benchmade's North Fork folding knife

The Benchmade North Fork Folding Hunter Knife Review

The Benchmade North Fork folding hunter represents Benchmade’s commitment to producing only truly high quality knives by employing precision manufacturing techniques and incorporating the highest quality materials.
benchmade's North Fork folding knife

As a result you end up with a knife that is both functional, durable, and beautiful.

Although it is unassisted, the action on the North Fork is so smooth that the blade pops into place with just a flick of the thumb.  The AXIS locking system is smooth and easy to operate.  The North Fork’s blade utilizes CPM-S30V, one of the best in the industry.  It takes a razor edge, and can hold it even after significant usage.

Both the G10 and Dymondwood handles are beautiful and smooth, with just a bit of texturing to provide a very secure grip. The tip-up clip is a standard Benchmade fare and is reversible for righties or lefties.

Key Details of the North Fork

  • Designer: Benchmade
  • Mechanism: AXIS
  • Action: Manual-opening
  • Blade Steel: CPM-S30V (58-60 HRC)
  • Blade Length: 2.97″ (7.54cm)
  • Blade Thickness: 0.114″ (2.90mm)
  • Open Length: 6.97″ (17.70cm)
  • Closed Length: 3.90″ (9.91cm)
  • Handle Thickness: 0.53″ (13.46mm)
  • G10 Handle – Weight: 3.41oz. (96.67g)
  • Dymondwood Handle – Weight: 3.16oz. (89.58g)

The Blade

The Benchmade Northfork is a perfect example.  It features an overall length of 6.9 inches and a closed length of 3.9 inches.  The 2.97 inch drop point blade incorporates a hollow grind, satin finish, recurved cutting edge made from CPM S30V stainless steel with a Rockwell Hardness of 58 to 60.

For those of you who are not familiar with CMP S30V, it is a powder-made stainless steel originally developed by a former employee of Crucible Industries name Joe Barber to be the ultimate cutlery blade steel.

It contains 1.45% Carbon, 14% Chromium, 4% Molybdenum, and 2% Vanadium as its only ingredients producing an extremely fine grain structure with an even distribution of Vanadium Carbides (as opposed to the Chromium Carbides contained in most blade steels). Consequently, it is as corrosion resistant as 440C and takes finer edge than D2 and holds it longer due to its greater toughness and wear resistance.

In fact, many custom bladesmiths consider it to be the best blade steel ever developed and, even rank it above VG-10!

The Handle

Benchmade has applied the same level attention to the both the design of the North Fork’s handle as well as the handle scales.

For instance the handle features a convex arc on the back with a concave arc on the opposite side to accommodate the shape of the human hand.  The stainless steel liners feature decorative crenelations and an open back design due to the lack of a mainspring.

The Dymondwood handle scales are made from a combination of Baltic Birch and Maple that has been sliced into thin strips, dyed, impregnated with an epoxy resin, and then laminated under tremendous pressure to stabilize the wood.  This extensive process produces a finished product which is both very tough and aesthetically pleasing.  Dymondwood is very durable, but it’s not quite as tough as G10.

Like Dymonwood, G10 is also a laminated material but the similarities end there.  Numerous sheets of resin impregnated fiberglass are laminated under tremendous to create the final result. Because G10 is made from fiberglass rather than wood, it is the tougher of the two materials.

Finally, the both the handle scales and the liners on the North Fork are milled to accept a lanyard, and both models feature a reversible, tip up only, steel pocket clip.​

A Great Every Day Carry Knife

​While not specifically designed as an EDC like the Benchmade 765, the drop point blade design of the North Fork makes it an excellent choice for every day carry, bush craft and, hunting since it is a very general purpose design; unlike so many of the present day folding tactical knives that are touted by the manufacturer as EDC knives.

With a blade length of just under three inches, it is legal to carry in most jurisdictions and, the hollow primary bevel grind creates a very sharp edge that can be honed to a razor’s sharpness. The slight recurve to the cutting edge combined with the shallow belly make it well suited for a variety of purposes  and the thumb stud mounted on the blade makes the knife easy to open with only one hand.

The blade is locked in the open position using Benchmade’s proprietary Axis Locking Mechanism.

  This system employs a small, round, hardened, steel bar held in place by a slot milled into each of the stainless steel liners.  The bar is propelled forward by two Omega style springs to bear on a ramped surface milled into the blade’s tang.  When opened, the blade is solidly wedged between the Axis bar and a sizable stop pin; securely locking it in place.

Maintenance and Sharpening

Maintaining the North Fork is fairly straightforward.  Whenever it needs honing or sharpening you can touch it up with a stone or sharpening system that allows for selecting your desired angle.  Our personal favorite is the Apex sharpening system.

If you do use a mechanical sharpening system, it’s best to go with something like the Tormek which is water-cooled.

Final Thoughts

If you are in the market for a superior quality folding hunting knife, then you need look no further than the Benchmade North Fork.  It’s small size also makes for a great EDC knife.

Well known for their commitment to producing only extremely high quality knives, the North Fork folding hunting knife represents the pinnacle of Benchmade’s pursuit to produce only the highest quality knives possible.   By combining meticulous manufacturing techniques with the finest materials available they consistently produce knives their customers are proud to own.

Background on Benchmade

The Benchmade Knife Company Inc. was originally founded in California in 1988 where they primarily manufactured Balisong knives (aka Butterfly Knives); the building of which employed a combination of outside vendors and in house processing to create finished knives.

However, in 1990, they decided to relocate their manufacturing facility to their present location in Clackamas, Oregon where they eventually began to acquire new machines and to develop new technologies including the first of several laser blank cutting machines; thus making Benchmade the first production knife manufacturer to have such equipment in house.

Furthermore, open minds and positive attitudes lead to several more industry firsts over the course of the next several years which turned out to be only the beginning of Benchmade’s forays onto new ground in production knife manufacturing by using non-traditional materials and modern manufacturing methods in not only building knives better but, in also building better knives.