands offer a lifetime warranty on the products. However, the Benchmade warranty comes with a Lifesharp feature. Benchmade will replace worn-out parts and resharpen the knife for free.
- Benchmade uses its exclusive Axis locking system in various forms. The method ensures smooth and safe ambidextrous operation. Similarly, Spyderco has developed the Compression Lock system that is similar to a traditional liner lock. But it’s super secure and extremely reliable in survival situations.
- In terms of design, Benchmade knives have a more traditional look with a symmetrical design and a thumb stud. In Spyderco knives, the spine of the blade sticks out, giving them a distinct look. Also, there’s a special “Spidey-hole” on the blade for ease of opening.
Overview of Spyderco
When Sal and Gail Glesser settled in Golden, Colorado,in 1978 the first Spyderco product that they launched wasn’t a knife. It was a Tri-Angle Sharpmaker that was sold in fairs and trade shows.
Interesting fact: The brand name emerged from the fact that quite a few high-performance sports cars had ‘Spyder’ in their name during that period.
The first Spyderco knife, the C01 Worker, had some of the features that would become a trademark of the brand in the coming days. These included a round hole in the blade and a clip in the handle.
As the popularity of the brand grew, Spyderco set up a worldwide distribution and manufacturing network. Beyond the US, they also set up centers in Italy, Taiwan, Japan, and China. However, some of the high-performance flagship knives are still made in their factory at Golden. Spyderco has also collaborated with various custom knife makers to develop some of their knives.
Presently, Spyderco has a wide variety of folding as well as fixed blade knives in its product range. The knives also come with various types of edges including plain, fully serrated, and partially serrated.
Note Spyderco also produces a specific range of knives under the Byrd brand. These knives are manufactured in China to keep the price low while retaining the various trademark qualities of the brand.
Here are some of the best Spyderco knives:
When it comes to defending your life and limb in the wilderness, Matriarch 2 is one knife that you can depend on.
Firstly, the wicked-looking blade will demand respect. The 3.57-inch piece of stainless steel is super sharp and comes with a reverse S shape. In a tight situation, the intimidation factor of this knife will work in your favor.
With a serrated blade profile, the cutting action is excellent too.
You have the signature round hole for opening and a dependable back lock. The handle is made from fiberglass-reinforced nylon. The textured surface and the ergonomic grooves deliver a great grip.
While the blade is robust enough to handle tough cutting action, we wouldn’t recommend it for heavy-duty outdoor work.
If you want a knife to defend yourself, this is a solid option.
When it comes to the combination of ergonomics and cutting performance, the Para Military 2 is a solidly crafted offering from Spyderco. The CPM S45VN steel is one of the best blade materials you will find and offers excellent durability. The 3.42-inch blade comes with a full flat grind and is razor-sharp.
The final result delivers excellent slicing action. The slightly thinner tip also makes it great for stabbing and slicing.
What about the handle?
The G-10 handle offers an excellent grip and comes with stainless steel liners. And the overall ergonomics is top-notch. Since the knife is on the lighter side of the scale, using it for long hours is no strain at all. Also, the opening and closing mechanisms are super smooth. With the compression lock, you get rock-solid security.
All in all, this is one of the most reliable knives from Spyderco for outdoor lovers and survivalists.
If you’re looking for a lightweight knife that is easy to carry and handle, the Native 5 deserves a closer look.
Some may say the 2.95-inch blade is on the shorter side. But the CPM SPY27 material is durable and an excellent slicer. And the full flat ground makes the cutting action super smooth.
The FRN handle is big and boxy and offers a good feel. While it’s not as durable as a G-10 handle, there’s bidirectional texturing and a thumb ramp that provides excellent grip. The blade is perfectly centered and for locking there’s is a lock back. The snappy locking action and deployments are confidence-inspiring.
The pocket clip comes with a four-way design. That makes it suitable for left-hand and right-hand use. All in all, a solid EDC knife that won’t disappoint when it comes to saving your life.
Overview of Benchmade
Les’ de Asis started manufacturing Balisong or butterfly knives in the 1980s, from a small shop in California. Even the original name of the company was Bali-Song, which was changed to Pacific Cutlery Corporation.
As the popularity of the products increased, the brand started developing conventional folding and fixed blade knives. In 1987, Les introduced a new version of the Balisong Model 68, with a higher level of commitment towards product quality and customer relationships. The new name Benchmade was born.
The company moved to a production facility in Clackamas, Oregon from California. In 1990, Benchmade became the first knife-manufacturing company in the world to use a high-power laser cutter. In 1996, it moved to a new location in Oregon City, Oregon from where it operates today.
After working with some leading knife designers, Benchmade has combined state-of-the-art manufacturing processes with innovation. Around 90% of Benchmade knives are made and assembled in the USA with special attention to form and function.
Benchmade stakes their reputation on product quality and supports their commitment with a LifeSharp Lifetime Service and product warranty. Through the years, the brand has won multiple awards in terms of product design and innovation.
Here are some of the best Benchmade knives:
Frankly, the Mini Barrage won’t beat many other pocket knives in terms of size. But it’s a winner when it comes to quality and performance. Evidently, Benchmade has paid a lot of attention to the details.
The 154CM stainless steel blade is not only tough but holds the edge effectively. The blade is perfect for delicate as well as demanding tasks. In my three years of use, the knife showed not a single sign of weakness.
While the Mini Barrage isn’t the longest knife, it isn’t the smallest either. The handle feels robust and will fill your grip. That makes the knife perfect for delivering fast strikes.
Also, the slight curves on the handle keep your hand comfortable during long use.
The assisted opening works smoothly and it is suited for both right and left-hand actions.
In short, a top-notch survival tool that offers the perfect balance between form and functionality.
Looking for a versatile pocket knife that you can carry all day during a SHTF scenario?
Check out the Mini Griptilian. The 2.91-inch blade is short but the classic drop point shape makes it extremely effective. And the CPM-S30V material allows you to use it anywhere- from the kitchen to a hunting trip.
The name Griptilian comes from the aggressive texture of the glass-filled nylon handle. The knife clings to your hand and there’s no risk of slippage. There are no issues with the handle ergonomics either.
Blade deployment is super smooth and the deep carry pocket clip is a practical addition. Admittedly, the Mini Griptilian feels and performs like a premium product. If you’re looking at some outdoor action, this is the right tool for the job.
Besides, as an EDC knife, it’s a relatively budget-friendly option too.
This is a full-size pocket knife that’s beautifully designed with a function-first approach.
The overall quality is nothing short of top-notch. The blade is perfectly centered and there are zero flaws in part fitment. At the business end, there’s a CPMS30V blade that offers exceptional slicing action. The blade is on the thinner side, but it can handle tough tasks like a champ.
The traditional thumb-stud deployment of the Bugout works smoothly and you get the reliability of the Benchmade Axis lock system. The diamond-patterned texturing on the handle also feels reassuring in hand.
While it’s lightweight and portable, the Bugout is nothing short of a dependable knife. However, don’t expect to withstand hammering.
In essence, the Bugout is a great choice for daily use and you can depend on it in the wilderness as well.
Benchmade or Spyderco: Main Buying Factors
The fact is, each individual has their own specific design and feature requirements. So, the Benchmade vs Spyderco debate isn’t easy to judge.
Still, there are some common factors against which we can set them side by side.
When you are picking a knife for a survival kit, there are a few specific features that you need to take note of. Let’s compare the two brands against each of these features to find out who fares better.
Choosing the right knife that will help you to survive is not about comparing the looks and features. Also, someone else’s favorite model may not work well for you.
You need to check how the knife feels in your hand. Only when it feels comfortable and gives you the right level of confidence will it work for you in a critical scenario.
Comparing the Design
In terms of design, both brands have their unique features. Benchmade offers symmetrical designs and focuses more on premium options. Spyderco offers a flashier range of knives.
Many users also like the iconic round hole in Spyderco knives that makes one-handed opening easy. Still, you need a bit of practice to get used to the design. If you aren’t a fan of this design, you can choose Benchmade products.
Also, Spyderco knives are relatively lighter. That means the blade will be more agile and you will experience less hand fatigue with prolonged use. The curvature of the handles can also enhance the ergonomic feel.
Spyderco allows you to choose between plain and serrated edges for most of their knives. That allows a user to choose a blade based on the requirements. Not all Benchmade knives come with this option.
Overall, if you like traditional designs with a thumb stud for opening the blade, you might prefer Benchmade knives. Also, the symmetrical design helps if you are lefty.
Still, with better ergonomics, Spyderco has the lead in this category.
