Assisted Opening

Knife Review: Benchmade 890 Torrent

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 Today I bring you the Model 890 Torrent from Benchmade. I’ve had this knife since June 2012 and it was my first Benchmade. And it was a damn good choice. Not only is it fantastically elegant, but it is a fantastic EDC blade. Despite me stabbing myself with it the first day I used it, it has remained a constant in my rotation.

Stabbed my arm cutting shrink wrap off of a pallet

Stabbed my arm cutting shrink wrap off of a pallet

Overview:

Being my first Benchmade, I definitely was not disappointed by this knife. Ken Steigerwalt is definitely a great maker. His customs aren’t really my taste (too many seashells), but this one speaks to me. It is elegant, while retaining a very useful blade shape. When I say this a great EDC blade, I am talking about standard cutting tasks: cardboard, plastic, tie wraps, etc. I do not take defensive use into account for my EDC blades, and I know some of the readers here do. If I think a blade would be useful for defensive situations, I will say so. This is not one of them.

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Fit and Finish:

This set my standards high for Benchmade. Before this, I had only had a couple Kershaws and a SOG Aegis. I bought this and my Manix 2 lightweight at the same time; my world was changed. Nearly every edge of this knife is rounded and contoured. The only one I could find that wasn’t is the liner lock (and the blade of course). The blade is not perfectly centered, but it is not rubbing the liners. If it is perfectly centered, then it does not fire all the way. I found a pretty good balance between centering and speed.

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The assist mechanism is simple, yet very effective. It is a rollbar stuck between a springy part of the liners. I have had no problem taking it apart multiple times; the screws didn’t strip out either (rant coming soon about this). This definitely isn’t my fastest assisted knife, but I really don’t care that much.

The lockup is nice. I haven’t had any wiggle in any direction. It hasn’t seen abuse, but has seen a decent amount of medium-hard use, including plunging it into cardboard to clear a hole for bale wire.

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Carry and Comfort:

Here’s one downside to the knife. It is only right-hand tip-down carry. Tip-down is not a deal-breaker for me, but lefties will have a difficult time with the knife. I have carried it left-handed a couple times and it isn’t too terrible to adjust to, but I’d rather not have to. The tease is that the thumb stud is reversible, but if you do, you can’t close the knife. The liner and scale blocks it just enough to keep it from closing. I’m sure this can be fixed by a Dremel.

Not at all ambidextrous

Not at all ambidextrous

The pocket clip is fantastic. It slides in and out easily without tearing up your jeans like some others do. The retention is good and it doesn’t catch on stuff easily. It is a deep carry clip. I don’t care if my clips are deep carry or not. It is quite a shiny clip. If you need to be discreet, then I probably wouldn’t go with this.

In my pocket with my Cadet

In my pocket with my Cadet

The knife is comfortable to use. The scales swell in your palm and fit nicely (I have small hands). There is no jimping and very little grip, which is why I refrain from giving it my blessing as a tactical knife. Reverse grip is comfortable as well. Using the strike pommel would probably be comfortable. I didn’t test it, but due to the lack of grip I would only use it while the blade is closed.

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Blade: 

This is really what can make of break a knife. Luckily the blade on the Torrent is great. It is a 3.6″ modified drop-point blade made of 154CM. Benchmade says that the hardness is between 58 and 61 on the Rockwell scale, which is my personal favorite range. It offers good edge retention without being too tough to sharpen. The swedge gives the tip good strength as well as good penetrating abilities. Remember, I stabbed my arm quite good with it.

Hair-shaving sharp before testing

Hair-shaving sharp before testing

Testing:

Factory edge: It was a while ago I got this, but I do remember this being the sharpest knife I had gotten at that point in my life. I also remember shaving with it. At the beginning of my tests I made sure it was hair-shaving sharp. Solid A.

Onion test: Yes, cutting an onion in half is a test I use on knives unless I know they’re going to fail (under 3″). I use my knives in the kitchen quite a bit and cook with onions quite a bit. The Spyderco Endura is my standard for this, but the Torrent holds up well. B+.

I think I was making a chicken salad

I think I was making a chicken salad

Cardboard cutting

Not as much as I hoped

Not as much as I hoped

This is where I was surprised, and not in a good way. After three boxes (probably about 50′) I got a small nick in the blade, directly under the B in Benchmade. The rest of the blade was still decently sharp, but I did not want to make it larger. I stopped testing at this point. While I was cutting, the blade was slicing effortlessly. If I could have cut more, I might have given it an A-. Unfortunately it gets a C.

Under the B. You can barely see it on camera

Under the B. You can barely see it on camera

SharpeningBack when I got this knife, I had to sharpen it with a Pampered Chef sharpener that had the angles pre-set. Even then I was getting good edges with it. When I upgraded to a Sharpmaker, I got even better edges. Now with my Edge Pro Apex, I was able to get a near-mirror edge and nearly completely remove the nick I got in testing. With just a few passes on the 120 and 220 grit stones I was able to get it to hair-shaving sharp. By the 1000 grit stone, it was scary sharp.

Sharper than before!

Sharper than before!

Favorite Feature:

Classy suit carry without going for a weaker blade (CRKT Swindle is my other suit carry).

Least Favorite Feature:

Slightly off-center and the nick I got in the blade.

Conclusion:

This is a great general use knife that is easy to sharpen. The price tag may be a turn off for some (mine was $110 with GPKnives’ special pricing that just ended a couple weeks ago. BladeHQ has them for $136), but I think it is well worth it. While this is definitely not a tactical/defensive knife, it is well-suited for formal wear (pun intended).

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style: *****
It is just damn elegant.

Ergonomics: ****
Comfortable to handle, but a lack of jimping or traction is what brings this down. Traction would make it more versatile.

Ruggedness:***1/2
While I have no fears of this knife breaking, liner locks are not the strongest locks out there, and assist mechanisms can break.

Overall: ****
This is a fantastic knife for standard cutting tasks, even with the blade getting a small chip in it. Definitely not a knife I’d go to war with, unless I’m fighting cardboard and plastic.

Discussion

3 responses to ‘Knife Review: Benchmade 890 Torrent

  1. Nathan, I could almost hear you muttering my name as you were describing the defensive edc characteristics of the knife. 🙂 Excellent review… I almost bought one of these at a gun show a few years ago from a guy who was representing a knife club. It was priced at $90-100 and I would have bought it if the spring assist had a little more beef. It just didn’t snap open solidly without a little wrist assist. Perhaps just a weaker individual sample. I agree with you that it is an elegantly designed beauty of a knife, appropriate for normal edc in dress clothes. I like 154CM well enough in the few knives I own that employ it. What I eventually bought instead of the Torrent was the Barrage 580. The Barrage is better suited to defensive edc and I’ve been pleased with it.

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