Pat’s Product Review: Benchmade CSK II – Combat/Survival Knife

As long-time SurvivalBlog readers know, I like big knives – be they folders or fixed blade. I believe bigger knives can do most chores easier and better than smaller knives can. Now, that’s not to say, that big knives can do all things better than smaller knives can – such is not the case. In a survival or combat situation, you need a knife that is capable of handling all manner of chores. Enter the Benchmade Knives CSK II, Combat/Survival fixed blade knife.
The Benchmade CSK II is one of those “just the right size” knives, for all manner of duty. The 6″ 1095 carbon steel blade can handle many tasks that a smaller fixed blade knife can’t handle. The blade thickness is 0.180″ and the blade is Cerakote  coated – giving it a great black powder-type coating that not only protects the carbon steel blade from rusting, but also gives it the stealth advantage of not shining during nighttime ops. The 1095 carbon steel is Rockwell tested at 58-59, which means the blade holds and edge for a decent length of time, as well as making it easy to re-sharpen. One of my past knife magazine editors told me that a blade can’t both hold an edge a long time and be easy to re-sharpen. I disagreed then, and I still disagree with him.
The CSK II has a clip-point blade, which is a great design for all manner of chores, from field-dressing game, to sticking it into things that need sticking. Enough said. The handle on the CSK II is a tactile soft surfaced, checkered Santoprene. This affords a great grip on the knife. It almost grips you back. I love the way it feels in the hand. Plus, there’s also a brass-lined lanyard hole in the handle. The handle also forms into a front lower guard, to protect you hand from slipping onto the blade.
The CSK II also comes with a MOLLE compatible leather sheath. The sheath is extremely well-made, too. And there’s just something about the smell of leather that I love. There’s also leather tie-downs on the bottom of the sheath, as well as on the top – should you really need to give the knife some extra security – besides the snap leather strap that retains the knife in the sheath. Now, while I love a good leather knife sheath, for my use in the very rainy climate of Western Oregon, I would prefer a Kydex sheath – something that can stand-up to the elements. I like to say we have two seasons in this part of Oregon: 8-months of rain, and 4-months of beautiful summer sunshine. The rain takes a toll on everything – even equipment that you take care of – it still succumbs to the elements. First thing I did with the CSK II was spray the sheath with some waterproofing spray – and I’ll continue to treat the sheath that way a couple times per year.
The CSKII only weight 7.5 ounces, so it’s a lightweight, considering the overall length of 10.75″, with the 6″ blade. During my test and evaluation of this knife, the only area where it fell “short” was in chopping things – then again, it didn’t surprise me here, consider the blade length and the light weight of the knife. If you need to chop tree branches of other material, you’ll want a longer blade knife, that is heavier. Other than that, this is one dandy camp survival and combat knife.
Often, people think of a “combat” knife, as something that is used all the time to take-out enemy sentries in the dark of night. Well, that does happen, but only rarely! Some of our troops went toe-to-toe with insurgents in a cemetery in Iraq, and they used hand-to-hand combat, some just using their bare hands, as well as folding knives and fixed blade knives. While the CSK II wouldn’t be my first choice in a blade for going one-on-one with someone, I wouldn’t feel the least bit at a disadvantage using this knife for self-defense. It’ll get the job done, no doubt about it. However, as anyone who has spent any amount of time in the military will tell you, that a knife, any knife, is used most of the time as a “tool” for opening ammo crates, cutting-up all kinds of things and just a lot of general cutlery duties at the camp. The knife is rarely used as a combat weapon – but it does happen.
Like all Benchmade knives, the CSK II came hair-poppin’ sharp out of the box, and I used the knife for two-weeks, for all manner of chores around the house, in the kitchen and on my small homestead. I only had to touch-up the blade once on a set of Lansky Crock Sticks. The blade was still sharp enough for most work. However, I find it best to touch-up a blade before they get too dull – makes for a quick job, instead of having to really work to put an edge back on a really dull blade. It only takes a minute or two, to touch-up a blade on some crock-sticks, instead of spending a lot of time trying to get a really dull knife back to a extra sharp condition. And, the 1095 carbon steel is easy to touch-up, no doubt about it. I find it much easier to sharpen than any of the stainless steels are.
There are other similarly designed blades on the market, that look very much like the Benchmade CSK II. However, remember, you are getting the Benchmade name on this blade, and backed-up with the limited lifetime warranty from Benchmade. You know when a product is stamped with the Benchmade name, that you are getting top-quality products.
I always like to save the best new for last, and that’s the full-retail price on the CSK II – which is only $105. If you shop around on Amazon and other web sites, you can find the CSK II deeply discounted. However, even if you paid full-retail, you’d be getting one heck of a bargain if you ask me. I’ve been writing about Benchmade Knives for about 15 years now, and have never been disappointed by their products. I’ve toured their plant a couple of times, and I’m always amazed at all the work that goes into a Benchmade knife. They even have a machine there that produces screws for all their knives, in-house. How many places can boast of making all their own screws for their knives? Last time I was at Benchmade, they were running two shifts, and owner Les deAsis told me that they would run three shifts if only they could find enough qualified people. They are picky, and it pays off in the end for the company and the consumer.
If you’re in the market for a new fixed blade knife that’s priced right, and can handle just about anything you can throw at it, then check out the Benchmade CSK II. You’ll like what you see. – Pat Cascio, SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor