Benchmade is a company that for a long time has been innovative in the world of folding knives. They constantly experiment with new handle and blade materials, as well as various types of locking mechanisms, both new and old. The quality and precision of workmanship always impresses. The 470 Emissary is one of their new models, and I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to review one.
The 470 is an interesting knife. When I first read about it I was intrigued but not sure about my personal level of interest. The biggest reason stems from the fact it is one of Benchmade’s Axis Assist knives. I really enjoy the feel and ergonomics that the regular line of Axis lock knives provide, and the few Axis Assist knives I’ve used haven’t quite given me the same good feeling and smoothness that a standard Axis lock knife does. A standard Axis lock knife can be opened and closed very quickly with one hand and no need to touch the blade. The Assist knives have many times required two hands for me to close, and that removes a large amount of the convenience of the Axis system. The 470 is not like that at all. Because of the small size and light blade the assist mechanism merely changes the way the knife needs to be closed one handed, but does not make it so onerous as to eliminate the ability to do it quickly. Like most assist mechanisms in knives, opening the 470 is a simple as applying enough outward pressure to one side of the thumb stud to unlock the knife. The springs take care of the rest.
When I opened the box to get the 470 out for the first time, I was wowed. Having seen pictures of the knife I knew it was well shaped and attractive looking, but I really was not prepared for how excellently designed it really is. The handles are made of Aluminum without a liner. The blade is made of S30v and just a bit less than three inches long. The Axis mechanism is just a bit smaller than what is installed in the handles of the larger Benchmades. Overall the knife weighs in at two point two ounces. That makes for a very nice light knife that isn’t noticed whether it is floating in a pocket or clipped to one. The Assist spring provides enough tension to quickly open the blade with an authoritative snap, but is light enough to not make closing the knife annoying. Underneath the Axis lock mechanism on the left side of the handle lays a safety mechanism that can be actuated to prevent the knife from being opened either accidentally or on purpose. Since the Axis Assist mechanism is very precise in how it functions I have not felt the need to use the safety, and I have not had the knife open accidentally on me the entire time I’ve had it. Because of the size and length, closing the knife one handed is easily accomplished. This allows for complete one handed usage of the knife, which is a definite improvement to other assist mechanism models that require either using two hands or a hard surface to press the knife closed. This difference has helped to prove to me that the 470 is an excellent small every day carry type of pocket knife.
The S30v steel used in the blade portion of the knife performs very well. Benchmade has been using S30v for about ten years now, and the experience of the company shows. S30v is known to be slightly brittle if not heat treated properly. The blade of the 470 does not have that problem. Although it is merely 0.090 inches thick, it has shown no propensity to chip or crack. In use I have made sure not to treat the edge or the entire blade with too much caution. The few times that I’ve dinged the edge into something hard such as the edge of a ceramic plate or a piece of metal, it has only deformed. In the past I have experienced almost the exact opposite result with S30v. Beyond the admirable amount of toughness Benchmade’s S30v has, it also shows excellent edge holding properties. Once it is honed to a level of sharpness that allows easy shaving, easy wood curls, and effortless paper slicing it will retain that edge with moderate use for between a week and two weeks straight before re-honing is required. This performance matches everything I have come to expect from Benchmade.
During my time testing the Emissary I ended up using it as my main pocketknife without fail or interruption. When I first received the knife and took it out of the packaging, I immediately used it to open the rest of my mail for the day. There is something about using a brand new knife immediately that brings a smile to my face. That day I stuck the 470 into my pocket, and it has not left since. I found that the 0.090 of an inch thick blade is excellent for cutting up fruit including apples, strawberries, and bananas. Mushrooms, carrots, and other vegetables were also easily cut during meal time. The thin profile and excellent edge grind allow for easy control, fast cutting, and no splitting even with crunchier foods. The knife also passed the steak and sausage test with flying colors. The combination of heat, liquid, and salt that a knife is exposed to when cutting meat will very quickly dull and discolor many types of steel, but the 470 held up with no problems. The anodized aluminum handles also held up effortlessly. The only maintenance that has been necessary aside from sharpening is the occasion rinsing under a faucet with a drop of lubrication being placed onto the pivot pin afterwards. Otherwise, the durability of the materials the Emissary is made of allow for next to no maintenance and excellent performance.
When it comes to folding knives Benchmade has been a leader in the commercial market since they joined it. The model 470 Emissary is an excellent addition to the lineup that has an elegant design, modern features, robust materials, and excellent ergonomics. Benchmade has a suggested retail price of two hundred dollars, but the 470 can be found with relative ease at a price that is about twenty five percent less. I have quite a few different Benchmade pocket knives that I used to carry, but the Emissary has usurped most of them to earn an almost permanent place in my pocket.
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