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Benchmade Activator 211

I've only had one other Benchmade, an 806D2 with Axis lock, and it was a nicely designed knife that was ruined by some rather lackadaisical grind-lines. I wasn't sure if it was a Friday afternoon knife or what, but I never thought much more about Benchmades after that, because there were always good factory knives available from Spyderco, and I was mainly getting custom fixed blades at that time anyway.

Well, over the years I bought a lot of small fixed blades, always looking for something small and non-threatening enough to wear at work. In my line of work, I need a knife from time to time when working at customer's locations, but the boss frowns upon carrying anything that looks "weapon-y". Most of my co-workers will carry a Klein splicer's knife on their belt, which is a *** with a worthless mystery-steel blade. It will hold an edge for 5 minutes or so.

Lo and behold, I saw the Benchmade Activator a few years ago and assigned it a spot in my "to buy" list in my mind. This year I pulled the trigger on it, and got the wood handled one. I like the looks of the G-10 and carbon fiber version (Activator 210), but the wooden one looks nearly as nice and costs $40 less. This knife is a user, not a drawer-queen anyway. The knife is 6.5" overall, with a 2.5" blade and nice-looking stabilized "real wood" slabs. It's real wood alright, but who knows what kind it is. Benchmade says it's veneers bonded together, of whatever type of wood is is. It looks good and since it's stabilized I don't have to worry about it much.


It came surprisingly dull, unlike the 806D2 or any Spyderco I've ever had. Luckily, I am always prepared with my DMT diamond hones, my black Arkansas stone, and my HandAmerican strop! These tools make sharpening rather pleasurable and I quickly got a shaving-sharp edge on the little 2.5" D2 blade. Oh yes, it's D2 steel which I've been quite pleased with on other knives I've had over the years.

Is it as nice as, say, a Dozier Straight Personal? Well, no... but nearly. It lacks the "vibe" of a true hand-made knife, but it is nearly flawless, has a nice finish and costs a whole lot less (you can find it for around $68 if you shop around). The grind lines are perfect, the jimping on top of the blade is nicely executed, and the handle feels good in a three-fingered grip. If you can't sharpen a knife, you may want to arrange for a friend to do it if you order this knife though. Sharpness out-of-the-box has never been a deterrent for me, and I don't hold it against a maker if the knife is otherwise well-made.

This little blade is going to be a constant companion from now on! 10's across the board for this one!
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