Benchmade makes good knives: review done. They do. Let’s face it, Benchmade would not release a knife that would not be, at the very least, decent. The obvious aside, it is hard to appreciate the thought that went into making the 496 Vector a great working knife by admiring the photo on Benchmade’s website. The more I put the Vector to work, the more I appreciated its design. Its design is comfortable in use, the blade’s shape and composition are built for work, and the open body allows it to be washed clean when you are finished working. The Vector is a great knife, earning a spot in anyone’s pocket and a worthy sidekick to handle any situation.
The Vector rests comfortably in the hand when closed or open. The aluminum bolster places a nice weight in the middle of the frame to help balance the size and grind of the blade. The Axis opening mechanism is sharp and crisp. Even with a gloved hand, there were no problems opening the blade. The safety catch ensures that it remains closed in your pocket. I slid the Vector into my pocket and went to work.
The deep carry clip was an unexpected feature I did not know I was missing. My previous full-time knife, a Benchmade Osborne, had a standard pocket clip allowing the handle to protrude slightly from my front pocket. It would catch on something when you least expected it. I have had to bend the clip back into shape several times. The deep carry clip made you forget the knife was in a pocket until you needed it.
When I first opened the box, I admit I thought that the Vector would squirt out of a wet hand like a trout. While the 496 Vector looks slippery when wet, it’s not. Most of the time, using a pocketknife does not involve being soaked and covered with mud. But, in the rare instances where you are trying to fix the sprinkler line and the knife gets muddy, you don’t want to slip trying to cut the pipe to the correct length. The G10 scales provided a solid grip and a subtle tackiness when muddy and wet. The shape of the handle fit my hand well and kept blade control while tackling my sprinkler repair.
From mud to bits of apple, I appreciated the open back of the knife when cleaning up after use. After being caked with mud from my sprinkler repair, the open back of the blade rinsed out great. The mud and grass came right out, and there was no question when it was clean. There were no trapped particles of mud or little rocks to get caught when you close the blade. Similarly, when cutting up an apple, the juice washed out and did not leave a sticky residue. Aside from cardboard, the second most challenging use of a pocket knife.
I first thought the Vector’s concave blade was for show. But when using it to break down boxes, the concave grind allows for the blade and what you are cutting to never be at a 90-degree angle. As a result, the concave shape gains cutting leverage from poly pipe to a seemingly never-ending supply of cardboard boxes. The mechanical advantage makes all cutting tasks easier.
The blade steel held up like a champ. Despite the cardboard abuse I put it through, normally the villain of any sharp edge, the blade held an impressive edge. While it is a long blade, its resilience and longevity make it a useful companion. The long blade is also well balanced by placing most of the weight in the center of the handle.
My only hang up on this knife is that having a rounded sharpener is a MUST. All my sharpening gear could not get to the concave shape of the blade. I have a Tormek and full set of diamond stones, but both require a parallel surface. I could not tell you how much it would take to regrind and hone an edge. Given how tough the CPM-20CV steel appeared, sending the blade out would be a good use of Benchmade’s Lifesharp service.
I had the Vector for a long test. I did not intend to have it that long, but with the changing circumstances, a two-week test turned into a two-month test. The more I used the Vector, I knew I had a solid knife in my pocket to help when I needed it. The 496 Vector held up to every task I threw at it and had no mechanical issues. Benchmade does make a great knife. The 496 Vector is no exception. This knife is reliable and dependable each time you reach for it. It is comforting to have something that won’t fail in your pocket in a world full of uncertainty around us.