Obviously, your choice of design will also depend on the purpose of use. For self-defense, I will pick Spyderco designs. While for hunting and general outdoor work Benchmade can be a better choice.
Comparing the Build Quality
Both the brands use top-grade steel in their knives and you can rely on their quality in critical scenarios.
Benchmade has classified its knives into three grades to make it simple. These are the gold series, blue series, and black series.
The limited-edition gold series offers premium quality and is the most expensive option. These products are often crafted with top-end materials like Damascus steel.
The blue series offers the best quality for outdoor and survival purposes. The black series is designed for professionals in law enforcement and the military.
Spyderco doesn’t have such differentiation in its product range. So, you can expect a more consistent quality across the range.
At the same time, you need to look for the best value while picking a knife. Frankly, when your and your family’s life depends on a piece of metal, we wouldn’t advise you to pick cheap options.
That said, both Benchmade and Spyderco offer extremely reliable blades, irrespective of the price tag. However, Spyderco has knives in every price category. So, if you are a budget buyer and still looking for dependable quality, Spyderco is the better choice.
Benchmade has knives that are more premium in nature and come with a higher price tag.
In terms of quality control, we wouldn’t put one brand in front of the other. You get a lifetime warranty from both brands. This covers any manufacturing or material defects.
Beyond that, Benchmade offers Lifesharp support for their knives through a dedicated team of technicians. This team will replace the worn-out parts of your knife. They will also lubricate and sharpen it to make it as good as new after a few years of use. And the Benchmade sharpening service is done for free.
Also, Benchmade offers laser marking services for personalizing knives at affordable rates.
In terms of customer service, most users have preferred Benchmade. Even if some of their blades turned out to be dull and uneven in some rare cases, Benchmade customer service was quick to solve the issue.
However, that doesn’t mean Spyderco warranty or after-sale service isn’t adequate.
The handle is one of the most important parts of a knife. Without the right grip on the knife, you won’t deliver a powerful strike. Or, you might find the knife slipping out of your hand after the cutting stroke.
And that can make the difference between life and death in a survival scenario.
Note, knife handles are usually made from three types of materials- natural, metallic, and synthetic.
Benchmade uses a wide range of materials for the handles. These include G10, carbon fiber, aluminum, Dymondwood, titanium, etc. The handles are cut with digitally guided CNC machines that ensure perfection. The rivets, liners, and springs are placed in the next stage to ensure perfection.
Spyderco makes use of a similar range of materials for its knife handles. In addition, it also uses specifically developed patterns like bi-directional texturing, and Volcano Grip. These design features offer a solid grip on the handle, especially in wet outdoor conditions.
Choosing the right handle is based on your personal preference and how it feels in your hand. Since I prefer the curved handle design of Spyderco knives, I will go with them.
Surely you will have a separate set of useful accessories in your bug out bag. But some specific knife-related tools can still be of use.
While both the brands have a wide range of knife accessories, Benchmade has a more practical collection. It includes honing tools, field sharpeners, lubricants, and carry clips. They are more practically designed.
Spyderco has a wide collection of high-quality sharpeners that can be used on blades of all forms. However, they are pricey and the collection might confuse the uninitiated looking for a simple field sharpener.
The locking mechanism is a major point of difference between the two brands. Both Benchmade and Spyderco use multiple locking mechanisms. But the main focus is on the compression-type locking mechanism and the axis locking mechanism.
The Axis lock is the proprietary system from Benchmade that uses a lock-bar and a one-way spring. By moving the spring bar, you can release the lock and close the knife. While the lock is super easy to use and safe, there’s a chance the spring might break or lose strength with rough outdoor use.
The compression lock system from Spyderco is a modified version of a liner lock that uses a stop pin and a leaf-like spring. This is a much simpler system that has minimum moving parts. It removes the cons of a traditional liner lock and still offers great security.
Overall, in terms of longevity, the compression lock has the edge.
That’s it. We have come to the end of the battle of the blades.
Since Benchmade knives are made in the US, their products come with a higher price tag. Their designs are more traditional in nature. Also, the Benchmade sharpening service is definitely a big plus.
Since Spyderco outsources its manufacturing to other countries, its products are relatively cheaper. The unique design features of their knives and the superior ergonomics are things that you need to consider.
Finally, the choice between Benchmade or Spyderco depends a lot on your personal preferences and needs. The Spyderco Matriarch is one of my favorite choices, but, it’s ultimately up to you!