For knife enthusiasts, there is one folding knife design that has remained popular for about 15 years. The Benchmade AFCK folding knife was the flagship knife for the Benchmade Knife Company for many years, and even now remains one of their most popular models.
Originally designed by former Navy SEAL Chris Caracci, the Advanced Folding Combat Knife quickly became a hit among law enforcement, but also among hunters and campers who recognized the design’s superior qualities for general utility work around a campsite. At one point Benchmade relabeled it for a short time the Advanced Folding Camp Knife in recognition of it’s general usefulness outside of self defense. Over the years, the knife was redesigned slightly to accommodate Benchmade’s Axis locking mechanism, as the original model 800 AFCK was a liner lock. This review will focus on the later model, the 806 AFCK. My personal AFCK is a limited edition with a different blade steel than the production knives, and utilizes a round hole instead of an oval hole for opening.
The knife has a 3.9″ long blade made of D2 air-hardened tool steel. The steel is a tough steel that has gained popularity among knife enthusiasts for it’s toughness and edge retention. Once D2 is razor sharp, it stays that way for a very long time, even longer than s30v (my s30v hunting knife processed 2 deer from field to freezer before needing to be resharpened. D2 can last longer than that). The one drawback to D2 is that it is not a stainless steel and will rust if not taken care of properly. To this end, Benchmade only provides the 806 AFCK with a coated blade to prevent rust. Even on Benchmade’s non-coated D2 knives, rust is not really an issue as long as the user is willing to take a little care by cleaning and drying the knife properly.
The design of the blade is a shallow clip point style with a decent belly for slicing. The 1/8″ thick spine provides strength out to the tip even though it thins toward the tip. The oval thumb hole opener is ideally positioned for quick one-handed opening.
The Axis lock — for those not familiar with Benchmade knives — is a bar lock on the back of the blade that is held in place by two springs to give redundancy and extra strength. Unlike lock back knives that can close on your hand under heavy pressure, the Axis lock does not give way unless it is deliberately moved away from the blade’s tang. This lock is one of the strongest in the knife industry, and is a fully ambidextrous lock, which is important to left-handers like me. Most knives with a liner lock design (the vast majority of one-handed
knives out there) only provide a right-handed model, which can be cumbersome for us southpaws. The Axis lock makes more models of knives available for us to use.
The handle is designed to fit the hand in a very ergonomic manner, asthe back swell of the handle lays perfectly in the palm of your hand and your index finger sits in the cutout for the opening hole. The shape of the handle is so well designed that the knife feels as if it
has become an extension of your hand. The 420J liners provide strength to the design, and they are covered in black G10, which is a fiberglass-resin composite material that is almost indestructible. The texture provides an excellent grip, even when wet. The pocket clip is
reversible, both for carrying with the tip of the blade up or down, and left or right, making the 806 AFCK a truly ambidextrous knife.
What I like:
Basically everything with the design! The cutting geometry is superb, the handle design is great, and the Axis lock is the best there is for a folding knife (in my not-so-humble opinion).
What I don’t like:
The black coating is not the toughest coating out there and can scratch. It’s mostly a cosmetic issue: if you want your knife to look pristine even when used, the BK coating won’t cut it (pun intended). If you don’t mind the scratches and think it adds character to the knife, then you won’t have any problem at all. Their newest knives will have black CeraKote for their coated blades, which is an incredibly tough finish. It is the only thing I would change on my knife.
This is my favorite folding knife, and it took me almost 10 years from its introduction for me to get one. The knife is discontinued, however there are plenty for sale on eBay and online forums where knife enthusiasts gather. If you are looking for a great all-around
utility/camp/hunting folder, this is it.
Manufacturer’s Specs for the 806 AFCK:
- Blade Length: 3.96 inches
- Blade Thickness: 0.125 inches
- Blade Material: D2
- Blade Hardness: 59-61
- Blade Style: Clip-Point
- Weight: 4.38 ounces
- Pocket Clip: Black, Reversible, Tip-Up OR Tip-Down (4 possible positions)
- Lock Mechanism: AXIS
- Overall Length: 9.38 inches
- Closed Length: 5.42 inches